Reef Donkey Round Up

The last few weeks have seen a number of weather windows that have allowed my self and a few fishing buddies to fish reefs rarely accessible to us which coincided with the Samson fish moving into shallow inshore waters .
A couple of weeks ago I invited Todd to join Joel and myself to see if we could repeat a hot snapper session I had solo the week before.
We launched in the dark and by first light were approaching the zone. Lots of arches on the sounder but spread out.
We split up and started looking for the big schools of snapper from the previous week .

Just on sunrise my squid gets engulfed on the drop and the drag buzzes as the fish takes off a classic bottom hugging and yak circling fight takes place and soon I have it up to the yak .You beauty a nice 83 cm Samson opens the account for the day off nicely .

1st sambo sml

It’s well after sun rise when I saw a couple of classic big elongated arches and dropped a squid down and hooked up to a fish that did short powerful runs and slugged it out near the bottom before busting me off buggar!!!

Its quiet again for another half hour or so and meanwhile Joel and Todd have picked up a couple of wrasse for live bait . Todd hooks up big time on a live wrasse and is soon being towed by it out to sea and after several minutes on 50 lb tackle Todd has a lovely meter plus Samson that I would estimate around 12 to 14 kg in his lap that is quickly released and swims off strongly.

Todds samon 2final

Joel has to leave for family commitments so gives Todd a live Wrasse which by the time Joel has hit the beach Todd has converted into a 99 cm Samson that he kept and it smoked up a treat.

Its getting towards late morning and we decide to have a final crack at trying get a pink snapper as the wind is starting to freshen . I drop another bait down and its snaffled by a fish that’s takes off at a rapid pace in a long straight run that sees me cursing my self as my Stradic 4000 is well overdue a new top shot of 20 lb braid. Pedaling hard I soon get a few wraps of braid over the backing and eventually get another 83 cm in the yak .It was weird ,like he had turned his mates and said “watch my Tuna impression !”

A safe landing on the beach ended an amusing day where we could not get through the Samsons to the snapper.samsontimes2final

Another week passes and I head out with ex KFDU mod Paul Tuckwell who is a Samson master and my teacher in all things Seriola . You may remember Paul as the guy who caught the 35 kg Samson from his yak a few years back.
The Morning of the Launch the weather is a bit sketchy with stronger winds and different direction to what we normally favour but we both have bought our Finn out rigger equipped hobbies which are great in poor weather. I whilst moving my alarm back from 5.15 to 4.45 the night before failed to change the 5 to a 4 on my phone and after my usual bad nights sleep wake check my phone and its already past the time we agreed to launch Arghh !!! leap out of bed have trailer on car and at launch unloading in 35 mins .Paul has headed out and picked up a couple of squid in the dark . I meet up with him right on sunrise and within minutes he has hooked up on a live squid by a very strong fish that bit him off after a while with the 40 LB leader bitten through between the snelled hooks .As I pedaled up to him to commiserate his next squid gets inhaled by a 73 cm snapper giving that tell tale snapper head shake.

With Paul still hooked up he says “there is a big school still under me” so I lob a Scaly Mackerel at him which is grabbed by a 45 cm Pink snapper which is soon thrown back as its under size . Another couple of minutes and another snapper comes up which was probably size but I drop it trying to put it on the measuring sticker on my Haka board on the Outrigger.

I scan around for a bit and spot a couple of big arches so a whole squid on the Heavy outfit is sent to investigate .Almost immediately it reports back via my 20 lb braid that its been eaten and now will be leaving the immediate area….A strong fast run soon makes it obvious its another Samson and on the heavy I soon have a 87 cm Samson in the fish bag. After unhooking the fish I note I have knocked the top guide insert out of the heavy rig so now only have the Nitro Viper left .
Meanwhile Paul has landed a 54 cm “Pannie” snapper and having bagged out puts his heavier outfit away and picks up his Nitro Baby Viper 3 to 6 KG outfit with a Daiwa 3000 series spinning reel.

He drops another squid head which is taken by 74 cm snapper that gives him the run around on the light gear before being released.

I finish resetting and look up to see Paul has a good hook up on the light outfit about 40 m away and thinking to myself I will go over and get some pics in a minute, drop a large squid head over the side . Whilst watching Paul to judge what he was onto my Squid heads off and its soon apparent this is a really good fish .Making no impact on stopping it and rapidly heading into the backing again I head off after it after covering nearly 100 m in straight line it just stops and I have dead weight on the bottom .Thinking its run me around a reef or been eaten by a shark I sit there for a minute or two pulling max force on it and then try and change angles and then give it some slack eventually after some weird vibrations it moves off again dead slow .Thinking “aww shit I’ve been sharked” I sit over it giving it heaps but the 6 to 8kg tackle is not able to do much lifting . After a few minutes of dead slow he has had enough and lights the burners heading now out towards where Paul is still hooked up to his big fish and being pulled out sea . Still more minutes pass of me chasing/ being pulled after my fish and again I get over the top and from here the rest of the fight degenerates into me trying to pedal forward and get some angle on him to plane him up and going in circles with short runs.
After 20 minutes I am now within shouting range of Paul who is still playing a hell of a good fish on really light tackle and also cant lift it either.. Paul offers to break his fish off and come over and get some pics but I say thanks but not yet as the fish was stuck 8 m below me . Another couple minutes pass and I get the feeling I am making progress and within a minute or two have leader in sight .Yelling to Paul I have colour He starts to try busting his off and suddenly his is coming up as well .
Being super patient I finally get the fish along side the yak and after a few goes slip the gaff in the jaw. As I pull the 27.5 kg (60 lb) 1.35 m Samson into my lap into my lap I am instantly grateful for the outrigger setups stability . It feels like I have a bag of cement in my lap and its a struggle to get it across onto the haka board. It’s totally spent and won’t release and has left me covered in slime and blood. Hearing the Jaws theme in my head I quickly clean as much as possible off .OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Paul has just got his into his lap as I pedal up and we take grip and grins of each other .Pauls fish is about 5 to 10cm shorter than mine and about 24kg (52lbs) on 15lb braid!!! Pauls fish is also spent and both were kept and eaten .paul samson 1cropfinalsml

samsons on boards final sml

The whole 30 o 40 mins this has been going on the wind has picked up and the chop and its a hard pedal the km or so upwind till the starting point of the fight .

Back where we started whilst chatting to each other how cool it was to both be battling big fish at once I decided to have a few more casts as I did not have a legal snapper onboard for the day …several minutes and a few drops on fish later my Scaly Mackerel is munched. Thinking to my self god I hope its not another sambo it soon shows colour and you ripper a nice Pink snapper is in the net again about the 63cm range .

snapper sml final

sambo and snapper sml final

Whilst I was doing this Paul has caught a lovely Flathead .

Running out of time and energy with a heap of cleaning to do we land on the beach and draw a fair bit of attention from beach goers which is not good for keeping spots quiet..OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

catch of the day sml final

Huge thanks to all the guys who came out on the past few trips and especially Paul who is an awesome Kayak Fishing Mentor.

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