Brendon and I after a great trip
Waking up at 4am for a pre-dawn fishing trip isn’t all that hard for me anymore. With a toddler who has been waking up around 4:30am each morning, it is just normal. There was no 4:30am sneaking out the back door like the old days – Christina was up and so was her Mum, so goodbye hugs farewelled me as I left on a valued offshore kayak fishing trip.
Although I have been lucky enough to fish offshore a few times since Christina was born, I haven’t caught all that much. On the previous trip, I hooked up and dropped two suspected large snapper on a trolled lure before a large shark approach me and I freaked out, heading back to shore. Other trips have resulted in yummy squid but not much else, except for fathers day last year (see previous report). I had no bait, and had done no preparation, so did not have many expectations besides enjoying a calm morning on the water catching up with Brendon.
First keeper for the morning by Brendon (photo: Brendon Chambers)
A calm ocean greeted us as we launched at a beach in the pitch dark. Being mid winter, the boat traffic was minimal but I wore two head torches and used a 360 deg white light just in case. There was still a couple of hours left before the sun was due to rise, prime shallow water snapper fishing time. Although I had no bait, Brendon kindly gave me a bunch of whole Cockburn Sound squid he caught on a recent trip but didn’t eat. There is no better bait than local squid, and no better time to fish than just before first light – so we went straight to our reefy ground in 7-8m of water.
Brendon landing his first kayak caught Samson Fish
It started off a bit quiet, but soon we were seeing plenty of fish on the sounder that looked snapper-ish. I hooked up soon afterwards, and up came a pinkie of about 45cm. Suspecting that all the arches were fish this size, I wasn’t prepared for what came next.
Brendon – Success
Seconds after dropping a whole squid on snelled circle hooks straight over the side in 8 metres of water, it was hammered big time. The fish took off at a high speed, and I called it for a really big pinky. Only a few seconds passed before I felt the gut wrenching scraping of braid against rock, and I wound in a piece of severed braid. Bugger!
A bunch of fish remained on the sounder and shortly afterwards Brendon also hooked up, but suffered a similar smoking after a short fight. Something was distinctly unsnapperish going on. The bottom was pretty flat but these fish still managed to bust us off and fought relentlessly. I had suspicions about what they were…
Brendon hooked up big time onto the secnd Samson
I hooked and dropped a couple more nice fish, along with landing more just undersized snapper. Just to try and prove me wrong, Brendon also hooked a nice fish, but this time landed a pinky about 69cm long. Great stuff! Just to even the score, I hooked up and landed a snapper slightly larger as the first hint of light hit the eastern horizon. The trip was a success for both of us and we had only been out less than an hour. Little did we know it was going to get a whole lot better.
Second Samson landed
Brendon and I both had ancient side scanning sounders which rarely showed fish unless there were big schools around, and we were both seeing these big clouds of fish this trip. This enabled us to search around and find them before dropping a bait on their head in the pre dawn gloom. It didn’t take long before I was smoked yet again, re-rigging just the hook this time as I had tied on a very long leader. Just as I got ready to cast again, Brendon hooked up. The fish took off, and I could tell, even from a distance, this was no snapper. Even the biggest pinkies can be stopped in 5 minutes. This had Samson written all over it and Brendon was excited – this was a fish he had been chasing from a kayak for ages.
Landing Samson number 3
I was expecting Brendon to suffer the same fate as me earlier, but he expertly fought the fish and eventually landed a nice specimen, a Samson of 1.17m and 14.3kg. As his first Samson, Brendon kept it as they go pretty well in a curry. Back to fishing!
The big arches and clouds of fish remained on the sounder as the sun peeked its nose over the horizon. I hooked up and was smoked around the bottom yet again, and was re-rigging for the 3rd time that morning when Brendon hooked up again. This time after a spirited fight, a Samson of about 80 to 90cm came up. After a quick photo it was released back to the depths.
Samson number 3
Meanwhile I hooked up again and it was a big fish. I’ve caught a couple of large Samsons from the kayak, one which took 2 hours to land, and I really did not feel like another long struggle that morning though I was very happy to see Brendon getting stuck into them. It was almost a relief when the Samson busted me off after a couple of minutes as I really wanted to spend that time catching a snapper. Rerigging for the 4th time commenced.
The sounder was still alive as I put my last squid head on a single circle hook and dropped it overboard. The sun had risen but the fish didn’t seem to care – bang! I was on again.
My pinkie – fought like a Samson
This fish fought hard like another Samson – I was certain of it – and I attempted to control the fish. After a few minutes I managed to retrieve line and bring it up from the bottom, keen to at least land one of the long tackle stealing fish. To my surprise, up came a nice Snapper, only just lip hooked. I nervously reached around for the net and was relieved to land it after a few aborted attempts. Bag limit sorted and fish dinner for the first time in months.
Back at the beach
The bite starter to get a bit quieter, but it didn’t stop Brendon from landing another Samson about 80cm. I also hooked up on large fish a couple of times but dropped them both before we decide to head home.
What an amazing couple of hours of fishing and in beautiful, calm conditions. I have no doubt that the locally caught squid was the key to success, along with the early hour we were fishing. Thanks a lot to my fishing buddy Brendon for giving me some squid which no doubt were the reason I went home with some snapper. I’m really happy to have seen Brendon catch and land some great Samson fish during what was possbly our hottest ever metro offshore session.
Christina loves fishing
Back home, I cleaned the pinkies while miss 16 month old looked on in excitement. I cant wait to take her out in a kayak one day. The next day I went shopping to replace my decimated supply of terminal tackle – Christina came along too and came home with a present – her first fishing rod.