Longtail season is drawing to a close for another year and while there will still be a few larger specimens around throughout the year, days of boiling fish to cast at are numbered. Last year we had six weeks off work and parked off at Moffats for the duration. This year we could only manage the one week off and as luck would have it, our beach shack of choice was free.
Fishing the ABT bass tournament at Lake Mcdonald in the rain on the first Sat of the week, I have to admit to not being too disappointed to not land one with the week of predicted good weather and screaming drags in front of me.
Sunday morning was blown out and wet so fully rigged and chafing at the bit, we hit the water before first light Monday morning. Not far past the headland a boil fired up, Lynette hit the sweet spot first cast and set about catching dinner for the next 40 minutes or so. Bled and in the bag we soldiered on in 10-15k for a few more hours without another sighting.
Tuesday there was a drizzle but zero wind and on a glassed out sea, the fish fired all day within 200m of the shoreline. They had the bait balled up in the small bay created by Kings headland and it was a free-for-all all day long. Desperate to get on the board for the week, I had two lines trolling and as we rounded the corner, I fired my first cast into a boil and hooked up. The fish ran straight to the back of the boat, picked up both trolled lines and within seconds I had cranky longtail peeling line and a ball of braid, leader, a plastic and a small hardbody about 10ft from the tip of the rod and threatening to jam in the end runner every time I tried to take line back. After 15 minutes of snipping away at the ball with the rod in my left hand, scissors in the right and a longtail on, I had retrieved the lures and managed to trim enough of the braid ball away so hopefully it wouldn't jam and I could fight the fish. Until....... I went for that one last snip and cut the fish off. Thought I had it on video but alas I muffed that too.
Now I have three rods without leader, Lynette is on her second fish and the longtails are jumping over the front of the yak. Surprisingly I cussed little, tied a double uni, cast into the next boil and hooked up. Twenty minutes later the fish broke the surface and then the leader knot parted. Fwaark!!! Counting the fish that didn't hookup on the troll on the way up, that's three lost chances. Undeterred, I helped L land her fish, tied a double uni on the heavy rod, tossed it out the back and proceeded to tie my first fg knot on the water. As I applied the finishing touches, the drifted plastic went off. This time I went easy and after 40 mins or so I had my first fish on board for the week. With two fish to fillet we headed in.
Wednesday I was knackered, so had a rest. The weather was probably the best day of the week and the fish were busting up in Moffat Bay but I didn't have the energy to go out. Lynette and a friend went for a sail.
Recharged for Thursday it was another hot session in the same spot. Lynette was on first again. This fish gave her curry for well over an hour and still had plenty of kick when it came aboard. This is the look I got when I told her at the 20 minute mark she still had an hour to go. Little did I know it was true.
We managed to release all but one that day and the bycatch on our drifted plastics wasn't too bad either.
Hoit showed up from Melbourne Thursday night and by 9am the following morning was hooked up to a fat longy. BigAlex was also up and spent the entire day on the water, only coming in after dark and after he managed to land his own fish (top photo).
Saturday and Sunday were more of the same. A cold session in the morning, wind gets up until 3pm and out for another fish in the afternoon when the water glassed out. The video shows it all.
The majority of fish were taken on 20lb on 4-8kg sticks, casting into boils. The rest were accounted for by drifting the same plastics out the back. Hardbodies didnt get a lookin this year though we did give them a good run early on in the season. I don't believe I cast a metal at them this year though I did waste a hot morning session throwing poppers, a duel Adagio and waxwings. The poppers got a few follows and swipes but I didn't manage a fish on any of them. In the end we were taking two 20lb casting sticks, a few jigheads and a packet of plastics each and leaving everything else behind. This class of rod is good enough to drift\troll plastics and its very handy to have a second casting stick ready to go, when the excitement gets the better of you and some casting error sees your primary outfit in a tangled mess, while the fish jump over the front of your kayak and you're pulling at braid knots and cussing at the top of your lungs. Sound familiar?
I have always used the Nitro Saltwater Pro range without too many lost fish. In general the fish are hooked in the corner of the mouth.
They seem to be releasing a range with Owner hooks. They aren't as heavy gauge as the previous brand hook they used. (Not sure what brand that was). 1\0 jigheads in 3\8oz or heavier can be hard to find in tackle stores. Heavy weight + small hooks is an unusual combination for most fishing applications. We tried a packet of TTs and also the new Nitro SW Pro with the Owner hooks. We stopped using the TTs after we deformed three of them. Also managed to deform one of the Nitro (+ Owner hook) too. The fish were always landed so I guess they did their job..... once!!
To date I haven't straightened one of the Nitros with the silver hooks.
Most fish were taken on 20lb braid + 40lb leader. About 60\40 sightcasting into boils over drifted\trolled.
As you can see in the photo, spreading the gape of the TTs was the most common deformation. The SW Pro twisted. Lynette even got one fish on the #1 size SW Pro when she used it by mistake.
Each of these paddletail plastics caught multiple fish. All drifted\trolled out the back. I used 1\0 hooks in the ZMans and 2\0 hooks in the Lucky Crafts. Each of these should have caught fish and on a busy day would likely get nailed. However each failed after a number of money shots into boils. This one got smashed everytime it hit a boil and also accounted for a few fish drifted out the back
Author: Paul O'Leary