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Nothing to show for it but sore shoulders


kiwicraig

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I went out for a kayak session yesterday as I had not done that for a while and it was a lovely day.  My plan was simple - drift along the edge of a sandbank and work the top of the bank with soft plastics, while dragging a bait along the bottom from one of the rod holders just over the drop-off.  That was the theory anyway.  Even though on the shore there seemed to be almost no wind there was a very inconvenient breeze out on the water that was pushing me up over the top of the still submerged sandbank.  This would not be the end of the world, but with the swell coming in the heads and boat wakes coming from all angles going over the edge of the sandbank  was not a great place to be as it was very washy and the angles the wave were coming form were very hard to predict.  

I did get a solid hit on the soft plastic right up on top of the bank but it didn't hook up.  

After a while and not much activity I decided to reposition into some deeper water that I thought would be a bit more out of the wind.  I put away the SP rod and worked a prawn along the bottom.  I still had a the other bait rod out the back as well with a whole pillie on a gang and enough of a sinker to keep it down the bottom on the drift. The prawn started to get hits straight away.  A couple of the bites were fairly aggressive and were probably small flatties, but more often it was the rat-a-tat-tat bites of the small bream picking my prawns off.  I was rebaiting that rod again when the big one bent over and started pulling line.  My first thought was it was snagged and the current was pulling the line out because it was not screaming, just coming off in a steady pull.  Once I managed get it out of the rod holder I did a big lift and was surprised to feel something come up off the bottom.  There was no fight, no tail beat, no headshakes.  At this stage I am thinking I have either snagged something like a waterlogged branch that is moving when I lift or a big stingray - as they are often around in Ettalong Channel.  We'll never no because the next lift the line relaxed and I wound in to find my gang still there, but the pillie gone.  

I repositioned for another drift over the same patch and rebaited with a fresh pillie.  This was hit fairly quickly and it felt like the target species, though I could tell it was no monster.  I got it up and confirmed that it was a little flattie - clearly undersized at about 33cm.  This is the point I made a decision that provided much amusement to the tinnie full of teens that was about 10m away when I got the fish to the surface.  Seeing it was just a little tacker I did what I would do when fishing from the boat.  I didn't bother with the net, I just lifted it in to unhook it.  The problem was that as soon as it hit the deck between my legs, it spat the hooks and tried to escape.  I just could not get a grip on the little bugger and with no net and no line attached to his lip I certainly was not the one in control of the situation!  He flopped over my right leg and made a dash towards my foot. I tried to grab him, he spiked me and reversed direction and wiggled all the way along my leg and retreated behind the seat.  Not wanting to hurt him I lift my bum up and grab him.  He spikes me again and shimmies all the way down my other leg right up to the hatch on the front of the yak.  Finally he opens his mouth!  I stick my thumb in and lip grip him.  Now that I have him I measure him and confirm he's undersized (was bang on my guess at 33cm) and let him go.  One of the kids in the tinnie says something like "whoa what a monster".  His mate says "shut up - he's caught more than us".  I just smiled. 

The humble flathead never ceases to amaze me.  33cm fish taking a whole pillie that must be about 1/3 of its body length. These guys can eat. 

I continued for a while longer and managed to land one more fish that was slightly better, but not good enough.  I netted this one which was SO much easier to deal with, did a quick measure - 35cm.

The current was really starting to run now and I had drifted fair way from the beach I launched from.  It was a fair slog back against the current - hence the sore shoulders today!  Frustrating to not get a feed but it was - as always - great to be out on the water and I'll take catching small fish over no fish any day.

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