Report & Video: Sydney solo yellowfin mission

LIKE a lot of people I took advantage of a good weather prediction for Saturday 23 August and headed for Browns Mountain in my 4.5m Hinton runabout, a “flop” of the legendary Haines 445.

I was a little iffy about the weather prospects on the way out and almost called it a day just before the shelf, but found that conditions settled a lot just over the shelf so I pushed on.

Naturally, Browns was quite busy with lots of boats bottom bashing and I joined in on a drift over some marks that produced the goods a couple of weeks ago. I haven’t gone down the electric path and instead use my 30lb jig outfit, Samurai NV10 and Tyrnos 10ii, and the first drop produced a double of medium size gemmies. Well that was the bag limit out of the way, so it was now time to look for tuna.

There was a lot of talk about a couple of longliners about two miles north of Browns and a few fish around 25-30kg had been caught in the area, so off I went. I got called over to a mate that scored a couple of albies nearby but after a couple of passes I pushed on north.

I had happily been chugging along, through a couple of torrential downpours that left my dry gear soaked. As I got within 150m of the longliner beacon and buoy the short ‘rigger’s Pakula Cockroach in pink/brown, got smashed. The TTS50W howled like I’d never heard it do before.

The fish took off on a scorching first run that was 250m+, which was great as it was away from the longline and downwind which gave me a chance to drift along and clear the other three rods.

With everything cleared I put the boat in gear and idled along down the line and positioned myself on the starboard side so I had good access to the controls and gaffs etc. I’d set the boat up to solo gamefish and this system has worked well so far on a number of marlin this season.

After about 20 minutes I had the fish boatside but couldn’t quite get a grasp on the leader while all harnessed up and the fish got his head down and powered down about 30 metres or so and slugged away down for another 15 minutes before I was able to break his circles and start planing him up.

It was only now I was seeing how big this fish really was and I started to worry about how it was going behave when I put the gaff in it. But I had seen that there was a very solid hook set in the hard part of the jaw which gave me some confidence for the coming fight. It wasn’t long before I got the chance to find out and with the swivel nearly at the rod tip I dropped the rod into the rod holder, grabbed the trace and dumped the harness, scooped up the big fixed head gaff and struck.

The fish was stuffed and didn’t do a great deal and so I tried to skulldrag the fish up and over the gunwale. I got the head and shoulders up and over the height of the gunwale but I was just as stuffed as the fish and didn’t quite have the huff ‘n’ puff left in me to go the extra yards. Reluctantly I dropped him back to the water and made a couple more attempts without success. I decided now to tail rope him and secure him to the stern while I nutted things out and caught my breath.

In the end I fed a rope through the gills and out the mouth, which has left my hands well and truly skinned. When I had my hand up his gills I had visions of that double shackle rig getting buried in my hand and I had to mess around a little to get the rope through without having to stick my hands back in there.

I took a moment to catch my breath, dropped the tail rope off the ski hook and drew the fish’s head up to the gunwale. I just waited for a decent swell to come up and heaved on the fish, getting him half up and over the gunwale and reefed back and the fish came spearing into the boat.

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Thumbs up – Josh was all smiles after finally getting his ‘fin in the boat.

I was pumped and just sat there on the floor for a moment before moving the fish around and getting some GoPro footage holding the fish up. This is the downside of fishing solo, no one to get good quality pics while the fish is still lit up and looking its best.

I ripped up the boat carpet and wrapped the fish with it, stuffing a couple of bags of ice and frozen water bottles in there to try and keep it in the best possible condition I could while I made my way home.

Less than five minutes after starting home I spotted a fin poking out of the water and as I approached I realised it was a sunfish. I dunked the GoPro and got some footage of it swimming along – pretty cool thing to see for the end of winter – see video below.


I was pretty keen to see what the fish weighed, I’d guesstimated it at 60-70kg, so I swung past Watson Bay and was lucky enough to find “Ambition” (Ivan), “Persuader” (Steve) and “Pitchy”, amongst others, at Sydney Game Fishing Club and I asked if they could weigh the fish for me. I was pretty close with the final weight of 76kg and absolutely stoked with a PB that will take some time to beat. I hit the jackpot as well when Pitchy offered the services of Craig and Charlie to fillet and butcher the fish in exchange for some meat – there was plenty to go around!


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