This ongoing season we had some of our regular guys come back to fish, bringing with them some newbies who had heard of these fabled fishing grounds but had not had the opportunity to fish as the window is narrow, and slots get filled up fast (about a year ahead). The weather, as predicted, was slightly windy with lightly rippled seas, conditions that are best for GT fishing. We had 3 groups fishing simultaneously, each vying for the biggest catch and the highest tally of fish landed, so you can imagine how the discussions at the dining table went each evening.
We had Hout from the States, leading the brothers David and Chris, who had planned a mammoth 8-day fishing trip with us. This was the second trip that the guys were doing with us and it was great to see how far they had come since their first trip with us, back in 2016. This time around, they had done ample research on the best lures to carry for the trip. With the best gear on hand the guys were all set and ready to go and we had planned the trip so as to fish in different areas.
The trip started slowly, with a few GT’s up to the 25-kilo mark being landed, and the usual few missed. The highlight was Hout getting in on the action with his light casting setup and landing a 30-kilo Geet on a PE6, after a great fight. On the fourth day we made a trip down to one of the southern islands and were immediately rewarded with top water strikes. However, shortly after, the current died down and we decided to try some light tackle jigging. Hout soon hooked into what we thought could only be a large Grouper, on his PE3 outfit. We all had a bit of a laugh about how long it would take him to land the fish on his skinny outfit and remarked that we might as well sit down to lunch instead of waiting for the fish to be landed. 40 minutes into the fight Hout suddenly says, “I’ve lost it; the sharks have got the fish.” What did come up was a very sad-looking and a very much dead bluefin trevally that had obviously been inside a large grouper. So much for that! We decided to have lunch.
Post lunch we resumed our jigging and were soon into multiple fish. Unfortunately, the lines had tangled, but the skipper did a great job of getting the first fish – a small dogtooth – on board. David, who had something very heavy on the end of his line, said he was stuck in the reef till Kantha told him otherwise. Then ensued a proper tug of war with the MC Works Souther Blue being put through its paces. Our first thoughts were that it was a World Record GT but when it came up to the surface, belly up, we were greeted by an ENORMOUS grouper (don’t take our word for it; have a look at the pictures!). We put the monster landing net to good use with this beast – estimated at about 400 lbs – and boated it so we could release it after venting properly and a few quick pictures. David had just landed the largest fish of his life right here in our very own Andaman Islands! With this done we continued with our popper action and Hout joined the party by landing another feisty GT in the 28-kilo range before we called the day.
The fishing did have its moments and at times it was difficult, as we had northerly winds upsetting the drifts, making working the lures correctly difficult. Persistence in these conditions pays and the guys, we must say, gave it their all. Light jigging on the reefs gave us some nice fish such as coral trout, bluefin, green jobfish and even a few baby dogtooth tunas.
David was involved again in another action scenario when he hooked a 30 plus kilo GT in skinny water and the handle of his Saltiga 6500 stripped its threads and could not be used. We had to switch handles with an angry GT connected, as Kantha and Manoj manually cranked the fish. Once the new handle was fitted (luckily its threads held!!), David took over and landed his PB Geet for the trip.
There were a few fish that we missed and on one reef, after lunch, we had a few strikes in quick succession. Chris had a very nice-looking fish that came up and took his popper but missed the hook up. As we had action, we did the drift again and this time Hout had a nice fish come up and smack the Napalm. This time the fish was on and the Carpenter CV had no problem taming the GT which we weighed at 35 kilos, to give Hout his PB GT so far.
This trip was no different for Lam & gang on the smaller boat, as they had a blast landing several GT’s, so much so that they had to take a breather while going from one spot to another. Lam himself confessed that the Andamans is GT surplus and one need not go anywhere else. He and his group had more than their fill of GT action and were glad when occasionally, at the end of the line, there was something more docile to reel in, as the look on their faces said. They fished at all the spots we had planned, and it turned out exactly as predicted. The combination of Daiwa Saltiga 85XHS rod with Saltiga 5000H & 6500 reels had the most effect, coupled with Saltiga Meisters 22 stick bait and they put it to maximum use reeling in the most fish, almost all GT’s.
Yamada, our partner in Japan, has been sending us group after group for years now. Our Japanese anglers almost find fishing a way of life; they take great pains and pleasure in performing this activity, almost to a holistic level. They had come looking for top water action and were well kitted for it. From day 1 they had ample strikes and landed several GT’s but they had come looking for the one they could boast about. It became a duel as the group was divided into two boats, skippered and led by Capt. Rama & Capt. Dilip, who gamely took on the challenge. There were days when there were multiple strikes and hook ups, leading to several duels being fought onboard simultaneously, and the atmosphere was that of a war room straight out of a movie. The Captains reported excellent fishing activity, to the extent that lunch on board was a rushed affair so as to take full opportunity of perfect conditions and ample strikes.
Takata San & Shinkai San came quite close to bagging the biggest one and it was difficult to determine which was bigger, but both replied on Carpenter Rods paired with Shimano Stella 18000HG reels to bag their biggest. In the end we had happy faces all around, with a tinge of satisfaction showing on the group leader’s Yamada San’s face.
At the end of the week all three groups ended with satisfying results and got more than they had planned for. Looking at these results it seems that this season promises to be full of surprises, so tune in to gamefishing asia.com for more GT action in the Andamans. Will let the pictures do the talking as usual.
Till then, tight lines and keep casting.
Popping Rods: Carpenter CV 79/40, TBL 80/35, BC 75, MH79XH, EP85/36, PSC61MLR, Black Current 75MHS, Endless Passion 85/36, PSC 61MLR, RippleFisher Ultimo 86, 80MH, GT Nano, F-Stick80, Ultimo 79, Plugger BG 86, 83, 80, Carpenter Super, Blue Chaser 83/40, 80/40,
Popping Reels: Shimano Stella 14000, 20000, 18000, 16000, SW 18000HG
Lures: Amegari Hammerhead, Carpenter Fish Tripper, Hammerhead, Andaman Hooker, Daiwa Speed, Shaku Pen ¾, Mura Mura Popper, Saltiga Meisters 22
Jigging Rods: MC Works 548SS, NB621SS, Explosion 864H, Southern Blue
Jigging Reels: Daiwa Saltiga 6500, 4000H, 5000H, EXP5500, Catalina 5000H
Species Landed: Giant Trevally, Blue Fin Trevally, Barracuda, Wahoo, Dog Tooth Tuna, Rainbow Runner, Grouper, Job Fish, Bonito, Red Snapper, Coral Trout, Gold Spot Trevally