At the end of April I had great pleasure in meeting Yamada San and 4 other Japanese fishermen in their hotel in Kirinda. As usual their equipment is ready and there are some new toys, but surprisingly there were also a few vintage lures and rods like the Ulua & Kamajan. To see these vintage rods reminded me of when I was selling them in a tackle shop in Paris. Few people know them and many have forgotten them, but before Carpenter and Ripple Fisher, these rods were a reference in GT fishing on popper. These rods may come from another time but they are still good to catch GT. The action is a little stiff and the design is dated, but I can understand these fishermen, having caught their first GTs with these rods, never wanting to part with them. After a short briefing on their 4 day fishing trip we’re set to meet the 5 fishermen at the Kirinda harbour the next morning.
We begin the first day with jigging. Indeed, given the results with the previous group, I wanted to check the fish are still there, especially GTs that I think are staying down at 60 to 80 m deep. Then we reach the first jigging spot with a beautiful weather. It’s very hot, no breeze at all. The sea is calm like a mirror, the water colour is dark blue and on the way we see some birds cruising, a whale breath and a group of spinner dolphin playing. Conditions are ideal to have the chance to meet some Yellowfin Tuna like last time. I advise the Japanese to get their casting rod ready with some stickbaits, just in case. The sounder starts to show some marks of fish, it’s time to drop the jigs! First drop and first bites. The guys landed some nice Rusty and Ruby Jobfish. The action doesn’t stop till I spot a flock of birds. I ask the guys to up their jigs quickly and be ready to cast. Just when the last jig was out of water the birds are concentrated in one spot and I see nice fish busting just under. TUNA !!!! Start the engines, push the throttle to full speed >> direction tuna>>. When we arrive, the activity starts to slow. The guys have time to make a couple of casts, but due to the adrenaline rush, these casts are not really accurate, lines cross and lures tangle. When the activity in surface stops, I look at the screen on the sonar and see some big marks of fish middle of water. Everybody is casting in the hope of having a bite on topwater, I take a jigging rod and drop the jig. A few cranks and I have a bite. I strike and give the rod to it’s owner to fight the fish who gives him a hard time. He lands a nice Yellowfin Tuna around 25 kg. This one is for the sashimi for dinner.
Yamada points his finger in the direction of birds and we start to see tuna busting again. And again we chasing them, but this time I ask three guys to cast at the bow and the two others to be ready with jigging rod. Casts are more accurate but the lure movement is a little bit too fast and it’s one of the jiggers who has the bite. He lands another nice 15/20 kg Yellowfin Tuna that we release directly in the water. Birds are now staying on the water surface and look like they’re waiting for the next bit of tuna action. We do the same, waiting… but after a while nothing happens. The birds are still staying in the area. It’s time to have lunch. After lunch there’s no Tuna activity at the surface. I decide to reach the drop off, which is close to the busting area and where I have some jigging spots around 100 m depth. The Japanese drop their jigs and start to catch some fish including a decent Dogtooth Tuna and some Yellowfin Tuna around 10 kg. On the way back to harbour we stop at a popping spot, but there’s no activity.
The next day, to be sure about the activity on top water we made a quick stop at some popping spots but only two fish come and push the lure. We return to jigging and have a great day on in the deeper spots (100 m+). They catch Amberjack, Dogtooth Tuna, Ruby and Rosy Jobfish. In the afternoon, we fish spots of 50/70 m depth and the 5 Japanese enjoy catching plenty of GTs around the 15 kg mark and other species like Gold Spot Trevally, Golden Trevally and a decent Spanish Mackerel.
On the third day I decide to fish another popping area but like the last 2 days popping activity is poor, only 2 or 3 small GT come on stickbait in the morning. We decide to go jigging and I propose a new jigging area I haven’t tried before. This area has a nice seamount with a top at 73 m and a depth of 100 m around. The guys love the idea and we run in a direction of this undiscovered spot. The GPS chart is not so accurate and it takes me a while to find it. I find the top of the spot while trolling Marlin lures at lunch time, just in case. I start to delimit the drop off with waypoints and while doing that I spot a school of nice fish marks on the sonar at one side of the seamount. I manage a drift and right where the drop off starts the sonar also shows us some big fish marks. Everybody drops their jigs and one of the Japanese has a bite on the drop but misses the fish. Another one on his third jerk has a serious bite and the fish rushes so fast, his reel is screaming like hell. As is usual with our considerate Japanese fishermen, when one of them is on with a big fish everybody retrieves their line as fast as they can to let his friend fight the fish without interference. I follow the fish with the boat to help and when the boat is on top of the fish the fisherman starts to pump. The fish is heavy and fast in it’s rush. Everything is going fine, but sadly for some reason the hook is off. We are all really disappointed because we all want to know what this fish was. I think it must have been a big Tuna. I try to find the big marks again but the fish have left the spot. We fish the seamount and catch a couple of GT and Grouper, but nothing big compared with the fish we just lost. Anyway, the guys at least had the opportunity to catch a big fish and I have a new jigging spot with great potential for another time. On the way back I stop at another jigging spot and they have a very good action with nice Cobia, Amberjacks and GT’s. A nice to finish the day.
On the last day the guys want to try more popping and less jigging. I plan to start with jigging in the morning and after lunch fish some different popping spots on the way back. On the jigging spots they have good action with some Gold Spot Trevally and couple of GTs. After lunch they focus their last effort on popping. The first two spots have some bait schools on the surface but no predators around. Finally, on the next spot, they have good action with some GTs but they landed only 2 from 12 bites. We finish the day on one deep water popping spot and Yamada has a big GT come for his Cherry Boy stickbait. The fish doesn’t bite properly and never comes back.
This years extreme temperatures in April have obviously affected our topwater action. The climate is less and less predictable and like the fish we are going to have to adapt our techniques to make the most of the conditions. The trip was not great for popping action but our jigging spots made up for it with some great Tuna action as well. If you’re planning a trip with us don’t forget to bring your jigging tackle because jigging can be amazing in terms of variety of fish and with a really opportunity to hook up a monster fish at any time.
Dogtooth Tuna, Yellowfin Tuna, Amberjack, GT, Ruby Jobfish, Cobia, Rosy Jobfish, Rusty Jobfish, Goldspot Trevally, Bludger Trevally, Golden Trevally, Spanish Mackerel and Grouper
Rod: Smith, MC Work,Ripple Fisher, Carpenter, Daiwa, Ulua and Kamaja
Reel: Shimano Stella, Daiwa Saltiga, Rioby Safari, Studio Ocean Mark
Lures: Hammer Head, Carpenter, Shell Shaping
Jigs: Yambal, CB One, Hot’s