We had Clarence Lee leading a group from Singapore, which included Nam from Vietnam and two newbies Abdullah Han and Gerald. December is a month we personally like to fish and we have had some great action over the last few seasons in this month. Clarence was a bit worried about the catch we would have – quite a few people have the notion that December is not ideal fishing conditions. We put his fears to rest the very first day of the trip but we will come to that later. This being the last 6-day charter of 2017, we wanted so much to make it a special one, to close out 2017 – one of our most exceptional seasons – on a high and add to our tally of biggies landed in the calendar year.
Clarence is now a veteran of our charters and knows how we like to fish. He had the team kitted out just to our liking, with PE 10 and the big lures including our very own 170 gm Kokari StickBaits and the new edition Kokari 130 and 160 poppers. Catching up and getting kitted out for the days ahead was fun and we actually had Singapore Chilly Crab for dinner the first night, courtesy Clarence.
We knew the action was expected to ratchet up a few notches each day as we had selected the dates carefully. However, on the first day itself we ran into some serious topwater action, with Nam’s TP Kustom getting smashed by a monster dogtooth and the thing screaming off, only for it to drop the hook. Then, as Nam was reeling in the just-dropped lure, it was smashed again; this time by a 30-kilo GT which we put on deck. I like it when we land a fish quickly the first day as it sets the tone nicely for the rest of the trip. A few moments later, Han is onto another big GT; again on the TP Kustom. We know from the fight that this is a good-sized fish and the solid, wide girth fish with a fork length of 129 cm is estimated at 42-45 kilos. One newbie has just got his PB – a 40+ kilo Geet with GFA. More bites followed, with a couple of rat GT’s landed and everyone getting warmed up to the conditions. The bite went off at the change of the tide and we tried out some jigging since there were some large marks showing on the sounder. We were immediately into the fish and had reels singing but instead of landing any of the fish we hooked we turned out with busted lines and straightened hooks. That’s fishing; you do not win always!!
One thing that we figured out early in this trip is that the fish were only feeding at one part of the tide; the rest was a period of no activity. We immediately adapted the game to take most advantage of the best fishing conditions. It was almost like someone putting on a light switch, as the bite came on and invariably we would start off with double and triple hook-ups, sometimes with two fish one lure as the fish went into feeding mode. Han got a double, on the Fish Trippers lure, of a GT and a Bluefin Trevally on each hook. Clarence got into a decent fish in the 25-kilo range that was followed by a monster GT below it; the big Geet however showed no interest even in the slapped lures at close range. That evening we had an entertaining and eventful shallow water session with a mix of big and small fish coming up together, so that one did not know what to expect. There were a couple of top-water explosions, which we knew were big fish, but we failed to set the hook on any till Clarence, again with the Black Kokari 160, managed to set the hooks on a good fish. We had to manoeuvre in shallow water to give him the best shot and Clarence handled it well, to put another great fish, just under the 40-kilo mark, on deck.
Fishing a deep spot the next day was absolute mayhem, with all four anglers hooked up at one go; two fish dropped and Nam was on again while Gerald and Han were fighting their fish. Han’s fish was putting on some serious pressure. Clarence was the only guy without a fish on at this point and he put out another cast. Two chugs in on the Kokari 160 and a beast GT comes up and literally bashes his popper three times – with the attack getting more savage each time – before the committed fish nails it. Clarence sets the hook and the line goes limp, we reel in to see that the tail flukes have cut the 200 lb leader just before the twisted leader. Really bad luck for Clarence as that fish would have sent the scale easily over the 40-kilo mark. In the middle of all this, guys are hooking up dogtooth on the jigs as well, landing some and busting off as well. Thankfully we got 4 fish on board from this insanity, with another biggie for Han. By this time Gerald was the only guy without a fish over 30 kilos on the trip and as a newbie he was giving it everything.
Temperament plays a huge part and Gerald would keep going even if the action slowed or died down. We know well that on a difficult day the guys who keep going catch fish. Gerald would have to wait till the penultimate day’s last session before his Temple Reef Ballista popper disappeared and his Monster Hunter doubled over, nearly launching him into the sea with the force of the take. Gerald managed to regain control and then fought the fish like a pro to put a very, very nice GT on deck. Clarence was not to be outdone and soon joined the act when his Carpenter Bluefish got slammed; what ensued was a crazy fight in shallow water. We thought that for sure this was the fish of the trip – it certainly won the distinction for the fight – but topped the scales at 35 kilos. I still think that the 25-35 kilo fish fight the hardest of all. We won some accolades from Nam who all this while was landing fish after fish in his own silent way; he said that the fight from the Andaman GT’s is much better than the Komodo GT’s, even though they are current-assisted there.
It was almost time to wrap the trip. Han proved to be Mr. Entertainer of the trip, with his jokes and unmentionable acts that had most persons on board running for cover. Lots of action on the last afternoon and Nam ended the trip with a twenty plus kilo silver GT that took the Amberjack stick-bait all the way in. Deft handling by Capt. Kantha got the hooks out without any gill damage, to release the fish to fight another day. With this we called done on the last trip of 2017.
We will let the pictures do the talking for the trip, fun times, good company and some awesome fishing in the islands in 2017. Stay tuned for our catch reports for 2018. Till then, we wish all of you a very Happy New Year.
Till next year,
Popping Rods: Carpenter, Ripple Fisher, HammerHead
Popping Reels: Daiwa Saltiga, Daiwa Dogfight, Shimano Stella
Popping Lures: HammerHead, Kokari Popper, Kokari Stick Bait, Fish Trippers Village, Carpenter Gamma, Carpenter Bluefish, Temple Reef, Amberjack Lures, TP Kustom Lures
Jigging Rods: Yamaga Blanks, Ripple Fisher, Temple Reef
Jigging Reels: Jigging Shimano Twinpower, Daiwa Saltiga
Jigs: Seven Seas, Flutter, Knife jigs
Species Landed: Giant Trevally, Dogtooth Tuna, Big-eye Trevally, Bluefin Trevally, Grouper, Bohar Snapper, Green Jobfish, Coronation Trout