Robert had made his booking with us last September and had his regular mates from down under fishing with him. The team comprised of Robert Sader, Frank Reaiche and Richard Terzian, of whom only Richard had done some GT popping in Fiji. The guys were eager to get out but had done the wise thing and kept a day on either side of the fishing days to recuperate after the flight in. With the new fishing rules in place ,we were the first operator to get the permits and we are happy to say that the new permit system is a lot easier. We spent their first day setting up their tackle and sharing knowledge on the best knots as well as giving the guys some advice on their setups and lure selections.
We planned for a 6:30 am start on day one with the plan being to get the guys used to the boat and the conditions and hopefully get in some action as well, which is just what the guys managed to do with a number of smaller GT’s, Dogtooth and the usual misses that normally happen on day 1. The guys also tried out some light jigging with Gomoku rods and had some fun with smaller fish; of course, there were the usual larger fish that jumped on and annihilated the small jigs.
Day two and we moved to different area. The southwest monsoon has not fully ended yet so we have to fish completely differently from normal. The guys had a quiet morning session with the few odd bites off and on. Post lunch and we had a different experience with the fishing activity really heating up. We had double and triple hook-ups as the GT’s came on the feed. Frank got lucky with his super plug and hooked into a really nice fish that gave him a tough fight. He used his size to muscle it as much as he could and a we got a really good fish boat side. Meanwhile, Richard hooked up as well, just as Robert got into a fish. After what is a few minutes of mayhem, we have 3 GT’s on the deck. One is 20 plus kilos while Frank’s is quickly measured in at 129 cm. Being really fat, this fish would have pushed the 40-kilo mark. However, we decided to get it back into the water ASAP, which was just as well because we needed to swim it a bit before it took off. Robert decided to go in for a last cast for the day when he saw a chase and was rewarded with another hook up which he converted, to end a great day.
The generally overcast cool conditions of the first two days gave way to more sunny conditions with a bit of westerly wind and chop, so we decided to start the day with some jigging. The first few spots produced a few fish including a nice grouper and a very nice sized Long-nosed Emperor for Richard. Moving to another spot we immediately got into the action and had a nice triple hook up, but luck did not favor us as two fish – most probably nice dogtooth tuna – reached the bottom structure and cut off. Frank, who was on a heavy jigging setup, had his rod bent double and the line screaming off the reel before the fish spat out the hook. With the big fish spooked, we landed a couple of small Dogtooth Tuna before we decided to try some time casting. Frank was again rewarded with a GT on his very first cast. Intermittent action followed, with a few moderate GT’s being landed. Frank put on his GT Mania popper and on the second cast his lure was slammed; not a big splash, but with the way the fish was pulling off line we knew it was a good one. The fish stops and we think for a moment that we have one over the fish; then those head shakes that are indicative that the Geet is getting ready for another run. The sounder looks ok, with no visible structures, and we tell Frank to hold on. Sure enough, the fish takes off again on another huge run; the next moment Frank says he feels some rubbing on his line and the GT busts off on some deep structure. This pretty much summed up day 3 for us as we were more than a bit unlucky not to get any of the lost fish onboard.
The overcast conditions returned and we knew that the fishing was going to be better on Day 4. The guys were after some Dogtooth on the jig and we had a likely spot that we wanted to try out. Sure enough, there they were and there were some big boys about. However, we got smoked more often than not. Both Frank and Richard were nearly there with the fish just two meters below the boat and clearly visible to all. An estimated 50+ kilo dogtooth took one last rush to bust off. Richard had another huge dogtooth follow his jig before slamming it one meter below the surface; with a huge tail slap on the surface it then shot off into the depths to never return. Getting to popping action as the guys wanted to mix it up a bit, it did not take long for the strikes to start and we had some great action with both small and medium sized fish. The big mamas came to the party as well but Robert, who insisted on using 80 lb braid, was the unlucky recipient of learning the hard way as he was bust off with both the chances he had almost instantly. It was still a great day out on the water with lots of fish landed; actually, an insane number of fish!! The guys were happy to get back and have delicious local mud crabs for dinner.
Robert has this idea of landing a big fish on light gear. While we know it’s not impossible, we know just how difficult it is on heavy gear, so try and figure the chances…he had had more than one chance on this trip with the usual outcome, but when he hooked into a big GT on a 30lb jigging setup and lasted beyond 30 minutes into the fight, we got hopeful. With the boat helping him to stay vertical over the fish, we thought this was going to be a first when we saw the last color of line left on his jigging reel at the end of a close to 40 minutes fight, but all it took was a tail kick and head shake for the GT to bust off. So near, yet so far away! Luck did smile on us when Dilip spotted a surface bust up and on motoring closer we saw a full feeding frenzy of birds, dolphin and Yellowfin tuna. All the guys were onto fish repeatedly, as we chased the fin, with some nice sized schoolies being landed in the 25-30 kg range. The guys got another species off the bucket list. We got back to our jigging and again into bad luck. Frank had a 300 lb swivel pulled apart by a monster dogtooth at near boat-side as well as one that broke a jigging hook; such was the force the fish were attacking with. Rickard managed to get a decent dogtooth onboard but nothing compared to the size of the missed fish. As usual, it’s a bit of a sobering experience for most anglers.
The last day saw us going after big fish for the last time this trip. The guys have already had more than a few chances, with the 35+ kilo being the largest till date. We had bites from the time we stared the fishing day, which is what we expected as we are almost on the full moon and had some big tides and ripping currents. It was unusually muggy and when we had a torrential rain shower everyone was just happy because it cooled everyone down. We expected the bite to get even hotter once the rain passed and this is exactly what happened. Robert had a huge bow wave behind his popper, he set the hook and bang the line exploded; again, please do not use 80lb non-splice-able mainline for GT popping. Fortunately, the popper floated to the surface and we got it back. 20 seconds later Frank got his turn when his lure was engulfed in shallow water. The fish took off on a long run but fortunately did not bust off on structure. It was the battle of the big boys and Frank won again, this time with a monster measuring 151 cm fork length, with a girth of 111 cm – the first proper “big mama” of the 2017-18 season and the first 50 kg-er for us this season. Well done, Frank! We had some more action with Robert coming tight and landing a 25 kilo GT and some more action with smaller fish. We moved to a jigging spot and again came into some big dogtooth.wWe managed to get one the boat at about 20 kilos weight, but there was no luck with anything bigger and we were bust off on bottom structure 3 times before we called the first trip of 2017-18 done and head back to port.
Till next time
Popping Rods: Hots, Daiwa Saltiga, Wilson Venom, Carpenter KLL
Popping Reels: Daiwa Saltiga
Lures: Super Plug, Heru Ulua 200, Sebille Bonga Jerk, Tail Walk Popper, Heru GT Mania, Heru Cubera 200, FC Labo, Kokari 160, Reefs Edge
Jigging Rods: Daiwa Saltiga, Wilson Venom, Jigging Master, Shimano Blue Rose
Jigging Reels: Daiwa Saltiga, Shimano Stella
Jigs: Shout, Seven Seas, Knife Jigs
Species Caught: Giant Trevally, Dogtooth Tuna, Big-eye Trevally, Bluefin-Trevally, Grouper, Bohar Snapper, Coronation Trout, Long Nose Emperor, Barracuda, Black Tip Reef Shark, Rainbow runner, Green Jobfish, Yellowfin Tuna