When you see our boats heading out looking like a porcupine you know it has to be a group from Singapore. Zip, Derek, Thomas and Marcus were back for another try at some of our cracking Andaman GT’s. The excitement of the group was scuttled a bit when they had their arrival flight into Port Blair delayed due to an operational problem with the airline. They lost a full day and a half due to flight cancellations and we were relieved to finally see them at our doorstep. They all looked rather tired after their ordeal, but in no time their never-ending journey was soon forgotten and the balcony was lined with an array of monster landing tackle. Of special interest was a new Zenaq rod on test. Thomas’s niece Claire was our first lady angler for the season and this was her first time in the Andamans and her second offshore trip. This was Zip’s seventh trip here to fish with us and almost as many times for Derek and Thomas. For Marcus it was his second.
With an immediate 180-degree change in the winds from Southwest to Northeast, the weather gods were not smiling on us. It seemed like it was going to be a bumpy, windy trip and the forecast wasn’t looking like it was going to improve soon. With strong winds and rain blowing in from the NE it was a bit of a dampener, but the show had to go on. The trip started out to be one for species, with the big GT’s not playing ball. Zip was the man setting the pace and giving the rest a lesson or two on GT popping and jigging in the Andamans. We landed over 10 species of fish on day one. Zip kept jigging into the lunch break to land a nice Spanish mackerel that we decided to keep for the table. Marcus was instrumental in putting multiple species on deck with his light jigging that he seemed to be enjoying. Thomas was as usual having fun. However, it was great to see the enthusiasm that Claire put into her jigging and casting as she kept going through conditions that were at times wretched, to say the least.
We have known for the longest time that Zip has been after a big GT so looking at the forecast we tried to push further, but we had to keep our customers’ comfort in mind as well. After two days out on the water, getting soaked in the rain numerous times, the third day – the one with the supposed worst forecast – saw the weather change for the better and the fishing as well. Close to noon the fish started feeding quite actively and everyone was getting strikes, although Zip was stealing the show. A big Bohar Snapper lunged for the hammerhead popper and was putting up a good fight until a GT decided to rob the lure from the Snapper’s jaws, near the boat. In the chaos that ensued the snapper was freed, and Zip was left with a GT thrashing around at the end of his line, hardly any distance from the boat. A short fight ensued and after releasing the fish, Zip managed another double hook up on his next cast. This time it turned out to be a grouper that tried to snatch the popper away from another GT and landed up getting hooked rather properly. When the net was lowered to land the pair of fish we were surprised to see a smaller third fish in the net, a snapper that was regurgitated by the grouper. Five fish in two casts! The bait was all up on the surface and the GT hovering below these schools were hammering poppers that landed in the vicinity and provided the anglers with good action. With Zip up in the bow cage working the big hammerhead popper, it did not take long before it was nailed by a nice GT, which put up a great fight and turned out to be the biggest GT of the session which came in at 129 cm and was estimated in the 35-kilo range. It turned out to be a personal best here in the Andamans. We turned our focus onto jigging after lunch and kept the species tally rising in a list that included a beautiful yellowfin grouper.
The final day of their trip saw much better weather and the boat set out with a lot of anticipation. With less days to fish and weather having played spoil-sport, we were hoping for things to get better at least today and in a way it did. Around noon is when all the activity was at its peak, just after the tide change, with poppers getting taken violently off the surface. Marcus thought he had hooked a shark with his popper and kept screaming, “Shark!! Shark!!“. And he fought it, only to find that his shark had turned into a nice 30-kilo Giant Trevally, much to everyone else’s amusement as we all saw the give-away head shakes of a GT. Just after lunch Zip hooked up what looked a like a big fish and Marcus hooked a mid-sized one near boatside, up at the front of the boat. In the ensuing chaos we had to clear lines as the fish took off in opposite directions and crossed lines. Seeing the way the big fish Zip had hooked was pulling line off a high drag we decided to focus on getting the smaller one in first while maneuvering to give Zip the best angles. However, this turned out to be a mistake as Zip muscled the monster up much quicker than expected and it came up while the other fish was still being leadered. Trying to get the big fish into the landing net, the hook got stuck in the net and the fish popped free; with a slight shake of its head it came out of the net and we all watched it swim away in shock. Sorry Zip.
The trip had come to an end with many firsts for the season. It was great exchanging a few bits of history with Thomas and if we had known earlier Marcus was a chef we might have had him locked in our kitchen a few evenings.
Until next time,
Popping Rods: Smith Tokara, El Toro 150, Carpenter CV, Carpenter SH78 EXH, Zenaq
Popping Reels: Shimano Stella 14k,18K, Daiwa Catlina
Lures: Shimano Ocea pencil,Halco, Stickbait, El Toro, Hammerhead, Kokari 160 and Craftbait
Jigging Rods: Mudhole, Smith AMJ, Seed, Zenaq, Custom
Jigging Reels: Shimano Stella, Daiwa Saltiga, Daiwa Certate
Species Landed: Giant Trevally, Bluefin Trevally, Bludger Trevally, Golden Spot Trevally, Golden Trevally, Bonito, Dogtooth Tuna, Rainbow Runner, Green Jobfish, Rusty Jobfish, Tomato Grouper, Yellowfin Grouper, Coronation Trout, Coral Trout, Grey Reef Shark, Bohar Snapper