Of all the pelagic species in the Andaman Islands, Giant Trevally scores very high in terms of size, strength, availability and providing probably the toughest fight of any gamefish. However, we had another newcomer to add a twist to what we have caught in this fantastic fishing ground. At this time of the year, as we have seen over the last two seasons, we have marauding groups of GT’s gunning for the lures as they go on a feeding frenzy and whether it is jigging, popping or on stick-bait, the action can be intense when you cross paths with the hungry horde. Weather-wise we had it bright and sunny with intermittent cloud cover and a much needed light tropical breeze that refreshed everyone on board.
Zeynul and Cassim, both friends from South Africa, made this trip on Zeynul’s recommendation as he has fished with us before and prefers to fish the Andaman waters this time of year. This trip they had planned on using light jigging gear, which is growing in popularity. We had the best tides at the beginning of the trip and, true to form, on day one, Zeyn was soon into a monster class GT which he put the brakes on and fought all the way to the boat. A lesson in GT fishing is never to celebrate till the fish is in the net. It was a hard one to learn when, with the fish within leader range, the hooks pulled leaving a hugely disappointed angler. The rest of the day some were landed but those were in the juvenile class. Moving on to jigging spots, Zeyn and Cassim put into action the light tackle gear they had brought, and it paid rich dividends for they were instantly hooked and landed several reef species. It was fun to see line being peeled off the reels as fish dived to the safety of the rocks below, the highlight of which were several coral trout. Evenings we made a quick stop at some popping spots in hope of getting a big GT. Well, casts were followed and lures smacked, but the ones we landed were all in the 10-15 kg class. With plenty of juvenile GT’s on the prowl, getting a big GT to take lures was a challenge. They had to work hard on the lures to raise them and we managed to raise a few but lost them to the quicker more agile smaller ones that were everywhere.
Friends Ibrahim and Salman paired with Arjun who had fished with us at the start of this season, fishing on the Rampage. All 3 of them had one thing in common – that they had come to target primarily the Monster GT’s of Andaman. Our plan was simple: to take them to our monster grounds and let them battle it out. For this group the action started slowly and the first day we did not find the fish. Even those we did land were small as in the area we fished the fish seemed very lethargic. Looking at the water temperature in the area it was 30 plus Centigrade, so the next day we decided to find the cooler water and this immediately paid off, with 41 fish landed for the day on both popper and jig. One popping session, after several casts, Salman put the Chug Norris popper into a nervous patch of bait fish. No sooner was the first pop given than the huge head of a big GT broke the surface and inhaled the lure whole and burned the drag off the reel on a long surface run. And so the battle had begun! Finally, when the fish was brought boat side, we could see the GT had engulfed the lure whole. The complete package of Zenaq Tobizo 83-100 paired with Stella 14000 did its job and the fish it landed topped the scales at 35kgs. Arjun hooked in a really good-sized GT, but unfortunately had not spooled his braided line tight enough and under the high drag the braid bit in and burst. It was a real disappointment for him, but we know all too well that you cannot afford any mistakes in this game.
Afternoons they wanted to go jigging and it was a good call for they had very good jigging action and immediately hooked onto a number of hungry Dogtooth tunas that tried to bust them on the reefs below and succeeded most of the times. As usual, you hook some unstoppable fish that you can only guesstimate the size of. What amazed us was that dogtooth tuna were unusually active and all of them got one landed, with Arjun hooking two back-to-back. Salman later told us that he had never seen doggies in these sizes and numbers in one spot. We also caught a lot of lesser Amberjacks. At one of the deep jigging spots we put down a live bait on Arjun’s personal live bait rod. It was soon snapped up by a marlin that took off. Unfortunately again, the line on this reel was not spooled tight enough and the braided line bit in and burst, losing a very good fish (a bitter lesson learned the hard way again about not spooling your line tight enough onto the reel). We recommend that anglers who do not have access to a spooling machine let us spool up your reels with line after arrival and before your first fishing day. On another of our jigging spots Arjun thought he had snagged the bottom, but the bottom moved and after a real backbreaking fight and a period of wondering what was on the other end, a stingray estimated at 100 kilos was finally brought to the surface. From Monster grouper to Octopus and now a stingray, what next we wonder? The guys had a blast popping and jigging, with lots of action through the day as long as we found the pockets of cooler water.
This brings down the curtain on the 2018-19 season, a season where we experienced it all from the highs and lows of fishing to numerous cyclones that pounded us in the early months. Through it all we had no incidents which once again is a testament to our dedication to safe operations. A big thanks to our team and all the anglers who fished with us, putting up with our constant demands to “CAST!”
Enjoy the pictures,
Popping Rods: Ripple Fisher F Stick, Ocean Ridge Ultimo 79, Shimano Kaibatsu, Saltiga S.Extreme, Zenaq Tobizo 83-110, Zenaq Fokeeto 83-6
Popping Reels: Shimano Stella 18000, 14000, 8000, Saragossa 10000
Poppers: Hammerhead, Carpenter Gamma, Orion, Amegari, Cubera 150, Kokari 130,160
Jigging Rods: Assassin Sierra Lite, Shimano Infinite, Zenaq Expedition EP55-14, Zenaq Fokeeto 83-6, Yamaga Galahad 595
Jigging Reels: Shimano TP 5000, Ocea Jigger 2000,1500, Daiwa 5500, Stella 6000
Species Landed: Giant Trevally, Amberjack, Bluefin Trevally, Barracuda, Dogtooth Tuna, Red Snapper, Coral Trout, Peacock Grouper, Green Jobfish, Rainbow Runner, Stingray, Yellowfin Tuna