We had Vincent, Georges, Herve and Jean-Micheal from France book a trip with us in the Andaman Islands. The guys were relatively new to popping and Jean was on his first popping / jigging trip. We are starting to see a lot of anglers carrying travel popping rods and a lot of it has to with the fact that airlines are charging large sums for carrying rod tubes as part of checked-in luggage. Again, this is why we are offering quality popping rods from the Saltywater Tackle Selection for rent, to our clientele. The southerly winds of the previous week had dirtied the water in a number of areas, as we were to find out when we started fishing with the group, making the fish move into different areas with clear water. The guys had arrived two days early to acclimatize and get over the jet lag. We were all taking about BBC’s fantastic Blue Planet video and discussing how big GT’s would probably engulf anything when in the mood. Jean-Micheal had a problem with his Sakura travel rod and we had to get the wax off the ferrules first and then lubricate the sections with graphite before we could get the rod properly joined together. At least we were all sorted out and ready to go before the first fishing day.
When we got out on day one we were greeted with murky green water caused by the south winds pushing against the currents. This did not look very good and it translated to almost non-existent activity – either in the popping or jigging spots in the area. We did have a few bites around the tide change at noon, but again the action dropped off. Deciding to try something different, we tried a variation of our usual drift into even deeper water at the edge of the drop off. This did not take long to raise a big GT that hammered the popper twice before it nailed it, only for the mainline to part on the strike. It was with uncanny certainty a newbie i.e Jean-Micheal, who lost the monster after all the day’s effort, and it was also revealed that he had only 80lb line spooled. Again, we recommend PE 8-10 as a minimum for the Andaman Islands and hollow-core line.
The next day was a little better as we fished a different area and found water that was better coloured. We did have a few opportunities with some good fish but did not manage to convert them into hook-ups. We tried jigging and soon Vincent had what looked to be a really big GT hooked on his heavy jigging setup, with the customary telltale head shakes. But the rod exploded and Vincent was left trying to fight the fish with half the rod, which did not last long as the line went next under the heavy strain. What we definitely noticed in the first few days was that the strikes were only in the clean water, so we made up a plan to search out clear, clean water that was not affected by the wind.
We went to another of our spots where the water definitely looked a lot better and were almost immediately, like a good omen, rewarded with a strike on the second cast. Jean-Michael, the lucky man, was up next when his big cup-faced popper was sucked in classic big-fish style. The fish ran and after striking to set the hooks he unfortunately could not come to terms with the short pumps required to keep a big GT’s head pointing towards the angler. The Geet made another run and this time again bust off on a structure below. Around tide change the takes started happening from all directions and we witnessed a really amazing fishing day, with multiple double and triple hook ups and some amazing sights – like Herve hooking up to a GT, with a big grouper following all the way and finally snatching the lure out of the GT’s mouth. Herve landed the grouper, by the way. George’s popper bust off on a strike and we saw the floating popper being nailed multiple times. Vincent had a black GT follow his popper and smash it, only for his line to get tangled on the rod guides when he tried to set the hook. We all had the view of the GT sitting watching the lure as Vincent cleared his line; the moment he started to retrieve line, poof! the GT smashed the lure again, only this time it took off without getting hooked. The action continued with bites close to the boat. However, the big GT’s again proved they know more than just how to judge the angle of attack. I think they can sometimes also pick the angler whose lure to go for!!! Jean-Micheal was again slow to pick up the short-pump method of reeling in a GT and got bricked on the razor-sharp corals. Herve had another huge GT come sideways at his popper, swipe at it and not come back. Such is fishing. Some days you are lucky and others, not. It was still a great day out with some fantastic action to make up for the earlier slow action.
That evening we went over the fish fighting techniques again. Just think about it. You cannot afford to miss fish because you are not prepared both physically and mentally to tackle a big fish.
We decided to hit another area the last day in the hope that we could get something big on board finally. It was on the third cast for Vincent that his lure was literally annihilated and blown out of the water, only for it to land back and be smashed again, the fish totally in control. It never gave Vincent a chance and bust off shortly afterwards. A few casts later Georges hooked another big GT which must have taken least 40-50 yards of line in its first rush. He managed to stop it and got it to the boat when it made another run and the hook dropped out. The lucky man Jean-Micheal was up next with another big fish, but he dropped that as well with another hook pull. Three really great fish lost in one session was really disappointing for us as we are sure it was for the anglers as well. The fishing continued, with multiple strikes and lots of smaller fish landed. We ended the day with a group of sated anglers, which was great given the conditions we had at the start of the trip. Too bad on the big fish but at least we are happy knowing they are about, waiting for the next set of anglers.
Till next time,
Popping Rods: KOZ Expedition, Cape Cod, Daiwa Travel Rods, Hots, Daiwa Saltiga, Sakura Travel Rod
Popping Reels: Daiwa Saltiga, Daiwa Catalina, Shimano Spheros
Lures: Halco, River2Sea, Chinese Popper, Patriot Design, Williamson
Jigging Rods: Gamakatsu, Ambermax
Jigging Reels: Daiwa Saltiga, Daiwa Catalina
Jigs: Seven Seas, Sea Rock, Knife Jigs
Species Caught: Giant Trevally, Dogtooth Tuna, Big-Eye Trevally, Bluefin Trevally, Grouper, Bohar Snapper, Green Jobfish, Rusty Jobfish