Come mid-April and we are running groups of single anglers or join-in trips on all three boats. These trips have been hugely popular for the angler who can’t get a full group together to fill a boat. We had Bertrand and Hubert from France, with father and son Williams on the Reef Raider, Ming, Michael and Gary on the Tropical Star and Saso and Habic Senior with Chris and Matteo on the Rampage. There was hugely diverse experience within the groups, and we were hoping to be able to get the grouping right. In the end it worked out just fine and a big thank you to all the participants for cooperating with us to let this trip go through so smoothly. This trip again was one that had it all, from intense continuous activity to periods where the fish would not take anything thrown at them. All this put together in the tropical sun and near windless conditions made endurance and persistence a must and that’s where all the anglers really gave it their all.
In this week we saw that the fish were constantly moving from spot to spot. We would find them at a specific location in a full area and then they would be gone. The light jigging provided the entertainment, as usual, with lots of action when the topwater and heavy jigs failed to deliver. One session we smoked by dogtooth on a couple of occasions with the lighter gear so Saso decided to get out his heavier gear and for a change, he got smoked on that as well. Well, what can you say other than Doggie!! Saso did make some amends for this – the very next day – when he hooked and landed an estimated 100 kilo Marlin on jig; no mean feat and a super catch. Matteo, on the other hand, is a casting machine. He keeps going and going and, after we had given him some advice about working his lures, the man came good. He had plenty of strikes and follows on the Alles Lurres popper and had two really good 35 and 25 kilo GT’s on this trip, along with a whole lot of smaller ones upto 20 kilo. We had some really great action on all the boats for a few days, with each of the boats totaling in excess of 20 GTs per boat. On other days it slowed down to about 10 fish per boat. That’s fishing and especially in the tropics there are days when the fish just won’t feed at all on the anglers’ lures.
We have been seeing huge amounts of bait fish covering the entire area, from bonito to mackerel schools the size of tennis courts, forming the well-known “devil’s cauldron”. This may explain why the GTs are reluctant at times to go for the topwater lures. Even the ones we caught were full, with distended stomachs from gorging on the plentiful offerings.
Running out to the bank on the Reef Raider we came upon a school of feeding dolphins interspersed with Yellowfin Tuna. For the lures that landed in proximity there were immediate takes and all the anglers had strikes, with Bertrand hooking a good-sized one estimated at around 50-60 kilos. While he was fighting this one Hubert’s Dumbell popper got hit as well. Unfortunately, Bertrand lost his tuna, but Hubert landed his first ever, an estimated 45 kilo YFT. We had a few more schoolies of up to 20 kilos before the action died down.
Moving onto our jigging spots there were bonito schools everywhere and they suddenly erupted just meters from the boat. Chase cast into the school and his lure was immediately nailed by a big sailfish. However, he did not get a hook set as the drag was GT style and the fish did not turn away so he could set the hook, a real disappointment for him. Sending down a live bonito – for marlin perhaps – it was soon snapped up by a large fish which turned out to be the taxman – an estimated 70 kilo grey reef shark that we photographed and then safely released. They also had some great topwater action days with 25 and 31 fish landed on two days and had a huge giant grouper follow up a hooked GT all the way to the boat. Luckily the grouper did not swallow the GT as everything would have been lost in the shallow water. Bertrand landed a good-sized 30 kilo plus fish and everyone in the group had chances on much larger fish which failed to stay on the hook.
Ming was the most experienced angler on the Tropical Star with Michael and his old man being new to popping and jigging. Michael was a natural and soon picked it up, while Ming got his topwater dogtooth – a 15 kilo specimen – on day one. They also had some great jigging action with dogtooth on a deep spot, landing twelve smaller ones and losing one unstoppable. Turning their attention to popping they had an excellent day, with a lot of fish in the 15-25 kilo range. Michael hooked into a large GT on the Kokari popper that has been doing most of the damage these last weeks. In shallow water this fish acted differently and went straight for the reef. In spite of having the drag in near lockdown the fish still made to the jagged corals and bust off.
We had our fair share of raises and missed opportunities on the big boys as well. This April, as in the last season, we are seeing a large number of smaller fish that are literally snatching the lures away from the bigger ones that we managed to raise, leading to much frustration for all on board.
As usual we will let the pictures do the talking. Stay tuned for our last few reports as we come to a close of the 2018 -19 Season.
Popping Rods: Hanta 79-8, 80-2, Shimano Caranx Kaibutsu, Carpenter TBL, Race Point 150
Popping Reels: Shimano Stella 18000, 20000, Twin Power 14000,10000, Saltiga 6500,
Poppers: Patriot, FCL, Chug Norris, FCL, Strategic Angler, Dumbell pop, Halco, Siren, Kokari 130,160
Jigging Rods: Hanta 53-4, 73-6, TWC Monster Rod, OIDA Jigging rod, Ocean Legacy, Saltiga Hiramasa
Jigging Reels: Shimano Saragossa 5000, Daiwa Saltiga 4500, 5000, 6500, Stella 5000, 10000
Jigs: Neap Single Eye, Juice 250gm, Ballyhoo
Species Landed: Giant Trevally, Green Job Fish, Rusty Job Fish, Dogtooth Tuna, Bohar Snapper, Bonito, Yellow Fin Tuna, Barracuda, Blue Fin Trevally, Coronation Trout, Red Snapper, Long Nose Emperor, Coral trout, Marlin