Zeyn, an avid angler who has been bitten by the GT fishing bug, was instrumental in putting the trip together for this group of friends from South Africa and his nephew Mohammad had been roped in as well. Riaz came in a day earlier from Dubai and while chatting with him he explained his lineage from Gujarat, India three generations earlier. Work had got the better of him over the previous couple of years and hence he’d shifted to Dubai and wasn’t able to fish as often as he wanted to. “Captain” Zeyn on the other hand made up for the rest of them while Rashaad confessed he was happy with his limited fishing. We were glad to see they had equipped themselves with exactly what the doctor had prescribed for these brute Geets in the Andamans.
After an early breakfast and a short walk down to the boats, a new fishing chapter in their lives was unfolding. With south-westerly winds and rain expected for the first 4 days, we knew we would need to fish a bit differently this trip. The guys took the conditions well. They were not put off with a bit of wind and rain and this showed in their catches at the end of the trip. Apart from the fishing, the sheer beauty of these islands never ceases to amaze every angler who visits the Andaman Islands. Popping was going to be the main focus and with many hours gained with the experience in Oman where they had all fished before, these men knew the drill. Zeyn was referred to as “Captain” by his team, so to avoid confusion on the boat in jest Captain Kantha was renamed LG. Our island is headed by the Lieutenant Governor – termed LG in short. This new moniker for Kantha even caused skipper Dilip to smile, something he rarely does; he was probably imagining Kantha as LG of the island.
It did not take long for the first GTs to respond explosively to the poppers thrown at them and for the excitement on the boat to start. With rods bent and screams of “STRIKE, STRIKE, STRIKE” from LG Kantha, the anglers were getting a first-hand experience of what they had been reading about on our GFA trip reports…like landing two fish on a popper at the same time! We emphasize on the word strike repeatedly and will continue to do so, only to convey the message to those of you who have not been fortunate enough to experience GT fishing as yet. You will be surprised at the amount of force required to set a hook in a geet’s bony jaw. Strike not just once or twice but at least three times and even then he’ll spit that lure out if you give him the slightest amount of slack. Riaz did very well to tame a decent size GT on his lighter PE 3 set up while Rashaad brought a nice big toothy Barracuda onto the boat. Zeyn learnt a few secrets about working a carpenter stickbait, with a hands-on demo by our skipper. The spells of rain didn’t interfere with the fishing and it was good to see smiling faces back in the Kokari Guesthouse at the end of the day.
With stronger winds the next day, we decided to head north and fish the leeward side of the island – a place I cherish lots since a couple of months earlier I landed my first 40+ kg GT here and know more such monsters swim about terrifying hapless reef fish. The turquoise blue waters in this spot add to the charm of it all. There were sessions of relentless casting with some GT following the poppers but not really committing. Things changed when poppers were replaced with stick-baits. That day, we managed to get more than a few GT, a decent dogtooth tuna, green jobfish and another barracuda from the razor gang, to add to the species list as well.
Hardcore anglers know that GTs love currents and rough water and that’s where your boat legs decide if you’re going to have a great day. Zeyn was fishing his carpenter popper when a big GT hammered it and ran like a train while he just held on tight and let the fish run and tire himself out. Once your drag has been set right there is little else you can do when you are being yanked around by a big GT. There is a slim possibility of trying to turn the fish if it’s headed for structure or shallow water and in this case Zeyn did pretty well in controlling his fish and bringing it in as quick as possible.
The best day of fishing for our South African friends was to be the last day of their trip. We started out half an hour earlier in order get more fishing time when the bite would be hot. By the time the day had ended the trio had landed lots of fish and had close encounters with many more. Zeyn managed a personal best GT weighing over 30 kilos. In fact, all of them managed to land their personal best in one species or another on this trip, with numerous multiple hook ups and the resulting chaos on the boat. When that happens Kantha and Dilip are kept quite busy, guiding the rods round the front and back of the boat while keeping the lines clear of the railing and boat propellers. Riaz had a big GT hammer his lure right next to the boat and even with his drag almost locked down, the fish ran with ease and eventually broke him off. A large dogtooth tuna hit a popper on Rashaad’s rod when Dilip was casting. After getting hooked it headed straight towards the boat, throwing him into fast-forward line-retrieve mode. It soon swam under the boat, forcing Dilip to hang over the side with half the rod under water. The fight almost ended in the doggy’s favour, but after some anxious moments Rashaad took over and a couple of minutes later had the fish on his lap, smiling for the camera.
It was a treat to listen to their fishing adventures every evening and to share some good laughs. Rashaad is a great guy to have on a trip and can keep you in splits the whole day. When Riaz showed me a video of him jigging with a popping rod and getting nowhere after hooking into something big – possibly the ocean floor – I thought to myself, “These guys have enough material to make a movie and name it ‘The Chronicles of Rashaad!’” What else can I say about them but that they are a genuine bunch of good-hearted friends. May we meet again.
Rods: Ripple Fisher F-Stick and 79 Nano, Terez, Yamaga Blanks Gelhard 52/10
Reels: Shimano Stella 14000 and 18000, TranX 500 and 300, Ocea 2000
Lures: Hammerhead and Carpenter
Species Caught: Giant Trevally, Bluefin Trevally, Dogtooth Tuna, Grouper, Green Jobfish and Barracuda