Sorry that this edition comes a bit quick and dirty but I have (non fishing) friends from Germany visiting and same time should have been going out with Mervin and a group for the whole of last week. So am quite busy and have to rush it a little this time. Right after the last report I brought the boat home hoping that the weather would remain stable and on the 1st did a little light jigging as the shoulder is still no good for popping. Was happy with the first proper test of my new fishfinder and also the frequency of catches. Just kitchen fish though, nothing special enough to show. Same time Brandon was out on Island Rhythm with Israeli anglers to jig the Drop Off where catches generally tend to be bigger.
Along the following days the islands filled up with Easter tourists and the charter boats got busy with trolling trips. Catches were better most days with the smaller gamefish active and lesser on others depending mostly on the weather conditions. As usually very hot all calm days did not produce so well. Nice is that we still see unusually many Sailfish around for this time of the year. This one was released by Greg on Amberjack.
On the 5th I joined returners Slavo, his wife Martina and their little daughter Vicky on a trip with Brandon to the drop for some jigging. As you can see it was dead calm with little current and thus drift so catches did not come easy but still some decent fish were caught.
It was fun to see the really nice family back here and so I was a bit sad I could not make it for their second trip on the boat Zero with skipper Benoit. Slavo said the bite was a little better this time and sent some pics.
In between Brandon had done a day`s trolling with German newbies Kim and friends which went to the angler`s full satisfaction despite the much devoted Sailfish coming to take a look at the spread of lures decided to just window shop.
Another idea of how these trolling trips produced on the good days and with skilled skippers might give you the pics I received from UK angler Vince who did a day with Stephan out of Mahe. As the Golden Trevally indicates they did not just troll, but also jigged a bit.
Supercalm and nice weather once more as you can see but for the preceeding night one of the three forecast models had predicted a front of bad weather and strong winds around 20 knots to blow straight onto my place and mooring so I decided to take the boat back to the saftey of Baie St. Anne. Was unnecessary as it turned out but better safe than sorry. Even more so as the last northwest season here washed half a meter of sand away so both the concrete lump as well as the anchor comprising the mooring now sit loosely on coral rubble. The next day I fetched the boat back as to provide someone I like very much with a very first fishing experience. As the lady is not too seaworthy and it was just about giving her an idea of it all plus ideally having her catch her very first fish, we simply trolled two lures to a spot to jig a little. Her first fish jigging came quick in the shape of some Bonitos on jig and I managed to show here that there are bigger ones that pull harder. The bite was rather slow though but that Wahoo trolling again for a little while on the way home rounded it all off nicely.
What I liked best is that she said it could have been more fish telling me she liked the experience of catching them. Mission accomplished. Along the following days the islands started to empty from the Easter tourists, the weather got unstable with smaller or bigger fronts of rains, sometimes thunderstorms and depending on the size more or less strong winds from any directions. Mervin jigged the Drop Off with another Israeli group for several days and reported that the shifty conditions did not help and made it all very technical. But of course the group still caught their fish.
Interestingly a pattern repeated that we have encountered here from time to time in previous years: fish being brought up are suddenly off as something cuts leader or mainline close to the connecting FG knot. We can not identify the culprits for sure but strongly suspect Wahoos that bolt for the little air bubble at the knot. On the evening of the 19th the previously mentioned forecast model again exclusively predicted bad weather to come but this time I decided to risk it. All okay along the night with just light and steady rain but next morning the satellite image looked pretty bad.
A little later around 9am indeed hell broke loose here. Suddenly the wind came up at 30 knots which much stronger gusts straight on house and boat and the waves rose to 1.5m breaking just where it sits. Despite the SMS warning to stay on shore I had to get on the boat and out of here to save it. Had a few bad trips of that kind along the last decade but this was among the worst. These oscillating systems never materialize to a full cyclone here so close to the equator but still they are bad enough and you really don`t want to be at sea in this.
The mess moved out and dissolved along the day but the general pattern of smaller or large fronts persisted so I left the boat at it`s safe place in he lagoon for the time being as I did not have the opportunity to use it anyways. Firstly my friends had arrived but also I was due to spend at least some of their six days of fishing with returner Stephane and his friends Hugo and Pierre. Mervin suggested to devote the first day to GT popping because of the promising high tide in the morning and then in the afternoon again. As so often he proved right as within the first hour Pierre got a normal size GT of around 20kg and a little later Stephane managed this quite massive one. Looks smaller on the pic due to the many people presenting it than the 40kg it surely exceeded. Excellent catch and work by the Lady C crew once more to help him dragging the beast of the rocks by perfect motoring.
Still it was a close call as a glance at the splitring shows.
As expected the activity slowed a lot along the dropping tide with another GT lost to the rocks, a Rainbow Runner caught and eaten straight away as Sashimi and three Sharks released. By afternoon when conditions improved again the anglers were finished after all that casting in blazing heat so nothing more came on top.
That day Brandon jigged the Drop once more and reported a solid bite along the morning that pretty much cut off around 10am. So the fish you see here are from those early hours.
That massive +20kg Wahoo was caught on jig btw. Doesn`t work out too often. The next day which was the 23rd Mervin jigged the Drop with Stephane`s group. I was not with them but learned later that it had been not bad but difficult. The bite was spread rather evenly along the day while not too great and all fish came from +100m depths as shallower they would just not eat. The depths were managable though as there was little wind and the drift slow.
The following day I went with them again and in some 8 knots southeast providing a stable drift it all looked promising. But again the shallows produced nothing but a few small Groupers and they had to jig deep which was harder demanding heavier jigs due to the faster drift. On top the bite was very erractic with a few catches here and there between longer spells without a knock at all. Did not help that the pattern of sudden cut offs mid water persisted and all in all the tally was no more than about 30 fish at the end of the day. Nearly 20 of those were small Groupers and tiny Bonitos but of the half a dozen Amberjacks two stood out with one being exceptional. That Black Jack was well above average size and the Comet Grouper not far from a record.
Only towards the end and presumably because of the again rising tide things picked up. A strong fish for Stephane ran to the surface, revealed itself as a Sail and pleased us with several jumps before it was released.
Right after they got more quality hookups of strong fish but the Sharks had spotted that easy buffet so only one more and smaller Amberjack made it past these mean taxmen. The next day without me once more was similar regarding the catches. The bite was better Mervin said but the Sharks also more aggressive taking most of the fish away. Mervin hooked a Marlin he estimated not far from 200kg on his little slow pitch rod but the fish got the better of them after nearly an hour. Again one day later so last Thursday they faced new challenges but this time in the shape of a drastic weather change once more: strong southeast, heavy rains at times and 3 knots of drift made it impossible to jig the previous days´ depths. Luckily the shallows worked a bit. The pics are from both these days.
With a view to these tough conditions persisting until deep into the following night their last day scheduled for Friday was postponed to Saturday. The weather was nice and calm when we left Praslin yesterday morning heading east to the Drop Off where the sky was dark with patches of heavy rain. Upon arrival we saw Tuna of all sizes up to 50kg boiling which is an unusual sight so early in the year but there was no catsing rod on board and just a single popper in a box by chance. Mervin put that thing on a heavy jigging rod but gave up after the first cast as this had attracted dozens of Sharks that just stayed around the boat. Meantime Stephane`s fish on the way up was inhaled by one of them. So for quite a while we stood watching his struggle and the Tuna splashing near and far.
Stephane`s Shark turned out impossible to bring up on the rod so eventually Mervin helped pulling it hand over hand but after a good 45min the line snapped. In a way we were all relieved to be rid of it. Problem was there were more of those in most places Mervin tried or they came in after a few fish fought. So we were on the move all day after a few drifts picking up fish here and there. Out of the dozen or so Amberjacks one again was pretty massive and most of the other usual suspects also showed up if the Sharks let them pass. So far so good but just after noon the increasingly dark clouds had fully encircled us and it started to pour. On top the so far light southeast changed direction via east to northeast picking up all along. Every drift went different than the previous one so Mervin had a proper headache, the bite slowed, and we all got cold and miserable as it was really raining cats and dogs. Eventually we trolled a few lures back towards Praslin hoping to pick up one of those Marlin around as we had seen one jumping earlier but apart from a few megalomaniac Bonitos nothing was interested in the much too big offers about their own size. Conditions went from bad to worse with the wind coming up to 20 knots and on top shifting to northwest so pretty much right in our faces. Thus while the day´s catches don`t look too bad once more it had been a tough trip and all in all week for the nice and hard fishing group.
A few words on fly fishing that I perfomed quite a few times as April is usually the best month for Bonefish by far. I tried on the flat actually finding one after a long time again but as it was cloudy just then it was too close already and swam away. The Permits there are also smaller and fewer and on top don`t seem interested in the crab patterns dragged along the sandy bottom at all any more. Only way to get the odd one was with small Clousers or Charlies moved in midwater where they swim. But it only works for the smaller ones and above 30cm they don`t care. The fishing there was spoiled to a high degree by lots of drifting weed and clouds hanging over the flat so spells of sunshine like on the pic taken and sent by Slavo who saw me fishing there one morning were scarce.
My other and best option to get Bonefish is or rather was in front of a hotel a little off my place. The mixed pattern of sand and turtle grass patches attracted them but now it is grass all over and nothing works there any more. Well, except for the small Permits also swimming around there and reacting to the small flies in midwater but the bigger ones are also too clever over there to be fooled by these.
Thus this part was rather disappointing to be honest but I will keep trying as May also offers opportunities until the Southeast comes up. Hope it will be late this year. So while we had ups and downs this month along all the different kinds of fishing the highlight was surely a private trolling trip by the boat Alati reporting 31-53 Blue Marlin (no typo!), 3-3 Black Marlin and 3-3 Sailfish along a three day trip. That`s pretty crazy and surely tough to match anywhere on the planet.
For the preceeding reports check the archive.