Despite unusually good weather for a January not much happened here on the fishing side. Simply due to the traditionally low numbers of tourists along the statistical rain season which should peak by now while we actually had rather little precipitation so far. On top the forcasts predicted winds on the limits for most of the time while these were actually weak or even not existant on some days. But one could hardly ever see it coming so planning and conducting any boat trips was a headache. On the rather late morning of the 16th weather looked to remain reasonable so I went despite a sharply dropping tide. Useless to pop in those conditions but the light jigging done was okay regarding frequency with around 35 fish caught. Still a bit frustrating as the lousy Pickhandle Barracudas stole another dozen jigs and the countless Sharks every fish bigger than about 2kg that could not be winched up fast enough. But at least the kitchen was reasonably well supplied again.
Fought something really heavy for nearly an hour before the small leader gave in. The price one pays here occasionally even close to shores when fiddling around with a PE2. Felt like a fat Grouper or maybe a Nurse Shark but will never know. Along the follwoing week only a very few trolling trips took place. These revealed that the pelagic activity is still not at the DropOff but instead around the islands on the plateau with rather few Tuna but instead Dorados and plenty Wahoos. Also Sailfish are still in the area and were caught for example by Martin on Venture and Mervin (Divinity) managed two in a day. On the 23rd the big boat Alati from Mahe reported 3 out of 3 Blue Marlin that were all released.
That sent the local scene buzzing with a view to the annual Marlin Slam Tournament held two days later. But in the end only team 9G had released one small Marlin to take the win while for runner up spot out of the 9 boats a single Sailfish already did the job. Many more Billfish were seen and one boat even raised 5 Marlin but they were not interested at all. Was probably the weather as just that day the wind had faltered completely, the sea was flat like a mirror and the heat nearly unbearable. That morning I was out with Mervin and German angler Frank for a half day jigging and this also was just suffering. While we got absolutely cooked the boat turned in circles without any drift sitting on the same spot. So it was really tough to scrape a few fish together at all but looking at the circumstances we managed at least some.
Could have been some more as things gradually improved but poor Frank just before noon was on the edge of a proper heat stroke so we headed back in a bit earlier than planned. Two days later on the same boat but this time with Austrian angler Michael we went to the Drop for jigging. Again instead of blowing at the predicted and ideal 5 knots the wind had gone completely so once more we got roasted. Worse though that while all the many spots tested were full of fish these would not eat anywhere deep or shallow. The three of us fished hardcore all day but apart from a handful of small Groupers only two Bonitos and this Rainbow Runner surfaced.
That was definitely among the worst five or even three jigging trips I had experienced there among the hundreds I was part of. Hoped very much that trolling might save the day to some degree but it did not really: we had pulled lures for an hour in the morning already and again when changing spots without a knock and also all along the way back in nothing happened until at last already close to the Sisters we picked up a couple of Wahoos.
Interesting that these fish only came when we hat reached the clouds sitting above the islands bringing some rain and wind while also most of the jigging fish had come just in the half hour when a shower with a breeze had passed us out there at the Drop Off. So last chance to come up with something reasonable for this report was the fly fishing. Along a lot of driving on Praslin I found reasonable conditions on some days and in very different places depending on the prevailing and changing wind angles. One day conditions were nearly perfect on the flat in the west but no Bonefish turned up so instead of silver bars I had to be happy with this little shiny gem of a rather tiny Permit.
Lots of bad luck one afternoon close to the airport. A Yellowspotted Trevally followed and took right under the rod tip but managed to drop the hook. Same for a clearly much bigger fish that might well have been double digits in kg that got rid of the popper fly which later produced a couple more misses. Was fully compensated though another day at the large bay in the south. Already on one of the first casts a fish of about 60cm leaped meters into the air several times. Could only think of a rather skinny Oxeye Tarpon but when grabbing and looking at it was left scratching my head as I had never seen such fish before.
Needed that scratching hand rather soon though to keep a much stronger fish under control. Just on the strike I had seen half a dozen tails sticking out of the water so had an idea what I was dealing with. Needed a good 20mins and some luck that the strong fish did not rush into the seaweed djungle until my hopes were confirmed: Golden Trevally. And not bad at all I think. Especially on a #8 outfit and 20lb tippet.
So at least one highlight along these somehow rather unsatisfactory weeks and on top a goal for this year ticked off early. The skinny strange thing was later identified by Andre as a Ladyfish (elops machatna) also called Springer or Tenpounder in some places. Seems to be common in the southern Indian Ocean but rather rare and mostly unknown here. Since Tuesday the wind has set back in blowing from the seasonal northerly directions and also the rains have come. Not so much her eon Praslin yet but Mahe got more than a hatful and looking out of the window at the sea I think we will also get our share. Remains to be seen how long this will last and when we can fish again.
The new year kicked off with exceptionally good weather and some really lively fishing. Not so much for me though as a trip targeting GTs right on the 2nd in no wind at all and thus blazing heat was very tough. After 5 hours of absolute hardcore popping only a few luckily avoided Sharks and this lousy Pickhandle Barracuda had showed up.
Light jigging around noon to relax a bit was no better in a drift of about 100m per hour. By afternoon the surface water temperature had risen to nearly 32°C which did not help the second popping session. Forced myself to a few last casts at the harbour rocks and this for whatever reason active Bluefin Trevally felt like the holy grail after the long and fruitless ordeal.
Along the following days it was more pleasant with just that bit of wind so fishing conditions were ideal for the many festive season tourists. Those mostly do only half days trolling around the islands so most welcome that the pelgaic activity had returned just in time to those areas. Next to the usual mixed bags of many Wahoos, some Dorados and rather few Tuna a lot of Sailfish were reported. They were more aggressive now than before New Year`s so we saw numerous releases. Especially Greg on Bite Me did well catching them about every day.
That triggered Andre and myself to try getting one on fly. Along a first trip on the 4th we saw one in the morning just passing the bow of the boat but then heading its way. In the afternoon another came from the starboard side at high speed to grab the teaser and bolt away with it. Did not work of course and gone he was. So all caught were this Wahoo and a few Bonitos on a Cedar Plug trolled for a little while until the latter became a nuisance.
On the 7th we tried again but only saw the first objects of desire by about 3pm. Think it were five altogether that we spotted along the next two hours of which only one came behind the boat. While I pulled the teaser away Andre served the fly but the idiot instead of grabbing that switched to the other teaser, tried to eat it and disappeared. So again no success apart from that incidentally caught Bluefin Trevally which wanted the Plug while we trolled it briefly to catch a Bonito for a pitchbait.
Only few boats went to the Drop Off those days and who trolled there had little success. On the other side the jigging out there was great. As Mervin took a break Sandro skippered Divinity and sent a load of cool pics.
Also Brandon on Island Rhythm had a fun day out there with a lot to pull. Especially this fat +100kg Nurse Shark gave them a hard time.
No such headache for Greg and guests also jigging the edge in that great bite.
Also they spent a whole day off one of the northern atols spinning and fly fishing. Lots of action and nice catches there throughout on both methods, too.
Mahe reported a Marlin of about 300kg trolled and local angler Darryn on a private boat got this roughly 50kg Doggie on jig.
He also fought a Broadbill they estimated at around 90kg for one and a half hours before the fish came away on the leader already but is still a catch according to IGFA rules.
Last weekend most of the tourists left and in gradually deteriorating weather with more rain and stronger winds the boat fishing activities stopped completely. But the start into the new fishing year was quite promising I think.
For the preceeding reports check the archive.