With the summer holidays in Europe beginning the islands started to see more tourists again. Also the Southeast was somewhat cooperative in some days so the number of fishing trips at least slightly increased compared to June. Still from the first week of July theere is nothing more to report than Andre`s small Fly guiding in very windy conditions that produced some Bonitos in a protected area. Mean enough the brief calmer spells always occurred with the game day of the football World Cup and with kick off times around midnight many people - myself among them - were not willing to go fishing early the next morning. On the 8th in the afternoon I grabbed the spinning gear and cast at some Bonitos that moved through the La Digue Channel. Catching 3 of those might not seem too spectacular but on light tackle these fish of around 4kg are strong and enduring fighters that provide lots of fun. Same day Simon (Island Rhythm) had a Drop Off trip and next to a few Dorados reported a whopping 24 Yellowfin Tuna so his guests had a really busy time. On the same day Christopher (Ella) and Andre & Greg (Pipsqueek) were trolling and also caught plenty of Tuna and some Wahoos.
The following day I went to cast for Bonitos again but they had moved away. At last I got a single one and used it for bait catching a bag of smaller fish: Coral Emperors, Longmouth Snappers, Grouper, Pickhandle Barracuda, Jobfish and a Remora that was released. All in all this was a good swap. Unfortunately it was already getting dark so the pic is not the best quality.
On the 10th around noon the wind surprisingly dropped to about 5 knots and allowed for a bit of popping. At a double structure northwest of Praslin the water was still very rough though so the poppers would not work properly. So I got nothing more out of that stop than 2 large Jobfish that followed the lure but would not attack it. Some 1.5 miles further out on a plateau conditions were better. Saw a shoal of Bonitos und Tuna moving through so kept pursuing and casting at them for quite a while but only got two misses by Bonitos. Trolling a Halco back to the plateau then produced first a Tuna and a little later one of the biggest Bonitos I have ever seen.
After all that I had only about an hour for popping on the bank. Got a strike but the mid sized GT of about 20kg came off after a couple of seconds. Quite a pity as this fish would have nicely rounded up a few pleasant hours out there. Christian (Djab Lavwal) had a half day fishing and his guests an excellent time with a Sail, a Dorado and 13 Wahoos. These were mad and he lost 4 lures by more Wahoos cutting the mono trace. The next two days the wind was quite strong again but Simon nevertheless had another trip that was also successful with numerous Tuna, Dorados and Wahoos. On the 13th it was relatively calm once more so as a warm up to the World Cup Final I went popping again around the Sister Islands in the afternoon. On the first spot again I raised two large Jobfish that would not strike plus two Sharks that I managed to avoid by stopping the retrieve. Some time later a bit further north they got me anyways as I could not see the Shark coming in the glare of the setting sun. Luckily I managed to get the hook out quite comfortably this time. That same day also Carlos for his boss was out there with guests and lost a Marlin as the hook broke. The nice mixed bag of Tuna, Dorados, Bonitos, Wahoos and a Barracuda eventually provided some solace. The next few days were very windy again and on the 18th I cast some just received IceCream lures inside Cote d´Or bay. After just avoiding another small Shark and a couple of Garfish attacks I got a hard strike: the really beautiful Bluefin Trevally of maybe 7kg gave me a hell of a fight and needed some aid to recover after the long fighting time on the light spinning tackle but eventually took of with a big splash. Watch the landing and release on video here if you like.
For the following day 8 knots of wind were forecast so we (Ted, Peter & I) went trolling. After the very good fishing of the preceding week expectations were high but things would not go that way. The wind actually had dropped to nothing in the night so apart from the old swell the sea was flat in the morning and there was no activity. Also the birds were just searching not finding anything as bait and predators obviously had gone deep. Only around midday the wind came back with a rainfront but picked up right to some 12 knots. This started some activity but things stayed strange: we trolled all the way from the Eastern to the Northern spots with strikes never coming on the spots but only scattered in the middle of nowhere. Ad the end of the day we virtually had scraped together next to half a dozen Bonitos three Dorados, a Wahoo and a Tuna while missing another.
This was not really bad but a lot less than the week before had produced. It seems at that time activity had dropped as another private boat the following day got nothing but a few Bonitos. One day later Greg had a trip with a Dorado and three Tuna while on top losing a Marlin that would have more than saved the day. Unfortunately the quite thin mono trace was rubbed my the bill until it collapsed. Of this also a video exists but due to the distance one can not really see the fish. Still it was confirmed that the activity was lower as that day two other boats had trouble to catch some fish at all and also I the following days catches were rather few compared to what we are used to here. Still one boat missed another Marlin and a sailing catamaran that trolls a line to catch usually a Bonito here and there to entertain the day`s excursion guests got a Sailfish. With a view to this I did not go trolling but instead turned to some spin fishing a try for popping in the La Digue Channel in admittedly unsuitable conditions. But even these activities produced nothing but a few Garfish.
Sunday the 27th the wind was again forecast to drop to about 7 knots in the afternoon so I tried popping at the spots once more that I had worked on the 10th already. Moving out of the protection of Praslin I unfortunately had to realize that it was blowing at a hefty 11-12 knots instead. Accordingly the first spot - the two rocks just breaking the sea surface - was nearly impossible to fish. Still I risked a few casts and already on the fourth recorded a double miss of a really big GT. That fish was for sure above 40kg but rather quite a bit more. Was actually glad that it did not hook up as the drift had unexpectedly carried me quite close to the rock already and this inevitably would have ended in a cut off. The next drift produced a hefty strike of what I suspect to be just that fish. The strike came some 30 meters off the first one and the fish was a real monster. It just took line of the reel as if there was no drag at all and same time pulled the boat to the structure. Tried to avoid it getting there by using my engines but no chance. He made it and cut the line on the rock. I find unbelievable that anything is able to produce a run and take line like this against such a hard drag setting. Guess I will have to accept that this spot is not to be conquered alone as I never got a GT out of there and none I have seen was under 30kg. So with the pulse of a squirrel I re-rigged, set the drag even harder and went to a bank about a mile further out. There the water was calmer and after a few misses of obviously smaller fish I got another good one on. This time all went well and after about 4 minutes of mad pulling I welcomed a visitor on the boat.
This nice catch and the fight it delivered also features the video clip to be watched here. Unfortunately the camera fogged a bit especially towards the end. The fish seemed somewhat heavier than my 25 litres jerry cans but I believe it did just not reach 30kg. Still really nice. I had run out of single popper hooks so was using trebles this time. Obviously I had taken the barbs off and also read beforehand that some experts actually recommend trebles as the produce smaller injury to the fish. Still I will not make it a habit as even the fairly good Halco trebles started to open. Furthermore trebles produce a lot more tangles on the cast and on top the landing of such fish - especially when popping alone as I mostly do - becomes quite dangerous with so many hook points dangling around. Also I will have to consider an even stronger rod. This fish did not manage to take more than about 2 metres of line in a go. But lifting power seemed at the limit even when dealing with a fish such common size for these waters. I actually some moments expected the rod to break in pieces. To outplay the really big specimen which requires an even harder drag setting is probably quite impossible with that stick or will at least require lots of luck. The next day the weather looked promising once more but due to travel preparations I could not go again. Tuesday then the wind came back strongly - rien ne va plus. All in all this was a quite extraordinary July. First we had unusually many days or at least afternoons with wind around or even below 10 knots while usually in July days with less then 14 knots are rare. Also the catches and non-catches were a bit odd. From Mahe Faizal reported that they did not experience the mid month drop of activity and just kept catching. Similar oddities though were that the Sailfish in the middle of their peak season were nearly completely missing and also the for this season unusually high number of Black Marlin hookups on the plateau. The larger of those obviously follow their staple diet of Tuna that had appeared so suddenly in huge numbers. Meanwhile the smaller specimen seem to stick to certain spots densely populated by the smaller Bludger Kingfish. If the Sails have been driven away by the Marlin as some people say or maybe their preferred diet is just missing I do not know. Last but not least I was just informed of two more smaller Marlin hookups on a standard spot close to Praslin.
For the preceeding reports check the archive.