Before getting to the fishing events of November I would like to give a short review of that catamaran trip to Coetivy Island along the final week of October as I inidcated I would do in the last edition. Per-Ola (further: PO) had organized this trip with my help for himself and five friends also from Sweden: Anders, Örjan, Staffan, Mikael and Patrik. For all of them it was to be their second such trip here except for Patrik who was facing his first time, and of course PO who has already several under his belt. The bunch assembled a couple of days prior to departure at Eden Island having rented an appartement and the first of many adversities of that trip occurred right away. PO had taken a swim and on climbing out, slipped and scratched his shin badly on the pontoon`s undergrowth. I guess our friendship will survive when I tell here that it was not a pretty shin any more. Nevertheless on the afternoon of Sunday the 22nd we quite happily set course southeast to a quite famous bank about two thirds in distance and a little of course to our final destination as to reach that bank next morning and fish it hard.
The weather was pleasant at first and a few trolling fish came by until we reached the edge of the Mahe Plateau at nightfall, dinner was prepared perfectly by our chef Trevor and much appreciated. I took a first watch while one by one the others disappeared into their bunks and the weather turned sour. Until I handed over the wheel at 3am it had been pouring all along while worse the wind had picked up topping at 28 knots and worst of all blowing on the bow from port. Always astounding such heavily loaded boat does not fall apart in the hard slams it had to take every few seconds. Next morning a little delayed we reached the bank and daylight revealed waves averaging 2.5m whith bigger ones in between. It turned out that for this trip mainly devoted to GT popping three of the anglers had not even brought jigging gear and it was far too rough to fish properly anyways. Thus it was a quick decision to head straight on to Coetivy which we reached in the evening. So this was the first time our plans got spoiled but by far not the last time. Still all were expectant for the next morning and our skipper Basil predicting a tally of 30 to 40 GTs for the next day did not calm them down. Was scratching my head if such animation was wise and kept scratching it along with all others, skipper above everyone else, a good two hours into the fishing along which plain nothing happened. But slowly the activity came and with it the catches. We never reached anywhere near that optimistic call but got 8 GTs of which only one was a baby and the rest decent with a specimen in the mid 30kg range as the cherry. On top came numerous Jobfish, Bluefin Trevallies and Bohar Snappers. As the wind had dropped a bit we also tried Basil`s other area on the wind exposed side of the island. Was too rough there and no action on top but on the way Anders caught on a trolling lure what I consider the most spectacular fish of the whole trip. That Coral Trout in such size is truly exceptional and compensated him well for his so far misfortunes with the GTs.
So looking back at that first taste and with a view to the guys finding their groove plus a by the books continously improving tide we were quite optimistic about what was to come. The next morning though the wind had picked up again substantially, blowing now at 17 to 23 knots. This reduced our fishable area to the one Basil luckily considered the best by far but unluckily the fish thought different about it. The water there had turned dirty and the activity was gone apart from a few Jobfish. The other spot on the windy side was beyond consideration so the chaps relentlessly worked their lures along the day and the island without a sign of any GT. Only just before dusk PO picked up one to save us from blanking and funny enough in an area the skipper had never before found a single one. Dinner mood was slightly depressed and did not improve by a coincidental discovery of a bad glitch the guys had made on their flights bookings. As mentioned we were due to be back on Mahe Monday the 30th but it turned out that for whatever reason everyone of them but PO had their return flight the evening prior. So with our trip cut a day short they all were even more motivated but neither did the weather turn any better along the following days nor did the GT activity return. It was a struggle to get one or two per day. The usual diversion to jigging was also not really on the board. While the Drop Off was very close it was out of the island`s protection and also as half of the guys were not equipped it did not look to make much sense. Desperate one day we still took a long drift pushed by the wind along that edge catching some fish of various kinds trolling, jigging and popping while missing several Sailfish along the way. Of course we had to pay for that by a long and bumpy ride back upwind to the island.
So the on top often rainy days went along until Friday the 27th the wind dropped a bit. The GTs were as uncooperative as before but at least we could start our drifts through the area right at that Drop Off which produced some action on a quick few drops of jigs and by Sailfish on topwater lures. Patrik and PO got one each wihich we released of course but a little later Patrik came limping from the front of the boat trailing a mess of blood. Turned out he had chopped off a chunk under his foot that was now dangling just on a string of skin. Basil and Trevor bandaged that mess professionally but that wound and PO´s ever less pretty shin seemed some antibiotics were highly advisable. A radio call to the island produced no response but luckily a leader of one of the UAEs had just sailed in with his fleet of four ships for a bit of diving and they were kind enough to help us out. With our now two patients due to see a doctor before flying out we decided it was best to leave Coetivy that afternoon as to reach the Mahe plateau the next morning for some jigging and arrive at the Marina Saturday evening. Funny enough just after reaching the deep water we ran into a megaflock of birds and high fish activity. A couple Tuna were caught on topwater lures and a Marlin also grabbed one but did not get stuck. Along the night´s crossing history repeated as after dinner when everyone disappeared and I did the watch the weather again became really nasty. Thunderstorm, torrential rain and heavy wind once more on the bow, but this time from starboard as it had shifted to Northeast, made it all most unpleasant until I retreated at 2am and by morning I learned that the wind had topped at 33 knots at times. Next morning by the time we, according to the chart, should have reached the Mahe plateau the depthfinder still showed no reading and it was quite a while until Basil and I dismissed such a big offset in the chart knowing there is always some. But this was ridiculous already so we rebooted the system to find ourselves already over just 30m of water and obviously far inside the Drop Off. Playing around there and back to the edge a bit with jigs produced nothing much so we trolled back eventually picking up a few more pelagics and hitting the Marina late afternoon. Our last night on board was spent there, next morning the two patients went to see a doctor, and that same evening they all flew home as PO also had managed to bring his flights a day forward. All in all it was one of the most unlucky and weather hampered trips I had done. On top came that the GTs had let us down so badly. But not all was bad of course: our skipper Basil and chef Trevor were both excellent and at all times whatever happened totally composed. The rather old cat which is the budget option in the fleet was in a surprisingly good state looking at it`s age of 27 years and took it all well. No more glitches than one has them on any of such trips and boats old or new. And the charter company`s service was simply perfect despite they also had to go a few extra miles due to adversities not even mentioned here. So I am happy to do it all again with all of them. But I would order better weather for sure. And the world`s best earmuffs as some of the chaps´ nightly snoring symphonies were more than impressive.
So back on Praslin a day earlier than planned I admit to have been quite buggrered and spent most of the following, first days of November catching up with sleep. Meantime the usually very busy charter boats got going but as mentioned last time nowhere near to the usual extent. The wind kept coming from east which again is unusual for an extended period but especially the pelagics liked it and Sailfish remained a regular joy. Mervin on his new Game Changer though did a few jigging and popping trips that were not always great and hampered by a current so strong that no-one could remember such but still produced some quality catches.
Similar story for Sandro fishing with various guests on Frenzy who provided a whole lot of pics from that first half of the month. You might realise that there are literally no Tuna shown though. That is simply down to the fact that at the Drop Off one saw them leaping very occasionally but they proved mostly uncooperative.
Meantime my friends Marco & Jörg arrived but just for a short stay this time. It was too windy to go out on a boat for Jörg while Marco and I would have liked to do so. But it turned out that one of my engines had an issue which frustrated me a lot as I had not used the boat at all after the big service a few weeks back. So they kept themselves warming up fly fishing for their trip to the Outer Islands. Knowing that there would be little to expect during the given conditions I came along only occasionally, picking up this little Trevally which remained the best catch of those days.
Fly fishing from a boat produced better results in numbers and quality though as Greg & Andre proved fishing on Amberjack with guests.
Along their usual fly and inshore trips they got a lot more fish out of which I consider this pretty big Bluefin Trevally the most impressive one. That`s nearly proper GT size.
Mid of the month my friends left while I stayed behind as I had a number of charters to attend. It was the first time on Mervin`s new boat for me on the 17th and same time a first time Drop Off jigging for Kristiina & Michael from Germany. Getting there it was pleasant to find that hard current had slowed a lot but the early morning high tide produced only numerous Bonitos, small Groupers and a couple Black Jacks. Worse even that the bite was close to dead between 10am and the turn of the tide at 1pm but right then things picked up in frequency and variety. Of the eventually five and a half Tuna two even came on topwater lures after several fruitless efforts along the day. No monsters caught on that trip as you can see but the guests were still awed but the power of the fish they caught. Was a fun day and the new boat is just a joy to be on.
Niko from Salty Bite and his friends Sebu & Jani again made it the long way from Finland to begin 5 days fishing with Mervin the next morning. Drop Off jigging was tough as that ultrastrong current had returned and on top came bad weather for a good part of the day. That at least improved and some proper fish were caught while I had stayed behind to await the boat mechanic to look into my engine but he never came.
Next morning I went with them for a day of GT popping. Thanks heavens we got that presentable one early morning at the very first spot as for the rest of the day it was pretty much just popping without GTs: only that baby from the second spot came on top and a few misses along the day. The big Jobfish along with a handful smaller ones, the juvenile Barracuda and a couple Sharks looking for a dentist open on Sundays added a bit of entertainment still.
The following day Mervin still found the conditions inappropriate to head to the Drop so he and the Salty Bite chaps popped on the plateau again but it remained tough: rather low activity and a bit of bad luck on a few good strikes on top. Still such a Doggie topwater is a really cool catch.
Turned out that evening that the Drop had not been so bad at all as Brandon skippering Fayth reported no monsters but good variety and frequency jigging out there.
The next day which was the 21st provided a happy first Drop Off jigging experience for German couple Bianca & Uwe with Sandro: after a couple of Bonitos to warm up Uwe had to deal with a proper Doggie right away. A second one same size smashed a hooked Bonito right at the boat, got hooked and eventually also caught. That moment of the ferocious strike right under our noses was just incredible. After that only Bonitos by the dozens on that spot for a while but eventually there and elsewhere pretty much all the usual susprects showed their faces. It was action all day long because of the Bonitos and nearly all of them had wounds and damages from the Doggies down there. Only the Yellowfin were elusive with just a tiny one on jig but it got away. Still easy 60 fish of all kinds caught along.the day and guests over the moon of course. Just complaining a bit they ended up somewhat sore. And addicted. I also really enjoyed having been part of it. Nothing better than newbies experiencing a reasonably good day fishing here and witness the effect it has on them despite being seasoned coldwater anglers.
Mervin and the Salty Bite group fished not far from us and also had a great day as you can see. If it just hadn`t been for that absolute monster of a Doggie that they hooked on sight and that chewed the leader. The Rosy Jobfish is a real monster for its kind though.
The next day saw the Salty Bit group`s last trip of this visit. We searched and insisted for Yellowfin to pop in the morning along the Drop Off and beyond but only Mervin got one until ever casting Sebu missed two more in the afternoon. The Tuna are there but just don`t feed properly, not even on jig one can get more than the odd one. Common sense here is that this is due to El Nino and the warmer water. Some other decent fish came up jigging though between all the Bonitos that remained a pain. Most pleasant that Niko at last got his proper Doggie after always something went wrong for him with these along this visit and actually the decade before. Congratulations, mate. I told you that day it would come. Was fun with you guys once more as it always is. See you again soon!
Sandro was also out again. Same story with the Tuna as for us so they resorted to jigging also and hammered the Amberjacks among a cool variety of other fish. Really first class jigging.
The next evening he reported again no Tuna (just that Dorado instead) and the previously so productive Doggie area to be dead for jigging except for Jobfish and countless Bonitos. So he headed back in early to try for GT and it paid off. Good move.
Meantime Marco & Jörg had returned to Mahe and spent a few more days fly fishing there. Not too many great catches as usually but such a proper Golden Trevally one can present proudly.
The following days I was not actively involved any more and admittedly not quite on top of things due to the at last conducted boat engine repair and my girlfriend visiting. Last night I had a longer chat with Sandro who had still been fishing on a daily basis and reported quality jigging at the Drop but somewhat tricky GT popping not helped by his group of beginners with too light tackle.
You see a few more Tuna though while that is still just a tiny dose compared what we usually enjoy at at this time of the year. Still it was a quite solid month of fishng all along I think.
For the preceeding reports check the archive.