The first two days after the most recent report were rather windy once more but on the 17th Mervin (Divinity) again went with his French guest for some jigging around the islands. That produced some more Doggies next to the usual suspects but Mervin caught this Saddleback Grouper of about 15kg (thanks to Faizal for the identification). As usually cool Mervin was quite upbeat this in such size must be a special fish.
On the 19th I tagged along with Heitho and his son Adrian from Germany on Martin`s Venture to the Drop Off. Strangely after three hours of trolling along the edge nothing more but a single Bonito had been caught and there was no visible activity. So a decision was due: stick around and hope for the lucky punch with a big fish or try to find potentially smaller fish further inside. The decision for the latter somewhat paid off as about three miles in the activity indeed picked up and next to dozen Bonitos a Dorado, two smaller Yellowfin Tuna and three Wahoos went into the fishbox.
We kept seeing Sailfish jumping on the plateau and had an overall of seven in the spread along the day but not a single one was willing to take. The day before Henry Riggs-Miller from FinS Tackle had a similar experience at the southern Drop but still enjoyed himself with 13 Yellowfin Tuna of up to 30kg as well as a Dorado and a few Wahoos. Some place it was a lot better for Marlin that day as SpecialK reported five strikes and released two. After that I did not hear of any trips for a few days before things got going again Sailfish included. Christian (Djab Lavwal) missed two but buddy Carlos fishing with a guest for his boss had five with lots of bycatch. Andre & Greg fished with guests on Pipsqueek and One Love for a few days also with loads of smaller Gamefish while missing a Marlin and releasing four Sailfish. One of those featured a tag so they just took the number and let it go again. What a lucky bugger to end up twice with one of the still too few release boats.
The tag btw was initially placed in August by Henry up at Denis Island. Also other boats were very successful and one reported 13 releases in a day. Good to see catch & release keeps growing here but still a long way to go until it will be the standard. On the 25th I had to be at the boatyard at noon for a small repair and took the popping rod along. Did not really expect anything late morning in a rather useless tide and except a few lackluster Sharks nothing showed up for two hours. Then the water exploded, rod was bent and I saw a bunch of Sharks turn away. So of course expected one of those but it quickly felt different. Small hopes for a GT arose and actually a few minutes later the silvery shine of one became visible under the boat. Unfortunately that nice chubby girl had inhaled the popper completely and it took several minutes to get it out through the gills. This long time did not do the fish any good and despite not bleeding it needed about 20mins of intense reviving and several attempts before she went down into the deep blue again. Surely without anything but the barbless single hooks she would not have survived it. Was in a hurry to get her back in the water so just tagged and held her for the GoPro briefly at the affordable expense of a better picture.
But there is a bit of video from that catch to watch. Quite nice in the aftermath: That GT probably because of the deeply sitting popper did not fight as hard as usually. This made me estimate the weight in the mid to high twenties and I was a bit astounded that she felt so heavy. Compared the measured fork length of 115cm at home against the ratio table and it said 33.7kg – not bad at all. On the way back from the boatyard I was able to add two more smaller ones in the 5kg range and two not so welcome Pickhandle Barracudas. Still a splendid outing of course. The next day a number of Praslin skippers reported Sailfish like JD (One Love) and Bruno (Eve). The 27th then was sort of a Marlin day in Seychelles. Met Stefan on Mahe who had just returned from a trip to the southern Drop after four Marlin strikes of which the guest brought one to the boat while Bertrand (YamSing) here on Praslin had a small Black.
And Alati unfortunately had to boat this Blue estimated at 236kg after a Mako Shark decided to munch on it. Saturday the 29th Tadej from Monster Bite Tackle in Slovenia did a jigging trip with Mervin to the Drop Off. This went well as apart from a short spell around noon the bite was on. Especially in the morning and again in the afternoon every third to fourth drop of a jig produced a hit and not only the sizes but also the variety of species was as usually very nice. Numerous Doggies were caught with this specimen the biggest one.
In deeper water the fishing was a bit slower but one surely can live with that if still such Amberjacks come up.
An not even two minutes after we wondered about not having seen a Rosy Jobfish it came just as if we had ordered it to do so. And in a very good size on top.
Yesterday it was all popping for a GT but a drastic change of weather bringing lots of much needed rain and southeasterly wind let the surface activity drop to virtually zero unfortunately. So Tadej despite relentless effort could not record more than a few half hearted attempts from rather useless Garfish and unusually lackluster Sharks. Only Mervin at the very end managed to get a tiny GT on top of this presentable Yellowfin Tuna he had caught on popper earlier in the day.
This one as well as the the jigging catches from the day before also feature in the video clip. Jigging again that day was a good resort as it produced numerous Jobfish and Doggies of up to 20kg. We saw a few really big ones over 50kg but they did not like the jigs and the Sharks were always faster on the livebaits offered a few times. Still Tadej was very impressed with the quality and versatility of Seychelles´ fishing and hopefully so are you after this read.
Half of October has passed now but the Southeast is still reluctant to die off. But on the 1st it was very calm so I grabbed the camera and tagged along with Martin (Venture) and his guests hoping for some nice Billfish shots. For a start his fairly or even totally inexperienced guests could get used to this kind of fishing with some Bonitos and small Yellowfin Tunas. Surprisingly we did not even see a Sailfish or Marlin all day but after a while the Wahoos entered the scene of which seven were caught all in all.
That northerly area did just not seem to please Billfish that particular day as two other boats fishing there also saw none but reported about similar bycatch. Mervin (Divinity) working the southeasterly sector on the contrary released three Sailfish that day. The following days were very windy but finally I got a day at the boatyard to paint my boat with fresh antifouling and have the engines serviced. On the 6th Mervin considered the conditions okay for some jigging and popping. A first time for Dennis and Marc from Germany and it turned out a really nice and entertaining day. Mervin started with a small GT of about 8kg and a little later Dennis caught this one of around 22kg.
The kick of adrenalin carried him through the day with a big grin. Mervin lost a +30kg GT and a few Jobfish were interested in the poppers, too. Jigging also went well with the usual assortment of Jobfish and Trevallies while Marc stood out with a Doggie in the 20kg range which is a quite nice specimen for the inner plateau. A little later we saw one at least twice that size beneath the boat and shortly after Marc found himself in a tough fight. To everyone`s surprise instead of that Doggie this massive Wahoo of 25kg came up after a while.
Two days later, so on the 8th, I did a trolling test run with Ted and Richard. The latter works as a teacher here since August and was interested to fish the La Digue tournament with us. The whole thing went anything but well though. First a rod holder partially broke out of the boat`s side and a little later the crank of one of my Penn 50VSWs just fell off and disappeared in the ocean. On top my toe started to swell and hurt badly. Had a bit of pain there since the boatyard where I must have acquired a tiny and invisible scratch that caused an infection. So next destination after return was Praslin hospital and along the following days while feeding on antibiotics I kept talking the toe into urgent healing as not to miss the tournament. What we caught that day was rather meager btw as we had ended up with a handful of Bonitos, three Tuna and this Wahoo.
Still we looked relatively okay with that catch as three other boats caught even lesser fish that day. Just Mervin had a small Sail of less the 10kg to come out top once more. Along last week wind speed oscillated around 12 knots. Quite okay actually but hardly anyone went out. Just Mervin was booked by a guest for a few days. The first of those on Monday went nice with a small Black Marlin missed at the Drop but three Sailfish released. The following days turned out pretty bizarre though. Mervin caught a Sail on popper and a whopping seven GTs of up to 30kg while his guest just got two on but losing both to the rocks unfortunately. After a days`s rest the whole szenario repeated itself with Mervin releasing another three GTs of up to 40kg while the poor guest again got none. But at least he caught some nice jigging fish with a 10kg Doggie among those. That day any hopes of my toe healing in time for the tournament went down the drain. Still Friday I went to La Digue to wish the guys good luck and wave the boats speeding away good-bye. A bit depressing as this was the first time to miss out since I am in Seychelles.
The large vessel in the picture is the 76ft Riviera 9G and the other one the smallest of the competition with still more than 30ft in size. The majority of the this time only 15 competing boats is over 40ft nowaydays. Pretty nuts wanting to compete against those on my tiny 17 footer and it looks the other small boat anglers see it that way also. These used to be well represented in this tournament but they do not come anymore. The decision of some big boat owners to bloat the fishing time to 24hrs just creates too many logistical problems for the small boats like capacity for fuel, ice and fish storage and on top makes the whole thing risky if the weather is not calm and stable. Personally I can not follow the reasoning that those 24hrs would make it safer for small boats and give them a better chance of winning on top. Seems I am not the only one. It is a pity for this tournament once really nice for all and attracting more than 30 boats of all sizes in the old days. Went over again yesterday afternoon to watch the weigh-in. The rough conditions had not made it easy even for these big boats but there was quite a bit of fish to see like many Yellowfin Tuna but no really big one this time. Also hundreds of kilos of the usual bottom species were offloaded and of course many Doggies in all sizes. This fine specimen of 63kg by Team Paola clearly stood out though.
Next to a handful of Sails three Marlin were brought in. Largest one of 93kg was caught by Martin`s Team Venture. Overall total catch turned out to be 3.8 tons all going to charity so this is not an all Billfish release tournament. But a rule had been implemented that limits landings of Sailfish and Marlin to two per boat. Thus there were a number more releases especially as some teams relinquished to boat their Billfish.
For example the 9G Sportsfishing Team let go a Marlin, two Sailfish and a Broadbill. Another of those they brought to the scales though as it seemed a potential new national record and turned out as such. Added some footage of all this to the video clip. In the evening Mervin called who had been at the Drop once more with his all week guest. Trolling again had been really good with four Sails released and a few big Wahoos boated. Jigging was also fine with Doggies, Amberjacks and the common other species. On top of all a small Marlin hammered a jig right under the boat scrunching it completely but missing the hook. So while fishing is pretty great on all fronts these days I sit on shore sadly looking at my dressed toe.
For the preceeding reports check the archive.