Extreme in every way - this is the best way to describe this style of fishing with a view to physical exigence to the angler, his tackle, the
potential of addiction and the opponents to expect. When a racing bow wave builds up behind the popper, when it disappears in a massive swirl and the next moment a huge angry Giant Trevally
nearly pulls you off your feet this is an impression just impossible to forget. If it turns out to be an euphoric or rather a sad memory in the aftermath will be an unanswered question at that
The GTs of Seychelles become big. Really big actually. This is true for the reef kings of the `outer islands´ as well as the specimen abundant around the inner granite islands. Here also they at times roam the shallows close to the pristine beaches but more purposeful is to target them at the rocky structures which elevate from deeper water. These look similar to what one sees on shore: huge bouffant or sharp-edged boulders with crevices and hollows. Of course down there also overgrown with coral.
This is where the GT lives and here he wants to get back with your popper in its mouth. It is absolutely critical to stop him from doing so as even the strongest braided line will not resist those rocks´ abrasion. If such a fish manages to get a noteworthy amount of line after striking the battle will be over within seconds.
Prerequisites for success are on one hand a skipper with experience in this type of fishing. He needs to keep the boat in casting distance and position despite often very turbulent water for a start. After hook-up he must support the angler in manouvering the fish away from the structure and into open water. On the other the best and strongest tackle available is a must. Reels with drag power of minimum 20kg but better 30kg, PE8-10 braid, 150lb mono trace, toughest split rings and swivels of at least 150kg breaking strength.
Seems exaggerated? For sure not as even this is still not good enough too often. Any attempts with improvisational tackle, any weaker components are non advisable. Conviction comes as soon as a 30kg plus GT inhales your popper and moments later you desolately investigate the torn end of your line or your split ring that has been pulled straight.
Such calibres by the way are not the limit here but rather average specimen. A very experienced and fully trustworthy specialist reported a GT he estimated larger than 60kg. In spite of all his routine and the very best gear he could not hold that fish.
As losing a fish from time to time is inevitable please replace the treble hooks on your poppers and stickbaits for barbless singles. Personal experience is that just one single hook at the back of the lure reduces hook up rates substantially. A few times it was clearly visible that the GT dived down with the lure completely in its mouth, but it just did not hook up. Adding a second barbless single hook to the belly eye though proved nearly as effective as trebles. This makes a fair compromise and in case of line break the fish will get rid of the lure easily to survive and grow. Also the many Sharks will benefit that have a strong interest in a splashing popper and will of course cut even strongest monofilament leaders. Nice side effect is that you will then often be able to pick up your floating popper from the surface. Surely welcome looking at the price for those. Please always release your GTs. They are not a very good eat and these wonderful fish just deserve to live on. Just take a quick foto and then back to the ocean.
On my initiative the African Billfish Foundation allowed to use their Billfish tags also for the GTs here. Would it not be great to learn some day that one you have caught and tagged has resurfaced and how big it has become in the meantime? Next to the most sought after GTs of course many other species appreciate such a bubbling splashing popper snack like for example large Barracudas.
Also Jobfish, Red Seabass and superpretty Bluefin Trevallies are common when fishing this truly spectacular way.
Popping in Seychelles is not limited to the structures near the islands but also on the open seas a most interesting adventure. The usually trolled pelagics like Dorado, Wahoo, Rainbow Runner and Sailfish often enough show interest in a loudly splashing surface lure. Main target though are the Yellowfin Tuna which are abundant in large numbers. To watch their charging for the poppers and often enough multiple strikes along a single cast is absolutely thrilling.Exaggerating? Just watch a few of the video clips here.
The adrenalin from such moments then needs to carry the angler through the often lengthy fights as those Tuna can come in sizes of up to 100kg.
Often enough those have made most experienced bigfish hunters surrender and at times even bigger ones turn the most expensive spinning reels into a smoking piece of scrap.