Right after the last report the weather turned bad once more and for a few days all fishing was off. Again a cyclone building up in the south was the reason dragging strong winds with a good bit of not that unwelcome rain over us. On the 19th Martin dared to go out with agroup from South Africa on Venture but even on that for our standards large 41ft boat it was tough. Jigging on the plateau produced Yellowtail Trevallies but also a massive depletion of jig stocks by the lousy Pickhandle Barracudas while trolling was very slow along those three fishing days apart from some Wahoos.
That impression of very low activity among the smaller gamefish persisted from the 21st onwards when German anglers Martin and Wolfgang started their Marlin pursuit with Mervin on Divinity. Two candidates briefly appeared to inspect a lure but disappeared instantly along that trip while a third one took fiercely and ran away only to throw the lure in the first jump at the horizon. Else just two Wahoos found their way into the fishbox as we ate the single Bonito caught along this trip. Very unusual. The next morning we were at the Drop Off again and early at an elevation picked up the facility manager which was allowed to return to duty after this quick pic.
Along the following 3hrs absolutely nothing happened until a Marlin bolted into the spread and our lethargy grabbing a lure and running away. Was a rather small bugger around 80kg or so and very cooperative until Steven grabbed the leader. Then though it went under the boat tangling the leader in the engine but that was solved instantly. Next it tried its luck with a few jumps aside the boat. The last of these aimed straight at me and the cam but luckily the fish crashed back into the sea just short of the boat instead of leaping inside. Only realized a little later that this could have gone badly wrong for me but the whole incident produced this cool pic so it was worth it.
After that the fish was all friendly again and thus taken onboard for a quick foto session. Martin at last had caught his so much sought after first Marlin and we all were pretty relieved with a view to the difficult fishing. Same probably true for the fish that was released after a brief revival and swam away in its fascinating electric blue colors.
All of this including of course those so close-by leaps feature in the monthly video clip. Other catches of that day were limited to a Dorado and a few Bonitos that again were mostly munched as Carpaccio. Just before Lines Out already close to the Sister Islands two Sailfish appeared in quick succession but these were only window shoppers. Next day the group was out there again but without me. So I missed the spectacular strike und jump display of a pretty big Marlin estimated at 250 to 270kg by Mervin. That fish in its series of leaps destroyed the very strong leader that was all scraped so we suspect it got bill-wrapped. Smaller gamefish again were scarce that day and it remained like that along the following days giving the also fishing again rather touristic boats a tough time. Only Divinity reported one more Sailfish release. Sunday the 24th the previously due to the bad weather postponed GT popping trip for Phil from the UK was scheduled. The angler meanwhile had made good use of the wait fly fishing from the hotel beach catching a series of reasonably nice Trevallies on about a daily basis btw.
Now the goal was a really big one so that afternoon it was time for hard play. Unfortunately Phil`s maximum effort produced him nothing better than a Barracuda that on top fell off so it had to be Mervin himself once more to save the day and he did it in style. Out of 5 big GTs raised he got two hookups. The first one somehow managed to cling the popper onto a rock down there and sneak off the barbless hooks. It took us all a moment to realise that poor Phil who had been handed the rod was desperately trying to bring the seafloor up until we moved round with the boat and the popper came free. Very unusual and unprecedented as normally the braid just cuts at the rocks. Nothing went wrong though with the second GT though and Phil fulfilled his dream.
Decent fish at 110cm fork length and about 25kg. Features also along with a couple more Geets in the video. The next day Greg (Bite Me) was out with a guest for some light jigging and spinning which both worked nicely with Yellowtail Trevallies and many Jobfish. A little bit of real popping on a rather shallow bank produced a strike and the culprit turned out to be this Yellowfin Tuna. Quite surprising not only with a view to the location but also to the fact that this was the only one caught here for quite a while despite all that trolling done.
Since then all has calmed: fishing as just before the Easter holiday season there are not many tourists around. And also the weather so at last one can fish all ways again. Unfortunately no use for me as a stupid foot injury acquired two weeks ago means keeping that dry is a must. In part annoying with especially fly fishing working well as this really good Permit caught by Tobias from Sweden indicates.
All in all he caught 22 different species of which you see here a really pretty Wrasse and a Bluespotted Grouper.
Usually no fishing is really tough for me but this time as said the weather was not good enough to go out alone until recently anyways and along the last few days there was plenty to prepare for the catamaran fishing trip to Bird and Denis Islands starting tomorrow. This also the reason for this report coming early. Very valuable for us that Martin and his South African group had fished around Bird for three days this week so provided freshest information. Unfortunately not what I wanted to hear though as all in all it had been slow. Pretty much upon arrival they caught this not too big though Doggie but it was just one per day.
Also the other catches consisting of the usual assortment of Groupers, Black Trevally etc. remained rather unspectacular while according to the sonar there was plenty of fish around. Hope now these just built up a sound appetite for our week up there. If that hope materializes you will find out in the next report.
For a start a quick glance back on the day of the last report: Aleks who had featured in that one hat intended to fish easy going on his last trip thus asked for some trolling and light jigging on the pltaeau. Did not work out exactly as he wanted with this Sailfish to fight after a few minutes already.
Things went on with another Sail raised and several smaller Gamefish caught while also the jigging produced numerous hard fighting Trevallies like the usual Yellowtail and Yellowspotted so once more he was aching in the end. Stephan also sent a final report on his last day out of Denis Island which again produced quality jigging. One of these not small Amberjacks got eaten by something.
Turned out after a lengthy fight this was a Hammerhead about 4.5m long. While Stephan ran for the camera the beast cut the 100lb leader so sadly only this blurred pic available. But should give an idea of the dimensions. Nothing I would like to swim with.
Last but not least his Doggie shown in the last report caught on the small slow pitch gear was a decent 41kg. Time to turn to the just passed two weeks now. Along these weather and fishing in all disciplines were quite erratic so flexibility was a key to success. The 2nd of March delivered a good example for that as I went out in the first line to catch some kitchen fish for my old friend and mentor on the light jigging gear. But a good handful of well known reliable and also some new spots produced next to nothing. Only on the very last spot I managed to scrape a dozen or so reasonable fish together.
Luckily the popping gear was on board and while the wind came up from a totally unexpected direction creating slight worries about the return trip I missed two GTs but eventually got this one. Unfortunately the GoPro pic does not do this rather fat one honour.
Next day in no wind I went to the Drop Off with Mervin (Divinity) and guest Richard from California. Jigging was the plan and we needed to stick to it as in that heat the Tuna would not surface. Around 40 fish caught do not sound bad but there was nothing bigger at all among those. Guess the pic collage (click to enlarge) tells the story as these are already the best fish of that trip and despite our dislike for them we were sort of happy a few Sharks gave Richard some good pulls.
The days after were mostly quite windy so it was not easy neither for Mervin`s jigging group nor for Greg & Phil with their luckily flexible American guest. Bits of trolling among the jigging helped them to nice catches every so often though like a few Sails that were of course released.
Jigging also produced good while not spectacular catches in between if it was possible at all in up to 3 knots of drift but it was also a good bit of fishing the water at times. Mervin had a day of massive Doggie action with a rod broken and a small Saltiga melted and was happy it had not been his gear. A good one in the fourties was caught but the anglers do not want any pics published before they did so themselves so nothing to show unfortunately. Also on Bite Me jigging was slower on some days but better on others (click pic to enlarge).
As said trolling was a good resort at times especially thanks to the Sailies abundant in good numbers and with a bit of an appetite. In one of the calm spells this cool release pic was taken.
For the trolling-only boats it was also a bit on and off. Quite funny: on a day when five were out four caught about nothing while only Bertrand on the small YamSing found the fish and a honeypot in the shape of a small Black Marlin on top. On the 9th I went with Andre on Bite Me Too and flyfishing enthusiasts Lukas and Moni from Germany. First goal was a Sail on fly which we raised to the teaser within an hour but it took too long for the fly to get out so it buggered off in the meantime. Two hours casting in strong wind around inshore structures with a too slow sinking line produced two bites. One of those was so hard Lukas could not hold on to the line and burned his finger quite badly. A few hours of inshore lure trolling with Greater Barracuda, Garfish, Dorado and this Wahoo for Moni rounded it off.
The next day Mervin´s group took a break so there was the chance to squeeze in Egon from Italy for a half day GT popping. Looked promising early morning at high tide so no surprise they raised half a dozen in quick succession of which a larger and a smaller one got stuck with Mervin but both dropped the hook for unknown reasons. Had already given up hope under a rising baking sun in windless conditions and the quickly dropping water level but hard fishing Egon eventually got his GT. At 114cm fork length such specimen should weigh at more than 30kg but as you can see in the pic this one was missing volume at the back and the belly so we estimated 27kg.
Much better shape looked this one caught on Bite Me by mate Phil in the south. Seems the trend persists that currently they are normal down there while skinny in the west.
So popping all in all was okay while not consistent throughout. On the 12th I spent the afternoon on Bite Me Too with Andre and already mentioned Richard to get him a GT but in too much wind five hours of hardcore popping led to nothing but a miss and two more seen swimming under the boat. Felt really sorry for the extremely nice angler who travelled literally round the world to be unlucky on both his outings. We agreed that having experienced how we fish here is good but he needs to return some day as to figure what we catch if things go just normal. Really hope he will do so some day. Greg yesterday morning along a half day did not even get to see a GT btw. Did nearly no fly fishing at all due to the mostly unfavourable weather and a few lose ends to tie up that were no fishing lines. Only went twice for short spells without sighting of anything better and just the usual small suspects caught. You know what they look like and while this Thumbprint Snapper was a bit bigger than usual it mainly squeezed in as this paragraf needs a pic.
Would have preferred to present the Bluefin Trevally that Andre`s guest lost a few days ago right next to the boat or even better the unknown and surely much bigger fish that a little while later stole the angler`s whole fly line. Just not recommendable here to play around with a #5 outfit here from a boat. And even lesser recommendable to turn down the guide`s advice on rather using the ready for use #9. Guess he will not do it again. Late last night Mervin reported good jigging at last with many large Amberjacks and among the various species this funny bugger.
Was hard as a rock and full of razor sharp scales. He said he caught a somewhat similar but smaller one years back. Might be an interesting task for anyone engaging in fish identification. If you know what it is please tell us.
For the preceeding reports check the archive.