A season cut short in its prime
Fishing days 11 to 16 March 2020
It is with mixed feelings that I sit down to write the last trip report for the 2019-20 season. Yes, we caught some awesome fish as usual, with some really big GTs to both start and end the season with. However, the fear factor is that none of us know where or if we will be here next season this time, thanks to the corona virus pandemic that has more or less thrown our living lives, and the way we live into turmoil.
With a good slot available in March after the full moon, which for some reason a lot of potential clients looked at but did not confirm, I invited friends Moncho , Suri and Sahadev to join me to get some more nice GTs added to our collection for the season. This is probably the only time in a season that I can actually have a serious go at the GT rather than watch our customers catch them.
With the guys in, unpacked and tackled up, we were all set to get out and go fishing with Capt. Rama and Dilip on the Reef Raider. The first day was a mixed bag of fish on top water – Moncho had two really nice fish come up on the Hammer Head Cherry Boy and the Shell Shaping. Unfortunately, both these fish came off with the one on the Shell Shaping Twister making off with it as well. Sahadev lost his El Drunkard in the first few casts when a big GT came up and nailed it, only for his line to burst. Everyone caught a few fish, though most of them were smallish in the 10-15 kilo range. Suri, being on his first ever popping trip was soon getting up to speed with what needed to be done and landed a few GTs as well. Sahadev had a nice strike just off a rocky out crop on the Wahoo 150 lure and managed to land a nice 25 kilo GT which put up a good fight.
The next day we started early and made the trip across to Invisible Bank. We all started casting as there was lot of bait schools visible on the reefs edge. However, that morning session apart from a few rat GTs, the big ones did not seem keen on top water lures. So, we decided to take out the micro and light jigs and started catching all kinds of fish from small dogtooth, bluefin trevally and groupers in non-stop action. We would have caught well over 80 fish in an hour plus session, till Sahadev said the magic words “no barracuda?”, and almost on cue they were there cutting off all our jigs!
So back to the casting again it was. We had to watch out for the giant size barracuda, and hence all the expensive lures were put away. We still landed a few though, after lunch when it looked like the barracuda were away, we had successive strikes on nice medium sized GTs in the 20-25 kg range and landed both. One or two big GT’s came up but did not take the lures.
The next day we decided to change location and head to Little Andaman. There were a couple of new spots that we were looking forward to trying enroute. This morning though there was a lot of bait both on the surface and on the sounder. However, it just seemed that fish were not biting on top water no matter the effort we put in. In situations like this you need to keep going and not give up. I was using an Amegari Dzanga, that my friend and client Hamad had been so kind to give me a couple of weeks ago. Since the current was really running by this time, it seemed an ideal choice. On the second drift over the drop off I had a good hit and set the hook. It felt like a decent fish and holding onto it I saw the Carpenter SP78Exh was bending from the handle and needed a bit of assistance. With the fish using its body weight to the maximum, there was silver flash from another GT following this one that looked like a 30 plus kilo fish. Dilip’s skilful manoeuvring of the boat helped me to get the fish up and we needed the big landing net for this one, it was huge! Look at the head size on the fish – that is the biggest GT I have landed in the Andaman Islands till date, with a fork length of 140 cm. Suri had a big Spanish Mackerel go for his lure but miss, and Moncho landed 3 smaller GT’s in quick succession. In the evening we had a lot of fun light jigging, with Moncho again getting a 15 kilo GT to end the day.
The next day we tried different areas and Suri, who after 3 days of popping and jigging was doing really well for a first timer. Suddenly, he had another big GT on a deep drift come up and inhale the Cubera 150 and take off. Being strong he held on well, but this fish was really powerful and put up a solid fight that nearly caused him to give up. But in the end, he managed to bring up a big black GT that had a length of 137 cm and weighed 47 kg. We moved over to do some jigging, and again had a great bite with multiple species landed and plenty of non-stop action for all.
For the last two days the action was still good and on two occasions we experienced feeding frenzies (thanks to Capt Rama’s eagle eyes) with multiple hits and fish landed for all anglers. There were average sized fish mixed with the smaller ones, and the smaller ones as usual grabbed the lures from bigger ones when they decided to come up. The excitement of having your lure followed and then nailed by packs of GTs is something we are very lucky to experience regularly. The monsters around keep you on your toes, knowing that you can’t let complacency set in – ever! On the last day Moncho was the angler on fire, landing fish after fish on both stick-bait and popper. He was a bit disappointed in not getting a big one this trip, but that’s fishing! On the last drift of the final day, mid drift we ran into a school of GT’s and everyone was getting hit. Taking the Amegari out for one last cast resulted in another 20 kilo GT for me, with a great strike close to the boat. With that we called it a day and set off for port.
So, till we see you on the other side, do stay tuned for updates and keep safe.
Till then enjoy the pictures and let’s hope we are all back and fishing again soon.
Rods Popping: Ripple Fisher GT80 Reversal, Ripple Fisher Ultimo 79MH, Carpenter TBL 80/40, Carpenter SP78EXH, Saltywater Tackle Racepoint 150, Yamaga Blanks Blue Reef PE10
Jigging rods: Major Craft PE 1-3
Shimano Stella SW14000, SW 18000, Shimano Twin Power SW 14000, Shimano Stella SW5000, Shimano Saragosa 6000, Daiwa Saltiga 6500
Amegari Dzanga, Heru Cubera, Heru Skipjack, El drunkard, Carpenter gamma 140, Shell Shaping Glans, Shell Shaping trident and Twister F3 and F4. Hammerhead D & E Cup, Hammer Head Cherry Pai 220, Hammer Head Cherry Boy 240, Carpenter Bluefish 140, Blue Blue Snecon 220S, Kokari 130, Shimano Wild Response 240 F,
Major Craft Jig Para 80, 100, 120
Bluefin Trevally, Bohar Snapper, Giant trevally, Barracuda, Dogtooth Tuna, Long Nose Emperor, Grouper, Tille Trevally, Green Jobfish, Yellowfin Tuna,