Friday, July 8, 2016

Well played, GTs of Maldives



Ice cream - the local lingo for being outgunned/no fish
In my overview of my mini Maldives adventure, I shared about being well beaten by the Giant Trevallies (GT) of Maldives and well, all my shame is being showcased here. Although I fish a lot, I’ve never truly went on a “Big game” fishing trip except for a one time New Zealand Kingfish jigging trip so this was a serious eye (sore) opener for me.

Comfortable Dhoni. Easily can fish 6 pax.
We started the first day fishing with a pleasantly angler friendly schedule. We would fish sunrise, break for lunch (return to island to have our meals) and then go for sunset fishing. This actually was about 8 hours of fishing considering sunrise fishing was 6am to 10am and sunset fishing was 4pm to 8pm!

I won’t write much about the actual fishing (you can view the videos to get a sense of that) but some technical observations below: 


We were seriously under-gunned
One of the headaches of not being on an actual “Big game” fishing trip (and also because of conservative packing) is that we simply brought too little of the serious, mean fishing gears. A quick check on our fishing gear showed one thing – we were thoroughly under-gunned. I was quite happy with my micro jigging, light jigging and light popping gear while Shawn was happy with his strange array of random fishing gear (including a hastily put together “popping” setup which was a Zerek popping rod and a Daiwa Freams 4500J).

I thought I was ready – simply because my gear served me well on numerous fishing trips except that my heaviest gear was a PE 2 – 3 CTS custom and Trinidad 12! I also did the “in-thing” and brought along my Shimano Ocea Jigger 1500 and Shimano Ocea Infitini Slow Fall setup.

How na├»ve we were. Bent hooks, bust lines… you’ll see later.

The Singaporean idea of “light jigging” and coaxing fish is bollocks
Another key observation was that the concept of “aiya, let the fish run and slowly bring it up… give it some slack” didn’t work at all! Terrain was vicious here and a thousand times more treacherous than the terrain we have in Singapore. Steep corals, sudden drop offs and even sharks – you name it, you got it.

Coaxing the fish in is a reality most Singaporean light jiggers dabble in these days. Anglers use very light lines like PE1 and light drags to coax in the fish and while most of us managed it well in local or regional (Rompin, Pekan, Desaru etc.), the fishes at Maldives weren’t so obliging. I bust off about 4 – 5 suspected GTs (because Shawn always chickened out and refused to fight the fish) and this was after trying various means to get the fish up on light tackle.

Often, a single scenario occurred – the GT would hit the jig near the bottom and then take out line for 5 seconds and then reef me. If you somehow manage to hook the fish near mid water, it was always going to be a matter of terminal tackle quality. Our terminals didn’t stand up to the fight though (and I must take some blame for not pairing the light jigs with bigger hooks) and bent hooks came back frequently.

I had a really good chance to land one of the GTs on the PE 1 setup and Daiwa Branzino 3000 (with 12lbs Spiderwire!) but the SK Twin Seriola 2/0 opened when the fish was about 5m from the boat. Man…

Presentation is key
Another technical highlight was that contrary to popular belief, Maldives is not an “anyhow jig, any jig” fishing ground. When the fish were really picky, the hit rates depended a lot on jigging speeds and presentation. Changing jigging styles, jig action and colours proved to be very effective and once you have a “winning” formula, stick to it. This was very consistent throughout the few days of fishing and the long fast stroke with pause technique probably scored the most hits.

Crippled Herring was a favourite among the fishes.
But ok we still had some fun
Thankfully, after all the crying, cursing and bruising of egos, we still managed some fun. Shawn fought a good sized Dogtooth Tuna (mistaken by everyone to be some tuna) on my setup (PE 1 – 2 Jigging rod and a Shimano Stella 4k) and it was brought up for a good photo taking. Dogtooth Tunas don’t usually fight better than GTs though and the fish was taken in mid water so the “coaxing the fish” rule applied here.

Now, don’t be fooled by the sad faces because we still had fun in the next few days of fishing. When we realized during day one that light tackle wouldn’t make the cut, we opted for light fishing the next day and we were pleasantly rewarded by a large array of reef fishes. It was probably the best few hours of jigging I have ever experienced – more to come in the next post!

Thankfully, it took the jig in mid-water
Shawn brought up a decent doggie with my light jigging outfit
If you’re interested in joining such a rustic fishing trip, I can arrange one for you and although there are certain packages available, such trips are purely exploratory and still at an infancy phase. If you have good fishing finesse skills though, you’ll probably do very well. Contact me at nigel.lian@gmail.com

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