We spend a lot of time out on our boat fishing with clients or fishing by ourselves. We've noticed a lot of our clients have little or no idea about what happens right under the boat. Very few people actually swim, ask or even bother about the waters they fish. We think it's very important to know what's going on. As part of our exploratory trips we set out to see if we could actually 'see' the fish we were fishing for. After a couple of hours of swimming/snorkeling on some of our favorite reefs we began to see the fish we were after! Some, where we caught them often on popper and some fish were in places we were totally overlooking. We cast poppers where we saw fish earlier while snorkeling and we were soon into more GT!
Above a school of Yellow-back Fusilier gracefully swim along the reef in search of zooplankton they feed on. These schools of bait can be seen from a long way off and appear as a yellow patch in the water or look like a bit of shallow reef in the middle of nowhere. Most often schools of Yellow-back Fusilier have some big GT lurking under them!
A picture of what a bait school looks like to a cruising GT! This was a large school of Blue-streak or Blue-dash Fusilier (Pterocaesio tile). Both schools of Fusilier make up a large part of the GT's diet along with other small fish like sardines, anchovies and small mackerel that thrive in the Andaman Islands.
Very often the GT and bait congregate in the same areas around structue. Here pictured is a GT of about 15kilos with a smaller GT swimming just behind it. These GT along with the Fusilier were holding close to an exposed rock and the photograph was taken in about 3 meters of water. The Fusilier were totally relaxed and swimming within a foot of the GT, showing the GT weren't feeding at the time. We've seen and caught GT on stick-bait in water as shallow as 2 meters while targeting Coral Trout and Grouper or have caught the at over 80 meters deep on jig. This goes to show the wide range of GT in the Andaman Islands.
The final moments of a fight with a GT before it was put in the boat, photographed and released. This GT weighed around the 20 kilo mark. Note the thickness of the 'wrist' of the tail of the fish in the first picture. On some of our bigger 40+ kilo GT one can't get their hand around the wrist of the tail. A good way of judging how big a fish is.
Another couple of pictures of a school of GT. This picture taken at Sisters Island, another hot spot for GT, shows the number of free swimming fish. This school appeared out of the blue in about 20 meters of water. They swam under the boat for a while before disappearing. The school had the bigger fish lurking at the bottom of the school and a bit more weary of us on the surface. A pity they were a bit too deep to photograph with a mask and snorkel.
A free swimming GT and a loner as we saw no other GT with this chap. This fish was very weary of us and kept at a safe distance only once letting us get close enough to get a quick couple of photographs. A GT, behavior wise that was definitely not looking for anything, we popped the area we saw this fish but got no strikes. I'd have been really happy if I'd managed to see a GT, get back in the boat, cast to it and catch it! Not so lucky this time around. As the season carries on we'll be taking more pictures underwater of the fish we love and catch with a hope of better understanding their behavior.
Darran & Akshay.