Saturday, February 6, 2010

Fish Stew!

The end of Jan 2010 saw us fishing with Stew from the Isle of White (UK), who was fishing in the Andaman Islands with us for the first time. By the end of the trip we knew this was going to be an epic post on the blog going by the fish we'd caught and the great time we'd had fishing! The trip started slow and then kept improving as the conditions got better and better for us to popper fish and jig. The first couple of days saw us fishing in 15 to 20 knot wind conditions along with a not so favorable tide. The conditions improved and allowed us to try many new spots with a lot of success in terms of fish caught!

One of the first GT of the trip that Stew landed on popper. This fish readily took popper and was quickly released after a quick photograph.

We fished some of our favorite reefs in the South and Stew was rewarded with a very nice 'Red Bass' on popper. These fish are great fighters and love playing dirty, often striking a popper and heading straight down into the reef. As big as this Red Bass was it was stopped well before it got to the reef and landed in under a minute. It left Stew puffing but proud as the picture above shows!

Stew posing with a beautiful specimen of a Blue Fin Trevally. Again really hard fighters and we're really sorry they don't grow to the size of a big GT! A nice fish to catch and a fish that looks really great in photographs.

While fishing off a distant Island we came across a floating raft of Bamboo. These rafts a typically Burmese and float down from Burma when there's a strong North Easterly wind. The expert construction of these rafts allows them to stay intact and make the 400+ mile voyage. This raft though abandoned, was in perfect condition.

Stew with another GT that fought hard on a shallow reef.

Dilip releasing a small GT caught by Stew.

Dilip our deckie with an awesome GT he caught on a Halco Haymaker off a set of deep reefs. These reefs produce some big fish for us and always have fish lurking on them. It's great to have reefs that consistently provide us with quality fish. Dilip's very enthusiastic about popping and has now taken up to jigging which he's very good at, as we'll see later in this post!

Dilip holding onto Stew as he fights another good GT. Fishing heavy drag often can be exciting but painful as a fish takes off towards the reef and one gets slammed into the railings!

A quick photo before this GT's released back to the sea.

A surprise and colorful change... The Coronation Trout on our reefs just can't resist small jigs dropped down for them. Another technique we're perfecting is shallow water light jigging. More about the light jigging to follow in future posts.

Another popper caught GT moments before release.

Stew hooking up on jig with a GT. The jigging saw a lot of action especially with GT that were taking jigs regularly. Though they were not really bothered with colour the blue/silver jigs seemed to catch the most fish on this trip.

We were joined on this trip by Alban Regnoult who's an expert in light jigging. Alban was in for quite a fight on his light tackle when his jig got chewed by this quality GT that ran and ran and ran. We had to chase after the fish with the boat as Alban face turned white with horror as he was often up to the backing on his little reel. Slowly but surely he gained meter after precocious meter by keeping constant pressure on the fish. A well fought battle with a super reward at the end!

On our next jigging mark it was Stew's turn for some excitement that resulted in this! when the jigging's great often sharks get attracted to the spot to see what the commotion's all about. Being opportunistic they make a quick snack out of what they can find. As a rule we move off a mark as soon as the sharks arrive. It's a shame to lose fish to sharks and we don't want the sharks getting used to freebies.

Above some of the action on jig, mainly GT and Blue Fin Trevally that were hitting jigs as soon as they were worked off the bottom.

While Stew was jigging our next mark he hooked up with a fish that seemed small, but then all of a sudden his rod was slammed down and line began pouring off his reel. Slack again and we all thought it was shark. Stew reeled up what we thought was the remainder of a fish but got a major surprise when we saw this small Doggie come up with bite marks on it. Stew's fish had been grabbed by a monster Doggie! Going by the size of the bite in the second picture we were sure it was a huge fish! The fish is still down there and we plan on heading back there and maybe another angler will be a wee bit luckier than Stew was!

Some of the fish caught on Jig by Dilip, including a super Rosy Job fish. We all know Rosy's are often followed by the Doggies and Dilip was soon hooked into one.

His smile says it all!

Stew holding on for dear life as he hooked the fish of the trip for himself. A hard battle fought well and an Accurate SR 30 being put to the test.

Above, Stew's prize and a well deserved fish.

Another GT on Jig for Stew!

More species on jig for Stew!

Above a series of pictures of fish caught on light jigs by Alban. Very often people think only small fish take light jigs but that's far from the truth. The other great aspect of light jigging is the wide variety of fish caught. Very often anglers miss out on many fish here that take jig by not down sizing tackle. The light jigging makes for a good change especially when one's knackered after a whole session of chucking big poppers in the hot tropical sun.

Triple hookup! What had us all amazed was the triple hook up with 3 different species!

Yellow Fin Tuna! Came as a surprise, this proves the yellow fin are on their way in. The Andaman Islands usually see a yearly migration of Yellow fin in Feb, March and April. Huge schools can easily be targeted with popper and jig!

Stew with another couple of quality GT!

Not wanting to be left out Dilip whacked this cracker of a GT of a deep reef we fished. An absolutely awesome specimen!!

Stew! The man himself. We hope to see him back soon in the Andaman Islands along with his friends as they're a couple of big fish here with his name on them.

Darran & Akshay.