Friday, November 29, 2013

Tackle and Tech Talk with Nicola Zingarelli of




One of our first big groups back in 2007 was an Italian group led by Nicola Zingarelli an outdoor writer, professional recreational fisherman and fishing guide. We were still pretty green with the GT fishing back then and were excited about the group coming out to the Andaman Islands to sample the fishing we had. Nicola has fished with us on about half a dozen trips since and over the years we have gained a lot from him especially when it came to jigging, which back then we had never tried.

Nicola in the past has worked with the former Polygram label starting in Rome and later in Milan, first taking care of International Promotion of the label and its artists to later become a Product Manager for the London Records Label. He later went on to become the Managing Director and A&R at Edel Music in Spain for seven years. Nicola went on to develop a local roster of artists signing in unknown bands who have turned out to be bestsellers like Macaco, Ojos de Brujo and Amparanoia!

In June 2004 Caranx-Caranx S.L., a company focused on recreational fishing, specifically popping and jigging was set up by Nicola. It comprises of a successful online forum and community of popping and jigging addicts, an online store selling specialist popping and jigging tackle and also organised angling trips to exotic destinations.

Besides running the company Nicola dedicates a lot of his time to photography, both outdoor and products in his studio. Nicola has also written and taken photographs for numerous outdoor and fishing magazines like Pesca & Barcos, Pesca in Mare, Voyages de Pêche, Sport Fishing Magazine and Kutter & Küste. He’s also contributed to photographic magazines like Superfoto and Fotografía Reflex.

We recently had a chance to chat with our old friend and find out a bit more about him….




GFI: What are your earliest memories of fishing?

Nicola: My earliest fishing memories are fishing for carps and rainbow trout in small reservoirs close to where I lived as a child. My nanny used to take me fishing and later on some elder friends. I enjoyed these outings as a child and they were my very first fishing experiences. These experiences pretty much were the foundation of my future angling exploits around the world.

GFI: What methods did you use while you were fishing then?

Nicola: Back then as children we fished with bait mainly and I remember we used to fish with corn or pellets for small carp and other fish.




GFI: What made you look at the tropics then?

Nicola: I did my first trip to the tropics in 1995, I was fascinated by videos (VHS) and photos I watched before the internet era. Back then it was so hard to get reliable information, especially from these exotic destinations, which made it all the more interesting.

GFI: How many destinations have you fished in the Tropics? How many times, over how many years?

Nicola: Hard to say how many, probably I did more than 120 trips between 1996 and 2006, some on my own some with customers.

GFI: Where have you fished in the tropics?

Nicola: It really is a pretty long list, quite boring to read I think. Basically I have fished most of the tropical oceans, from the Western Pacific to Australia. I’ve fished in the Canary Islands, Cape Verde, the Straights of Gibraltar, Oman, Madagascar, Maldives, the Andaman Islands, Bermuda, Cape Cod to name a few.



GFI: What are the methods of fishing do you prefer best in the tropics?

Nicola: Popping and jigging only… maybe a bit of spinning.

GFI: If you were given a choice… would you pop or would you jig?

Nicola: I went through both crazes, popping first, than jigging. Now I like to cast lures better than jig for my favorite species. I fish a lot lighter as well now and go on the occasional inshore or mangrove fishing trip looking for species of jack and grouper.


andaman2007 247


GFI: If you were heading to a tropical destination, what would your jigging setup be? Rod, line, reel assist hook and jig?

Nicola: When I was a 100% focused on tropical fishing I used to have Lamiglas rods and the 5660 was my choice. I actually love the blank of that rod with a very sensitive tip and a sturdy backbone. To be honest unless it’s a very stiff rod, it’s useless to impart a good short jerk action, I could use any rod with similar specifications. The reel would be an Accurate BX600NNL with 65 to 80lb braid, and the jig would probably be either a Seveseas Anatahan or a Molix' Theos. Jigs matter but the ‘elbow/forearm action’ matters the most!

GFI: If you could use only one jig, what would you use? Your all-time favorite jig?

Nicola: Aah… I can’t choose…Anatahan, Theos or the MC Works Killer Jig.




GFI:  What is your best and most favorite memory of fishing in the Tropics?

Nicola: Sunsets at the equator are awesome, the quiet during a drift while popping, the hump of a large predator breaking the surface to hit my lure.

GFI: Most special fish capture? What species? When? Where? What method? Circumstances/weather conditions?

Nicola: I have great memories of my largest GT caught at the Maldives, a 100lb fish during my second trip there. Every Doggie I caught is a prized catch but most of all I love to fish for Cuberas in the Caribbean and the Pacific. Cuberas on poppers are my favorite tropical fish ever. Second come the groupers, which in my opinion pull a lot more drag than a GT as they head back to their hole in the reef.




GFI: Would like you to tell us a bit about your experiences fishing/jigging with the Japanese… what was it like? What did you learn from them? Who did you fish with? What circumstances?

Nicola: The first time I fished with a Japanese angler was in Spain, Seikai Murakoshi came to film a documentary about sea bass fishing and I guided them around Spain. This is the first time I saw somebody jigging Japanese style and immediately after I started introducing jigging into Spain. Later I met other Japanese fishermen with Yoichi Mogi in Australia. We got along very well and even though it was difficult to communicate I learnt a good deal of things from him and Kenji Konishi of Carpenter fame. After the Australian trip Mogi came to Spain with Reiko Kojima and other Japanese fishermen. I guided them at the Canary Islands and the Strait of Gibraltar. I also met Hideyuki Kitamura, first in Japan and then in Panama, we fished together and found his way of jigging very different from the one I knew so that was a very interesting experience as well.

GFI: What advice would you have for a young angler dreaming about fishing in a distant tropical location?

Nicola: Save money, build some muscles and DON'T go GT fishing on the first trip. You don't drive a Ferrari as soon as you get your driving license. First of all, it is the Ferrari driving you rather than the opposite, and second, once you have driven a Ferrari - what else is left?




GFI: How did start? It was probably the only platform for modern popping and jigging in its heydays… what was your vision back then?

Nicola: started as many other fishing web sites, the thing is that I was doing the real thing, learning from the best and reporting the things to the others, sharing everything I knew, even by making a lot of mistakes, but it was a strong community with great contributors sharing their experience from all over the world. That was really crazy, an Italian/Spanish forum leading the tropical fishing community, odd to say at the least!

GFI: Tell us a bit about your collaboration with Lamiglas?

Nicola: The Tropic Pro rods and blanks were great rods back in the day. Possibly the only other popping rod in Europe then was the one by DPSG. I started with Lamiglas as their distributor in Spain, and got their attention on what I was doing and the chance to open a market for specialist popping and jigging rods. Even though Lamiglas is a very conservative brand, they delivered the product and we started something that picked up very fast. Unfortunately, they were not ready to switch to more demanded blanks with offset handles, better guides and components and the Japanese stuff flooded the market. I actually use a Daiwa MuraMura rod for heavy popping and Moli'x Fioretto rods for lighter stuff.

GFI: What drew you to the Andaman Islands?

Nicola: You :-) You guys contacted me at the very beginning of your operation and I came to fish with a bunch of Italians with the "tractor" one of those dodgy and slow local boats. A nightmare, but the fish were there. It has been amazing for me to see how you guys grew up an incredible talent to find the best spots, how to locate and fish the biggest GT and the knowledge you gathered over the following years. You grew up as a top notch sport fishing operation, just need a mother vessel now.





A couple of photographs of Nicola whilst fishing with us.

Pic credit: Ryan Lobo, a talented photographer who’s been with us during a couple of epic trips.


GFI: When did you start off with photography? What led you to develop your distinct style of photographing fish?

Nicola: I started because I needed photos for my articles but at the beginning I had the guide taking photos of me. The switch happened in 2005 when I bought my first DSLR camera, a D70s, and since people didn't know how to use it I had to start taking pictures and I actually started enjoying it. My style came from a couple of daring choices I made, using an ultra wide angle lenses and artificial lights. I had to study a lot to improve the technique but it sure was worth it. Now many fishing photographers or aficionados are taking similar photos, I will have to find out something different :-)




colores y sonrisas_04

A couple of photographs of fish caught in the Andaman Islands taken by Nicola in his distinct style that makes him such a unique photographer in the sport-fishing scene.


GFI: When did you start writing for fishing magazines? Which was the first article you wrote? How many magazines have you written for?

Nicola: I started in the mid ‘90s and the first article was about pike fishing in Ireland, absolutely awful.

GFI: What do you do now? Any collaborations? How involved are you in the fishing business?

Nicola: Now I still run as a blog, an online shop and a Facebook community. I'm involved with Molix under several aspects, still write for a few magazines - few because many of them closed down - I still take live or still life photos.




GFI: What do you see in the future for the European sport-fishing segment that runs after tropical fish?

Nicola: The current craze is Tuna fishing because thanks to the new European regulations they have made a great comeback and are available in numbers. As far as tropical fishing goes, people are looking for ‘virgin’ places, some even dare to go to not-so-safe countries to find them and the technical side of fishing is now, sometimes, even more important than the fishing itself, which is very good for the Japanese factories who can sell rods, lures and reels at ridiculous prices. I now enjoy fishing for different fish, even freshwater, here in Spain. I do actually enjoy fishing. Period.










It was great to catch up with an old friend and find out how he is doing. We know we will probably fish again with Nicola either in the Andaman Islands or at our new destination. Sri Lanka opens up many interesting opportunities for a keen fisherman and photographer and Mr. Zingarelli is on the top of that list. We’re very happy to have shared many a laugh on the boat while chasing after GT or drifting over a seamount dropping jigs for Doggies. We’ll always remember Nicola the way he is in the picture below!




Keep an eye on this blog for more interesting articles, catch reports and useful tips as our season progresses.

Tight lines,

Team GFI

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

We’re Okay!


It’s been an interesting year… We ended last season on a high with some big GT we caught late in the season and also a fantastic top-water Yellow Fin Tuna bite. We finished off our trips with clients by early May 3013 and headed back to the mainland for a well deserved break. We soon were off on exploratory trips down in Sri Lanka where we had some phenomenal fishing.

Meanwhile in the Bay of Bengal the monsoons were in full swing. We normally see a couple of depressions in the bay which develop into full blown cyclones, but this year was to be different…. a lot more intense. The first one was Cyclonic Storm Mahasen in early May 2013. The storm's huge cloud mass also brought unsettled weather to Sri Lanka, Thailand, and southeastern India. Severe storms in India and Sri Lanka were responsible for at least 16 fatalities and significant damage. Mahasen finally struck Bangladesh in a weaker state and caused less damage than was anticipated.

We then had a series of low pressures developing in the Bay which all eventually dissipated over the Indian Maniland between the end of May 2013 till the end of August 2013. Parts of India and Bangladesh received huge amounts of rain leaving thousands homeless and huge amount of devastation to crops and homes due to inundation.

The next tropical depression formed along the Gulf of Thailand on October 4, over the Andaman Sea and adjoining Tanintharyi region. The IMD upgraded the storm to a deep depression, and subsequently a cyclonic storm, naming it Phailin. Rapid intensification ensued, and Phailin strengthened into a Very Severe Cyclonic storm on October 10. Phailin made landfall close to Gopalpur, Odisha in the evening hours of October 12.The cyclone prompted India's biggest evacuation in 23 years with more than 550,000 people moving up from the coastline in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh to safer places.

On 17th November 2013, the remnant energy of Tropical Storm Podul contributed to the development of a trough over the Bay of Bengal, located near the Andaman Islands. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) upgraded the storm to a depression and a couple of hours later, the IMD upgraded it into a Deep Depression, as the storm continued to intensify.The storm was then named Helen, which continued to intensify into a Severe Cyclonic Storm the following day, reaching its peak intensity of 100 km/h (62 mph) with a central pressure of 990 mbar. Helen made landfall south of Machilipatnam, Andhra Pradesh and rapidly deteriorated into a deep depression. A total of 11 deaths have been reported in incidents related to Helen.

A low pressure area formed over the South China Sea and on 23rd November 2013, it crossed to the Andaman Sea and gradually intensified. Moving at over 08 knots, the system gradually intensified over the next 24 hours. Lehar made it's first landfall south of Port Blair, Andaman and Nicobar, early on November 25. Lehar continued to track in a westerly direction and early on November 26, the IMD upgraded Lehar to a Very Severe Cyclonic storm. Meanwhile, they have warned the coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha of heavy rainfall and strong winds.

sat image of cyclone mod

Above a satellite image of Lehar just after it had crossed over Port Blair in the Andaman Islands.

Weather mod

Above a map of wind speed and wind direction.

leher cyclone path

The predicted track of Cyclone Lehar over the Bay of Bengal after  crossing over the Andaman Islands on its way to the Indian mainland.

The cyclone affected the Andaman Islands with heavy rain and gusts of wind. Lehar caused flooding, land slides, road blockage, uprooting of hundreds of trees and damage in buildings.  In Little Andaman, more than 2000 people were evacuated. In the nearby Havelock Island, about 1500 persons got shelter in the panchayat community hall. On 25th Novemeber. Mayabander and Port Blair recorded heavy rainfall of 243 mm and 213 mm respectively in 24 hrs as the Cyclone made landfall close to Port Blair. Port Blair recorded 110 kmph with gusts upto 130 kmph. Port Blair-bound flights from Chennai were cancelled. Luckily there was no loss of life here but the devastation was quite widespread. We've just got our electricity back along with a limping internet connection.


View of the bay the evening before the day the cyclone struck. We initially had some spectacular skies with clouds racing in an anti clockwise circulation with flashes of lightning lighting up the skies.


A view of the Chatham Sawmill in the pouring rain. Luckily this island provided us with cover during the worst part of the cyclone which raged for about an hour and a half.


A view across the bay before the power went out for the night and for the next 36 hours. Most of the main power lines were knocked out by falling trees. The Fire and Electricity Departments worked over time and under trying conditions to get power supply resumed.


On the morning of the cyclone, we had our boat Rampage anchored behind Chatham Island for a couple of hours as it was the only lee we could find. Normally we’re struck with winds from the east, but this time around the winds were from the West. The western winds caught many fishermen off guard and led to many smaller boats sinking in the bay. At the jetty where our boats are moored over 15 boats, wooden and FRP were lost in under a hour. Damage to boats was extensive in other parts of the Port Blair harbour.


Emergency services in action, clearing roads of many trees that had come crashing down during the cyclone. Access to the main part of Port Blair was cut off for most of the day as trees were being cleared. Many low lying areas were inundated with houses and vehicles being submerged.


Coast Guard boats heading out just after the worst bit of the cyclone crossed over Port Blair. Over two dozen fishermen went missing and almost all of them were rescued by the Coast Guard and Police. There are still reports of a couple of smaller wooden craft missing with an estimated 9 people who still have not returned.

Now that the worst has passed we know this was the last of an unusually long chain of depressions across the Bay of Bengal. Sea conditions have quickly returned to what they were with the wind being slight. This long chain of events could well be the effects of global warming. Cyclones typically lower sea surface temperatures and in this part of the world are a part of life.


We now know like everyone does that the fishing only improves after a storm. We are out fishing again soon and our catch reports will be up as we complete fishing with groups at some of our favourite GT spots like the one above.


Nothing quite like looking into a mirror calm sea to spot some monster Yellow Fin Tuna swimming under the boat after a school of bait-fish!!

Team GFI

Monday, November 18, 2013

Lone Fish Swimming…




We receive many enquiries from anglers across the globe. Many are keen fishing enthusiasts with the will and the urge to head out to distant lands in search of the fish of their dreams. Of these enquiries we get a large number of anglers who are single. It’s been a trend and it’s on the increase. One of our main concerns is getting people out to where we are and this is the tricky bit. Going forward, we plan to make things much easier to single anglers from across to the globe who intend to fish with us.




Why join a group?

You get to fish the destination you’ve been dreaming of. Finally it becomes a reality as you begin your preparations for that exotic trip to the tropics.

You get to meet and interact with anglers from all over the world. One can gain a lot of knowledge based on the experience of others, about different locations around the world, techniques and lures used to target key species of fish.

Many anglers while on a fishing trip are already planning their next adventure. One can always meet other anglers to join in a future trip while out fishing. Future trips are common topics of discussion after a day out on the boat.

Your tackle needs are taken care of. With airlines being rather rod-tube hostile these days, we can provide single anglers all equipment for their fishing week. Typically we provide popping and jigging rods and have clients carry their own reels, but in a jam we can accommodate one’s tackle requirements.

It’s a lot cheaper. Typically the boat hire charges are split equally by all the anglers on board. Joining a group brings down costs for you and other anglers. Nothing like a win-win situation, is there?!

If you’re a single angler and interested in a custom trip as mentioned, please send us an email at stating the same.

Additionally, please let us know:

· Your prior fishing experience

· Destinations you’ve fished in the past

· Species you’d like to catch

· Time of year you’d like to fish with us

Armed with this information we will put together a week in the month of your preference with likeminded anglers with the same expectations.




Looking forward to fishing with you in the not so distant future.

All the best,

Team GFI

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Indian Angling in the Andaman Islands- Part 2

Our blog post on Indian anglers fishing with us turned out to be pretty big considering the quality fishing they’ve had over the last few seasons. This led us to splitting the post in half. The first part being popping and jigging and the second focusing on trolling. Many of our Indian clients still prefer to troll and find it an integral part of their sea fishing experience.
The traditional fish species of fish sought after are Spanish Mackerel, Barracuda, Grouper and snappers. Most of these species were sought after as they were the easiest fish to find while trolling inshore.


A group of happy anglers with their prized ‘Surmai’. These fish are highly migratory and are found in our waters in parts of the fishing season. Larger solitary Mackerel are found in later months and are not part of the majority of fish which when smaller roam about in shoals.


A screaming bait-runner announces yet another strike. An angler carefully reels in another fish as everyone looks on eagerly looking for that first flash of silver.


Another Spanish Mackerel that couldn’t resist a Rapala X Rap Mag trolled along the edge of a current line. Spanish Mackerel also love to hang out where coloured water meets clear waters… this typically happens after a bit of rain.


We have a wide variety of fish here that will come up and smack a trolling lure. In this case a Storm lure proved to be irresistible to this green job-fish.


Watching the echo sounder and understanding what you see does pay dividends. It is quite easy to judge the depth at which a lure runs and based on how deep you position the boat, or speed you troll at, you can have the lure in the water column just where you want. The sweet spot in this case was along the edge of a sharply dropping reef from which this fantastic looking coral trout darted out. A quick photograph later this fish was released back to the reef.


An apex predator and on the top of most people’s list is the Dog Tooth Tuna. Many anglers just don’t know about this mean cousin of Spanish Mackerel. They however are abundant here and can occasionally be caught while trolling, thought the best way to catch them would be on jig. Most dog tooth tuna hit trolled lures so hard it’s almost impossible to use them again. They probably also would look a lot better up on a wall once completely crushed by a doggie.


Another nice Surmai smashed a Rapala X Rap Mag. Hard bodied bibbed lures by Storm and Rapala  are standard favorites and most widely used.


Another prized catch, in this case a big barracuda. These fish again won’t hesitate hitting a lure going past them. Some of the bigger specimens come clean out of the water. They’re quite easy to land if one survives the first run by these powerful fish.


An epic GT again caught trolling by angler Vinay Badola on a cold and wet day.


GT caught while inshore trolling by Suprio. Released after a quick photograph.


What again we are very fortunate with is we have the drop off really close. Five miles out of Port Blair and we are in proper blue water. Our typical offshore trolling sees a whole new range of species, many of them truly pelagic. .


A perfect example would be the dorado. Dorado are found in our waters all year round. Like elsewhere the best place to look for them are along current lines and floating debris. They’re an awesome looking fish and are easy to catch using small skirted lures. We have great sessions catching these fish on light gear as they put up quite a scrap as the leap out of the water several time and most often succeed in throwing hooks.


A spectacular Dorado caught by angler Faraz on our way to a sea-mount, searching for bill-fish.

While one of the most popular fish trolling inshore are Spanish Mackerel, the Wahoo is equally popular offshore. They’re quite easy to target and can often be caught from the same areas, so finding the fish is never really a problem. This fish took a white red head Rapala lure. They tend to prefer faster moving lures.


Another nice Wahoo caught pulling a skirted lure well offshore on our way to a distant island where we spent the day popping. Fish like these are always welcome and a change from all the GT we catch while popping.


Large Barracuda are also a pelagic species and can show up in the middle of nowhere and totally trash a brand new lure. They have a nasty habit of picking the most expensive and newest skirted lure. We were lucky to land this fish as the leader was nicked almost halfway through. Typically you notice a small tap on the rod and the lure’s gone!


An angler belted up in a Black Magic harness and putting the brakes on a Wahoo. Most times we’re fishing heavy and expecting bill-fish when we’re out on a trip like the one above.


Another Wahoo.


Another species anglers are crazy over are tuna. We have a Yellow Fin Tuna (YFT) run that takes place every season. Luckily we get the schools thick enough for us to throw poppers at these fish. A big YFT can give an angler a serious workout on a popping setup. They also can take a lot of line out on conventional trolling gear. Many times an up-down battle follows that many anglers are not prepared for.


A smaller YFT that was taken home for Sashimi. This one caught on a Halco L190.






Above a set of photographs of YFT caught in the last couple of seasons while trolling with clients from India. Most of these fish were caught on small skirted lures working an area full of diving seabirds and feeding dolphin. Over the seasons we’ve got pretty good at estimating their time of arrival in our local waters and also where to head out to catch them on a consistent basis. We’re one of the few operations in the country that can produce quality fish like the ones in the pictures above for our clients year after year.




Another set of some awesome looking Wahoo caught very close to areas where we concentrate our trolling with heavy gear.


Line screaming off a reel as a bill-fish heads for the horizon in a series of wild jumps. We also for a couple of weeks in the year fish for the bill-fish in our area. We do not really get much time to dedicate to this style of fishing as 90% of our clients are popping and jigging enthusiasts.


A black marlin with a group of happy anglers.


Another black heads for the horizon.


Angler Javed posing with another black marlin that inhaled a skirted resin head. Again we get such little time to focus on these fish which we now fell are year long residents in our waters. One knows so little about these fish in our waters. We’re now pretty convinced we can head out any time of year and get some very decent marlin fishing done over a 3 to 4 day trip.
All our marlin fishing is not just done with artificial lures…. we often rig free swimming live-baits when we catch some and have had very good results with billfish. We normally live-bait when we’re out jigging over sea mounts looking for dog tooth tuna and big GT on jig.
We also know we have blue marlin in our waters apart from striped marlin and swordfish.


Angler Javed leaning into a frantic sail-fish. Sail-fish in this area are not as abundant as other areas in the region but they do get really big here, like the sail in the image below.


With the highly specialised fishing boats we have getting out to the best waters and being at the right place at the right time is taken for granted. We also are fortunate to have various waters just a stone’s throw away from us that allows us to be quite specific when we troll and also be able to provide a client with the species of fish they are after. We have a few weeks later this year that will be mixed in terms of the styles of fishing, now that clients have realised the Andaman Islands has a lot to offer.

Team SFI