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

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