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.
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 Caranx.net start? It was probably the only platform for modern popping and jigging in its heydays… what was your vision back then?
Nicola: Caranx.net 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 :-)
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 Caranx.net 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.