Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Migrating Thoughts…..




We have Yellow Fin Tuna (Thunnus Albacares) visit our waters by the second week of March almost every year and can be found quite close to land for the next few months. Catch statistics show they are in our waters in the highest concentrations in the month of June. They are a pelagic species, which means they mostly live in the open ocean and do not live near the sea floor, although they may spend part of their life cycle in comparatively shallower waters close to the coastline.




Yellow Fin Tuna can be found in most places along the Equator and just extend roughly to 40°N and to roughly 35°S. They can survive in seas within the temperature range of 10°C-33°C. They prefer warmer clean water and areas of low turbidity. They can be most commonly found near and around marine habitats such as drop-offs and the continental shelf. Yellow Fin tuna have often been found with schools of different species of Dolphins and other big fish. They are an oceanic species occurring above and below thermocline. They school primarily by size, either in mono-specific or multispecies groups both of which we have commonly seen here in the Andaman Islands.




Yellow Fin Tuna travel great distances. Migratory patterns have shown distances traveled from the Western US Coast all the way to Japan. They are pelagic fish found from 1-250m deep. They can be found worldwide in tropical and subtropical seas with the exception of the Mediterranean Sea. They are known migrate on a regular basis, on time scales ranging from daily to annually or longer, and over distances ranging to thousands of kilometers. They usually migrate because of diet or reproductive needs, although in some cases the reason for migration remains unknown. Yellow Fin Tuna are found both inside the 200 mile exclusive economic zones and in the high seas outside these zones.




We also have the Andaman Sea to the East and the vast Bay of Bengal to the West of the Island chain. We’re blessed with abundant fish of which most are demersal and reef fish that are inhabitants of the exotic reef networks we have around the Islands. Once a year we witness a magnificent migration of fish through our waters though far offshore.








Above are congregations of sea birds (terns) which shadow schools of Yellow Fin Tuna. We also see many sea mammals like this rare sighting of a Killer Whale, Pilot Whales and pods of various dolphins. Larger pelagic fish like Marlin and Sailfish are never far away.






We’re fortunate that we’ve been witness to this spectacle of nature over the years and have been able to document it in our limited capacity.

While researching the subject of fish migration we recently came to know that the 24th of May was ‘World Fish Migration Day’. A day we’d never heard of or knew existed. After a quick search we found it indeed was true. The partners of the WFMD are WWF Netherlands (NL) The Nature Conservancy (USA) IUCN SSC / WI Freshwater Fish Specialist Group (based in the UK) Wanningen Water Consult (NL) LINKit consult (NL) and various small organizations around the world are contributing. Groups are holding meets or other activities on that day to create more awareness about the migration of various fish in fresh and brackish waters and the challenges we face to preserve this phenomenon. The largest threats would be the construction of dams and pollution in larger water bodies.

The links to the website and the Facebook page are below for those interested in having a look at some of the work being carried out across the world.

Far away in South India outside Bangalore, Derek Dsouza and the AIGFA are helping organize a day out at a local reservoir creating awareness amongst the youth about their future, the future of fish, rivers, how they’re all linked and have to work so we have a future where we don’t loose most of our species of fish.




Back in the Andaman Islands we have our sole river that’s perennial, the Kalpong River. A survey was held way back in 1939 by Herre to try and document the species. Many years later surveys were carried out prior to 2009 and fishes belonging to 33 species in 77 perennial streams and 1 perennial river. 17 species (11 native) were freshwater fishes. Information on whether these fish migrate up and down the river is hard to come by. In fact not much is known. We hope this pristine ecosystem on the Islands is preserved forever.




To witness this fantastic migration at sea visit us in the Andaman Islands in April, May or June. We’ll have more up in the following weeks about the best lures, tactics and ways to catch and release these awesome game fish!

Team GFI

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Richard and Roy’s crazy Andaman GT Adventure!


Earlier this year Richard Larter and Roy Stace walked through our front door. They were the first foreign angling clients we’d had who walked in with a tan! They were on a long trip through S. E. Asia which they ended with a week of fishing in the Andaman Islands.

They’d fished in many a fishy location before for various commonly sought after tropical fish but this was their first full blown GT popping trip. Armed with a bunch of popping rods and a bag full of poppers and stick-baits from Orion Lures in France they seemed pretty ready for the task at hand.

After setting up their tackle and an initial briefing about the fishing explaining how hard GT hit surface lures and the absolute necessity to strike hard and send those hooks home they went off for day of sightseeing in and around Port Blair.




Richard casting at a very fishy spot. We fish this corner of blue water that drops from 5 to 50 meters in a flash and has a healthy population of GT patrolling the margins. We keep the boat well off the reef and cast in to the shallows. Big GT come up and smash poppers as they’re fished off the edges of the reef.



Richard was soon rewarded as his Cono Cono 150 was smashed by this nice fish that almost pulled him off the boat. As you can see he’s mighty happy with his accomplishment. The prefect specimen waxs released after a quick photograph and we hope to cross paths with it again.




Roy with a small GT that came up and nailed his popper of a spectacular island called Rutland. This fish was caught from one of the many bait-schools found in the area.




Richard again with a beautiful specimen. These fish were coming up on deeper reefs and not shy to hit poppers meters from the boat.




A very lucky Roy with his trophy Dog Tooth Tuna. The Dog Tooth Tuna is right at the top of every anglers list. They’re normally targeted off seamounts and drop-offs with jig, but this season we had them coming up on a regular basis and taking poppers. It is pretty rare to get these brutes on popper as they’re hard to hook and even harder to get to the boat.




One wasn’t enough for Roy so he soon caught his second Dog Tooth Tuna on popper.




A spectacular sky and signs of a distant monsoon on its way. All Islands are covered with lush tropical jungle and the settings are simply awesome. We’re quite lucky to be the only charter fishing the southern waters and have some of the world’s best waters within easy access.



Roy with his monster GT. Bigger than what he wished for! Another happy angler strikes a pose before releasing this fantastic fish back to the sea.




With the Yellow Fin Tuna season approaching the drop offs become one the first probable areas where these fish will show up. On our daily commute to our GT reefs all eyes scan the horizon to the east, looking for tell tale signs of Tuna. The easiest way to spot them are the birds…. and this time there was a cloud of them. Sure enough there was Tuna on the surface and the action was better than what we expected so early in the season.




Roy battling with a nice 20+ kilo tuna for a quick photograph. We fish for them with poppers and stick-baits and the action is almost instant. Over the years we’ve got pretty good at predicting where and when these fish will show up. This time however we were taken by surprise… goes to show you learn something new every time you are out fishing.




Richard and Roy with a pair of tuna. Double and triple hookups are very common when the fish are up on the surface in a frenzy. They’ll pretty much take anything that comes their way.




Roy with another nice Yellow Fin… These fish and many more were caught in a couple of hours before we called it a day. On days we see tuna we know our anglers will probably last a couple of hours before they’re burned out. Aching arms and sore backs are what go with this sort of fishing.




After the crazy Yellow Fin Tuna action it was back to business as usual. The boys were after GT again. Poppers were working great and the boys pretty much used only 2 poppers for their whole trip, the Cono Cono 150 and the T-Rex 150…. both by Orion Lures.




Roy with another monster GT. This fish was caught off a white sand beach. Fish typically caught from sandy areas tend to be lighter specimens. Also safer to fight as the chances of getting reefed are non-existent. As you guessed fish from deeper reefs and rocky areas are darker specimens.




Roy with another nice GT. The boys had spectacular days fishing. On some days they returned with up to 18 GT from a single spot landed and twice that number attacked poppers, but failed to get to the boat.

All this without dropping a single jig. The guys next time want to carry some jigging tackle with them and try and catch Dog Tooth Tuna and GT on jig. We’ve got some specific areas where these fish are plentiful and makes for some very interesting jigging.

Get in touch with us for what will be a week of really great fishing amongst a spectacular setting while out fishing and a comfortable no nonsense guesthouse we run just for our angling clients.

Much much more to come of what has turned out to be the best season ever!

Team SFI