Can fishing actually get any more insane ?
Any amount of time spent around GTs and it has to be classed as some insane fishing. Fly fish for them on shallow flats and it's insane. Cast massive poppers from the boat and that's insane as well. But then you wade/swim/clamber right to the edge of a remote Indian Ocean atoll and set about casting out into the crashing surf as it pounds the edge of that atoll. Shore fishing taken to the absolute max. It is some proper insanity fishing the like of which I am struggling to comprehend to be honest with you. Just the thought of fishing into that surf is enough to bring about the shakes, but when a giant trevally smashes into your chisel plug (a South African long-range surface lure) with so much force that the sea literally explodes, it is all you can do to stop yourself from collapsing on the spot. One hit me so hard I nearly let go of the rod...........
Grant me only one kind of fishing that I am allowed to do for the rest of my life and of course it would have to be bass fishing in Ireland - and it's awesome. Of course it is. But it is not insane. GT fishing is insane. It's as mad as a March hare. I have been lucky enough to have spent a good amount of time now around fly fishing for giant trevally on these remote Seychelles atolls, but this trip I have just got back from was the first real opportunity for me to see and photograph some proper surface lure stuff for GTs. I can now see exactly why so many anglers are so devoted to chasing these stupidly brutal fish on lures, but for example as we perhaps might be looking to fish lighter gear for "our" bass, there is only one way to go for these GTs, and that is heavy. Massively powerful lure rods that might be designed to cast stuff up to the 200-300g mark, Stella or Saltiga spinning reels (8000 plus sizes), braid of at least 80lb or maybe even heavier, and some of the most intricate and effective knots I have ever come across. A big GT will exploit any single weakness in your set-up almost like no other fish I have come across. Tarpon for example are seriously strong and perfectly wonderful fighters, but they are not "brutal" like a GT or indeed an amberjack. It's hard to describe, but it has left me profoundly shocked !!
We had a very cool week on the remote Farquhar atoll - it's a nearly two hour flight from Mahe, the biggest island in the Seychelles, and there is a great opportunity to fish with flies, lures or both. These FlyCastaway guides are some of the best in the business, and along with them I got to work around a couple of really talented and dedicated South African anglers who are as comfortable casting flies as they are massive lures for GTs. I have come away with a really wide range of fly and lure photos, and as always on these trips I have met some great people and learnt a hell of a lot. This whole popping business for GTs is just some off the scale fishing, and the remote waters we spent the week on are pretty special. I even got the chance to fish for GTs a little bit myself thanks to the incredible generosity of these two anglers who insisted that I use a bit of their gear and wet a line from time to time. For the most part I would decline because I am obviously on a job like this to get as many photos as I can, but I am also an angler who just had to have the odd go (thanks Craig and Billy, you are complete gentlemen). I have caught a few smallish GTs before, and whilst I nailed a few from the boat on surface lures (epic stuff), nothing on this earth could have prepared me for having a proper go at them from the shore.
The GT you see above was taken by Billy on the first day of the trip - it's over 80lbs, and he caught it on a chisel plug that he was casting from the edge of the atoll into the Indian Ocean surf. I was lucky enough to be with the guys when this monster was hooked and landed - the fight was utter brutality to say the least. To hook and land a fish like that amongst all that rock and structure was one hell of a bit of fishing.It is important to note though that no lure fishing is allowed anywhere near the flats that fly fishing takes place on. For the first time FlyCastaway are encouraging lure anglers to come along and fish around the atoll from the boats, but the flats are left alone for fly fishing - if like Billy and Craig you can effectively do both then you could be in for some scary fishing.
The afternoon I got to have a go at this was really rough, to the point where I had to seal my camera up in my waterproof camera bag and literally swim/deep-wade most of the way out to the atoll edge. Taking photos was basically out of the question with so much water crashing and spraying around, indeed we got knocked off our feet a few times by the sea (the above photo is from another less rough day). The very first cast and I got nailed by a GT. How those things could feed in that sea I will never know - it was properly rough, to the point where if you were cod fishing you would have packed up because your gripper would never have held. But it's easy for a GT. When I say I got hit, what I really mean is that the already rough sea came alive and engulfed my chisel plug (thanks Billy).
In no way I am belittling any of the fishing we have at home, and you know me and my love/obsession for bass fishing, but the simple fact is that we do not have a fish swimming in our waters that comes remotely close to the power of something like a GT. To be honest I think it's better to let different kinds of fishing stand on their own two feet as I don't see any benefit to comparing stuff when there is just no comparison to be had. That hit and fight was what it was - GT fishing. Utterly insane, a little bit frightening, and just ridiculously brutal. Bass fishing is what it is. They are just different and awesome in their own particular ways. I landed two GTs and a bohar snapper in that brief session before the flooding tide forced us off the rock and back onto the flat, and all three fish/experiences will live with me forever. If I never get to do it again at least I have fished for and caught GTs from the shore. I did not land anything really big (perhaps 40lbs), but to be honest I am glad they were not any bigger. Those fish were quite enough for me !! You don't play these fish - they beat you up while you do your best to hang on and brutalise them back. The reel drag is so tight I can not pull line from it with my own hands, yet those GTs still managed to run, and that bohar snapper should be illegal it's so powerful. The snapper might have only gone 10lbs, but if we had fish which pulled like that then we would not be scaling down our lure gear one bit. I was borrowing a Stella 10000 loaded with 80lb braid, a lure rod rated up to 250g casting weight, plus I was putting some serious hurt on the fish, and still that bohar snapper nearly reefed me. And the GTs nearly broke me big time. I can still feel the bruises from the rod butt.
Above is a nice GT taken from the boat on a big popper - check the size of that lure hanging from the GTs mouth. It's incredible how much pressure you can put on these fish with the kind of gear that is needed, yet still a decent GT is going to beat you up good and proper. It's just that kind of fishing I guess, and of course I am incredibly lucky to have spent such an awesome few days around it as part of this job I do. Plenty more to come in due course. What a trip, but then the remote Seychelles are always one hell of an experience. Quite how I get to go to these kinds of places and take photographs is beyond me, but I appreciate every single second of these trips, and I always come away having learnt a huge amount. Plus I get to spend time around so many different kinds of anglers from all around the world, and in the end you can't get any better than that in fishing.