Gone Fishing: Landing the Monsters of Madagascar 1

Gone Fishing: Landing the Monsters of Madagascar

Gone Fishing: Landing the Monsters of Madagascar 2

Sunday January 4, 2009
By John Wilson, Source: Daily Express

The exotic island of Madagascar off the eastern South African coastline was where our party of nine were on a research trip to the remote island of Kalakajour which lies over 40 miles south of Nosy Be just off the north western tip of Madagascar.

A most humid, jungle-clad island full of colourful birds and lizards, where a myriad of weird and wonderfully coloured salt water species from the fast moving and acrobatic sail fish, to heavyweight, deep water reef dwellers, provide continuous arm-wrenching battles in crystal clear blue waters.


We all had come expecting to tempt GT’s [giant trevallys] using large surface poppers, and spent a couple of days to this end working the upper water layers beside tropical islands in depths between 12 and 30 feet. Without so much as a single hit.

And as the sea here was so crystal clear [the bottom can clearly be seen in depths down to over 30 feet] we would have seen groups of GT’s had they been present.

Our guide and skipper of 28 foot ‘Pinch of Salt’ [a professional  Cape tuna boat sporting twin 225 outboard engines] Fergus O’Brien who hails from South Africa, said as they were not inshore, trolling further out over reefs in depths of between 40 and 75 feet, would produce. And he was spot on.

Actually, just about everything was situated further out than expected following a spate of tropical storms, which could well have affected bait fish distribution [ there was little concentration of baitfish close inshore] and by trolling CD14 and 18 Rapalas at around 6 knots we instigated action not only from Barracuda’s to over 20lbs, but big reef-snappers, oceanic bonito, skipjack tuna and Spanish mackerel averaging around 10lbs apiece, with the occasional larger, king mackerel thrown in for good measure.

We then eventually attracted the much sought after trevallys.

Gone Fishing: Landing the Monsters of Madagascar 3The beautifully painted blue spot or blue finned trevally, averaging around 6-10lbs, and the mighty, deep bodied, silver-sided, incredibly strong jawed GT which fights with truly astounding power, continually deep diving and shaking its head throughout long battles.

Even on 20 lbs trolling outfits these big GT’s would simply rip line off at will regardless of a firmly set clutch. Small wonder most tropical sports fisherman rate this species at the very top of their hit list behind Marlin and Sailfish.

Favourite plug colours proved to be white with orange stripes and blue mackerel. These out fished all else by far, which in seas that do not see many sports fisherman you would not expect.

But the difference was most noticeable, to the extent that Keith Potter’s CD14 white and orange plug accounted for over half of the hits one afternoon despite three other colour combinations being trolled alongside it. And this is the beauty of blue water trolling. You constantly need to be experimenting and trying lures of varying colours and different diving actions. Even from hour to hour, let alone from day to day.

Following an opening account with a long 20lbs plus, tooth-lade barracuda, Keith’s plug could not have been back in the water for more than a few minutes before his reel was screaming again, and this time to a sizeable GT of around 25-30lbs. What a marvellous fight it put up as did all the trevallys we caught. But the largest specimen, a whopper of around 40lbs fell to the rod of Mark Bliss.

Gone Fishing: Landing the Monsters of Madagascar 4A fish which at some time during the battle got chomped by a shark or wahoo,[ there was a nasty, fresh scar on its flank to prove it] but still managed to scream line out on several breath taking runs before Mark was able to bring it alongside so I could grabs its thick tail root and hoist on board for a trophy shot.

And you do need to wear a chain mail glove when doing this due to the razor sharp chutes along its bevelled tail root which could easily cut the palm of your hand to shreds.

With a 20lbs plus king mackerel to the rod of Pete Cook following Marks GT, the action on this particular afternoon was nothing short of spectacular. And yes, no doubt we’ll be back.

This kind of action is not only contagious it’s simply magical.

Sunday January 4, 2009
By John Wilson, Source: Daily Express

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