Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Out fished by an old lady on a bamboo raft.

I was out fishing the other day and was not doing so well. I happened to pull my attention away from casting and saw a local woman I know fishing. Click on images to see larger
I slowly maneuvered myself next to her and asked the obligatory, catch anything? Lavinia, her name, proceeded to hold up a little Blue Trevally and I was looking into her basket I saw several more as well as a larger one on the back of her boat.
Seeing how we know each other I gave her a little rousting for the size of her fish, all in fun of course.
Now here is the irony of this situation. I am fishing out of an aluminum boat with a state of the art electric trolling motor, graphite fishing rod, Shimano reel, braided line and some of the latest offerings in lures. I have no fish in my boat and nothing to even tell a story about.

Lavinia on the other had is fishing on a bilibili, which is a bunch of large bamboo tied together to make a raft. She has two hand lines, one is wrapped around her foot and the other is in her hand. On the end of the line is a small #12 J hook with a piece of roofing lead for a weight.

Her bait is prawns that she caught in the creek. You can see her green prawn net laying in front of her feet. If you look closely you will see small sticks and coconut husks. These she will use to make a fire inside the aluminum pot and cook her lunch, fish of course. That way she does not have to paddle and push her way back to shore until it is almost dark.

The next time I was out fishing our paths crossed again. The first thing she asked was, catch anything? Lucky for me I had some fish in the boat this time. I proudly said yes, I would be having fish for lunch. Lavinia giggled as she paddled her bilibili out to her favorite spot. I watched her drop anchor, a rock tied to a rope, and proceed to set up for a days fishing.

I would love to say she got lucky but the rumor is, she catches a lot of fish. It makes me wonder why I need to spend all kinds of money on fancy gear when a line, a hook, and a piece of bait still work just fine.

Tight hand lines

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A great morning fishing.

The weather has been outstanding finally. Dead calm in the mornings and a little breeze come noon time. This can only mean one thing, time to fish. As we head out on to the water the anticipation of a good day fishing is all we can think of.

Things start out a bit slow, a few looks but nothing in the boat. As we drift over water so clear you feel as though you are floating on air. We can see myriads of small reef fishes and colorful coral.

The first fish comes to the boat in a flurry of splashes and short but strong runs. It is a Bluefin Trevally. Trevally can fight no matter the size. The big ones can dictate the fight and the little one just wont stop, even when in the boat they just jump and thrash around.

The next fish to the boat is a little Mangrove Jack. They can pull like a freight train and never give up.

The next fish is a first for me. It’s a parrot fish and I watched it take the lure right below the boat. Check out that protruding mouth.

Sometimes I wonder what fish are thinking especially the little ones. The lure was almost as big as the fish. The leather jacket has eyes bigger than its stomach.

Finally I pull a nice little Giant Trevally. They are called Giant Trevally because they grow to 50+kg, that’s over 100lb. Let me tell you these fish fight with no holds barred. If you don’t get the upper hand right away then you never will.
Various other fish were caught throughout the morning, including a large Long Tom that ended up with a little bling for his efforts. If the weather holds then we will be back at it. Fingers are crossed.

Tight lines and screaming drags

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Fog, Sky And Water for Sky Watch Friday

I thought it would be nice to honor Sky Watch Friday on my fishing site as well as my photography site. Enjoy the sky's all over the world by visiting Sky Watch Friday.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Duh, even a 10 year old can figure this out.

Sometimes what you read about just makes you go, “Duh! Like this is something new.” For instance I just read an article titled “Fishing ban brings seas to life”. This article is all about how a no fish zone created 5 years ago and is now full of lobster and fish. Now what the hell do these people think. Humans have been hitting the oceans hard with commercial fishing and of course that has depleted stocks. Now common sense says if you stop the commercial fishing then the stocks, if not completely wiped out, will come back with time. Why do we need a scientist to tell us this?
In one article titled “Ban Spurs Dramatic Fish Recovery in Australia” , Sweatman, a reef ecologist at the Australian Institute of Marine Science, said "My 10-year-old son saw the graphs and said, If you stop fishing, don't you expect to find more fish?
If a 10 year old can come to that conclusion then what the hell is wrong with the policy makers.
Now I am an angler and a bit of a fanatic about it and as much as I don't like it, no take zones do help. The problem I see is that the no take zones usually affect the recreational angler and not the commercial angler. What kind of hog wash is that? Who does more damage, the angler with a rod taking home a feed or the trawler scraping the bottom of all life forms and taking tons of fish? Seems like a pretty easy question even for a policy maker. Ah, but then politics comes into play and of course with politics comes money and interest groups, and with money comes corruption. To bad for the fish and to bad for us anglers trying to get a feed and have some fun.
Maybe one day the people who make policies will hold an open discussion with a few 10 year olds and actually listen to what they have to say. And maybe, if that happens we might see our fish stocks come back. And maybe, if that happens, nah, that’s asking a little too much.
Tight lines and policy changes

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Is Bigger Always Better?

There seems to be a fad in fishing these days. Wait a minute, there is always some fad in fishing that’s how all those tackle stores make so much money. Come to think of it I read that Americans spend 45 billion dollars a year on fishing. Wow, like the fish care if you hook them with a $40.00 lure or a home made jobber that cost $2.00. However, I digress from my original fishing fad not FAD topic.
I have noticed that bigger is definitely the trend. Bigger fish and bigger gear. Bigger fish have always been on most anglers’ minds, but I am talking a lot bigger. I am talking about Sampson fish up to 50kg, Giant Trevally to 50kg, Wahoo, and Sail fish all caught on spinning reels using jigs and poppers. In order to catch these monster trucks of the deep you have to have big gear and the favorite seems to be spinning reels.
Catching these big brutes on spinning gear has only been possible recently due to technological advances by fishing gear manufacturers. The Shimano Stella 20000 and Daiwa Dog fight 6500 are just two of the big names that have built super tough spinning reels that can handle 60kg braid and 20kg’s of drag. That is what is needed if you are going to have a chance at stopping a big GT. This gear is really something else, including the price. At $700.00 plus for a reel, not including line or rod, not everyone can afford it. That is a lot of money for a working stiff to shell out for gear that may only get used once a year.
I have no less than four fishing magazines with cover shots and stories about fishing for really big fish with spinning gear. Usually the fishing takes place in far away places that are hard to get to. Some trips entail a float plane flight to get to the mother ship. The trips are always expensive and always involve huge high end spinning gear. I personally enjoy reading about the exotic locations and battles with massive fish but the truth be known, it is priced out of the ordinary persons budget.
I have been fishing here in Fiji for 9+ years and have caught a few big fish. Usually the fish are more like 1-2kg and the occasional 5kg fish. In my opinion a 5kg fish is a good size fish, especially with 7kg line and a 4000 size reel. A GT of that size can pull your socks off and if it decides to fight dirty you will lose. No if’s and’s or but’s about it, no matter the size and length of your leader when a GT decides to end the fight it will find a rock and bust you off. That is unless it decides to spool you, in that case you go home with an empty spool and tell some fish stories about the one that got away.
The idea of fishing for really big fish with really expensive gear is all well and good and a nice dream. Back to reality, right size your fishing gear for the fish you are catching and the fight can be everything you dreamed of without the sore back and empty wallet. The idea is to maximize the fight so you are not skull dragging the fish to your feet. You might want to consider downsizing your gear this will give the fish a better chance and give you a better fight. The learning curve is steep when you are a bit under gunned. You need to learn new fighting techniques and once you have figured it out you will have as good a fight as you will ever get.
The idea of huge fish being caught with top line gear in exotic locations is great to dream about. There is no real substitute for good quality fishing gear, but you do not have to spend a fortune or travel half way around the world to have a great fight and catch a nice fish. Your regular fishing haunts can provide you with all of the fish fighting excitement you need. Try sizing your gear for the fight. You may not always win but you can have a great time trying.
Tight lines and screaming drags

Dream Fish Come True

Got out of bed this morning and it was still dark and definitely cold. None of that matters though as we are going fishing. Loaded the boat with the gear and off we go. Today we are fishing the rising tide in the morning, reason being is by the time the tide falls the wind has kicked up to at least 30 knots and then it is impossible to fish.
We are hardly away from shore and Rosie hooks up to a nice Long Tom using an neon green 2m diver about 10cm long. These fish can fight like Jet Li. A full set of aerobatics followed by a screaming surface run that has your line throwing a rooster tail as it slices the water. All of those moves are then repeated several times before ol’ Tom is boat side. Now it is time to net Tom and wouldn’t you know, he won’t hold still. He is a writhing, slithering, snake like fish with a mouth full of needle sharp spikes called teeth. Oh, did I say he was angry, well pissed off is more like it. After several attempts with the net ol’ Tom is in the boat getting his picture taken. Not a bad start.
With all of the Long Tom excitement done it’s time to settle in and do some fishing. Another 30 minutes goes by and I finally hook up to a good size Trevally. I was using a little brow and green shallow diver about 7 cm long and it runs to about 1m. That’s all I needed to get me going. Soon I have a little potato cod in the boat and this is followed by another Long Tom of equal size to the first one. I am now into my fishing groove and getting ready to turn up the heat. Out of no where comes this massive explosion. We get a quick glimpse of dark grey almost brown goliath attacking Rosie’s 12cm ChugBug surface popper. We both call it for a shark due to the strike and coloring. Now first a little background on this lure and this particular location. First this lure has a tendency to attract sharks. And of course it’s one of Rosie’s favorite. Almost every time it comes out the ChugBug seem to call a shark or two not to mention how many shiny new ones have been taken by the shark and worn like bling. Now the location is almost as notorious for sharks as the lure is. So we both call it a shark.
Luck would have it that Rosie just happens to be using the larger spinning reel with 30lb braid and a 7 ½ foot graphite rod. The first run is a scorcher and she loses maybe 150m of line. Now the fight takes a twist, if it was a shark then the line would have broken by now. The second run is just as hard and long as the first run. The fish is now on the bottom and moving with the current and wind. Believe it or not the third run is quite impressive also. The runs are not as long now but the fish is pulling the boat. We finally get in front of it and turn the tables. The fish is planing and Rosie is gaining line.
Not to long more and we have color and the beast shows it’s face. A massive GT, one of those you read about in far way exotic places. A fish that when you see it for the first time your mouth hangs open and your eyes bulge out a little so you can see more of it. A real beauty of a fish. Net won’t work I use two hands and a big lift into the boat. A few quick photos and then it’s back in the water. It took some swimming to revive it. It was a long hard fight and as it swam away to fight another day, Rosie and I did a high five.

Tight lines and screaming drags

Sunday, July 6, 2008

"Tools of my trade" or "Weapons of choice"

I have not been out fishing for a couple of days but I got to thinking maybe I should share with you the gear I use. Let's start from the early days of my saltwater fishing here in Fiji. My first set up was a Cabela's Salt Striker SS30. With 8lb braid and a 7ft grafite rod, it was an adequate set up that would be blown away by large GT's. Next I went to a Quantum Boca BSP30BTS spooled with 10lb braid. It was and is a good reel but just not up to the task. The big fish gave the little reel a work out and it just could not keep up. I also own a Quantum Cabo CSP60PTS spooled with 30lb P-Line Spectrex IV braid matched to a 7 1/2 ft graphite rod. I can not fault this reel as it has never let me down. It is just a bit big for everyday use, but it will knock over a nice size fish. Using braid it holds a lot of line and with plenty drag, I have taken out a wahoo and some big GT's.

I finally made a trip to Australia for a vacation and decided it was time to get a new reel. This time the choice would be a Shimano Symetre 4000FI spooled with 15lb P-Line Spectrex IV braid and matched to a 7 ft graphite medium action spinning rod. Now this set up has been a really good work horse for me. I catch a lot of big fish and have put as much as 5kg of drag on the reel and it has never failed. I have had it for over a 18 months and use it exclusively in the saltwater without a problem. The beauty is I can catch smaller fish and it is still a good fight. I normally use about 2.5-3kg of drag and with that setting even a small Mangrove Jack can put up a good fight.

If I am going outside the reef to fish for the big ones then I have a Shimano Tiagra 30 2speed spooled with 30lb mono and matched to a Shimano T-Curve rod. What can I say this is a great rod and reel combonation. It feels great in your hands and works flawlessly. It costs a bloody fortune but it is worth it.

There are a few other bits and pieces I have come to swear by. The Lindy fish handling glove is a must if you do not want to get poked by spiney fish. I usually use a left one as I hold my rod with my right hand. I am not going to debate the left or right handed fishing technique now. I will also carry a right hand glove in the boat incase someone else gets a really big fish and I need two hands. The other must have is a good pair of stainless steel needle nose pliers for taking hooks out.

Well there it is, the basics of my fishing gear. In a future post I will show step by step how to service a spinning reel. Any questions post them in the comments.

Tight lines and screaming drags

Friday, July 4, 2008

Fishing report and pictures

I went fishing with my brother this morning. The weather was a bit iffy but it shaped up enough. One of these days I will have to get a thermometer so I can report on the temperature and make these reports more sophisticated and official. Started slow for me but my brother had an epic battle with an unseen leviathan of the deep. After about 15 minutes of battle and his spool being emptied twice the unseen foe won its freedom. Fish 1-Brother 0. Things got slow for awhile after all of that excitement. Then with due diligence and a lot of casting a few fish were landed and even one was worth a picture. In the end the wind kicked up and the fish went off the bite. We took home a nice feed and a good, one that got away story.
Tight lines and screaming drags

You only get these blues in the tropics or Photoshop.

Not a bad Trevally, and your right, mine did not get away.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Fishing report and pictures

Last Thursday and Friday were dream weather days for fishing. Sunny and only a little breeze. But of course we could not get out for one reason or another. The plan is for Saturday. The weather turns to crap on Friday night and it rains all the way till morning. No problem we are still going fishing. Lucky for us the rain gods held off and we manage to get a few nice fish. Sunday it rained like hell so I guess we lucked out. Here's a few pictures for you all to look at.

E. Asia fleets to suspend tuna fishing / Fuel costs hit Japan, China, ROK, Taiwan

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Tuna-fishing boat operators' organizations in Japan, China, South Korea and Taiwan have agreed to suspend operations for several months in the face of soaring fuel costs, sources said Saturday.
The economic conditions made it difficult for tuna fishermen to make ends meet, while the measure also is expected to help declining populations of the fish to recover, according to the sources.
The suspension is expected to result in higher prices for bigeye and yellowfin tuna, which are mainly consumed as raw fish and processed into canned food. Read the full story

In the guise of increased fuel cost and helping tuna stocks the East Asian fleet is suspending some tuna fishing. Read between the lines and it is more like they want to see the price of tuna increase and therefore increase profits.

"The temporary tuna-fishing stoppage is expected not only to reduce Japan's tuna catch but also cut supply of the fish from China, South Korea and Taiwan, which account for about half the tuna imported by Japan. "
"Therefore, the planned suspension is expected to affect tuna prices in the mid- to long term. "

Profit will always be the driving force for any move made by these commercial fleets.