Things that Suck… & Don’t.
Barjack the Angler Permitatious Flat Indian Ocean June 4, 2011
I am wrecked, this place is gonna be hard to get over when I finally have to leave. Scratch that: impossible to get over. The wind is supposed to drop to 15knot’s tomorrow… PERFECT! I will have the big rod in hand for GT and only swap for milkfish/big bones/or permit… if I am lucky enough to see any of them. But that’s all in the future. Today is Saturday…
Things that suck on a Saturday:
- Up at 0600 hrs expecting to go on a boat charter only to get the dreaded phone call of cancellation: wind is kickin’.
- Too much wind to go on a charter.
- Casting cross body all day as not to hit myself in the head (for a second weekend in a row).
- Seeing a GT and not switching rods fast enough.
- A monster bone eats your fly and you don’t hook up.
Things that don’t suck on a Saturday:
- Catching a nice bonefish that is chilling in no water and tailing!
- Catching a PERMIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!…
Okay so I want to see some old water I used to fish and Ben agrees. Initially it’s looking like a bad call; the first hour is intermittent clouds, heavy wind, and low tide. Of course, no fish spotted. Tide starts to roll in, clouds clear and I see a GT! I’ll distill the experience for you: giant trevally + me switching rods = epic fail. I Switch back, start walking again and Ben sees a big bluefin trevally, does the rod swap with style, gets some shots and a follow, but no love. I continue down the flat, and I see a tail in no water, I’m thinking, golden [trevally]? Nope: it’s a big ol’ bone with shoulders on her. I go through the usual bonefish thing and finally land her. I should have got a pic; she sure was pretty. I’ve really taken bonefish for granted the last few months, what with all the golden trevally, bluefins, permit, assorted coral-munchers, snapper, and, of course, the mysterious and coveted GTs.
I keep on walking and see another bluefin, this one with its back out of the water rooting around. I drop a cast near and it turns out to the reef. WTF? Ten feet behind him another tail pops up: PERMIT—and not just any permit. This is the biggest permit I have ever seen! Anywhere. Heart pounding, I start fogging out the glasses and have to pull my buff down. I get the angle, let a cast go, the fish turns the wrong way. Strip back in wait, walk, cloud, sun, there: tail, cast. The permit rushes at something, tails hard and glides off the flat. I just stand there as minutes pass, then there he is riding a wave in. The wave closes out, he tails, and I drop a 50-foot cast that lands perfect! Twitch, he sees it, long slow strip, he’s behind it, let the fly drop, he’s half cocked looking at it… sloooow strip he does that permit-style look at it from the left swim around check it out from the right thing and then he’s right there, two rod-lengths away! I pop it he tips up! I strip but the line won’t move—the leader-fly line connection hit the tip guide! He slowly turns and glides off—doesn’t blow out, just leaves, casually, like he was heading that way anyways. £#¢K! My mind is racing: why didn’t I see that coming? Why didn’t I just hold the line and step back rod point the rod at him? Surely the fish would have spooked and hooked itself. Right?
Luckily I didn’t have time to torture myself long. Less then a hundred yards down the flat I find myself surrounded: permit all around me! I stand there momentarily confused before I snap out of it and shoot a cast to the bigger fish on the outside. Of course, I dodn’t quite see them all so end up lining a few. They spook, circle back, I drop another cast and get a follow. Nothing. Cast again, get an eat; I suck! School spooks. I turn to the smaller inside fish. They’re still tailing so I drop a cast, strip and two start to follow, one on each side. Both fish are amped but won’t commit. I give a slow twitch then a long strip and stop. Both permit do the same damn half-cock up on it, but still won’t eat. Come on you, bastards. Long strip, one tips up, I come tight, and hear the sound of backing clearing the guides! A few minutes later I flag down Ben and he snaps a few.
All of a sudden it’s over—tide ripping in, waves beating me, fish gone. Sadness sweeps over me with each wave. I hate the end of the day, especially when it comes at three in the afternoon. Why is there no high tide spot to fish?
No worries. Tomorrow’s Sunday and we got a pass to go to the Plantation. Plan is to drive out there with bikes, (way too many) fly rods, (not enough) water and food at 0730 hours. We’ll park, ride the bikes for an hour and 40 or so minutes, drop them hike another 40 minutes to get to the famed Barton Point. ETA 1030am, Low Tide 1104am, gate closes at 1730. Should be epic.
Pre-hydrating and signing off,
BarJack the Angler
The Good, the Bad, & the Sunburned.
Barjack the Angler Bonefish Bay Indian Ocean March 27, 2011
No amount of alcohol can undo what happened today, but I’ll try….Cheers!
Day 30-odd (and counting):
So I’ll skip to the highlight: I’m fishing along and hook a little bluefin trevally and next thing I know two Volkswagen Beatles are storming the beach, at first I thought they were sharks (had two close encounters today). Nope: two monster GT’s! I clamp down on my reel and am pulling like hell to break this fish off—figures, the one time I tie a decent leader. Eventually I snap him off, switch rods and strip out line just in time to drop the popper out in front of one of these monsters. I start stripping and the lead fish turns and follows as fast as I can strip. He glides up behind it, follows till the leader hit my tip, and explodes in a turn…………without my fly!?!? Next second I’m standing there out of breath, heart racing, one rod hanging off my back with the line wrapped every-which-way around it and me watching the fish of a lifetime swimming away.
It would have been interesting if he would have eaten since the reef was only 150 yards from the beach. Something would have broken, and I’m betting it wouldn’t have been his will.
A few minutes earlier: two fish come screaming in trying to eat some kind of blue coral-muncher fish that were in a huge school. Giant Trevally! One pushes so shallow he’s swimming on his side with his peck fin in the air! Surreal… I think I have to take a nice little sit down in the shade.
Even earlier: PERMIT! How many casts does it take to catch a permit? I went zero for 200 this weekend! I thought I saw a lot of permit yesterday. HA! Today I saw schools of 10-30, one after another, and the best I could do was get two follows. I tried small crabs, large crabs, light crabs, heavy ones, shrimp flies, clousers…. I think I came up with some new combinations for cursing. And some of them were pushing no less than 20 pounds. I want to say bigger, but they look to be narrower across the shoulders than some of the Caribbean variety.
Back at the bungalow: I have come to the conclusion wading ocean-side is gonna pay off eventually, and yes, there will pictures and the glory.
For now I must fold laundry, shower, eat, and replay today in my head a thousand times and try to figure out the deal with those permit. I know the answer for GT’s: streamers. I’ll be ready tomorrow!
P.S. The bones are always the day saver. Got one 6ish and saw bigger but was happy with him.Also got plenty in the 4 to 5 range. It’s funny: if it would have been two weeks ago I would have cast to every school I saw, today I would just walk through schools of 2-3 pounders.
Wading through bonefish,
Barjack the Angler
It Never Stops
Barjack the Angler Short Pier, Long Beach Bay Indian Ocean March 29, 2011
Day thirtysomething, or whatever:
I had to submit and walk back along the beach. After walking in the surf for two hours, being pounded like a porn queen by waves—not to mention the confusion of the whitewash and fear of sharks and stingrays—I had to admit that, yep, today is just another day of not knowing what a person that catches a GT feels like.
I did, however, find a new species. I was back at the short pier and saw tails from 100 yards away! Huge—I knew they weren’t the usual coral munchers! My spirits rose as I waded over and almost freaked when the tail that rose was larger than my two hands making shadow puppets… and my hands aren’t small. I cast……tail goes down, slow strip, come tight! All hell breaks loose; this fish took off so fast that I was still in the middle of my strip-strike before I knew he was gone. Open hook. Sadness… but the rest of them are still there, tailing away. This is gonna be easy. Well, not so much; I spent the next two and a half hours casting to tailing fish with nothing but refusals! I ran the gambit of flies again and again, but nothing.
As you might imagine, over a couple hours in crystal clear water I got a good look at them. They have the general shape of trevally and permit—basically jack-like fish—are white and have two, maybe three black dots center mass (just below the dorsal). But what are they? What do they eat? My guess crabs, but in the Indian Ocean do they have a particular kind they tend to like?
Oh yeah I did hook another… and I trouted it! Don’t be mad, I hate myself enough. My only consolation is that, just like yesterday, I’ll have tomorrows tide.
Still standing on the Short Pier,
12-Weights and Boats
Barjack the Angler 12-weight Purgatory Reef Indian Ocean March 12, 2011
So I’ve done a lot of riding my bike around and standing with a 12-weight looking for trevally. Good work if you can get it, but I feel the need for a change. Today I think I’ll get in a boat and blindcast a 12-weight for four hours. The first three were brutal; we were in 15 feet of gin-clear water over coral and somewhere around cast #247 the line comes tight. Well, not really: by this time I’m in a near vegetative state, trying to keep focused but fading, and that damn fish hit so hard it pulled the line out of my hand! Then it swam towards the boat and rocked me; 40-pound floro on 300-year old coral equals get another fly out of the box. Retie. More casting… and more. The kid with me said there was another spot he normally does well at so we head over there.
We show up and there are blue fin trevally busting on my first cast: ‘bout freakin’ time. The next half hour is snapper mania—sweetlips, red-colored ones, some other kind… I have no idea. After I landed the 6th fish homeboy looks over at me and say’s “I think I need to learn how to flyfish”. He hooked three fish on top-water, one a monster that rocked him and two others that came off. He knows I throw fish back so after I had released a few snapper he casually mentioned that those are the size he normally keeps. So I kept the next couple. Why not? There’s a little place here that will cook them up three different way with fries and drink for like six bucks. After a day like this I feel I deserve a little fresh fish.
So, I’m jazzed up and casting and stripping as fast as I can when suddenly my hart skips, then starts beating twice as fast to make up for lost time; everything goes silent… BLACK TREVALLY behind my fly… and he turns off!
We get back to the dock at 11:30 and it’s just about low tide, so as I bike back to the room I figure I might as well go fish some more. Shoulder and wrist not happy, but nevertheless I swap pants for shorts, shoes for flip-flops, and the old 12-weight for my 5. Hit the sand bar for bones I get out there and the tide stays slack and there are bones milling around, the first three I cast to show interest but don’t eat. So after fly change…..change…..change….tippit change…..fly change a bone rushes up and eats: nice fish. After a few runs get him in. I now am decent at landing bonefish—swing the fish in, turn him belly-up and slide the (barbless, thank you Davin) fly out. When you turn the fish back over, slowly rub your finger between his eyes and then let him go. If you don’t do this the fish will dart around upon release, further attracting any sharks or cudas in the area, but if you do it they will slowly swim away, relaxed.
As the tide starts to push in I once again see that GT that puts Giant into Giant Trevally. Damn! With my 5-weight? Really? I casted anyway, but (of course), no love. So now I’m thinking I have to hit that spot on the incoming, looking back at historical data on tides it was always the beginning of the incoming I’ve seen that bastard. I also saw my first Cuda today, with a crab fly on. He chased it all the way ‘till the leader was in the guides (no, I didn’t jump on a coral head this time); he was a little closer then I wanted him to be, but I walked away unscathed.
Tomorrow is another sunrise; I plan to hit bones in the AM then the mythical GT’s on the incoming… tomorrow is the day.
The Momentum is Fading
Barjack the Angler Thunder Bay Indian Ocean March 4, 2011
Yesterday I staked out on a rock perch looking for GT’s for two and a half hours in the wind and rain… Why? What else do I have to do?
I was on a nice point in the lagoon with the tide going out—a rocky outcropping and a little lake in it. I have noticed that the GT’s I have seen all swim with the tide. Makes sense; they eat bonefish, which swim against the tide. So I’m looking, and looking, and looking then 15 feet in front of me 20 pounder swims by! Out of nowhere. I roll a cast out, line him, and he flashes left then right and disappears. I go to cast out in front of where I think he is, lose my footing, slip, do the splits, but don’t slide down the rock because was “lucky” enough to stop myself by gashing open the skin between my forefinger and middle finger on my right hand… which is, of course my stripping hand. I did have a big Golden Trevally and Grouper of some sort follow on blind casts, but all I had was the 12-weight and big ass flies.
Friday was solid clouds and showers: Got off early, packed up, grabbed my bike and was off. Every quatermile here they have it painted on the road, so you can gauge how much you hate yourself. I really hated myself today when I hit the nine mile mark. I hit six spots, spent hours staring at glared-off water for GT’s and saw a surprising zero! I did blind casting the 12 every five minutes or so, just to really tire myself out, so it was with a sinking hear that I turned and headed back. It was incoming tide this afternoon—a 2.07 (and yeah that’s meters). The tides rip good here but I prefer the outgoing. All in all it was good recon for tomorrow.
On a brighter note we are only supposed to have solid cloud cover and showers till the 12th. What better way to weather a thunderstorm? Go to Thunder Bay! Got the low tide at 9:16am. Hope to grab breakfast and be on the water by 8. I’m reverting to bonefishing; the last four days I have been looking for GT’s and have seen a grand total of one. The evening outgoing will be for GT chasing, wait, did I say chasing, I meant standing and swearing. I have been working out some fish calls, a series of clicks and whistles… obviously I need to fine tune them a bit.
Tyler: I may need you to lay down some verse for me.
How Not to Catch a GT
Barjack the Angler Top-Secret Empty Flat Indian Ocean February 28, 2011
How to catch a Giant Trevally:
- Leave the bonefish rod at home.
- Stare at water till the sun goes down.
I figure that’s how it’s done, but I didn’t see any today. Got off work and had 2½ hours of light so I went to the short pier and scanned the water for a half hour. Nothing. I put on a repeat performance at the point, where the current rips so hard I almost got swept away. When I strip line out the current pulls it so tight I can barely get a cast off. I can’t use a stripping basket to hold the line ’cause I’m out waist-deep in the spot I expect the GT’s to be (which is also where people say they’ve seen them). Still nothing. I try another point. Nada.
I’m going to have to learn how to say ‘nothing’ in a few more languages just so my journal won’t sound so repetitive.
I’m still feeling my way through the regs here, and we are allowed to fish Oceanside after all. A guy I worked with showed me a spot that looks awesome; he said he always sees GT’s there. Wednesday I get my bike shipped over and I’ll be pedaling toward that spot the moment it’s off the docks.
Waiting on Wednesday,