Wading with Sharks, and Other Fun Things.
Barjack the Angler Bluefin Flat Indian Ocean April 3, 2011
Heat Exhaustion, The Cuda, and Blue Water.
Feeling euphoric after the 10 mile bike ride and now it’s time to wade. Almost immediately I hook a monster cuda only to get one blazing run, a single jump, and it shakes the fly . I’ll get him next time; they are territorial and I’m a stalker! Walking along I find an area where it goes from reef to deep blue. Gotta say, standing in ankle deep water looking into blue water is daunting.
Wading along I see some trevally—Golden’s, nice ones. I cast and they circle. One eats and makes a nice run. I get him half way back, he turns and the hook pulls. Check fly: point sharp, eyes straight, looks good. More Golden. I cast, hook up, and same result!
I should change flies.
Another pod is coming straight at me so I cast, get bit, and the hook snaps at the bend!
They must have heard that echo in India… wonder if it translates.
Ok, new fly. Go with a Kung-Fu crab; they have a stout hook.
Of course, now there are no fish around, the tide is rising and I’m running low on water. Finally I see a bonefish. It’s a decent one so I toss it out there and hook up. It makes a run and off to the left I see a big shark. I loosen the drag and throw slack. The bone stops dead and the shark swims on. I renew pressure and run into the beach, lock down the drag, and work him in. Damn, 20lb test is no joke! I glance back at the shark and with it are two monster Bluefin Trevally! I horse the bone in release him examine the fly all is good. Like any good jack the BFT flank the shark, which is easy to see as I run down the beach, line dragging and catching everything possible. I get ahead of them and lung into waist-deep water less then 100 feet from a big shark. I’m casting. Nothing. Wade out and run ahead. Cast. Cast. Run some more. This time I get a good angle and hook up! The fish burns off for the reef I lock down the drag and… 3,2,1: slack line. The hook opened wide .
Why 9 is Better than 7… and Jonas was Right.
The fish explode away from me and disappear. The tide is high so I walk the beach and sure enough I see another shark flanked by BFT. Wade out hook a smallish one, release it and catch back up to the shark. I have on a big orange Pugalsi Crab pattern and the bigger BFT will follow but not eat. They look and ignore, but as I’m stripping back in a small pompano eats it and all the BFT go nuts and rush it.
Ok, I could pop this little guy out of the water and release him, or…
As the biggest BFT is swimming away with my fly and that poor little fella in his mouth I jab with the rod a few good times! The 9-weight pays off as put the wood to the fish. It weighed in at just over 12 pounds.
Jonas, you were right. Bait fishing pays big dividends.
No amount of preparation can get you ready for this place. I gotta head home and tie up more crabs on the smallest, strongest hooks I have.
Rethinking live bait,
Barjack the Angler
1 Nate, remember that one I hooked with you and Darin? This one was bigger. [back]
2 Ok, I know I’m going to eat crow on the whole hooks debacle so let me just come out and say that I’ve caved and ordered a bunch of Mustad Signature Saltwater hooks. Ok. Fine. I said it. [back]
*Indian Ocean Chronicles
Short Tide, Big fish.
Barjack the Angler Lost Fish Flat Indian Ocean April 2, 2011
Up at oh-six-hundred, eat chow and grab the bike. I’m getting smarter, though. Since the person that has duty goes to the office at 8am in the truck I ask for a ride and down the road we go. When I get to the flat there’s no water; low tide was at oh-seven-forty-something. I hope the tide won’t stay low then the flood in—I have tide times but no graphs. Luckily that doesn’t happen. The water rises slowly and suddenly bonefish are all over. There are no big fellas today, but I get a few then miss the next two. I examine my fly to see the hook tip pinned back. Huh. I’ve been burning through crab flies and neglecting the vise so I’m low on flies. I’m immediately struck by inspiration: the fun part is feeding them, right? For the next half hour giggling like a little kid as I feed bone after bone only to slowly pull it out of their mouth, watch them get pissed off and keep trying to eat it. Finally the tide was right so I tied on a legit crab fly went in search of permit, and… nothing, zip, nada, zilch! WTF!? Last weekend schools were all over the place and now nothing?
I’m frustrated but then I spot tails. In a school of coral munchers are half-dozen white forked tails—the fish I have been chasing all week.
Okay I don’t remember what I’ve mentioned so far about these fish, so I’ll rewind. On Tuesday I was fishing on the ocean right outside my place after work and there were these big white forked-tailed fish that have two black dots on their backs. Chased them for three days and hooked four! Yes Davin, I hooked another one on Thursday on my last Usual! These fish are insanely strong and come in on the low water, all four put me well into the backing and ended the experiences with a coral enema.
So fast forward to today, there a few but they are mixed in with parrotfish, bad news because parrots are really hard to sneak up on and if the fly line or leader lands anywhere near them they spook. I have no idea how much time passed as I was walking and watching them tail but finally the forked-tail got to the head of the school. I make the cast, lead the fish and let the current drift the fly into them. When I think it’s there I pick up the slack, give one small twitch and a fish turns, tips, eats! It takes off for the Persian Gulf and… number five broken off.
Curse, retie, about to find another forked tail when a big bluefin trevally swims up. I cast, he eats, we fight each other and as I’m about to land him the line breaks. At this point I am close to a melt down. I’ve got to land something. I think screw it, I’m going with 20-lb tippet now. By the time that’s done there are no fish anywhere and the tide is getting high—once the breakers top the reef and make it to the shore it’s game over.
Suddenly another trevally glides up all big and blue, I toss the crab fly to him he eats and I miss. Padded room. I pick up, drop, and he eats again! Ok, stick ‘im, stick ‘im, stick ‘im! Moments later I’m deep into the backing I can see my line and backing zigzagging through the water all the way into the waves crashing on the reef. If the trevally gets out there and dives it’s goodbye fly line. I’m out of options so I point the rod at him, clamp down on the reel, and walk slowly backwards.
A million thoughts flash through my head, not the least of which is the realization that a 7-weight is just silly—given the tiny margin for error with this powerful ocean-going fish and only a few yards to the reef. I also realize that anything less than 20-lb tippet is BS and a waste of time. From now on it will be nothing but 9 and 12 weights, heavy flouro, and 3x-strong hooks. Somewhere in there I actually turn the fish and get him pointed back toward shore. This could actually happen! Shutup; don’t jinx it. The fish makes another run but this time merely parallels the reef edge. This is good. Wait! That rock is out of the water… I’m running, plunging through thigh-deep water. Oh, please. I throw the fish some slack and he slows to a stop. I’m now chest deep trying to roll cast my line off the rock and through sheer desperation that works. The line is free again, I come tight and turn its head to the beach and walk it in.
11.5 pounds of bluefin trevally lolls in the wash as I remove my hook. I love my 7-wt, but I think it just got retirement papers as far as oceanside is concerned.
Rigging my 9-weight,
Barjack the Angler
*IOC = Indian Ocean Chronicles
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.