08 Dec Lakshadweep Week Report 3: Full Moon and Spring Tides
In the world of fishing, full moon weeks are the unwanted love child of moon and tides. With the exception for night time anglers, sportsman all over the globe are not really fond of the days around it. Before and after a full moon, the fishing is usually really good. There are only two things that you need to know about fishing Lakshadweep at this time of the lunar circle: The tides correlate with the moon resulting in heavy tide amplitudes and spring tides – that means, a lot of water is on the move. Fish can enter the shallowest of water because they will be submerged on high tide. The reefs on the other hand will be exposed to air upon low tide. The amplitude is massive (up to 190cm) and the hot zone and the right water level conditions are a lot shorter. 2nd, and maybe the more important aspect, full moon days mean high highs or low lows… it’s black or white, there’s nothing in between.
The 2nd Voyage of the “Sawfish” revolved around sections 1 & 2. Especially section 2 has been proven to be a fruitful fishing ground with lots of fish, but yet no fly fishing field experience. Structurally very promising, the fly fishing scout division made plans accordingly and had high hopes to turn up some GT’s as well as the rest of the usual suspects on the reef. Solid Adventures regular for almost a decade, Patrik Johansson, brought his Swedish fishing buddy Ulf along for a special mission: Taming the beasts of the Lakshadweeps with tuned Abu Monoblock Casting Reels only… with rods that are far away from classic GT spinning sticks. A daunting mission that requires a lot of spare lines and lures plus a big portion of dedication. Sure enough the sea opened up a couple of times, revealing the heads and tails of true monsters and a glimpse of their strength before ripping lures, hooks, lines or leaders into absolute shreds. With some of these fish it’s hard enough to stay in control with heaviest popping gear and sometimes even that is not enough. The team around boat manager Patrik Lind and expedition scout Stephan Dombaj plus Patrik and Ulf was completed by two Swedish adventure anglers and hunters, Thorsten and Pontus, who had no GT experience on their scorecard so far.
On a short overnight stint, the Sawfish made its way into the inner Atoll ring of section 2, waking up to the sound of squeaking Seagulls and the smell of fresh coffee embedded into a tropical beach postcard setting with promising wading lines, palm tree islands and last but not least, a reef structure that screams big fish.
Weather & Water
The low winds of the last day of week no.2 stayed with us almost the entire week. The strong full moon tides with an amplitude of 190cm plus made some of the wading lines impossible to wade. A lot of water was on the move. To our surprise, the Jelly fish hatch had vanished almost overnight. The upcoming full moon limited the window of activity both on the flats and on the reef dramatically. Also the temperature amplitude was quite high from low to high tide. Seemingly everything but ideal, a plan was needed to cope with these tough conditions. A silver lining on the horizon were the tide charts that promised a strong high on early noon and a falling tide till almost sunset. Good wading visibility loomed ahead.
As mentioned in the intro: High highs or low lows, timing is paramount to capitalize on the short activity windows during daytime and hit the right spots when the time was right. For the fly fishing scouts, that meant staying close to the reef openings both on rising and falling tide until either unwadable or to dry to fish for GT. GT’s are opportunistic and somewhat lazy as they conserve their energy until needed, they don’t make an extra effort to stay in an uncomfortable zone unless it’s so full of food that they can’t help themselves. Ultimately, the fastest growing reef fish in the world has to eat. Every day… a lot. Once the routes are figured out, it’s just a matter of time until they would show up in the openings. It just takes some stamina and some uncomfortable wading to sit it out and simply to be more stubborn than a GT.
As for the popping, fishing over the current lines in open water close to the reef should turn up some cows that were just waiting to capitalize on anything that the heavy tides would flush of the reef buffet. Every angler of the party was more than happy to spend some quality time on the flats every day and the low vis-times out on the reef popping.
On the first intro session on day number one, the team parted. Patrik L, Patrik J and Ulf went out to practise their popping on the reef with the trigger rod grip Abu combos whilst Stephan, Pontus and Thorsten waded a massive sand dune and a shallow ridge along the reef. While the popping session with the Monoblock resulted in a bunch of lost lures and big fish following but nothing landed, the fly fishing crew managed one 80cm GT and 7 trigger fish amongst other trevallies and sweetlips on the fly. The main-dune, though promising looking, turned out to be a dead end for the currents – still quite good numbers. More interestingly, it revealed the only reef opening close to an islet that had to be the entrance and exit point for all flats GT on the ridge. Now it was just a matter of time…and we had to sit it out or hit it repeatedly to figure out when exactly. Considering the short windows of wadeable surf and turf, a tedious mission.
Before the flats were fishable by feet, every group headed out to the reef for some popping in the low light. Whilst casting into the reef resulted in a lot more action and a mixed bag of smaller to medium fish, the open water popping and stickbaiting was asking for trouble. On day no.2 our scout Stephan just finished his sentence about slow days and working the blue water edges hard will usually result in a big cow, when the sea opened and the Jackfin Pencil Popper disappeared in a whitewash explosion. A 125cm Fork length fish with an exceptional back and girth made it to the boat in just under 6 minutes – hard work but so far the heaviest and longest fish of our young Lakshadweep journey that is estimated to weight just over 45kg. Another medium size Dogtooth Tuna on a Jackfin Stickbait over open water underlined this tendency strongly. Pontus made his GT debut and when the sun was high enough, the flat game was on. A 78cm GT on a tan brush fly amongst some smaller juvenile trevally and a bunch of trigger fish and yet another Surgeon Fish out of a school of big bumpies by the end of the day. The spinning crew would bash up a bunch of coral fish on the coral boomies – too colourful and plentiful to name them all. With this agenda over the next two days, some more GT in skinny water and just in the opening channel made it into the books. On the last two days, our fly fishermen could only turn in the sidekicks of some big cows patrolling the edges – two fish, 89cm and 84cm were taken on brushies and deceivers of the back of bigger individuals. It’s impressive to see 100-120cm fish on the flat edge and surfing in the wave. Our local head of the staff, Rasi, exclaimed that some of these fish were even too big for popping and the fly rod would snap. A cast into the direction followed by a boil of a smaller fish had him shouting “You guys are crazy!” Yes, we are, and the hunt for one of these alphas on the flats is on! Stay tuned on that mission. The morning and evening session popping for reef GT has been as productive as usual although a lot more limited compared to the previous week. Again, we ran into 3 Napos on the flats, this time fully grown individuals that we targeted with 12 weights and GT flies – this time it ended in refusals after short initial follow sprints…
Our Abu Crew was already on a 10/0 score for reef GT into the game when we decided to head back into section 1 for a change of pace. A bit of Bluewater tuna popping with no hazardous reef should test the equipment. Little did we know that some seriously big Yellow Fins would blow up on the lures like there was no tomorrow. In a matter of 30 minutes, we lost 4 lures on the tuna point – unstoppable machines that even the heavy popping gear couldn’t stop. Ultimately we connected to some manageable size fish and a 65kg Yellow Fin that annihilated the Jackfin Wahoo Stickbait in a fountain of water was subdued in just 8 minutes, leaving both angler, gear and Tuna gasping for air. That lunch, we ate 5cm thick tuna steaks the size of a cutting board…
Ulf got his first surf GT landed, followed by a Bluefin and a Barracuda only to warm up for a 101cm bus GT that took his popper on the reef just on our way back home. This time, it stayed on and marked his strong comeback and a happy end for the Abu experiment. Very well done and well deserved. Our three GT newbies all landed their first GT despite the conditions and the self-inflicted tackle limitations. Our scouts did well on the number and size game plus finding consistent ever repeating patterns.