Sunday, October 31, 2010

Fisherman Long Pen

Fisherman is one of the most well known and respected manufacturers in GT fishing circles world wide. Based in Okinawa, the boss Suzukisan travels extensively to tests his products and it shows.
Fisherman Long Pen
A veteran Long Pen - Blue Mackerel

Green Mackerel

Pink Mackerel

Action: Hold the rod tip at 45 degrees and wind flat out.
When to use: I use them exclusively when targeting GTs in shallow water, especially around breaking waves.
Weight: Various weights are available. I prefer 100g because they have less drag in the water and tire you out less.
Length: About 250mm
Cost: 7, 000 yen or $80
Comment: These are my favourites of the Fisherman range. They are simple to use (just wind fast) and they catch GTs.They are generally well built and presented but have weak paint jobs that scratch easily.
An example of the nice detail of these lures, a double cap that strengthens the lure against the pressure of the through wire

Fishing Report, Oct 30, 2010

Have you ever had one of those days on the water that made you think you were in oppositeland? Thats how I felt yesterday as everything that I thought I knew was turned on its head.
Enter the usual protagonists of late, Kaleb, Richard, Francis and myself. The captain had decided that we would be fishing the southern fringing reefs closest to Koror (the main town) and it turned out to be a good call with a large swell hitting the Islands from a typhoon near Okinawa making fishing on the reefs or outside onto the reefs a little dangerous to say the least. Coupled with that was a 15-20 knot Easterly breeze that was gusting higher, so a long trip would have been painful and slow.
We hit the reef at around 8am on a rising tide to find a curious sight, 8-10 foot sets peaking on the outer reefs, peeling and barreling as if we were on Oahu! These were big mean waves hitting a section of reef on the south of the Islands (you can imagine what the waves would have been like on the northern reefs!!!) after already wrapping right around the western reefs and almost heading North again. I had never seen waves like that hitting the reef down there, so already the day started out strangely.
As the tide was quite low we decided to cast on some inshore reef patches until the tide got high enough for us to try to get to the normal area that we fish. Within a few casts Rich had snared a nice little GT of around 10kg using the legendary wide mouthed Hydro Popper f in green mackerel. A couple of casts later my Fisherman Long Pen was followed by a reef shark and 6 or 7 GTs. Kaleb was next to hookup to a GT but it threw the hooks.
I decided to try out my new rod, a Daiwa Saltiga 6'6 Jigging rod that I thought might be ok at tossing lures around with too. And so it was with my second cast getting swarmed by a school of GTs, unfortunately right next to large rock and I was cut off seconds after hooking up using a Duel Surface GT 150. As I tied another leader we drifter away from the reef patch and the bite stopped. We continued our drift with little action until I got another GT hookup using a Duel Slider 140f, alas I was again broken off on a patch of reef as the fish made a screaming wide run that just happened to put a rock between me and him... 2 lures down and no fish caught!
We got to our fishing ground and saw cloudy water, something very unusual here. It was cloudy white. either from stirred up sand or bubbles from the massive surf I wasn't sure. The conditions had obviously spooked the fish, with very little biting. Francis and Rich managed to catch a few Long nosed Emperors and Blue Finned Trevally but little else.
Soon after lunch a rain system moved in and we headed for the shelter of some nearby islands. By that time I was having a tough time of it having lost 2 lures, dropping 5 or 6 decent fish and landing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! I was skeptical about trying to fish around the islands as they are really heavily fished and our day had been a bit of a bust so far. But I am happy to follow the local guys when fishing with them and it really paid off.
Having come from windy, rough cloudy water fishing the calm, clear, lakelike conditions were a blessing and within a few minutes Rich had caught a fish! Here? I almost couldn't believe it as he boated a nice sized Spangled Emperor.
Fish of the day. Spangled Emperor at a perfect eating size
      These fish are exciting to catch on small topwater lures (this on was again taken by the green Yo-Zuri) in shallow water. They hit with power and charge back to the reef, this one made the mistake of running and was easily handled.
Several other good sized fish followed, coral trout, Red Bass (cubera), rainbow runner and several trevally species. I was still sucking and hadn't caught anything at all and it was getting late and the rain was really getting set in.
Then it finally happened! I got a good hit on a Yo-Zuri Hydro Popper (silver and black) that I knew was a trevally. You really get tot know the different way each species attacks the topwater lures and you can often call what type of fish it is just by the strike type.
So I had a nice little trevally to test my new rod with. Looking at the rod you wouldn't believe that it would have much power, but in shallow water, heavy current and a heavy drag, it did a great job of stopping this fish. I was really happy to finally have broken my duck (at 4pm no less) and also to have christened the new rod with a solid test of its action.
Baby GT. Finally a fish on the new rod! A quick pic and back in the water with him to fight another day
We fished on for bout another hour landing a few more fish, including one Long Nosed Emperor (of about 2kg) I took on my GT outfit! Talk about being over-matched!
In the end it was the strangest of days, catching fish where you wouldn't normally, not catching fish where we normally do, North Shore type surf conditions in Palau and losing as many lures as fish caught! Strange but good and totally worth it!
MVP: Richard. He caught as many fish as the rest of us combined
Best Lure: Yo-Zuri Hydro Popper 130f (green mackerel)
Catch of the day: Rich's Spangled Emperor
Play of the Day: Captain Kaleb's call to fish around the islands after we got blown off the reef

Monday, October 25, 2010

Lure Reviews

This lure review we have the Tailwalk Gunz 18s model. As the name indicates this is a 180mm stickbait that sinks. When new these lures are very attractive (to fishermen at least) with great looking paint and a very reflective 3d eye. They also have a pleasing weight in the hand. In the air they are very good and can be cast a long distance. In the water they are also good swimming with a nice darting action. I have caught GTs on this lure so we know that it works BUT they are fragile. Customers aboard the Sara Guide Service boats have brought these to the islands brand new and had them full of water after catching only one small fish. I have had my personal lures leak too. Overall: Not Recommended (unless the leaking problem gets fixed then they would be Recommended)

As above in an excellent colour combination.

 OTI Komodo in Blue Lazer. Great colour, crappy paint quality, especially over the chrome stickers on the lures sides.
 OTI Komodo in Blue Hawke. Not the teeth marks! Another large strike with no hookup.
 OTI Komodo in Nemo colour pattern. Probably my favourite colout pattern for deep water GTs. This finish is slightly better than other OTI colours but with still look crappy after 1 or 2 fish.

These lures are basically good lures but they are not really worth owning due to their substandard finishes. Some lure companies make the effort to produce a lasting finish one their lures others make very little effort. When the fish are not super aggressive, something as small as the paint on your lure can make the difference between coaxing a strike out of a fish or leaving it cold. In the future I will be putting my money where my mouth is and sticking to higher quality lures. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fishing Report Oct 21, 2010

Well there wasn't that much to talk about as far as the fishing goes today. I went shore based fishing again and caught a mixed bag of small Cubera/red bass, Coral Trout/Grouper, long nosed emperor (all between 20 and 45cm) and a barracuda of about 70cm. All the fish came on the one lure, a small 30g Sidewinder spoon.
The excitement happened when I was casting from water about mid thigh depth, using a Yo-Zuri 130mm popper when a shark about 1.5m long came from BEHIND me to try and attack my lure!! Holy SHIT!! I was shocked to say the least.
I wasn't afraid of getting eaten because it was a black tipped reef shark and they dont eat people BUT he was in a frenzy trying to eat my lure so I was afraid of getting bitten accidentally. After scrambling out of the water I took a few more casts and another 5 or 6 similar sized sharks had moved in prowling the reefy shallows for my lures. I decided to cast at them and have a bit of fun by trying to evade the predators with my lure (ie the exact opposite of normal fishing).
It was fun but I soon remembered that the tide was rising quickly and I had to wade through 2 chest deep bodies of water to get back to dry land. I took a few deep breaths and headed off. I didn't see the sharks at all on my walk back to the dock but I had learned that you cant see reef sharks in shallow coral bottomed water unless they move in a strange way, so not seeing them didn't exactly fill me with confidence...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Shore Based Fun

The weekend saw generally crappy weather conditions prevent any real thoughts of going out on the boat. There was a typhoon to the North of us and we were getting periods of squally wind and rain.
There isn't many land based fishing options here in the islands. Land based fishing is illegal in Koror state (where I live) and to be honest it would be pretty pointless anyway as the area is totally fished out. On the main island there are a couple of old WW2 ports that you can fish from, so I decided to drive up there and test my luck.
I had just received an order of lures that I had placed with Cabellas a couple of weeks earlier and these land based areas give me a good chance to work out how the lure performs without the pressure of my fishing mates giving me shit or me wasting time at a good location. And there is also the possibility of getting some dinner too, which was high on my agenda.
So I hit my spot in windy and cloudy conditions with the threat of rain, no real problem, a little cloud cover usually provides better fishing anyway. As usual my target was Blue Finned Trevally, there is a school of them that comes into the port on high tide and I was eager to get amongst them. The problem with these fish is that they have seen thousands of lures so its takes a little bit of cunning to catch one.
My usual tactic is to fish with small poppers (50 - 70mm) and a light bass outfit (2-4lb rod, shimano Sienna 4000 with Varivas PE#2 line) and thin leader (12lb). I have caught a few fish with this gear but I have also lost a lot of lures thanks to the occasional stray barracuda, reef shark or the sharp rocks. This time I wanted to concentrate on spoons and topwater "walk the dog" style lures such as the Heddon Zara Super Spook, so I used a heavier outfit (6-15lb ugly stick, Shimano Baitrunner 8000D and 30lb Power Pro line) with 50lb leader. This outfit was certainly overkill but I wanted to make sure that all my gear came home with me.
The fishing was tough as usual with about 3 hours of casting accounting for 3 fish, one of which (pictured) I took home for dinner, a perfect pan sized 51cm Blue Finned Trevally, who took my new 100mm Stingray ("monkey puke" colour) spoon and put up an excellent fight. The other fish caught were a Long Tom/Needle Fish/Datsu/Alligator Gar of about 100cm (a crappy fish whatever you call them) on the same lure and a nice Mangrove Jack of about 35cm caught from among the seagrass on a 20g Kastmaster slug.
Fishing from the land up there reminds me a lot of fishing in Australia, you really have to work and plan what you are going to catch. It made nice change from the boat and I will probably do a little more of it in the future. Oh and as a bonus I found a lure that I had lost up there about 6 months earlier! What more could you want???

Friday, October 15, 2010

Lure Reviews

Surprisingly this lure hasn't worked out for me. Yo-Zuri Hydro Popper 90mm/about 25g. I say surprisingly because I have caught quite a few nice sized Blue Finned Trevally with the same lure in Redhead colour. This colour pattern (we call it watermelon) is generally my favourite but so far this lure is a big disappointment, proven by its age of over 6 months. Good lures dont grow old here! Overall: only for calm water, light line popping, below average.
Yo-Zuri Bull 150mm/70g in the new Sashimi changing colour scheme. The lure shape is sound, good to cast and easy to pop but in this colour scheme it is pretty useless. It has accounted for a good sized barracuda -12kg but all in all its not a great lure. I will save it for when I am fishing in really shallow water or when the Red Bass are thick, so I wont be to sad if I lose it. Overall: Give it a miss.
Duel Surface Slider 140f. 140mm/48g. This lure has been used on one trip and caught a few fish, the best being a 6kg BFT. I am generally impressed with this lure but it is a little to light to cast good distances. CHANGE OUT THE HOOKS is you are going to buy one, the standard ones are crap and cost me one good fish. Finish of the lure is typical Yo-Zuri/Duel standard ie. if its shiny the paint will come off easily. Overall: RECOMMENDED.
Fisherman Big Hard, about 200mm/150g. This is a difficult lure to work, it really needs a very stiff popping rod. I use a Tica Swells PE #6 rated popping rod but its not enough. Lure hasn't caught any fish and probably wont unless I get an even stiffer heavy rod, which I dont plan to. Overall: Expensive ($70 ish) and weak finish.

Lures, the VILLAINS

Time for the LIST OF SHAME! These are the lures that just plain and simply SUCK!Yo-Zuri Hydro Popper 120mm, 43g (small mouth version). I have to admit I did catch one fish with this lure (a nice sized GT - 12-15kg) but I think I just got really lucky that day. This lure is a pain in the arse to pop. It can make a good splash but the precision needed to get it right is far to high. If you dont pull quite hard enough, there is no splash and if you pull a tiny bit too much the lure cartwheels over the surface. My advice; dont buy this lure unless you are really patient and use light line and a purpose built light popping rod. Overall: Below Average
Storm Kickin Stick 12. The local tackle shop guy asked me to try this one out for him and tell him if it catches fish. I cockily told him I wont return until I have caught fish with it. Needless to say I haven't been back there since! I will go back soon but I wanted to make sure that I cant catch fish on it. Used it 4 times, no fish even looked at it that I saw. Overall: Dont bother with this one.
Rapala Skitterpop, about 120mm/30g. This has to be the worst lure that I own that swims properly. It makes a light splash when popped but the fish dont even look sideways at it. I think that sound that it makes (a metallic jangling sound) keeps the fish away but I can be sure. I wont waste my time with this one again. Overall: Pure Crap
Ocean Tackle International Komodo Popper. 130g/200mm ish. I bought a few of these lures because of the success that I had with the Wombat model. I am a bit pissed of at OTI, they used to supply their lures with Owner hooks and the lures themselves were US made. When these ones arrived they have some really shitty hooks and the packs dont say where they are made. Judging by the crappy finish and peeling paint, my guess is MADE IN CHINA. Fish have attacked this lure on 4 occasions but I am yet to get a hookup. This lure already looks beaten up but hasn't caught anything yet. Also it is very tiring to work this lure properly. Overall: Below Average
Mystery brand lure named Bull Dog. I bought this lure purely because of the colour. BEWARE this lure doesnt even swim properly. MADE IN CHINA rubbish! Overall: Absolute SHIT

Fishing Report, Last Weekend

A group of 4 of us set out on captain Kaleb's boat just before 7am on a blustery and rainy morning headed for a fishing ground that we had had some success with the month before. After battling squally conditions and choppy sea we finally arrived at our destination and got to work. We were casting towards a fringing reef but keeping our distance to avoid the large and irregular sets that were breaking onto the reef. Rich and Francis got off to a good start landing a few good sized BFT with the best around 6kg. I was trying out a friends outfit (in the search for a heavier light tackle rig) which consisted of a Shimano FA Stella 8000hg reel and a Smith rod (cant remember the details) and PE #6 Varivas line with a 100lb leader.The outfit was well balanced but wasnt really suited to the poppers that I was trying to use with it, so I moved to a mid sized stickbait (Duel Surface Slider 140f) and has instant success with a solid strike taking line and then dropping the lure. After a few more casts another heavy strike, with line peeling off the real under heavy drag. I didn't want the fish to take my lure into the reef so I tightened the drag right up (max drag) and the hooks on the belly treble straightened! I was a little upset at myself because I hadnt upgraded the hooks on the lure like I normally do. I didnt have any hooks really suitable and used some larger than suitable trebbles. The very next cast I hooked up and landed a very nice BFT of about 6kg. The rod and real preformed beautifully, the Smith rod was great with very good lifting power. I would love one but they are about $800! No thanks.
We fished onto lunch with Kaleb giving us some entertainment hooking and landing a large black tip reef shark which we managed to de hook and release. Kaleb was using an old Penn 850 that had seized the last time out, so I was just waiting for it to pop but it never did!
After lunch we headed inside the reef to a sandy area about 6m deep with large bommies and patches of reef. It was Red Bass city, with one cast Kaleb had 7 or 8 large Red Bass darting at his lure, great fun.
I hadn't lost any lures yet and decided that it was time to throw some money away as 2 red bass accounted for two of my lures!!GRRRRRRRRR! Actually I see losing gear as part of the game, I would much rather hook up and lose gear than not hook up at all, so I put my gear in danger and have a ball! The lures that I lost were a Yo-Zuri Sashimi Slider 140f and a Pop Queen somethingorother anyway they have gone to lure heaven. So my tally against the Red Bass was 2 lost lures and two good sized fish around 5kg.
Francis was in true form and landed a couple of bruisers around 7-8kg, really tough fish.
I caught one nice sized emperor in about 1m of water. It had me under a rock but I was using my GT outfit and managed to yank him out of there. The last fish in that area was once we got into deeper water (about 10m) and a large red bass smashed my popper and broke me off in open water using the PE #6 gear (60+lb)! Sometimes you just cant win against these guys! Red Bass 3, Me 2...
For the last hurrah before we went home we tried one last place and I took out my heavy gear hoping for a GT. Instead of a GT I got a barracuda! I used to think of them as a pest but the local people love to eat them and they can be good sport. This one absolutely CRUNCHED my big popper and set sail! Usually barracuda leap around getting tired quickly, not this one, he just ran! I had my 80lb rig set up with maximum drag and he was still screaming line of the real! Eventually we got him to the boat and my neighbors has a great feast!! Happy days!

Lures, other good ones

So last post I showed you a few lures that work well here. In this post I have a few more that also work well. Above is the Yo-Zuri Surface Bull GT again but this time in a "pink tiger" colour. 100g, 200mm. This model is slightly different from the previous post in that it has 3d eyes rather than stickers. I feel that it makes a difference when the fish are feeling picky. This lure needs to have its hooks upgraded, the original hooks are soft and will straighten if you hook a big fish and use a heavy drag. In this case i have used a Mustad 4/0 (i think). So far these hooks have been really good. This lure has caught some fish, most notably GTs and a large barracuda last weekend (see tooth marks near tail). Overall: Good and Cheap - buy one
This is a Duel Surface Bull 150, 70g, 150mm. The pictured lure is unused but its twin was used for the first time last weekend. On its 4th or 5th cast a large Red Bass swooped out of deep water and took it. What followed blew my mind as my 60lb line snapped under the strain of the bass attack. To be honest the line must have been weakened by a coral scratch or something on a previous cast. Anyway the bass seem to like it... Overall: Too soon to be sure but has promise
This is the secret (not anymore!!) weapon of the guys that I fish with. It is a Yo-Zuri Hydro popper, 120mm, 43g. If I was to take one lure only on a trip, this would be the one. It has a slightly wider mouth than normal poppers and makes a great splash and is easy to work. My preference is the blue colour but the other guys swear by this colour, and since I have lost just about every blue one that is in the country, I had to join them in using the green. This lure catches just about anything that I fish for; GT, Blue Finned Trevally, Emperors, Red Bass, Coral Trout... everything really. Great lure, shitty finish, most of the paint with be gone after a few fish. Overall: Highly Recommended - this lure is an absolute WEAPON!
ANOTHER Yo-Zuri (you can see what the local tackle shop stocks cant you?) Tobimaru, 130mm, 27g diving lure. This one is a bit of an enigma, I have used this lure for a total of five casts and lost three of them to fish that I couldnt stop on my 30lb outfit! It presents me with something of a problem in that the lure wont swim using heavier than 30lb line/ 50lb leader BUT whatever is eating them puts me under a rock or busts me off before I can do anything about it. As usual I suspect large Red Bass but I cant be sure, it could just as well be large Coral Trout or Coral Cod. Overall: Recommended
The final lure is something that I have been messing about with a little bit lately, spoons. Seems extremely retro to me (I havent used spoon since childhood) but it occurred to me that no one here really uses them, so I thought I would try them out. This lure is similar to the one above. I ordered on of these Williams Whitefish lures from Canada a few weeks ago and on the first cast after maybe two turns of the reel, I got smoked again! So I had to order another to see if it was a fluke or not!! 150mm, about 30g. Needless to say I am trying to upgrade my light tackle gear to maybe 50 or 60lb! It sounds retarded to call this lights tackle but even though we catch heaps of fish, it would still be cheaper to buy them at the market because of all the gear I lose! Overall: Too soon to tell but looks good.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Lures, the HEROS.

These are the lures that work!
This one is a "chugger" style for Ocean Tackle International called Wombat. It is a wooden lure with reasonable quality hardware. Weight is 130g. Works well on GTs and Red Bass. It is tiring to work, I can only use it for an hour or so before I get too tired and have to change lures. Overall: Recommended (but go to the gym before you use it!)
This one is a Japanese made lure by Asaurus. 120g, made of resin. Really easy to use, making a great ripping sound when popped. As you can see, it has see a fair bit of action, Red Bass especially love this lure. Overall: Highly Recommended
Fisherman Long Pen (130g?). Another very effective lure for GT's. The action for this lure is to skim it across the surface at full speed, the GT's rise up and smash it! Another tiring lure to use and not terribly durable. Overall: Recommended but expensive
Yo-Zuri Surface Bull GT (120g I think). I was persuaded to use this lure by a local fishing guide who insisted that it works well. Personally I dont like the action very much as it doesn't make a very big splash. HOWEVER the fish seem to like it just fine with GTs, Blue Fin Trevally, Barracuda and Emperors being taken with this lure. Note the scratches on its nose from being taken into to coral and dragged back out! Overall: Good and Cheap, Recommended

Target Species?

My ultimate target when fishing is Giant Trevally/GT/Ulua/Orruk. There is a lot of buzz about this fish and thousand of tourists come here each year to catch them. I practice strict catch and release when fishing for GTs. They are a real natural asset of the islands and should be respected and preserved.
For more general fishing my favorite target is the Blue Finned Trevally. They are plentiful here, provide great sport and are excellent eating, especially as sashimi/sushi/carpaccio. BFT readily attack most lure types and are caught up to 8kg locally.
Another target fish that took my a while to get used to is Red Bass. In most parts of the world they are not eaten but here in Palau, they are a revered table fish. Red Bass are violent predators with line breaking power. I recently had a Red Bass break my 60lb (PE #6) line in open water with its powerful first run. They are dirty fighters and will take your lure straight behind the nearest rock or coral bommie. I never really had much respect for this fish until I caught them in shallow (<5m) water. Let me tell you, they are POWERFUL! A great sport fish normally encountered in the 5-10kg range but 15kg plus fish are out there if you can stop them!
Then there are the "others", the fish that we dont really plan to catch but make our day more interesting when they come along. These fish include, coral trout, barracuda, nannigai, various emporors, coral cod, mackeral, Dog Tooth Tuna and various trevally species.

Fishing Style

Fishing is very popular in Palau, with the most popular methods among the locals being trolling and bottom fishing. Personally I prefer a more active and participatory fishing experience, so I focus on surface and near subsurface lure casting (hence Topwater Game) with the occasional jigging session to keep things interesting. The topwater style I use is mostly with poppers, sliders, stickbaits or spoons.
For those of us with short attention spans, topwater fishing cant be beat because the whole time you are fishing, you get to watch how your lure is working in/on the water and make adjustments as necessary. The added bonus is when the fish strikes your lure, it can be spectacular with huge splashes and sometime fish jumping out of the water as they take the lure!

Welcome, lets get it started!

Hi everyone and welcome to my blog. So what's it about? Generally its going to be about my fishing experiences here in Palau. I have the opportunity to tackle some pretty serious fish here on a regular basis, so I wanted to tell you all about it, how I go about it and the gear that I use. Fishing tragics and tackle nerds of the world rejoice!