Friday, November 26, 2010

The lure with 9 lives, died. RIP

Well it took a long time and a lot of fish but I finally lost the first Rebel Pop r that I had ever owned.
Champion Lure accounted for at least 50 fish
I have blogged previously about the near misses that I had had with this lure but today its luck finally ran out. I had upgraded the hooks after the first time that I fished it, with some apprehension as it was only the crappy hooks that saved it a couple of times by straightening on runnaway fish.
Today my plan was to play around with some soft plastics that I had received, but after an hour I hadn't caught anything more than rainbow runners so I decided to tie on the popper. It took about 10 minutes before it was snaffled by a large trevally. The fight was looking promising but I was quickly running out of line and needed to drive the boat after the fish to try and stop it. Just as I had the boat in gear my main line (20lb) brushed the coral. I was bummed but there is nothing you can do and besides its always better IMO to lose a lure to a good fish rather than lose it to a snag/shark bad knot etc. I had only brought one other popper along with me and it was too big to use one my light outfit so I tied it on my jigging rod (Saltiga SA-JG66MFS), not ideal but better than nothing. After a few casts I hooked up on a small GT
Healthy little takka at 75cm
A move to a nearby reef resulted in a nice Blue Fin Trevally
The only fish of the day that didnt make it back into the water, a beautiful 64cm Blue Fin Trevally
After I had dinner secured (BFT) I went back to casting the soft plastics. All I can say is that I must suck at soft plastics, all I caught after that was 1 pink snapper.... I have a lot to learn when it come to soft plastics. At the moment for me, poppers are more fun and catch more fish! Weather permitting the new Orion Lures will be getting a swim, chasing some larger prey, stay tuned!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Orion Nambas 140 - First Look

This is my newly arrived Orion Nambas, a floating topwater lure, similar looking to the Big Foot but less dense and I am assuming it with work with a different action.
Nambas 140

Larger eyes than the Big Foot

I have some hope that this lure will be effective as I believe it will work with an action somewhat similar to the Heddon, time will tell!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Orion Big Foot 140 - First Look

If there has been a lure maker that I had always wanted to try, it was Orion. These lures are hand made from some kind of molded resin in France. I had read many things about them, mostly positive and I was eager to try a lure of European origin, for something different.
Orion Big Foot 140
I had read that these lures "don't look like much" and are "agricultural looking" and at first glance I would have to agree. The paintwork is messy and has bubbles in it, the cutouts for the eyes have not been sanded and generally the lure appears to lack any true craftsmanship.
Eye detail showing the rough finish
Having said all of that, I was prepared for a lack of "beauty" and to be honest, I don't really care about such things too much if the lure catches fish and is durable (things that I have heard that these lures are).

Apart from the lack of attention to detail with the finish, the Big Foot looks promising with good quality eyes and heavy duty wiring and an interesting shape. It is quite narrow and tall with a slightly more pointed nose than tail. Due to a good reputation among serious GT fishermen I am keeping an open mind and am hoping to try this lure in the near future (tomorrow if the wind drops!). Definitely not a lure for the fussy "jewel" type lure collectors!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Fishing Report, Nov 11 2010

A Return to Light Tackle
As I was preparing breakfast I realized that we had run out of fish! What better excuse to go fishing! My plan was to fish a nearby reef that has been heavily fished but to do so with light tackle and small lures. This can be an effective strategy locally because the predominant baitfish are small herring (around 70mm long) and for the most part I think most people fishing with lures do so with larger lures (like I normally do 100mm or longer) so the fish aren't as put off by smaller lures. Anyway, that was my train of thought as I got my gear together and headed down to the boat.
My lure of choice for today was a 50mm Rebel popper. I hadn't used it before but I thought for light tackle it might be effective. I mated this lure with a $30 Shimano Sienna 4000 reel and a cheep bass rod from Japan (also around $30) and some 20lb line that someone gave me. Cheap gear but good enough for what I had planned.
I motored out to the reef with about 2.5 hours to go before the high tide, the wind was calm and the swell was light. I took a few casts outside the reef and produced a couple of strikes without hookup and a small Coral Trout
A small Coral Trout, too small to keep @ 30cm
The fishing looked promising so I decided to head up onto the fringing reef where I wouldn't have to watch for open ocean swells and could concentrated on my fishing.
A few minutes passed and I hooked what looked to be a small GT, I was anchored at the time and he took me past a coral outcrop and broke my main line. "No big deal" I thought as it was a $5 lure and with such light line there is little you can do about stopping larger fish. As I was messing around choosing a replacement lure I noticed my lure floating nearby! "What luck" I thought and went to collect it. It wasn't long before I was broken off again by another fish, again the lure came to the surface within a few minutes! This must be the luckiest lure ever!
I was wondering why the lure had been release out of the fish's mouth so quickly and after a close look I noticed the hooks were bent right out of shape. Even with light line these hooks were too soft! I had no upgrade hooks of this size handy so I decided to persevere.
The lure worked really well with the light outfit, popping nicely and making a big splash. After loosing a couple of fish to straightened hooks, I caught one within my gear's capabilities, a nice fish in the Emperor family.
Great eating size of about 45cm
This was followed up by another fish of the same species but with slightly different colourations.
Same fish, same area, different colours
It was becoming clear what fish were biting! Several more of these fish were landed in the 40 - 50cm range. At some point they were in schools of 10 - 15 fish all darting at the lure! Fun Indeed!
An extremely aggressive fish that locals call "tigerfish". It bears close resemblance to a mangrove jack and fights the same way!
Another Tigerfish this time showing horizontal lines
I was quite satisfied with how things were going, I had some Emperors in the Esky and was catching a few interesting fish and getting the hooks straightened on my lure regularly! I had drifted off the reef and saw a patch of reef that looked like it might hold a GT or two, so I took my normal outfit (50lb) out and using the Heddon lure that I have become attached to made a couple of casts at the reef. On the second cast after 4 or 5 flicks or the rod a big black GT came head and shoulders out of the water to hit my lure! He sped off the reef towards the boat and then dived deep as i set in for a fight. A diving tour boat was going past and decided to stop and have look, so I was fighting a good sized GT with an audience! About 10 minutes into the fight my line went slack... I supposed that the line had hit a rock or something.... but as I wound in, my new favourite lure came with it! Happy Days! It seems the hooks had come loose.
My fun over and my audience disappointed, I headed back to the main reef to resume my light tackle casting. After fishing with heavy gear for the last few months, getting back to light tackle was a real pleasure as I could finesse the lure more. I had been getting buzzed by some nice Blue Fin Trevally but they weren't at all keen on the lure when they got close to it. The loved the action and kept chasing but didnt seem to like the appearance when close - something was putting them off. 
Finally I caught one but I dont think he meant to eat the lure!
Unlucky for him, lucky for me! Sashimi for dinner
By this time I was marveling at the fact that I hadn't lost the lure yet. I was using a 20lb leader and had been taken into the reef by a small Red Bass but I still had the lure! Thats when it happened, a 4 foot black tipped reef shark blasted the lure and set off for Mexico! Sure in the fact that I was going to get bitten/broken/rubbed off I played the shark as it screamed around the reef. 20 minutes later I had the shark along side the boat when the lure came out of his mouth. PERFECT release! Perhaps using these crappy weak hooks has some benefits!
Palau's #1 lure thief the Red Bass. This one had me in the coral but came back out after I released the bail.
The tide was starting to drop and the fishing was getting slower. I had made a couple of fruitless passes over the reef and had decided to head home. I was still casting the same little lure (minus one of its hooks by now) that was thoroughly beaten up when a MONSTER barracuda slid up to it and bit it! OH SHIT! There was no way that this was going to end well! The fish realized it was hooked and bolted. I had about 200m of line on my little reel and was close to getting spooled when the hooks straightened again, saving the lure!
I had had a great time catching a nice feed of fish (8 Emperor between 40 and 50cm, I Blue Fin Trevally 58cm and I Red Bass 42cm) and I hadn't lost a lure all day!!
Coming back I noticed a big ball of bait on the surface of the water and couldn't resist a cast. I cast a 150mm Surface GT popper for about 10minutes without luck. I changed over to a Duel Surface Slider 140f and on my 4th cast got ambushed by a very large black fish (i guess a big grouper or a very large Red Bass)! I saw it from a distance but was confident that with my 50lb gear and relatively deep water I would be able to stop it! Just as I was enjoying the fish's first run I felt my line rubbing on coral.. How could that be?? We were in deep water (8-10m) and the fish hit on the surface! Answer: I got schooled and lost one of my favourite lures in the process and $5 worth of upgraded hooks!!! I'll be back to get my revenge!
Lure of the day. Rebel Pop-R. This lure was brand new 4 hours ago!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Inaugural Hit and Miss Trophy November 6, 2010

 The three boats headed off from Malakal Harbour at around 8.30am (a little late as is local custom) for the designated fishing grounds of Ulong, some 45 minutes away on a beautiful sunny morning with a light breeze.
The combatants' teams were:
  1. Kaleb (C), Francis and Richard
  2. Casmire (C), Victor, Dave, and Sam
  3. Ben (C), Sem and Brian
 Smooth seas greeted us and allowed full speed motoring to the island passage whereby Kaleb headed to the South West to an area that had produced GTs the week before and I headed South East directly to the fringing reef and Casmire followed, stopping at a well known GT hangout on a large sandbank.

The fishing began a little quietly as we drifted over the shallows, hoping for an early fish. Nothing much happened for the first 20 minutes as the three of us worked surface poppers targeting Red Bass, BFT and GTs. Finally after what seemed an eternity, Brian hooked up and landed a nice little GT,
Brian's first GT in Palau. A quick pic and she was on her way
A couple of minutes later Sem hooked up on another juvenile GT and it was looking like we were in for a good day!
Beautiful Palaun waters and a lure that was almost swallowed by this GT.                                                       Pic: Brian Glass
Next up both Brian and Sem landed a pair of Blue Finned Trevallies, with Brian's eventually being credited as the biggest of the day.
The winner of the Blue Fin Trevally category - a solid 4.5kg specimen
Sem with a good sized BFT taken from the shallows                                   Pic: Brian Glass
Eventually I managed to catch my only fish of the day, a small Red Bass.
Big Lure - Small Fish. Red Bass of about 3.5kg                                         Pic: Brian Glass

11.30 came along and we decided to have lunch and a quick swim due to the stifling temperatures and lack of breeze. It was to be the end of our fish catching as we didn't manage to land any fish after lunch despite a couple of notable Hits and Misses. The afternoon saw us fishing in crystal clear water with little of no wind, we could see just about every fish on the reef and they were particularly wary. We had had a tough day with little to show for it but we figured that the other boats would be suffering from the same problems, and so it was.

We hit the beach for the 4pm "weigh in" to determine the biggest fish in each of the categories. The results were:
Biggest GT: Richard (team Kaleb)
Biggest Barracuda: Richard (team Kaleb)
Biggest Red Bass: Sam (team Casmire)
Biggest Nannygai: team Casmire
Biggest Blue Fin Trevally: Brian (team Ben)

Biggest fish overall: Richard 15kg GT
Most Fish: team Casmire
Trophy Winner: Team Kaleb
Winners are Grinners! Franics, Kaleb and Richard soaking up the glory!                                                             Pic: Brian Glass
Close Runners-up, Sam, Casmire, Dave and Victor                                                                                       Pic: Brian Glass
Probable winner of the "most beer consumed" prize, Sem, Brian and Ben
All in all another great day on the water. Provisional plans have been made for the second H&M trophy in late February/early March 2011.
Congratulations to all category winners and the overall trophy winners - team Kaleb!

Fishing Report, November 5, 2010

So with an informal "fishing derby" organized among a group of friends for Saturday, Friday seemed like a good opportunity to get out in the boat and scout out the competition area. Three boats would be involved (mine being one), the other two would be captained by Palauans with 20 years or more experience in the area. So I hoped to gain some insight with a "warm up" the day before.
I enlisted the help of one of my neighbors to crew for me and we were off. We tried some jigging and some topwater casting with varied success. The area that we fished was once an extremely productive area but it has been overfished in recent years. It still holds some nice fish and we have had some great days fishing there but recently it has been a bit quiet.
The catch wasn't bad but the fish were generally skittish. We landed nannygai, long nose emperor, blue fin trevally and barracuda. The best fish were caught by my crew member Dave with a Blue Fin Trevally of about 5kg and a barracuda of a similar size. We must have looked quite a sight, a pair of large, bald, bearded HAOLES on the high seas, add an eye patch and it would have looked like a scene from Pirates of the Caribbean!!

Avast Landlubbers! A healthy looking BFT was taken as the weather turned dark

A good sized barracuda from a spot that I have never fished before

Catch of the Day: The above pictured Blue Finned Trevally
Best Lure: Williamson Jet Popper (blue)
Angler of the Day: Dave

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Heddon Super Magnum Zara Spook

Heddon Super Magnum Zara Spook in Blazin' Shore Minow
Action: Walk the Dog.
When to use: Calm water
Weight: 110g
Length: About 200mm
Cost: $20
Comment: Probably the craziest name in all of fishing! These lures look like cigars. They are well finished for the price (excluding the poor terminal tackle) with good looking paint. Designed as a bass lure, they aren't really designed for blue water use but I saw one and had to try it! Have caught a GT on it, so it does work but i think the sharks like it most of all. The action is really difficult with a heavy rod and it is also hard to use in rough water. I dont think that I would buy another one but I still take it out from time to time when I am up for a giggle.
Overall: Average Above Average
Update: This lure was used extensively during the H&M Trophy, yielding some interesting results. While only accounting for one small Red Bass, the lure attracted by far the most attention of the lures used in the boat. The down side was the very low hookup rate, which was disappointing but could have been down to bad luck.  
It attracted a strike from a large barracuda (15kg+), the fish jumped clear of the water for the strike! It was spectacular but the hooks didn't take. The second fish it attracted was even more spectacular, with a huge GT smashing it and taking it for 10 - 15m before dropping the lure. The conditions were very clear in the water and the fish could be seen charging at the lure. It was easily the biggest GT I have raised (or seen) in Palau and to be honest, I would have had no chance of stopping it in the shallow, rocky water. The fact remains that I saw it clearly, it was huge and it took the lure! More investigation is in order! My opinion of this lure is improving!
Damage sustained from one days fishing. The finish of the lure seems to be strong but it was the subject of some particularly heavy strikes.
It didn't occur to me when I bought this lure that the colour closely matches that of a Red Bass. In the past I had chosen colours similar to that of baitfish (ie blue, gree, silver etc) but I am seeing evidence that the bigger fish may be attracted to other colours - stay tuned!

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Monday, November 1, 2010

Tackle Failures


"Why do you change the hooks and split rings on your lures?"
Before and after. A standard Yo-Zuri split ring from the belly treble of a Hydro Popper after a decent fish
Its a bit of a quandary, do you spend the money and time changing out your terminal tackle or do you risk losing a good fish? The answer this time was obvious, I should have upgraded the spit rings as well as the hooks. Well the fish escaped and I learned a lesson - be better prepared and avoid disappointment.