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!


  1. Great report. Have you landed any big Emperors? Here in Fiji the red bass are poisoned so only C/R.
    Tight lines

  2. Thanks! Nothing really big for the emperors. I got one around 7-8kg while jigging in June but on topwater around 3kg would be my upper limit. What about in Fiji?
    The Red bass here are fine to eat and they make great sport but can spoil your day a bit if you arent using heavy line. 80% of my lost lures are due to them!