Monday, December 5, 2011

A Morning Between The Vernon Islands.

Hi there,

We were very lucky my work colleagues, Gavin, Michael, and I, to be invited to go fishing for a Sunday morning between the Vernon Island, aboard the Barraddiction.
This fine boat belong to a very good fisherman and great photographer called Peter.
This was the third time that I had been invited to fish with Peter, and what a treat this was going to be.

We left just after 5:00am from the Nightcliff boat ramp, and after zooming in the dark for about 45 kilometre, we arrived at destination for day break.

Sunrise between the Vernon Islands.

This was Michael first fishing trip since he arrived in the N.T to work and live.
And on the first drop he hooked a Mackerel!
I think that by then, my own jig had not touched the bottom yet.
This seemed to be a nice fish, and it was taking some nice runs, making Michael work hard for his first fish from the Territory waters.
But then the Mackerel started to jump out of the water, and Peter quickly said: "Free spool it!" And them in a much calmer voice he explained to our new comer that if a hooked Mackerel jumps, it is because they have a shark breathing on their neck...
So Michael did as told to, and the mack started to go on the other side of the boat.
After a while the bail arm was back on the line and the mack was being pulled back toward the boat,  with all of us trying to see the fish or what was going on in the water...
Then some big splashes erupted not very far from us and that was it for this poor Mac, it had been done by the sharks...
Michael reeled in a line cut, he had lost his first mack and his lure...
Welcome to fishing in the Territory!
Was what someone said, and I can promise you that it wasn't me.

Peter drove the boat back to make a second drift over the mark, and told us to drop our jigs.
And this time it was his turn to be on, and he got a nice Queenfish.

Peter's first fish of the day.

This was a nice and healthy fish still full of kick, so it was released.
Then Michael got another Queenfish, which was full of scare all over it's body.
That was a big fish, and it must have been very close to end up Shark's dinner, on one of it's lucky day.
So he deserved to be released too.

Then my jig got hooked, but on the reef, not into a fish...
Peter drove the boat back and the lure un-hooked itself from whatever was holding it. So as we were going back to the mark, I was reeling the lure and could feel its weight in the water, when suddenly, nothing... I secretly hopped that a big fish had taken it and was swimming in the same direction that us, but faster. 
Alas no, I had just been cut at the knot by what must have been a mack.
Yes this also is part of fishing at the Vernon.

Then as we were over a mark again every body dropped their jig and started to furiously reeled them in, when Peter said: " Ho I can see some big fish on the sounder".
Of course, I then stopped to fish to come and have a look at what fishes on the sounder look like. This was captivating but I soon realised that while I watched a screen, my companion were fishing and getting hits or hooked on some fish.
It was quickly time for me to get back into it.

And then it finally happened to me.
Something that I had heard of, but never experienced yet, my lure was taken on the dropp, not on the retrieve. The line which was dropping behind the lure in the water, suddenly accelerated and seemed to go more away than down, in an opposite way than the drifting boat. So I gave one turn of the handle, and the reel immediately started to scream.
Someone asked me if I was on the reef again or if that was a fish. It didn't take long to figure out that this was a fish.

Truly enjoying the moment.

(This photo is copyrighted by Gavin D.)
This fish took a first long and fast run, before I was able to gain a bit of line.
But it was a heavy fish, much heavier than what I had got in a long time.
Maybe even the heavier ever...
I had some real trouble to get any line back, and really had to pump the rod to get a bit of line back, before it would go for another run.
This lasted long enough for all the other to stop fishing and look with anticipation at what fish was in the end of the line.
It was heavy enough for someone to suggest that I may have a shark on the line.
But no, I knew it, this was the massive Spanish Mackerel that I have been dreaming for,  since a long time.
It was so heavy, I could not see the colour of it, impossible to get it to the surface.
Then it suddenly came to the surface, and was a bit smaller than I had anticipated for the fight he was giving me. But he wasn't alone, a shark was just behind it, and bitted the mac tail of in one single very clean cut, like if it had gone on a chopping board...
I was then able to get it to the boat before that shark came back for a second serve and Peter gaffed it.

Look: No tail!

Sure, some of you might wonder how come I was not able to reel in a mac of that size...
Well in fact for the truth to be told, it was hooked on the belly and had been able to alway swim away from me.
I had been unable to turn it toward me and this had given him an advantage, as long as the sharks didn't moved in.
Now the positive in that?
Well, for a moment I really did believe that I had just caught a monster fish, and that was great.
Also, it was bled even before being in the boat, this is what I would call efficient fishing.

Of course not long after that, Gavin was to hook on a nice mackerel too and to boat it in full, with a lure firmly placed between the fish jaws.
Someone then said to my address: "Hey you, look this is how it should be done, with the lure in the fish's mouth!"
To this I simply replied that this was so common that I still preferred to hook them in he belly.
What else could I say?

Then on another drop both Peter and Gavin were hooked at the same time, Gavin on a mack and peter to a GT. As Michael had never caught a GT before, Peter handed him his rod.

Double hook up.

Michael with his first GT.

Gavin with his Mackerel.

We then changed from the chromies for fast jigging to some slow type of jig to bounce near the bottom of the water column. Which of course resulted on another nice Queenfish for Peter.
This was interesting to me, as I had alway fished for Queenfish going as fast as I could with chrome slice near the surface, or with poppers. I had then naturally assumed that the queenfish were top water fish. This was an interesting eye opener. 

Queenfish jumps.

And a bit later on, Gavin hooked on something close to the sea floor, which put a serious bent in his fishing rod.

Is that bent or what?

This was a nice Trevally that we all but Gavin, estimated to be around one or two kilo...

Heavier than 2 kilo...

In fact in must have been closer to nine than to two kilo, this was a pretty nice fish.

Then it was time to go back, and I didn't understand why, as it seemed that we had just arrived.
But a quick check of my watch told me a different story, we had already been there all morning. It had just flew by as fast as when you have a great time fishing.
I had been a bit sick in the week prior to this trip, and had to take a bit of time off from work. In fact I nearly canceled my participation in this escapade on the day before the D day, as I was feeling a tad unfit. But I didn't want to let the opportunity to go fishing at the Vernon, and I do not regret going there. This was once again a great time on the water, with some good camaraderie and some great fishes.
We were back at the boat ramp at around 12:30pm and I was home early enough to have an afternoon nap. 
No, not a nana nap, a power nap...

Thanks again Peter for inviting us on your boat, that was a great morning.

So do I have not caught the Moby Dick of the Spanish Mackerel world yet?
No, not yet...

But hey, it could be worse.
Have a good day,


Frank Simón said...

Great stuff!

I'm pleased you enjoyed yourselves. Here the fish are unusually scarce. Everyone complaining. If I wasn't so pathetically scared of flying, and even more for a whole day, I'd pay you visit so as to enjoy that beautiful reef and it's inhabitants.

Thanks mate!

Happy Fishing. Frank

Fish Whisperer said...

Well done with the mack. Have you caught one of the GT's yet? Then you will know what it is like to catch a train.
Tight Lines

Rambling Expat said...

Hi Frank,
The flying is nothing, it's the landing...
Just kidding, it is not that bad in the big planes from today you know.
And yes, coming from Europe the fishing down here is pretty impressive.
And most of the fisho are pretty good on conservation too.

Hi Fish Whisperer,
Didn't get any monster GT yet, but dreaming of it.
My biggest one so far was just over 8 kilos. Got it from the shore on a very small chrome slice, it was great. But I was very afraid of him breaking my line on the rocks as this has happened to me more often than I would remember...
In fact GT and Queenfish are among my favourite target, and they both fight very differently.
Another fun one from the rocks is Milkfish.
Do you have any of these in Fiji?

Have a good day,