Day four on Ono
OK, you guys asked for part 2 .....
This story continues from “Fiji, Ono Island, best kayak fishing in the world?” (viewtopic.php?f=17&t=35066
Today Piero took us out on the boat to show me “how it’s done”
. The wind was about 15 knots which was the lightest wind I had on the trip. We started off not too far from the resort and started spinning. I quickly hooked up to a blue fin and lost it in about the same amount of time it took you to read this sentence. That happened 3 times in a row
, nobody else was getting anything. I think Piero was getting worried I was would land something before him so we quickly moved on to a different reef that I hadn’t worked on the kayak and was out of my element for a moment. In a flash Piero was fishing a soft plastic and as I hooked a Long Tom he hooked a nice Long Nose Emperor. While I lost mine
, he landed his. With a “that’s how its done
” we moved once again, the justification being that it was VERY SLOW. We moved on and I was to hook another 4 fish but not land anything, Piero’s son, Milo, didn’t get a nibble. Through all this Voli, Piero’s girlfriend was quietly sitting and making small comments that amounted to “pathetic”. Piero had warned me she was lucky at cards and fishing, she had destroyed both Piero and I the night before in cards and now she was about to do the same with the fishing. She picked up a rod with a 30 cm popper, heaved it out wide and brought it in. It left a wake like my kayak and I’m wondering, if something takes that, it could also take the kayak. First cast was a practice she claimed. Second cast over a bommie and I thought a small submarine had decided to chase her popper…. No it was an estimated 5-6 kg job fish and she was on. Pulling so hard she was almost overboard when Piero grabbed her (not sure if he was after the rod or the girl?!?!
) and he started combat. Unfortunately, Voli’s luck finished and the fish got away. That was it! Trip over, too slow, only 1 emperor to show for 3 hours fishing. We headed back to the resort with Piero saying that only he had the talent to land a fish. I’m thinking I’ll change that this afternoon in the Hobie “classic popper”
In the afternoon the wind was 20 knots and I head out in my giant peddle powered popper.. actually I’m going to stop calling that considering what happened on day six.
Trolling in heavy seas I pick up this little Trout
Spinning I pick up this little Emperor Day five on Ono
I’m starting to get some strategies together and I’ve decided to pull out some bigger lures for today
. I’ve decided to get serious!
My trip is planned for site C (see previous post), I planned for a 6 km trip (without detours). It means a downwind run in 15 knot winds, crossing a reef edge in mid tide. This is a maneuver in which you wait off the reef for enough sunlight so see the bottom clearly, its only 0.5 to 1m deep with waves exposing coral heads, without doubt a little dangerous, you want to time your entry so you will pass between bommies and coral heads in a small passage, usually 2-10 meters wide with enough water under the keel not to hit. Therefore, the mirage drive is in the up position and you paddle through. All lures a stowed so that if you go over they don’t become embedded in you or the coral. Its only a 20 to 50 meter paddle but depending on wind and waves, a tense moment.
OK I’m over the reef edge and in the lagoon section, first thing I see are large fish darting between the coral, a good sign. I start by spinning, second cast and I’m on. A large Long Tom, over 2 meters, as I get it close to the kayak I’m wondering what the hell do you do with 2 meters of angry squirming toothy fish, no way to keep it in the boat at which point it unhooked itself and I was a little relieved. Next cast, a 65 cm blue fin, I’m not going to show the evidence this time because the next 15 mins will occupy a part of my memory forever. Let me set the scene, Wind 15 knots from the East, Water depth, 1 to 3 meters depending on the coral, visibility in the water, 20 to 30 meters. I cast the lure, a 3 cm, 15gr splice (not exactly my largest lure). Plop into the water and start a leisurely retrieve, pretty happy with the day so far. Then in the distance a dark shape changes direction and heads towards my lure, its about 20 meters out and sneaks up on my lure, clearly planning a stealth attack rather than just ripping in and taking the lure, then it takes the lure and starts on its happy way to clean up other fish oblivious to the fact that it has a hook in its mouth, in fact I wasn’t sure myself, I had deliberately left the line slack so I can position the kayak a bit better, turn the nose to the fish and set the hook and all hell breaks loose. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz off goes the drag..... wwwishhh and off goes the kayak
. The fish takes off to the South-West and is pulling like a train. I don’t know what my speed was I don’t have GPS in Fiji but it was flying towards open water away from the resort. Maybe a minute of this and its no longer spooling my 12 kg braid, just towing me. I’ve seen the fish a little and all I can say at this time it is mackerel shaped and VERY big. I know this can’t last in 1-3 meters of water, lots of coral and a fish that is clearly close to my line class with a tiny 3 cm lure, never the less, play on. Not much to do while I’m being towed, I can’t even put on a bit of rudder to change the direction in an effort to put some hurt on the fish, a recipe for disaster as I would definitely being cutting over coral if I didn’t follow the fish exactly. Then an unexpected change, the fish turns and comes back straight under the yak at light speed. I’m too busy recovering line and trying to turn the kayak to have a good look at the fish, only to confirm, mackerel in shape and bigger than I first imagined. Originally I put it at 7 to 10 kg, now I’m thinking 10 to 12 kg. Turn the kayak and let off some drag so when the fish takes up the line I don’t bust off, the strategy pays off and the fish is taking line from the spool and we are now heading North, back over the coral that I had just so carefully navigated. Then another unexpected event, then massive fish disappears under a bommie and doesn’t reappear. My first thought, “game over”
I can feel the coral through the braid, scratch scratch. 12 kg can’t resist that for long. Second thought, that it is NOT a mackerel, they don’t stop under bommies. Think quick, I put some angle on the fish and try to get my line away from the coral, the strategy pays off and the fish is off and running again, North-West now towards deep blue water, I like that decision, oh no, another stop at a bommie, same strategy and I can’t believe it, he, actually a she, is out and running as hard as the first time. It took me a while to get her out from under the bommie so she was pretty much recovered. Now heading East, if she keeps this up she will cross the reef edge more or less where I crossed earlier in the day, I can’t allow that to happen, too many snags but what can I do…. Nothing. We zoom towards the reef edge and in a flash I see her cross shallow water over the reef edge and into the relatively open waters. I madly handle the rudder and try my best to follow, success and I’m in deeper water and feeling a bit more at home. She heads down to what I guess was about 10 meters and starts to pull hard and steady, directly towards the resort. That’s against 15 knot winds so I’m happy and she seems happy too. This goes on for what seemed a few minutes when one of the workers boats pulls up near by. Someone yells out, ‘you right? Caught the bottom?’ I answer, ‘I’m fine, no I have a fish’ then they see the steady break of the nose of the kayak as it cuts against the wind and take a surprised second look and they continue on in the opposite direction. I’m not sure how much time has passed now but the steady pull suddenly changes to panicky tugs and for the first time since the fish changed direction I’m recovering line. Then a flash in the darker waters, she’s close. Then another run, zzzzz off we go but the run doesn’t last and we’re back to desperate tugs, I’m recovering line and a flash of colour and then a FLASH of colour, I’m being warned, it’s a barracuda and she’s flashing warning colours at me. Off again, not long now, I’ve been here with other big fish, she’s about to give in, and she does, she comes to the surface and starts circling the yak. I prepare my gaff and take a swing, ha! bounced right off and upset the fish… off again. Not long and she’s back to the yak, this time I’m weary, what if I had planted the gaff the first time, it had a sling around my wrist and was leashed to the yak, I would either have to relinquish the gaff or be pulled over board, with not much thought, I take the sling and leash off the gaff and try again, this time I make good my strike and the barracuda yields. It’s next to the yak and I’m clearly not going to get it into the yak, its half the size of the yak and I don’t have space onboard with two fish already in the well (I didn’t mention the emperor in the hold), even if they weren’t there I couldn’t haul it over the edge… to where? I put my hand in the gills, re-attached the gaff leash and started my paddle home, there was no way I could continue fishing. I’m thinking 14 kg as I struggle, rather tired from the battle, back to the resort. When I get there I beach the kayak and drag it up on the sand with the fish. Now that it’s out of the water I’m thinking 16 kg. I was tired and couldn’t lift it, then the Fijian workers saw the fish and were suitable impressed. One offers to help me with it and is shocked at the weight and is asking if I really caught it from the yak. He’s saying 18 kg so its time to get the lie detector out. It takes two people to hang it on a tree and with some weight supported by the tree itself the fish comes in at conservative 20 kg, probably a 22 kg fish, 1.4 meters long. Here’s the evidence…