Calling for some investigative boat manoevering to find the direction the tuna was happiest with and 50 minutes of gaining line inch by inch only to watch it scream off again, we finally boated a new M-04kg Fiji National Record Yellowfin Tuna. Weighing in at 14.6kg (32lbs) it was not a massive tuna by any standards but significant on 4 kilo line class and tastey to boot!
Fishing 4 kilo line class in Fiji waters is entirely beyond the comprehension of most local anglers. Fish are generally caught here for food not for sport. Most local anglers consider 10 kilo line class to be 'light tackle' and look on in horror when I pitch up at the Pacific Harbour 3 day International tournament with a plethora of 4,6 and 8kg outfits.
Last year (2006) we took 2 National light tackle Records and our anglers walked away with thousands of dollars in prizes, much to the chagrin of some of the 'old guard'!
This week, the yellowfin were so prolific that it was common to have multiple hook-ups, even when trolling right beside the barrier reef. Deckie Joe frequently found himself clearing second and third rods with yellowfin attached. I often had to run down from the bridge to clear rods as Tim and Joe had their hands full of speeding tuna.
One morning, whilst trolling a mixed spread for wahoo and sailfish, we got jumped by yellowfin in the usual manner. (lots of shouting and screaming reels). Tim selected a rod and Joe then selected the next.
Out on the rigger however, the skipbait garfish with Pakula Fluzy rigged on the nose simply sat quietly and slowly began to sink as I nudged Bite Me to a stop. No problem there I thought, these were only very small tuna and Tim was already making headway with his fish coming under control. Jut leave the skipbait out there - its well clear of the props and the anglers lines.
Suddenly the rigger clip pops and the reel gives a short sharp ratchet blast. Tim starts yelling "Strike on the rigger" but I'm not so sure. Its not that deep here and that skipbait might just have sunk deep enough to snag coral. (Oops..Darn).
A second later the reel starts to tick over and Tim calls me down from the bridge to grab the rod. I'm still not convinced its a fish.... By now the two little tuna are coming on board and Tim pops up to the bridge to drive on the fish I don't think I have. Moments later all doubts are dispelled as the bit of coral I envisage on the end of my line barrels off seaward in a long thumping run.
Hmmm... What eats a sinking skipbait in 40 meters of water right next to the reef....Dogtooth tuna ? shark ? Oh oh, was that skipbait rigged on wire leader for wahoo or mono for a sail ? Sinking feeling...I can see this all ending in tears...but after 10 minutes, I am still connected (Phew! wire rig)
So, anyhow, long story short...from gain a bit / lose a lot to gain a lot / lose a bit we finally get colour and all eyes are on the fish to try to see what it is just in case it busts us off on the home stretch and we don't identify it. (Don't go there - its a painful experience) Lo and behold up comes a very grumpy Giant Trevally. Now, we normally release GT's but this one turns out to be a new Fiji National Record on 4 kilo line. I have to say I was quite chuffed at landing a GT on 4kg line after an hour long fight so close to the reef as these bruisers are notorious for spooling or 'reefing' anglers even on heavy tackle so I elected to weigh the fish which set a new Fiji record of 10.20kg (22.5lbs). Very nice, Thank you. Beers all round!
The wahoo and sails just didn't cooperate with us this week as the water temperature hovered at 26.6 but all the other species here kept us busy with screaming reels and busted lines. Tim had a definite world record wahoo on but the line mysteriously parted about 15 minutes into the fight. Probably got bit by another fish. He also fought a sailfish for over 5 hours and my colleague Richard fought a yellowfin for over 4 hours. More on that later.
To all you heavy tackle anglers out there, the next time you skull drag a mahi or wahoo in on your 130lb marlin gear, imagine how much fun it would have been to fight that fish on 8lb line.....4 hour chair fight on a big blue marlin?
Pah. Try a 50lb yellowfin on 8 pound line. Now thats what I call a fight. Any takers?