25 Aug 2007

Oh Nuts!..Yellowfin.....Run Away..Run Away...

I recently had the pleasure of that renown angler, author and editor of BlueWater magazine, Tim Simpson fishing aboard Bite Me. Its becoming an annual event when Tim and I get together every July, throw caution to the wind and fish 4kilo (8lb) line class in Kadavu island's tropical waters.

Most people think we are nuts to even contemplate fishing such light tackle in waters that are filled with marlin, big sailfish, wahoo, mackerel and dogtooth tuna but I have to say, as far as fishing goes, its the most fun you can have without a tub of Haagen Daz ice cream and a lady I know called Mandy.

The challenge is simple. You meticulously spool and prepare your gear, measure your doubles and leaders to comply with IGFA regulations, set your strike drags at 1.3kg (3lbs), troll a limited spread of small lures with specially selected hooks and wait to see what jumps on.
Then all hell breaks loose.

If its a wahoo or mackerel, the fight is relatively normal.

If its a sailfish, you clear the deck and then go charging backwards like a maniac to try to get to the fish whilst it still leaps around on the surface.

If it a yellowfin, the skipper puts the kettle on, makes you a cup of tea and hands it to you so you have something to cry into for the next 4 hours of the fight.

And the yellowfin were everywhere....

Its the only time of the year where I will actually drive AWAY from a baitball on the surface being smashed by diving birds and feeding tuna. Our target fish were wahoo and Pacific sailfish so spending hours on a stubborn yellowfin was not at the top of the agenda. Its a strange feeling, for as a charterboat captain, I spend half my life staring at the horizon hunting for birds and to have to steer a zig zag course to actually avoid baitballs....well, its just not right !

I was not entirely successful. The yellowfin were so prolific that we did end uphooking a number of fish and my respect for these beautiful speeding bullets just continues to grow. On 4 kilo line class they are probably one of the most difficult fish in the ocean to best. On strike, they immediately plummet down as far as they can go and once down there, extend their pectoral wings, nose into the current and sit there like an immovable truck. With only three pounds of strike drag and 400 yards of 8lb line out, a half decent sized yellowfin has a better chance of winning than you do.... But that's the whole point of sport fishing....

The Creed created by the Tuna Club of Avalon states "The underlying spirit of angling is that the skill of the angler is pitted against the instinct and strength of the fish and the latter is entitled to an even chance for his life"

We ended up having an absolute ball with the small schooling yellowfin and Tim even took the M-04kg Fiji National Record with a fish weighing 14.6kg (32lbs). A most respectable weight for a yellowfin tuna on ultra light tackle. The fight time of 50 tense minutes reflects the strength of these fish and Tim's skills in working the drag beyond safe limits to win the fight.

I think I might be turning into a confirmed light tackle nut. Now, if I can just figure out how to deal with the 4 hours of heart stopping boat manoevering and tense stand-off waiting, watching line steadily peeling off the spool before the line goes 'ping' and the angler turns and says 'I've lost him"......

Its a roller coaster ride that makes grown men cry.

I'm hooked.