20 Aug 2008

USA v Australia Ultra-Light Tackle Shootout

Well, its official. Somebody up there likes to have a laugh at my expense every winter. Each year Tim Simpson, Editor of BlueWater magazine (www.bluewatermag.com.au) and I take a 'busman's holiday' and get together for a week of fishing 4kg line class. 

Each year we discuss at length, plan and meticulously prepare tackle, rods, reels and tactics to target the run of big wahoo packs that gather along Kadavu island's Great Astrolabe barrier reef and each year the powers above select a suitably sized spanner and chuck it in the works.

This year's spanner was a straight run of 30 knot winds that began the day Tim arrived and eased the day Tim left.

If we didn't have to wait another year before trying again it would almost be funny.

Fortunately this year we were joined by world renown biologist, photographer, writer and TV show presenter and producer Bill Boyce and his partner in crime Diana Woods. (See some of Bill's hugely entertaining gamefishing TV shows for free at IGFA Angler's Digest www.IgfaAnglersDigest.com).

I have to say that having such knowledgeable fishermen together in the same cockpit was more than just instructional, it was down right entertaining as West Coast USA took on East coast Australia and the ensuing realms of fishing stories that drifted up to the bridge could have filled a novel. A very funny novel, all be it with an '18 - not for sale to minors' certification !

We looked hard for the wahoo but could only find the occasional juvenile fish of about 10lbs sheltering from the rough weather. With the big wahoo packs stubbornly staying on the unfishable wild side of the barrier reef, we turned our attention to the yellowfin and sailfish.

Whilst we trolled teasers and special Bill Boyce kawakawa belly flap circle rigged baits for the sails, (forever known now aboard Bite Me as 'BB Specials') Diana took the opportunity to turn herself from beginner to pro-light tackle angler with every strike and some world class advice and encouragement from the two pros.

By day two she had taken the W-04 Kawakawa and yellowfin tuna Fiji National Records. On day 4 she set the womens 4kg wahoo record and finally, on our last day together she displayed all her new found ultra-light tackle skills by taking the W-04 Giant Trevally Fiji National record. Anyone familiar with GTs will appreciate the skill envolved in taking one of these fish on 4kg (8lb) line class.

One day we were joined by Mike Thomas, angler from California and member of the Tuna Club of Avalon for the light tackle fun. He proceeded to smash the existing M-04 Barracuda Fiji record which was previously held by....er, Tim actually. Ooops !

As to the sails, we found quite a good bite. Bill had a sail hooked up for over an hour and we were getting close to the leader when the hook pulled. Tim fought a lively sail to the transom several times after some hard backing down in nasty chop that sent spray clear over the bridge. (yes I got very wet) We could have tagged several times but the record beckoned.

Just as Bill went in for yet another possible gaff shot the circle hook pulled. We had doubles and tripples but the most entertaining moments were when Tim hooked up to a dancing sail, Bill cranked in a minnow at full drag to clear it and just before it reached the transom, another sail raced in, gobbled the lure and sped away. 'Crack' went the line. The look on his face was just priceless, not to mention the ensuing colourful Californian West Coast string of verbal observations. It was a whole lot of fun. I can't wait to do it again.

See some of Bill's awesome underwater photographs at www.boyceimage.com


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Here's a sample of what you can expect from these ultra light rods & reels.

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