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Saturday, February 9, 2013

MALDIVES - A FRESH PERSPECTIVE

 Here's a rather special entry on fishing the Maldives with us, through the eyes of a first timer. Ben Tan was advised to capture all the enthusiasm of the trip in words, and he came up with a winner. Here it is for all to enjoy.
 

 


Maldives, a Paradise on Earth
Many weeks have passed since returning from my first trip to the Maldives, yet not a day has gone by without taking a moment to reminisce the breathtaking sunsets, the forceful hook-ups and as cliché as it may sound, the one that got away! All adding up to memories that would stay etched in stone and experiences that serve as a priceless introduction to real offshore fishing.

 
Before this, I had always frequented freshwater spots but with fishing pressure taking its toll I slowly turned to short saltwater trips off the East Coast of Malaysia to satisfy the constant itch for better fishing. After a handful of daytrips with like-minded friends and exposure to an endless amount of popping & jigging reports, I enrolled myself on a Maldives trip with some guys who do it twice annually. Confirmation brought about huge excitement & anticipation about experiencing a perfect fishing paradise with the possibility of doing battle with some Maldivian GTs!

 
The trip was booked 12 months ahead of time and at that moment, it felt like I would have to wait an eternity but today looking back I’m very grateful for it because it offered me a comfortable lead-time to acquire the necessary knowledge, funds and “artillery” needed for such a trip. It is something I would highly recommend to all who are planning a trip for the first time.

 
 
Good Preparation
This being a week-long live-aboard trip, I was keen to prepare myself for the full course which included heavy popping, jigging with some light game luring on the side. Therefore, I spent the first few months casually ramping up on rods and reels that were available on the market in an attempt to understand what would best suit each purpose without burning a hole too big to mend. During this phase, I had to rely heavily on what I was reading on tackle brochures, along with additional insights gathered from saltwater forum discussions, blog sites and the counsel of friends who just knew better.

 
One would think with all that, it would be a walk in the park but it was far from it. More like an avalanche of info that was tormenting to digest, separate and isolate, but it turned out to be part of the fun for me.
 
In the end, I settled on a pair of PE8 popping rods, a PE3-4 jigging rod and an ultra-light rod rated for 4-8lbs. Reels were a little more straightforward once the rods were picked out, using 10000 and 8000 sized Shimano reels for the popping and jigging respectively and a mini 1000 sized reel for winding in small groupers, rockfish, bream and lesser blue-fin trevallies.

 
These guidelines aren’t hard & fast rules for the Maldives but rather balanced and effective combos that can handle the adversaries yet did not overly put strain on the angler. They certainly worked well for me on this trip!

 
 
Ammunition
The next thing I had to look at was the selection of poppers, stick-baits, jigs and lures that we would be tossing into the pristine waters. This part I enjoyed a little bit more because I believe in investing in good lures as opposed to rods and reels, plus the variety available for use in the many different conditions that one can encounter is makes it all the more interesting. Also the glitter, shape and colours on offer for an angler is astounding, so choice and selection becomes a very personal thing.

 
With poppers, I was advised to equip myself with at least 10 pieces ranging from 100g to 150g and so I did. I was mindful of the cup sizes when picking them out. Although larger cups were generally known to call up bigger fish from the depths, it also meant a lot more wind resistance during casts and certainly a lot more calories burnt working them! Therefore in the long run, it worked better for me to stick to narrower profiled poppers with smaller cups so I could keep casting these surface baits for longer periods which inevitably increased my odds of getting hits from the intended quarry.

 
An alternative to poppers are rapidly growing in popularity, they are stick-baits. I believe this is due to its natural action and effectiveness in tricking the more cautious fish (which may also correlate to larger-wiser fish!) in more pressured waters. Needless to say, stick-baits ruled throughout my trip so I’ll be sure to always chuck a few of these in the tackle box too.

 
As for jigs, we mainly fished with those between 80g to 200g and during my research I stumbled upon many online guides explaining the four fundamental jig profiles and which worked better in different conditions. You have the short wide bodied center-weighted, the long bodied center-weighted, a long slim bodied center-weighted and lastly the long slim bodied but tail weighted jigs. Learning them helped me choose and worked jigs better in changing conditions.

 
These same online guides helped demystify why some of jig profiles are said to work better for certain depths & current speeds. Consider the first profile type, the wide-bodied center-weighted jigs performs better in shallow-slow current waters because it tends to flutter more intensely which in turn allows the jig to stay in the strike-zone for longer periods thus producing better results. On the other hand, we see that for deeper waters, we’d pick profiles with lesser resistance so jigs may hit the sea bed or an exact water column that may be dense with good fish a lot quicker, especially, if current speeds are fast.

 
Apart from that, I came across another aspect to effective jigging. It was the type of rod strokes used, in relation to the jig profile being used. It would be counter-productive to jig wide-bodied jigs using high-pitch, short-jerked strokes of the rod because it won’t allow this jig to do what it does best, and that is to flutter! Thus, long and slow strokes allow us to make the most of the jig’s unique fluttering and flashing characteristic. Mixed with the fundamentals of jig profiles, I found myself visualizing jig action a lot more during this trip and to apply the right cadence when jigging.
 
 
Knotted Up
Now that I had the essential tools, it was time to consider the knots! Spend any decent amount of time researching and you would almost certainly have come across a few friction knots such as FG, PR and the GT knot. On our trip, most were using the FG knot while some including myself used the good old GT knot.

 
In my humble opinion, the FG & PR knots benefit from a slim profile which certainly helps with casts but is a lot less forgiving to imperfect knotting. The GT knot on the other hand, may be chunkier but is quicker to tie under less ideal conditions which allowed me to get back into the action heaps faster when my line gave way. Again, this is another area that comes down to personal preference.

 
With that and after heaps of preparation and anticipation, it was finally time to find out what chance I had against the Maldives’ fiercest bullies.



Stepping off the airplane and being greeted by the gin clear waters of the dock is always an eye-opener for first timers to the Maldives. Here the water taxi brings you to the waiting vessel, your home for the week...

Every morning starts at sunrise with a hearty breakfast, essential for a day of hard fishing...
 

 


D-Day
The day was bright, sunny and full of buzz. Everyone got out of their sleeping quarters pumped up and busied ensuring all gears were in order and ready. There were certainly many rods, reels and lures waiting to be put to the test.

 
It wasn’t too long before the Captain alerted us of the first popping ground ahead. Excitement hit a fever-pitch upon seeing the beautiful patch of green-turquoise reef, but not without a hint of nerves creeping in as I slipped on my gloves and went out on the casting deck.

 
The skipper positioned us within reach and everyone began firing their surface lures out. After working several patches, the first Bluefin Trevally was fooled by an experienced angler and before long everyone started getting in on the action as well, albeit with juvenile Bluefins & GTs.

 
We were having a great time tossing poppers out feverishly in the hope for a real whopper to end the day on a high but they were proving elusive as we were only greeted by average sized specimens. At least there was variety in the mix.


 
Everyone on board had a Red Limited FCL Labo EXT 81MH rod, not to mention a few other run-of-the-mill ones as well...

The Maggy Gara Short Popper got things going with this first small GT...
 
Followed by a small Bluefin Trevally on the same popper...
 
Heave and ho as the muscles get a warm up, as does the FCL stick...

Another Maggy Gara Popper caught GT. Good size to start the day!
 
Bluefin Trevally really display their best under the bright sun. This little guy went for the FCL Labo CSP pencil hard...
 
The lighter FCL Labo EXT 81M rod gets a stretch...

Topwater walk-the-dog pencils like the FCL Labo TCP are rarely refused by hungry Gees...

Another Bluefin on a prototype CSP by FCL Labo...

The funnily-shaped IWP pencil had the distance covered and drew many hits from shy fish hugging the shallow reefs...

The powerful FCL Labo EXT 81MH lifts with ease...

A good size for Maldivian inner-reef standards. No complains...

This GT took the FCL IWP pencil deep...
 
Smaller GT on the IWP as well...
 
Bluefin were plentiful in the shallower reefs. This one liked the small-cupped El Gaviota pencil popper...

Yet another Bluefin Trev. On the FCL IWP this guy...
 
The SPP Tuna is another sure-fire lure for these locales. GTs crave the unassuming down-sized offering...
 
We even managed to get two GTs on one SPP Tuna!

Its Bluefin galore on this first day. The relatively new FCL CSP175 is this one's undoing...

FCL SPP Tuna does it again with this rare Coral Trout...
 
Long shadows as the day draws to a close. This Maggy Gara caught GT gave a good run for the money...

The first Red Bass hits the deck courtesy of the FCL CSP175...
 
We pop into the sunset ever hoping for the last bite...
 
Upon anchor, out come the ultralight outfits and candies like this Bassday Nin Cas that hauls in this beaut Squirrelfish...
 
Coral Cods are ever abundant in all reefs. They like Nin Cas too!

The Maldivian variety is endless. Here's a Bigeye Scad on the Nin Cas...

A little White Spot Basslet on the IMA Gun jig...

Followed by an Emperor...

And a prettier Bigeye Emperor. This one went for an Ikakko by DUO...
 
Small Squirrel on the Nin Cas...
 
 
The following days proved to be long & tough one, as fish were nowhere to be seen on the long stretches of reefs that we worked tirelessly on. It felt as if we were drifting through a deserted town.

 
There was however, one moment worth sharing. As it was such a quiet day, I decided to tie on a more prominent FCL Labo CSP stick-bait and had religiously worked it for a while with long sweeping strokes before it got hammered boatside by a GT that torpedoed away with precious line. After the initial panicky moments were over, there was a brief period of calm. I was advised it was all mine and to bring it in steadily, except the GT had ideas of its own and went for another blistering run. This time it went for the breaking surf deep within the reef. What was to be my first real GT was certainly having its way with me. Very soon it found the reef and busted free! A hard lesson learnt but a real thrill nonetheless and I knew instantly why these mates of mine never get tired of chasing these fish.

 
That moment offered some motivation for all to keep casting but it wasn’t to be.  Eventually, we turned to jigging that late afternoon and continued jigging for the next two days as it produced.
 
 
Jiggy Jig Time
After an arduous casting session, opting to jig wasn’t just a hope for fortunes to turn but a welcomed change to relieve aching arms and shoulders. It also allowed us to seek new and different species that called deeper waters home and to bag one or two good fishes for the table along the way.

 
When the Captain signaled the go-ahead, jigs were quickly dropped into the depths. During the descend, I had to stay alert to possible mid-water takes and while working the jig created a mental visualization to help put life into the inanimate piece of lead. It was something I felt that helped create positive results. Overall, we were grateful to have a seasoned skipper guide us over good reefs and a heap of proven Japanese jigs which accounted for the countless Groupers, Coral Trouts, Blackjacks, Jobfish and GTs that were brought on board.

 
Besides the much dreamt about GT’s, we were also hoping for good schools of Amberjack, Dogtooth or Yellowfin Tuna to find our jigs and we sure did find some youthful Yellowfin Tuna and Amberjacks that gave quite a run even on the  stout rods. When the pelagics were not playing ball we still had lots of fun with the bottom dwellers and there was never a dull moment jigging.
 
 
When it comes to jigging rods it is hard to go pass the Evergreen Poseidons. These guys have provided season after season of hard toil and never cease to feel as fresh as the day they leave the shelf...

Bluefin Trevallies are consistent jig captures as well. IMA Ro jig does the job...

Amberjacks aren't the most common fish here but off deep drops you get some. The Shout! Width has been a consistent catcher of these guys...
 
These Rock Cods are abundant whether shallow or deep, and they like Sevenseas Hookers too...

Sharks can be a pest and it is lucky this Evergreen Javelin Jet wasn't bit off...

Some fish aren't so lucky. This mangled Mack Tuna was one such victim...
 
Disgruntled angler with pesky Rock Cod on the Shout! Shab Shab jig from over a hundred metres...

Yellowfin Tuna plucked from a passing school with the Shab Shab jig...

Black Jacks are a common capture on jigs here too. Sevenseas Hookers scores again...
 
There is no doubt GTs hit hard but this is the perfect illustration of just how hard they crunch down on a jig, when the Shout! Shab Shab jig penetrates the cheek!

Ano ther Hooker-caught Black Jack...


IMA Ro with a Green Jobfish, a feisty fighter...
 
The IMA Ro follows the Greenie with a Jobfish of another variety, the Rosy Jobfish...

The beautiful Deep-dwelling Nassau Groupers are always welcome on board...
 
This one had just took a crab but still insisted on going after the Shout! Shab Shab...

Another Black Jack hits the deck. The little CB One Raiga jig pays dividends...

The CB One Raiga strikes again with a Goldspot Trevally...

Throwing a little Bassday Bungy Metal Jig into a frenzied pack of Rainbow Runners, the hook ups were instantaneous and on the KG Lights it was ultra fun!

The sun sets on another day on the water...
 
 

Ultra-lights
This offshore trip was certainly not just about chasing big & bad fish, as this little episode turned out to be quite a highlight in itself. We chose to spend half a day on an uninhabited island. It was a pleasant change in scenery plus an opportunity to get our feet wet and check out what lay stealthily in the sand flats and shallow lagoons.
 
Upon setting foot on the island, I recalled soaking up the sight of pristine white sand and being utterly amazed by how transparent and clear the water around us was. A wide array of species, most of which were well camouflaged to the naked eye, would readily pounce on the light and miniscule saltwater lures we were flicking. As such, we were well spread out and enthusiastically working every possible fish holding structure, like rubble areas of reef and rocks. We’d let these micro lures flutter down and twitched them back with subtle strokes to coax these little critters. Some of us saw great action with micro poppers presented either fast or slow while others were getting reefed by athletic Bluefin Trevallies as they surged for cover.
 
In addition to the great variety that was already apparent, we had the privilege of witnessing an exciting tug of war with the prized Bonefish which fought very hard and posed a real challenge to the angler. Shortly after, a very handsome Permit also made it to the list which I later learnt was rather rare on lure and highly sought-after by Fly Fishing fanatics. All in all, fishing within these stunning surroundings, with willing fish on ultra-light outfits and corals everywhere to add to the adrenalin was light tackle fun at its very best! An item on the itinerary certainly not to be missed.

 
 
It was cool to watch how the locals catch their dinner at one of the villages. A fly-like contraption worked with a pole was all that was needed. They were after little Trevallies like the one below... 

We used Ikakkos, of course...

Swallowtail Darts frequent the sandy harbours and beaches too. Ikakko is seldom ignored...
 
Next morning it was back to the deep for some jigging. Geecrack Long Gun jig is a fave that never ceases to produce...

When we broke for lunch it was fun fishing in the shallows with Bassday Nin Cas mini madais. This Emperor couldn't resist...

Neither could this Triple Tail Maori Wrasse...

Bluefin Trev on Fisherman Andaman...

Another deep capture, the ever present Rock Cod...

Here's when you hook a fish with such power you struggle to lift the rod. Hand on spool and GT headed for the reef...

Line disappearing fast from the spool. This fight was a one-sided affair, the GT took over 200 metres of line from boatside and nonchalantly busted the leader deep in the reef. Lure it hit? It had to be the FCL Labo CSP...

This FCL CSP picked on a more manageable fish. A nice GT none the less, one of the bigger fish of the trip...

Slow popping meant we went jigging. And the abundance of GT down deep explained the lack of surface action. First Andaman dropped found a schoolie...

A more decent GT hits the deck...
 
Shout! Stay did this one in...

Next drop and the Andaman scored this mid-high twenties GT. Gave a decent fight on the PE-3 Evergreen Poseidon Spin Jerker...

Pandemonium on board as most guys found a GT to hook...

Hooked up tight!

This Fisherman Andaman is taken deep. They really went after the jigs...
 
Another Andaman victim...

The sizes ranged from schoolies like this to some bruisers...

This 20kg fish was great fun from down deep, despite the back breaking work...

The Shout! Stay jig does it again...

Everyday we fished into the sunset...
 
And fished more even after. IMA Gun jig in the shallows is deadly. Here's a beautiful White Lined Hind...

Mini Green Jobbie on Jackall Bros Mametai jig...

Little Tomato with IMA Gun jig...

Nice fighting Sea Bream on the IMA Gun as well...

Early morning capture - a Red Throat Grouper that took an IMA Gun. Max fun on the Majorcraft KG Lights...
 
 

Deep Blue “Megatron”
Ever so often we hear tales of the freight train told by anglers with a little shiver. It didn’t quite mean much till I actually experienced it myself. The skipper had positioned us in the middle of a large channel and I dropped a heavy jig to the depths. I worked the jig with a slow cadence off the bottom and almost instantly felt a nudge and so set the hook forcefully. I sensed it was only a small fish but with little warning a massive run ensued. I gripped the rod firmly with shouts of “Transformer” let out by everyone around me. Not knowing better, I stayed fixated to what was a freight train of my own. It was truly a one sided battle and before long, my Kevlar assist line was cut clean. It had been a large shark that took a liking to the helpless prey I had hooked moments before. I fancied my chances and dropped another jig with an exact outcome, even though I had tried to reel the smaller fish in quicker than I had the first time.
 
We then moved away from the deeper channel to slightly shallower waters and after a few drops, another heavy take was registered. This time it was no “transformation” but an instant take after coming well off the seabed. The run was forceful and like the two hits before this was looking like another one-way ticket. I held on for what seemed like an eternity before handing the rod over to others in rotation. We had to give chase to recover line and after well over a strenuous half hour of teamwork we finally met our “Megatron”. It turned out to be a long tailed Thresher shark which got hooked by its caudal fin.
 
Thresher sharks are common in these Indian waters and are known to swat small fishes, stunning its prey with its tail before turning back to consume its hapless prey. As such, many are foul-hooked. Once it came onboard, there was great sense of achievement from the whole crew as this would not have been possible alone, even with the help of the powerful Evergreen Poseidon jig rod. We took a quick moment to appreciate its beautiful form and purplish-black sheen before dutifully releasing it back into the water.



Here's an FCL Labo VN Jig that bore the grunt of a big fish that won its freedom. Shark? Or Sharked?
 
A typical Maldivian GT taken on the FCL CSP in between jigging spots...

Feisty Triggerfish aren't afraid to hit big jigs like the Andaman...

More Cod from the deep. On a Shab Shab jig...

Hooked up solid to a freight train. The Evergreen Poseidon Spin Jerker is at full tilt...
 
The spool starts to empty as the boat begins to give chase...

About an hour and forty five minutes later we pull this up. A tail-hooked Thresher Shark which pushed the angler and tackle to the limit. These guys swipe at prey to stun them before turning around to finish them off, thus are always hooked in the tail lobes. They are a magnificent creature and we were careful to handle and release this one with minimal stress, it swam off beautifully, much to the joy of all aboard...

Then it was back to the Cod parade. Shout! Shab Shab hits again...

Deep Sea Bream to add to the species list...

Another Shab Shab eating Grouper...

Bright Tomato Cod on the Shab Shab again...

Followed by yet another...

The species was well represented indeed. The Shout! Shab Shab jigs did extraordinarily well...
 
If you escape the bottom dwellers you get a chance of hooking one of these - Rosy Jobfish go hard and love Fisherman Andaman jigs...

Another Cod on the Shab Shab...

The weather was co-operative most times of the week, fortunately...

The Andaman and another Rosy Jobfish...

Popping improved as the week wore on, this small GT liked the FCL SPP Slim swimmer...

Small Bluefin Trev on the FCL CSP...

Rod bent, always good...

Another small GT on the El Nadador sinking pencil...

SPP Slim again, with another small GT...

The procession on little GTs continues with another on the FCL CSP...
 
 

The Turn of the Tide
Hearts were lifted from the morning stroll on the island and it was back to heavier game with seemingly renewed hope that things would finally turn for the better. It soon did! Taking almost no time at all for one of us to rouse a GT and see the high performing FCL Labo popping rod in a lovely curve.
 
GTs had made a timely return and multiple hook-ups were registered all round the boat.
 
Over the next few hours, time felt as if it had stopped as angler and gear alike were put through a tough drill of non-stop action. GT’s don’t hold back with their electrifying runs for freedom as our arms and backs were treated to intense burning from trying to conquer these coveted creatures.
 
That said, despite the pain, after each successful battle we would sometimes disregard or desperately try to flush the lactic acid from our muscles as quickly as possible in pursuit of more action, for the next ‘personal best’ that may be lurking out there.
 
 Amidst everything that was going on, I witnessed something quite remarkable. My mate had tossed his stick-bait out and I saw what looked like a GT swimming through a rising wave in pursuit before it was Fish-On! He was casting from the upper deck so his view of that special moment was that much better! It would have been priceless to capture that on film.
 


Hooked up for a little longer than expected...
 
Cause? A foul hooked GT, with the Mangrove Studio Searoom stickbait in its side...

Things were hotting up on the popping front. This Fisherman Crazy Swimmer caught GT poses for the camera as another angler hooks up behind...



Mangrove Studio Searoom with another GT. This time in the mouth...
 

Bluefins get in on the action as well, this one took the smaller CSP175...
 
Another nice specimen on the Fisherman Crazy Swimmer...

Double GT hook up on CSPs of varying sizes...

The bigger CSP200 isn't ignored...

Two FCL Labo 'Red Limited' rods in action...
 
FCL Labo SPP Tuna is this GTs downfall...

Another decent GT on the FCL CSP stickbait...

More double trouble as it happens again...

A beaut GT that took a prototype CSP and ran hard...

The nice ones come aboard one after the other. This angler is too tired to lift this nice GT that took the FCL CSP175...

As always, all GTs were kissed and released...
 
Yet another double, CSP175 does it again...
 
As does the larger CSP 200...
 
Another Red EXT81MH getting worked out...

By another great fish on the CSP as well. This day was pandemonium as every one took turns to hook up, it was amazing...

What else can we say?

FCL Labo CSP rocks this day, like every other day...
 
Some fish go real hard!
 
After some coaxing, this tough GT was subdued...
 
That's a slimmer version - the CSP Slim. Just as effective...

The odd big Red Bass thrown in for variety. This one fell for an SPP Tuna...

FCL SPP Slim is responsible for another small GT...

There were many high-teens fish being hooked up on this day. This one went for the hot FCL CSP...

And this one went for the SPP Tuna...

The FCL Squidpencil gets in onto the action as well, with this small GT...
 
It was hard to pry ourselves from the popping action, but the jigging didn't disappoint and we were rewarded on the first drop by this beautiful Yellowfin Grouper on the Fisherman Andaman...

We couldn't escape the GTs on this day. The Andaman strikes again...
 
Poseidons were kept bent into the sunset...
 
Nice Jobbie on an Andaman...

Followed by another Rock Cod, on the Andaman as well...

And a nice Coral Trout on the Andaman to wrap up the day's fishing...
 
 

Final Hour
On our very last day, we were allowed a few additional hours of popping which would not have been possible had we opted to do a tour around Male town and to visit the famous fish market. Missed opportunity for me but it was a decision I ended up being grateful for.
 
Even as we chase GT, it’s always nice to see different colours brought on deck. I was personally surprised that the Red Bass packed quite a punch for its size as it stole my silver stick-bait from the surface and tried to head home. They had a beautiful reddish hue, vampire looking fangs and bloodshot eyes for that bad-ass look. Then, what came next was a large shadow that emerged quickly from the depths but only to tail my lure. It was a very visual experience but I had to rouse it to take the lure. I could have sped up the retrieve, twitched it or pause it among others. I decided to pause, and it was the right choice for that particular moment.
 
For how large it looked from a distance and how hard it fought I thought I had a good GT on the other end, but as it came to the surface it turned out to be a massive Coral Trout. It was a pleasant surprise. Several more got duped as well by other anglers onboard. A few good GTs started appearing and boy, were they ever willing that morning as they engulfed large stick-baits presented to them. A positive last day this was setting up to be.
 
 It was probably 2 hours before we would arrive back at Male but my insatiable crave for more action drove me to get back out on the casting deck after rehydrating and a quick bite. It was on my second cast that another shadow appeared, and this time it looked greater in size. I let it pause after a long sweep and hoped for the best.
 
Lady Luck must have been on my side as the pause did the trick once again and it was tight lines! The skipper who had been watching immediately yelled out to the excitement of everyone. I held on tightly and responded to the real-time coaching I was receiving. That, plus the experience garnered from the past few days helped as I worked the fish in as coolly as I could. In the end I was rewarded with my best ever GT and the last one of the trip.



You know its going to be a great day when the first fish that hits the decks is the highly prized Coral Trout. The FCL Labo SPP Tuna has proven to be a favourite of these fish and it doesn't disappoint once again...

A small Bluefin Trevally to get things going on the Maggy Gara Jerking Pencil...

The soft and nimble Fisherman Giant rod is easy on the angler and is perfect for the Maldives...
 
Another Maggy Gara stickbait victim, this time a Red Bass...

Lightning strikes for the second time in a day, as this big Coral Trout is pulled out from the reefs...

Followed by a nice Red Bass as well...

The day just gets better as one of the biggest GTs of the trip gets a photo-op!
 
It took the El Nadador stickbait deep...

The third Coral Trout on topwater lure hits the deck, courtesy of the SPP Tuna. It couldn't be better, or could it?
 
Max load up on the FCL Labo EXT 81MH rod...

Another nice GT on the El Nadador...
 
The stuff of dreams! A horse of a Coral Trout is pried from its lair...
 
The FCL Labo combo of EXT 81MH rod and SPP Tuna lure paid dividends...
 
GTs love CSPs, is there any doubt?

As the jigging draws to a close we are still hauling fish. Another Nassau Grouper on the Shab Shab...
 
Shout! Shab Shab with a Red Bass...

GTs love Shab Shabs too!

Sevenseas Hooker hooked this Green Jobfish...
 
Double hook up of Coronation trout on the Fisherman Andaman and Shout! Shab Shab jigs...

Last round of popping doesn't disappoint either. Fisherman Giant is bent double...

Good GT to cap the trip off...
 
FCL SPP Tuna an easy snack indeed...

Encore with another Gee on the prototype CSP...

A beautiful Red Bass a fitting last fish of the trip, on the FCL CSP of course...
 
 

Overall, the company, the fishing, the sights and sounds that Maldives offered was truly special. I’d put my hand to heart to say this trip had been the most exhilarating experience to date. I say this knowing it’s only the beginning for me. Certainly looking forward to the next one!

 
 
Packed and ready to go, reluctantly...

Till we return...

 Thanks Ben Tan for the contribution.

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