Fishing Trip #519 August 6 - August 13 2005

John Giacon of New Zealand Angling limited puts together and hosts fly fishing expeditions and events to different parts of the world. This is the second trip with us and meeting him at the airport I was glad to see more than half the number of his party were veterans of his 2004 trip with us. The trip down the coast was uneventful with a boat load of fly fishers we just watched the schools of tunas as we passed them by until it got too much for everyone and we stopped and nailed a couple on spin outfits. Day one, I take a skiff head to another river to set the crab pots, I have a hand held radio with me and am on a constant lookout for fish activity to pass on to the guides. When I return to within radio range of the "base river" I call to see what's going on and..
I love it when I hear what I normally do from Phil "it's all good, GT's on fly, every ones into them.

Day one we had the anglers that had not been on the 2004 trip in the boats with the 3 guides and the other 2 self drive skiffs tagged along with the guided boats had 4 of the veterans. John, one of the rookies as John Giacon called the new to Seafaris anglers very first salt fly fish was a massive tuna, it demanded the his respect through out the fight but once subdued and boat side John learned the hard way that the last thing you want to do with your fly rod in the tropics is "high stick" like you do landing a trout in freshwater. His rod broke into several pieces and the splintered end came back and cut his cheek. Great stuff. Great fish, great experience and a small scar to show for it... shame about the rod. We have plenty of quality "loaners" for just such occasions. Over dinner veteran of 2004's trip Dudley, told me he had a wonderful day not so much fishing but seeing his 2 mates he talked into coming being completely over whelmed by the fishing and all else.

Gerald caught a great cobia on fly off Manta that had more than 10 cobia piloting it, shame the manta spooked and took all it's charges with it before Phil could get other anglers tied into one. He has had another cracker trip with "slams" on more than one day. We have not yet defined what the "grand slam" of tropical saltwater fly fishing is but any three of the top sport fish like Cobia above, Barras, Giant Herrings, Permit, Diamonds, Spaniards, GT's etc can be considered a "slam". It is often commented how much brain power and energy is expended by we fishermen and women trying to out smart something with a brain as large as a pea. This is defiantly the case but we dummies are learning and we have to key to some species. Queenies we have wired, they have definite movement patterns that we know and follow. We even have it worked out when they are moving and when they are not, catch and land a big one we know whether to go back to the same place looking for the next one or to go 100 meters up or down looking for the next. People who have been with us before will recognize the location possibly the last place you would expect to find them.

Very nearly disaster. Moving from one river to the next I decided to relocate the permanent anchor we have as a mooring because on the really low tides we just touch the sandy bottom. Having tried a couple of times to do this pulling from the bow with the boat in reverse this time hooked on the stern to use the horse power efficiently as propellers are designed to pull in one designed direction rather than the opposite.
Hooking the mooring rope eye over the bollard on the stern and applying a little power the rope slipped up from under the fantail caught around the stanchion on the corner of the deck pulling it inwards snapping it off. Ever present, chef Jon who is also one of the best deckhands I have had the pleasure of being at sea with was in the path of this piece of 50mm (2 inch) alloy tube which caught him on the forehead causing a nasty split that needed stitching and more attention than we could deliver.
Calling 000 on the sat phone the ambulance service were not prepared to dispatch the rescue helicopter from Thursday Island because they deemed it not a life threatening situation. When I told them if they were not coming to get him I was chartering a helicopter to take him to hospital. The guy on the phone said "that was totally up to me and a good idea that would get him seen to a lot sooner than any medivac he could organize".

Brazakkas Cape York Helicopters with one of their Robertson R44 machines were on the beach 35 minutes after the call taking Jono away with a big wad of cotton wool bandaged around his head all held on with half a meter of duct tape to stop the bleeding. Get this, in the middle of all this drama Phil calls on the radio, "Greg, we got a double hook up on Permit on fly can you bring a landing net and come and give us a hand?" As we came into the river I saw him and his clients had walked a considerable distance from his boat down the drying sandbar. Having my hands obviously full hostess Nina took another landing net to him and helped land both Permit. (Phil just told me as we go through the photos of the trip and seeing the permit photo below said, "fitting, it was Al's rod he lent me last year that I caught my first permit on and this year I got to get him into one"

Al, the kind hearted raucous, Scotsman and NZ tackle store owner Brian with a pair of smallish Permit. These are the only 2 landed from the 7 hooked and hundreds cast to. I spoke to chef Jono on the phone that night in Thursday Island hospital where they had him under observation, he is fine and is now back at our operations base at Seisia. I've spoken to him every day the last 3, getting little instructions on the cooking, which I may say I am quite proud of myself for pulling off, with my scribbled instructions he gave me while waiting for the helicopter. His is a hard act to follow but I smoked the Mackeral for the lunches, roasted the lamb shanks, and even made a Jambalaya, which is a way cool dish. I am putting finishing touches to this report on the last night back at Seisia, Jon is back on board with his head stitched up bar-be-cueing the bacon wrapped fillet steaks saying "it'll take more than that to knock me down".

John Giacon and the rest of the Kiwi's are physically saw, they wake up stiff and saw having not used some muscles in their bodies since last time they were battling our tropical sport fish. Talking to John he said he had lost 7 kilos since last year but nothing can prepare you for this fishing.

Late afternoon tarpon have been biting in some of the selected locations we know they hang. Anyone wanting a little more "sport" can always add few more fish to their score as the sun lowers over the gulf. Mr. BIG crocodile is again sunning himself on the south bank of the river mouth. I measured the imprint left on the sand by this truly gargantuan specimen a couple of trips ago and it IS every bit of 5m long, that's 16 and a half feet. Thursdays weather was one of the nicest days possible with powder blue skys and a couple of cotton ball clouds to break the monotonous blue, wheel house temperature of 26 degrees and a cool afternoon sea breeze blowing over the marmalade yellow sand flats. The New Zealand anglers are coming back increasingly tired each day, they are having better and better days as the week marches on.

Diamond Trevalley, good sized ones are being caught in the river mouths on fly. Not only are these one of the most impressive and spectacular fish we catch they are very strong fighters. Fast hard runs the fight is always in the backing and taking considerable time until you get color to know what sort of fish you have hooked.

Bit short on words for the end of the trip seeing as I been in the galley, pictures are better than a thousand words they say. Giant herrings and Barras on fly…about as good as it gets. Previous Fishing Trip Reports:


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