Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Busting Bluefin Tuna Out Of The Lebanese Coast, November 2013!

Out of the Lebanese coast started another adventure but this time on a short notice and for a very limited period due to my timing schedule.
I usually try to take advantage and visit my family in Lebanon whenever I travel overseas on a fishing trip. For some reason we always tend to go back to our roots. I treasure looking at the past, which in my case holds tons of warm and happy memories. I spent my childhood in a place where the war was present in every direction but still we all found ways to enjoy our life. Those memories always hold me and fill my heart with tears of joy. 
I keep a very close relationship with my friend Wahib whom I consider the best fisherman in Lebanon. His spirit as a fisherman and knowledge of the area both are priceless.
I was informed by Wahib while I was in Dubai that the Bluefin bite is very hot in Lebanon. The moment I arrived I called him and his words were very encouraging and made me feel I have to make it happen regardless of my limited time. 
Wahib called me at night to let me know that they ended up the afternoon session with 4 fish landed. Sadly Lebanon don’t comply to any Bluefin tuna regulation, but anglers that target them are numbered, so I don’t believe it has a big effect on the stock as I keep on monitoring and it seems it is only getting better and better for the past 2 years.
I finally was able to come out for fishing on my last day and took the drive from Beirut to the North close to Tripoli. As Wahib, unfortunately, could not make it, I called his son - Nicholas. The kid was so excited and full of energy. He informed me that he is seeing the tuna busting from the Balcony of the beach house. I soon found myself pushing the 90 miles an hour from the excitement; I wanted to get out so badly! I arrived to the Marina at the same time as my friend Nick at 1:00PM. Nick lives in Boston and he fished with me on a couple of occasions. The last time we fished together was in PEI Canada 2 month ago. We greeted each other and hit the throttle on the new Edge Water boat. The fish were holding 3 miles from the Marina, I was greeted by busting fish in every direction - amazing scenery that made me put the rod and jumps to the camera. After Nick and I made a cast then within 20 feet from the boat Nick got tied up. It was Nick’s first time using the Race Point 300 and right next to us another boat get tied. On their board was another friend of mine Barhouma Fino. They hooked the fish on the same time, Nick Landed the fish in less than 6 minutes solo without a fighting belt. The more I see him fighting the more I believe he has the same stamina and power as I have. Beautiful performance by the young skipper Nicholas and Nick the angler, the fish hit the deck with a cheer!
We kept on chasing them but for some reason the bites kept of fading away as the sun start to push its way down. We had many shots but the fish were keyed in on the Anchovies and they were plenty.
3 hours goes by and Barhouma still fighting his fish. The night is getting closer and our friend Dia asked me to jump on board to help. Before I step up I asked what rod is he using, he shouted “Tenryu” I said I will help you but don’t hold me responsible if I broke the rod - the silence took over...
I jumped on board tied that drag and had it on the boat in less than 8 minutes. The fish was holding at 250 feet and the depth was close to 1700 feet. I saw the colors from the deep abyss in about 70 feet, the water was crystal clear.
Had it to boat side took, some pictures and jumped back on board with my guys and called the day off.
What a great day it was! Thank you to Nicholas for your guidance and skills. Your father had invested in you and from what I saw in you, I assure you’ll be a great angler. 
Tackle used:
Rod: Race Point 300, 250, 200, 150 , El Maestro 77H  Prototype
Reel: Shimano Stella SW 18000 & Shimano Saragosa SW 1000
Line: Power Pro Hollow, Jerry Brown Hollow, Sunline Monster Battle
Lures: Halco, CB One, Siren

  Tight lines

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Southern Oman and the quest for the trophy GT, November 2013

Another year goes by and the quest for the trophy GT never stops. Although I’m always on the look for the new destination, but Southern Oman still offer a world class GT’s and the area keeps on attracting new anglers. Guys are willing to come all the way for that one fish to settle their account.
Southern Oman has the consistency to produce the 50kg class mark at any time with multiple daily shots when the occasion arises.
I visited a lot of places in the past couple of years and have made a lot of new friends, gained a lot of experience by sharing intel and different technique - learning curve that will never stop and will keep on growing as long as you will have an open mind.
I get briefed by Nick when I stopped by in Dubai that the action is slow but most fishes being landed are trophy, which means we need to work harder than the normal hoping the labor will pay off at the end.
Igor and Michael joined me from Russia and their aim was to get the fish of a life time.
This was not Igor first trip to Southern Oman, he came last year but was not lucky enough to get what he wanted. This year’s trip did not start the way we wanted as Michael showed up with no luggage. We had to leave to the island, no reels, no lures, and no cloth, nothing at all except his rod tube. But the guys on the island were nice enough to take care of him, they dressed him in the traditional dress and they lent him shirts and shorts and we took care of the rest with the tackle.
Our first day was a bit slow, but Michael open the day with a nice 40kg plus that took an orange abalone gamma. That was Michael first GT ever and what a nice way to land his first GT ever and start at the 40kg mark, he was so happy and that made us all excited for him, we felt relieved a bit.
We took a lunch break at the lodge which i find always special after the first session. These 2 hours make you feel like new person, just to mention, in the beginning I was not a big fan of it but now I appreciate it - it definitely brings back the energy.
While casting Michael asked if is possible to use my lighter set up. I had the new El Maestro 77H prototype rod paired with a new Prototype Siren Lures. While Michael was casting, all of a sudden I heard that hit from the back and the reel went into it with lovely noise. We all get directed to Michael. The fish was taking a lot of line and at a certain time we were in shallow water, Michael finally made it happen and the GT surfaced with 1 single hook sticking to his lip. We all were so happy to see the achievement of the rod and glad that Michael managed to land another fish. I estimated that fish to be over the 30 kg mark, quickly took pictures and released it.

Our second day was a bit slow on the GT side so we decided to jig; we had some descent bite but nothing special as per sizes.

On the third day and early in the morning and on the first drift a big GT hits Igor Shell Shaping popper, he missed it and then came back again but this time airborne. The whole fish went outside the water toward us coming down on Igor’s lure. While screaming at Igor to set the hook the rewinding still took its place.
Igor hitting it 3 times solid and I turn to Igor informing him it is a big fish better not to lose it. Took close to 4 minutes with a beautiful bending on the Race Point 250, the fish surfaced like a beast from Jurassic park. The fish had a measurement of 140cm, the biggest GT ever landed by Igor, we estimated that fish to be between the 53kg to 55kg mark as it was very hefty and round.
Igor was on the cloud nine and I was so delighted to share the moment and be next to him. Of course we took pictures and set it free. That night Igor was the happiest man on earth and you can just see it by looking at his face. As for me my mission was accomplished. Im grateful I got to a point in my career that I enjoy seeing other anglers fighting a trophy fish and them getting that mental and physical satisfaction.

The fourth day was a slow day for us and we end up jigging a bit to save the day. It seemed the bite was on and off and the shots were short but more rewarding when the occasion arises.
At night Igor informed me that his flight is in the early AM so in order to drop him on time they had to quit their last day at noon cutting their last day by half, therefore the plan was to start at 5:30 AM and benefit from the day as much as we can.

We started our last day as planned and headed to the designated area. It was still dark with a bit of chubby water as the weather was about to change, great condition no doubt about it. Right on our first drift and on Igor third cast a big boil on his popper and all of sudden the lure disappeared. We screamed at him to set the hook but the fish end up dropping the lure, not a bad start.
We than set up another drift and Igor did it again repeating the same scenario, the frustration showed on his face, I as well was getting agitated as this was the best morning we had since we came in to the island,
the drift was still on and finally Igor made it happen after 3 hook ups and on the same Shell Shaping poppers in silver iridescent color ( which I call it the disco d..d. color
J ) Landed the fish that measured at 134cm and released with some relief in the air, 1 out of 3 and it is not even 7:00AM yet.
Another drift and boom I got my shot on a new Shell Shaping prototype popper, had it to color asked the Igor to take a few shot while shouting to get away from the shadow and to look to adjust the setting on the camera. I know he did his best, 2 out of 4 so far and we are not done.
Another drift and Igor had the magic touch but eventually the line broke and he lost the magic popper that was accounted for his trophy fish on this trip, 2 out of 5. Finally Michael gets his shot but again the line broke, the fish were big and the velocity of the hit was way too strong to let the PE line absorb it. The drag was tight a bit as we were fishing in very shallow water so the only option was to set it high in order to subdue the fish and to have a good shot on landing it. The guys were so happy and decided to quit at 11:30AM and called the trip off. All happy and satisfied is all what I have to say and I am thankful to Ocean Active on making a dream come true for Igor and Michael.
Tackle used:
Rod: Carpenter Monster Hunter 80H, Race Point 250, 150, El maestro 77H Prototype, Patriot Design, OBX-300 Jigging rod, MC Works SB516,
Reels:  Shimano Stella, Shimano Saragosa, Daiwa
Lures: Carpenter, Shell Shaping, Siren, Craft Bait,
Line: Power Pro Hollow 130LB, Sunline Monster Battle, Varivas SMP, Jerry Brown Hollow 130LB,
Belt: CB One, MC Works, Souls.
   Tight Lines