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This year I spent my Christmas holidays in the Maldives. The Maldives consists of approximately 1,190 coral islands grouped in a double chain of 25 atolls (or 27, depending on definition), spread over roughly 90,000 square kilometer. The distance from the most southern to the most northern island is over 800 kilometers. Of the ca 1,190 islands, only 200 are inhabited. The Maldives is the world’s flattest country with the highest point measuring only a mere 2.4 meters above sea level.
With so many islands there are myriad of places where you can fish and there is also large variety of species that you can catch. The Maldives is a great place to combine some serious fishing with a family vacation. During my stay, I had booked three days of fishing, primarily targeting Giant Trevally (Caranx Ignobilis), more commonly referred to as GT, with GT Fishers Maldives. I was fishing from Magic Life, a 32 ft speed boat, powered by two 200 hp Yamahas. The boat is small enough to get you close to the reef and fast enough to allow you to cover a large fishing area, while at the same time maximizing the fishing time. Our Captain Mohamed and deck hand Robel made up its crew.
I had brought three set-ups on the trip: a PE 3-6 JM GT Monster 80 paired with a 2013 Stella 5000, a PE 6-8 Carpenter Endless Passion 88/35, paired with a 2013 Stella 14000 and a PE 8 Ripple Fisher Fantastic GT 82 Long Cast, paired with a 2008 Stella 10000. Both heavier set-ups had SOM spools, filled with JB 80lb hollow core spectra. I used 175lb and 200lb wind-on casting leaders on these set-ups so they were both knotless. I had planned to use the EP88/35 mainly for stick baits in the 70-150g range and the RF82LC for heavier stick baits and poppers in the 150-200g range. However, unfortunately I managed to break the tip on my EP88/35 in the first cast, which meant that I could not use the many lighter lures that I had brought during the three days of fishing.
The first day of fishing was carried out in the close proximity of our resort. My son Oscar, twelve years old, managed to catch a GT in his second cast of the day! The fish fought well but Oscar managed to succumb it after a few minutes of tug of war. He is an experienced fisherman who has caught a 150 cm halibut when he was only eight years old. The GT was around 75 cm long and in good shape. After a few quick pictures it was released to fight yet another day. Oscar was using my Jigging Master GT Monster 80 and a 2013 Stella 5000, loaded with PE5 YGK Castman solid spectra and an 80lbs wind-on casting leader from Streamline. The lure was a blue Mangrove Studio Volador 130 LS. I missed a few strikes on my Gamma 160 Diablo but was unable to set the hook before the bites slowed down. The rest of the day was slow and we only managed to catch four red snappers - all on stick baits.
At the beginning of the second day, I told Captain Mohamed that it was no problem if we had to travel a bit farther to get some decent GT fishing (fuel up to a daily budget of $150 is included in the price, anything above is charged). As a consequence we traveled north for some 40 minutes before starting to fish. Oscar had opted to stay home, so I was fishing alone day two and three. The red snappers were biting aggressively and I managed to catch three during the first couple of hours fishing. Half way into my three days of fishing I started to wonder if I would leave the Maldives having caught no GT. However, around noon I hooked a fish that I immediately knew was a GT and during the remainder of the day I managed to catch another three GTs and some five red snappers. All on stick baits.
Day three, we decided to venture north again but this time we went even further north before we started fishing and then we worked our way back towards our resort. This was the best day in terms of number of fishes caught, with eight red snappers, five GTs and one bluefin trevally. Again, all on stick baits.
I had numerous strikes where the fish either missed the lure or where I was unable to set the hooks properly and I lost two larger GTs due to the leader breaking on the initial run - one on a 175 lb and the other on a 200 lb leader(!) The leaders, which were made of Jinkai mono, must have been damaged in some way. However, I will most likely never use Jinkai again. The first GT managed to spit the lure - a Gamma 140 black abalone, which could be retrieved to my great joy, but the other one was not so lucky. Hopefully, it was able to get rid of the lure later. I was fishing a very heavy drag but both fishes were taking line directly after I had set the hook and felt much larger than the 111 cm, which was the largest fish that I managed to get into the boat. Captain Mohamed kept shouting: "your drag is too tight", but I just replied that I had to train for my upcoming trip to Southern Oman.
Another memorable moment was when a Rainbow Runner hit my black holo flyfish Strategic Angler Cruiser and did two quick runs from side to side before the hooks lost its grip.
The first two days the sea was pretty flat, whereas the third day the sea was a bit choppier, although nothing serious. The sun was shining bright with very few clouds, especially the first two days, and the air temperature was around 30 degrees Celsius. In total, we managed to catch 31 fish during the three days of fishing: ten GTs, one bluefin trevally and twenty red snappers, some of which were fairly sizeable.
We were fishing along the coral reefs and over tops at around 10-20 meters depth. Hot areas were reef edges, "pockets" in the reef and places were two currents met. The first ten to fifth teen meters of the retrieve was typically the "hot zone", accounting for some 95% of all strikes. I often got strikes on the first cast after switching fishing spot or lure. Although I had brought a fairly sizeable arsenal of poppers, I ended up using stick baits almost exclusively on the trip. I managed to catch fish on a number of different makes/brands but the best during the trip were Carpenter (Gamma GT-y 140 and Diablo 160) and Souls (Airmatic and Kanade). The best colors were different shades of blue/silver and black. I also had a lot of strikes on a white/silver 160 Gamma Diablo that I had "pimped with some black fish bones and red gills, but was only able to land one red snapper on it.
I was very pleased to see how carefully Captain Mohamed and the deck hand Robel handled the fish and how quickly we could return them to their proper element. I can definitely recommend GT Fishers Maldives for anyone who would like to try some fishing when visiting the Maldives. I, myself, will most likely be back already next year!
Below, I have inserted a few Pictures from the trip. Enjoy!