March 25, 2012
Even though today was planned to be a snorkeling/deep sea fishing day, I got up early and rigged my two 12-weight Ross Essence FC Fly Rods with Momentum LT Reels. My Momentum 7 is rigged with a Scientific Angler sinking Tarpon Taper and on the other, a Momentum 8; I have a Mastery Series Bluewater Express 700-grain sink. With these two rigs Sammy and I were armed for some big fish if the opportunity to cast to them arose.
By 9 AM Braden, our guide this week in the Galapagos, had us at the very southern tip of San Cristobal Island in an incredibly remote snorkel place. Sammy had never snorkeled before and I knew he was in for an enjoyable experience. Braden’s mate, Ronnie, joined us also which was nice because when the first sea lion started swimming circles around me often times with his nose inches from mine I was a little concerned, however I looked around only to see Ronnie playing with the one around him. Things were cool.
The amount of reef fish here is spectacular. You may remember Granny and I snorkeled a bunch in Madagascar last April. The fish viewing there hardly compares to what they have here in the Galapagos. Ecuador has done an above average job of protecting its reefs and the life within them. It’s pleasing to see.
After snorkeling it was time to do some fishing. This brings up a common question. Can you fish in the Galapagos Islands? The answer is yes, but it’s extremely complicated and you better have permits. And the permits to fish inshore like we did today are particularly difficult to get. If you get caught without permits you will pay dearly. One of the reasons it’s expensive to fish with Braden is the amount of paperwork and how much he pays to file it and get sport fishing access.
When I climbed aboard first thing this morning I told Braden about the 12-weights I rigged just in case. He was excited I brought them along and after snorkeling his first move was to set Sammy and me up to strip huge streamers over a rocky reef. I heaved from the bow of the boat while Sammy cast from the back. Although I was getting tossed around a bit, I could see well from my high view point and after few casts I noticed some fish chasing my fly. They were pargo (big snappers) and they followed right to the boat but didn’t strike. Few fish excite me on the fly as much as big snappers. I made another quick cast as the school sank back down deep. This time one broke from the school and followed my fly till I had no room to strip anymore. He was huge and he was nipping at the tail of my fly. I thought I’d hook him but he turned away when my fly stopped swimming. I tried a figure 8 but no. Big snappers are as smart as a permit in my book and this whole school knew something was wrong. There was no way any of them were eating a fly for dinner today. Sammy and I changed patterns several times and drifted the area repeatedly but never saw them again and all I managed to catch was this small green jack.
We hit a few other spots after this one but zilch. They were great looking places all with bait fish everywhere but absolutely no strikes or follows. Then the last spot Braden set us up to fly cast at looked spectacular. It was the top of a jagged rocky island. Less than 100 yards off the rocks it was over 400 feet deep. Mammoth waves crashed almost completely over the top of the rocky island and there were huge schools of mullet and mouse size bonito everywhere. Undoubtedly there were big fish below. I tied on one of my favorite tuna flies, a small flashy minnow-like imitation and cast it around and through the schools of bait. I had the 700-grain line and I was letting my fly sink way below the school of bait fish. Low and behold I hooked up to something serious. Within seconds this fish took me well into the backing with no indication of stopping and my 12-weight was bent over like a 5-weight hooked up with a bonefish. Then, just as everyone started digging for the cameras my fish was gone. I was heart broken as God knows we haven’t exactly had a lot of luck thus far, but what can you do. I went back to casting.
Another hour went by and nothing for Sammy or me. By now Ronnie and Philippe set up some deep sea rigs with bait and were already getting bites. I can’t watch that for long so I set my beefy Ross down on the bow, cracked a beer and dropped my bait down about 200 feet to bottom. It was time to catch some fish and it didn’t take long. Less than a minute down there and I was cranking up a respectable tile fish from the depths.
We spent the remainder of the day fishing the depths with chunks of bait. We moved into an area of about 100 feet of water. 100 feet was a lot less time consuming to drop to bottom and easier on the fish we brought up. When you catch fish in over 200 feet deep it’s hard to release them because their air bladders inflate. At 100 feet deep most can handle returning to the bottom.
We caught a lot of neat fish. They included several Pacific barracuda, triggerfish, Galapagos grouper, a hefty African pompano and a gorgeous little flag cabrilla. I even cranked up some specie of moray eel. We also caught a mystery grouper and several other unknown fish you can see in the pics below. If anyone can help me with identification, jot it down in the comments section or contact me. Do some research to make sure they live in the Galapagos. Some of these fish I guessed the possible family they belong to but that’s it. I’d really appreciate it. Enjoy!
Sammy with something porgy or croaker or grunt like
Some crazy rockfish specie
Ronnie with an African Pompano