Today was back with FlyCastaway guide Matthieu Cosson. Along with us another of my guests this week here on Farquhar, Terry Graham from Australia. Terry is a hardcore flats angler that like me, likes to walk, explore and for the most part, not be guided.
That being said, when we left this morning high tide made all flats far too deep to wade. Therefore we went to the furthest south part of the Farquhar atoll and made a long drift in search of giant trevally (GT’s). Terry took the bow while I played clean up man from the back.
Clean up man is something I don’t do early in the week because it’s distracting to the guide and the angler up front hunting the target species. But we’re all in the groove now and I knew I could stay out of the way. That is until this bohar snapper (two spot red snapper) played major havoc with me and my 12-weight. You may remember the ones we caught last March in Sudan. These things fight!
It didn’t take long for Terry to come through. I haven’t seen nearly as many giant trevally as I expected this week but Terry seems to be a magnet for them. Right after I landed the bohar, a ray popped up on us. Rays cling near the bottom and as they swim disorient crabs, shrimp and smaller fish. Because of this, rays often have other fish hanging with them like they’re a moving cafeteria. This ray had a GT following. Terry literally dropped a 25 foot cast and in one strip he was on. This GT smoked Terry!
After we released the GT it was my turn up front. Terry went to work from the back. It was the first time he’d cast for random species and he fell in love with it quick. He too caught a nice bohar snapper and then followed it up with a bone snapper, a fish that I’ve never caught. Meanwhile I patiently waited from the bow for the GT that never came.
By 9 AM it was time to wade the flats. We were near the South Wreck, an area I’d not fished yet this week. An area where the best bump head parrotfishing generally occurs. Because Terry likes to cruise the flats on his own, Matthieu and I walked together. He immediately spotted a giant triggerfish (also known as the Titan or mustache) in the ocean surf.
I only saw the peculiarly shaped fish for a split second before the next wave crashed over him. Being the aggressive saltwater angler that EVERYONE should be, I already had my cast in orbit. One strip and the trigger was on.
Triggers have been tough this week. Only one has been landed and that was a Picasso triggerfish by Rich. The hook up with this trigger caught me by surprise and I wasn’t as prepared for battle as I should’ve been. I stayed tight for about 15 seconds before that gut wrenching slip of the line occurred. My triggerfish was going to the jagged coral. Once that line escapes it’s tough to grab again. Fortunately I didn’t have much line out and the trigger got on the reel and I stopped the spool from spinning in a nick of time. Matthieu tailed the sneaky trigger just as he reached the coral. Even more exciting, when Matthieu lifted him from the water the fly dropped out. It never hurts to be lucky!
We shot some hero shots of the cool looking triggerfish. I’ve cast to numerous giant triggerfish not only here this week but also last March in Sudan. I connected to several but each time had bad luck with either the hook pulling or breaking off on the coral. The giant is a new species for me (#9).
Every dog has his day. And when it’s you, you recognize it. I was so lucky on that triggerfish that I knew a bumpy was coming next. They weren’t around at first but as soon as low tide occurred followed by the first surge of the high, in came the bumpies. I stayed with the same crab (this exact one let me down on a permit trip in the Key’s once) despite the crushed in eyes from the powerful teeth of the triggerfish.
The first school I cast at one ate my fly. The bumpy left the group and tailed on my fly perfectly. I felt him eat it and strip set hard and missed him. Evidently this is where I went wrong. Matthieu advised me to let them eat the crab. Then when the line takes off simply lift the rod. Like I explained earlier this week, parrotfish mouths aren’t’ meant for hooks. The gentle rod lift is the best technique for hooking them.
Miraculously it didn’t take long to fool another and I hooked him solidly. But as also mentioned earlier this week, these big-foreheaded-bullies are all power. Despite chasing him frantically and not letting this bumpy run far into my backing, he approached the coral. I was pulling on him so hard that I was certain either my 30lb Flouro would break or my 9-weight would explode. But neither, the cunning parrotfish fooled me by backtracking to a coral head I didn’t see. Dang!
I normally get in shape for these trips but I was gassed. All the beers I drank with Tim Brune in Guyana and the numerous campfire feasts with Granny on the desert caught up with me. But Matthieu cracked the whip. I was taking a breather and he jumped on me to get after the next school of bumpies that were tailing in the distance.
Matthieu was right. Next week at this time I’ll be looking at snow. I put my pounding heart and gasping lungs aside. I wiped the sweat off my forehead and continued. Could I hook yet another? Bumpies can be nearly impossible to fool. Yes! I hooked into another in the very next school and I put the “Currier” to this one like never before. Kudos to that 30lb Scientific Anglers Flouro – there’s no doubt most other flavors would have broken. I stopped this guy and ten minutes of battle ended with my second bumpy of the week!
Matthieu is great with the camera and we photographed the hearty bumpy for several minutes before I watched him return to his friends. I was wet head to toe from crashing waves. I believe that was one of my best “on foot” rumbles in years!
Terry caught an assortment of miscellaneous fish on his hike. He came to the excitement of my bumpy catch then went on to hook one of his own. Unfortunately he didn’t sprint like a marathon runner and the leader broke on something sharp.
All I needed was a bonefish for the Farquhar slam. But in the afternoon tides became too high to wade and we messed around blind siding coral heads from the boat (you know by now I like that best anyhow!). We racked up a handful of bohars and various groupers, mostly Africans. I managed species #10 for the week. This is a white-blotched grouper.
Beers are $6.50 each here due to the difficulty of flying them in. I’ve been sticking to cokes and water. But tonight, after a day of two new species, a bumpy and taste buds that can’t handle another coke this trip, I bought myself a Seybrew! Tomorrow is the last day.