Species Bashing on Anaa Atoll

by | Dec 10, 2018 | fly fishing for wrasse | 6 comments

Josh Gallivan Flyfishing

Photo by Scott Smith

It’s been 9 years since my 23 years running a fly shop in Jackson Hole came to an end.  I don’t look back much but I do miss helping customers catch fish and most of all the kids that worked for me over the years.  Remarkably, I keep in touch with most, and I’m proud when they tell me working at the shop was one of the peak times in their lives.  Today I got to fish with one of my favorites, Josh Gallivan.


Josh Gallivan Anaa AtollJosh, a Jackson native, started behind the counter as a high school kid then worked his way up to a casting instructor then became one of my top guides.  He still guides today and specializes on the Snake River working for Grand Teton Fly Fishing.  Best of all Josh has taken his fly fishing career further with his beautiful photography, writing and he’s also the host of this week’s trip to Anaa Atoll.


fly fishing injuriesI cringed when Josh said, “Hey Currier, I want to dredge with you”.  The cringe was because as I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, injuries occur when you play deep with the big boys.  I awoke to an aching back and I have so many rod butt bruises on my right side I look like a leopard. (The fish I tangled with yesterday were “the fish of nightmares!).  Naturally however, we went.




yellow edged lyretail grouperI truly am sore and when my heavy black Clouser struck bottom at 40 feet deep I was scared.  I was certain I was about go to war as I started stripping.  Sure enough, I got whacked.  At first, I couldn’t budge the rascal but fortunately for my body, the fish gave in quick and I landed one of my favorite contestants of dredging, the attractive yellow-edged lyretail.


bohar snapperAfter a few snapshots I dropped back down and proceeded to land several more of these colorful groupers.  Josh wasn’t equipped properly to reach the bottom of the sea so unfortunately, he wasn’t catching anything.  My next fun fish was the fierce looking bohar snapper (called red bass here).  This is a small one but nonetheless he was able to darken up one of my bruises!


Giant trevallyAfter an hour of Josh watching me yank fish from the deep, I could tell he was done with the dredge.  Without a fast sinking line you’re simply out of the game.  Josh got to see a dredge and next time I suspect he’ll have the correct line because dredging is fun. Off we went to the flats.


flyfishing the flatsWhen we anchored Josh leapt from the boat and headed to the reef flat.  Young guide apprentice, Joseph, followed behind.  Josh was soon casting to a school of tailing parrots. They ended up spooking like the often do.


flyfishing the reefRafael and I aren’t quite as agile and took the stealthier approach.  Sometimes this is best and we spotted two giant trevally immediately.  I ripped line off my Bauer and Winston 12-weight and made the cast.  The GT charged my fly and ate.  I hooked him good but there was coral everywhere and just like in a dredge, I clenched the line and didn’t let the fish run.  At first it thrashed on the surface in utter panic.  But they play dirty.  After his helpless thrashing he charged me which enabled him to gain slack and he severed my 150lb leader on coral like it was nothing.  Damn!


Bauer Fly ReelsI wasn’t done getting broke off.  Minutes later further down the flat I spotted a mustache triggerfish.  Rafael handed me my 9-weight Air and I began my stalk.  I was about to cast my crab and Rafael yelled, “Napoleon!”


fly fishing around coral

photo by Scott Smith

Sure enough, also in casting range was about an 8lb Napoleon by a coral head.  Without hesitation I cast to him and he devoured my crab and his run was also straight towards me.  He went into a coral head and broke me off.




Jeff Currier bluefin trevally

I won’t lie, I was disgruntled.  Josh yelled over asking me what the heck was going on and I answered with “bad **** man.  Don’t worry about me”.  Luckily, I had already re-rigged my 12-wieght after the GT break off because suddenly in the distance was the electric blue of an approaching bluefin trevally.


The bluefin was hot to trot and I got my fly to him.  He charged and ate and when I tried to hang on to the line to prevent him from hitting coral it slipped.  Everything was going wrong!  But miracles do happen.  The blue streaking trevally ran off the flat and into the ocean.  I chased him down and from the reef fought him in.  A stunner of a fish.


Jeff Currier and Josh Gallivan flyfishingThere were certainly no complaints from me this morning.  I’d landed a few lyretails, bohars, a bluefin and been broken off by a GT and a Napoleon.  Josh and I pummeled a Hinano’s at lunch then set off for the reef in the afternoon.


black triggerfishThings seemed too peaceful on the reef for me.  There were hardly any waves.  Josh and I switched guides and I walked a mile with Joseph looking for a big Napoleon wrasse to cast to.  There were none so finally, I broke down and threw a crab to a funky looking triggerfish.  He wasn’t big and it took a half hour to finally hook and land one.  But the fish was gorgeous.  This is a new species for me, the black triggerfish (Melichthys niger).


five strip wrasseI wasn’t done there.  Chasing that fine looking black triggerfish was fun and I ended up catching more.  But there were other interesting fish loving on my crab fly.  I caught three different species of wrasse.  I need to read up on them but I believe this one is the five stripe wrasse (thalassoma quinquevittatum).  As always, any assistance with species identification is appreciated.


Jeff Currier Surge wrasseThis is the surge wrasse (thalassoma purpureum).  A tough decision for me as too who is prettiest between this, a wild brook trout or a pumpkinseed sunfish.  I’ll let my nieces decide.





wrasse on fly rod

I need help with this one. Done.  Christmas wrasse (Thalassoma trilobatum).  Thanks John Lohuis.





Anaa AtollJosh and Rafael went hard on a several mile walk and found none of the oversized gamefish to fish for and blanked.  I made the right choice doing a species bash.  I added four new ones to my species list which I’m pretty sure puts me over the 400 species on a fly mark!


flyfishing Anaa AtollYoung Josh Gallivan is a good host – he let me catch all the fish today.  Just teasing.  But this was a day to remember for me.  Good times fishing with friends can’t be beat.  Tomorrow its full on fly fishing the reef.  I need a bigger Napoleon.


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  1. kevin garrigan

    sound awesome Jeff!

  2. Lance

    Bruises are classic…..the ultimate battle scar!!! But they hurt for quite awhile. We might need to think about designing a fly rod fighting belt if we keep this up. That Black Trigger is awesome, the colors in these fish will never get old. Thanks again for a great Blog.

  3. Jeff

    Lance, I think the five stripe was my favorite. Colors and pattern are insane!

  4. James Einloth

    Awesome outing .



  5. Lance

    Jeff, might be a Ladder Wrasse

  6. Jeff

    Lance that’s impressive! That’s the closest yet and one of the ladder wrasse pics looks exactly alike. Let’s see what the experts at FlyOdessey come up with. They are on it also. Thanks man. See you in Denver.

Welcome to the Blog of Jeff Currier!

Contact Jeff

I started fly fishing at age 7 in the lakes and ponds of New England cutting my teeth on various sunfish, bass, crappie and stocked trout. I went to Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, where I graduated with a Naturalist Degree while I discovered new fishing opportunities for pike, muskellunge, walleyes and various salmonids found in Lake Superior and its tributaries.

From there I headed west to work a few years in the Yellowstone region to simply work as much as most people fish and fish as much as most people work. I did just that, only it lasted over 20 years working at the Jack Dennis Fly Shop in Jackson, WY where I departed in 2009. Now it’s time to work for "The Man", working for myself that is.

I pursue my love to paint fish, lecture on every aspect of fly fishing you can imagine and host a few trips to some of the most exotic places you can think of. My ultimate goal is to catch as many species of fish on fly possible from freshwater to saltwater, throughout the world. I presently have taken over 440 species from over 60 countries!