Thailand is relatively new on the world freshwater fishing map, but it's full potential is being uncovered as well is some of the best sport fishing in the world.
Fishing Report 5
The Andaman Islands
By Jonas Nyqvist.
Our 2008 Andaman season started with this big Sailfish for our Argentinean angler Sandro living in Switzerland during the crossing from Phuket. After refueling and clearing the customs and immigration formalities we departed for Barren Island. 15 miles east of Havelock Island a 300 lb Black Marlin hit a 16” PWR lure in green color. Urs Walcher the Swiss fishing tackle shop manager angler set the hook and started the battle from the fighting chair. This fish made some spectacular jumps before it was released after a 30 minute fight. On the way to Barren we had two more Marlin strikes but both fish pulled the hook. Two miles before we reached Barren Island, Stefan hooked and released this 100 lbs Sailfish on one of the Marlin lures fished from the outrigger. We also caught some small Yellowfin Tuna that we had for dinner and bait later on in the night. Urs proved to be the lucky angler during this trip with Marlin, many GT’s and this nice Yellowfin Tuna. We named Christopher the Barracuda King of the trip, he caught only Barracudas (8 of them) when it was his turn on the Marlin rods! Here is a nice one.
Barren Island used to be infested with Reef Sharks, but during this trip they were not there. A Phuket based diving live–aboard vessel that we talked to did not see any sharks at all they told us, but they spotted a huge school of big Tuna like this close to the Island. The absence of the sharks was soon forgotten when we started to catch some very big Groupers here, here, and here, and other big bottom dwellers. Our Swiss anglers also enjoyed the popper casting from our RIB dinghy close to the rocks. In 3 days of fishing they released 43 Bluefin and Giant Trevally. During the return trip to Havelock Island and Port Blair we had a couple more Marlin hook–ups but all fish came off the hook. The Swiss team enjoyed this trip very much and promised to come back in the future.
Our second group of anglers was from USA, and they fished two days around Narcondam Island, and one day around Barren Island. The first strike of the trip was from a big Marlin just 30 minutes outside Port Blair Harbor! The fish broke the main line in the strike, still not sure how it happened, the line was brand new Momoi 130lb. We caught Wahoo and many mid–size Yellowfin tuna like this before reaching Narcondam Island. This team of anglers enjoyed Shark fishing and they had come to the right place! The first night saw non–stop action from different kinds of Reef Sharks, with multiple hook–ups on a couple of occasions. Altogether they released 17 big Sharks, Trevally, nice size Red Sea Bass and Sweet Lips. This night after midnight they also hooked 3 unstoppable Dogtooth Tuna on the 50lbs Shark equipment. A strike from a very big Dogtooth is like hooking up a speeding Ferrari, not much you could do to stop these fish from an anchored boat. The 3 big Dogs were lost after cutting the main line on the drop–off edge 200 meters from the boat.
The next day produced many Wahoo, Barracuda and smaller Yellowfins whilst trolling and the night fishing was nearly as good as the night before with 13 Sharks released. During the crossing to Barren Island I spotted some birds on the horizon and headed for them, when we reached the birds the water was boiling with 40–120kg size Yellowfin tuna. This was the biggest school of large Yellowfin Tuna I have ever seen on the Andaman Sea during 20 years of fishing here, and this promises good Tuna action for the years to come. The Yellowfins were chasing small flying fish and were not interested in anything else. We tried different size lures, downrigger fished lures, poppers from the front deck but to no good, Yellowfin Tuna fishing can be very frustrating some days, but it was very exciting to have all these big Tuna jumping all around you.
We arrived late in the evening at Barren and anchored at our normal reef on the east side of the Island. We caught numerous White Tip Reef Sharks on baited hooks and Chez hooked a GT on a surface popper that a Reef Shark inhaled (Stellar performance by Chaz!). We also released a big Potato Cod (Jewfish or Goliath Grouper as they are now called).
Our 3rd groups of anglers came from Sweden, and were mostly interested in popper casting for GTs. We started the fishing around Middle Button Island and caught some mid–size GTs from the front deck and like this from the dinghy. Next day we did the crossing to Narcondam Island and here the GTs were bigger, most fish were between 10 and 15kg like this one here and provided excellent
sport on the popper rods. During the breaks we trolled around the Island and caught many nice sized Yellowfin Tuna and Wahoo. During a lunch break Tomas caught this rare Black Trevally while bottom fishing. One day we did some bottom fishing and deep jigging on the underwater volcano west of the Island. Tomas hooked a big fish on his jig but lost it after a very strong run, the hook pulled. On baits we hooked 2 big Sharks and many big Groupers. One afternoon we fished close to the beach on the north side of the Island, where there is an Indian Military outpost. The Indian soldiers wondered what we were doing so close to the rocks, they came out to us in an old Avon dinghy and asked for our restricted area documents, after finding all our papers were in order they begged us for some beers or liquor, we gave them a couple of bottles of cold beer and they looked like they had won the first prize in the national lottery! Must be hard to be 3 months on this outpost in the middle of nowhere without cold beers (or fishing rods!).
On the crossing back for refueling at Port Blair we came in to a huge school of jumping Yellowfin Tuna, most fish were over 40kg size and they were feeding on small Flying Fish. This time I asked the anglers if they had any poppers that looked like a Flying Fish, they found some silver colored ones, and I told them to go up and get ready to cast to them from the front deck. Under a floating bamboo log a school of baitfish was hiding, and big Tuna crashed into them from all directions. When we were 30 meters from the bamboo log I told the anglers to cast. Just seconds after the poppers landed on the surface we had a double hook–up from big Yellowfin Tuna, one of the anglers nearly lost his popper rod! He was not prepared for such a hard pull; he was half way out over the rail with his rod bent over, and the rod tip was under the surface when he finally got control over the situation. He told me later he was amazed by the strength of the Tuna, and that a GT is nothing compared to a big Yellowfin on a popper rod. Unfortunately the hook pulled and he lost his fish. Tomas was luckier and landed a 33 kg beauty after a hard fight. I found the school one more time and this time Tomas hooked an even bigger Tuna while his friend lost one that broke his main line. Tomas’s Tuna was 42kg and took over 30 minutes to subdue. Popper casting for Yellowfin Tuna this size is extremely exciting and I hope that we find the huge schools of Yellowfins next year again. I will load up with Flying Fish imitating poppers. We got all the strikes and the fights on VDO and the film Target popper is for sale in Swedish tackle shops by now, you can download a trailer of the film from www.fishing-thailand.org
After Refueling we headed south to the Sisters Islands. Halfway to the Sisters we hooked a 300lb Black Marlin that jumped many times before throwing the hook. At the Sisters Islands we had fantastic popper action for GTs, most of the GTs were between 10 and 17kg and we had many multiple hook–ups and even a triple hook–up! The next day we started the crossing back to Phuket. Between Sisters and Invisible bank we hooked an estimated 300 lbs Black Marlin that fought hard on the 80lbs bent butt chair equipment, the fish was released unharmed and swam away with a fast tail beat. Only minutes later I spotted a big school of jumping Yellowfin Tuna and we hooked a 50kg+ fish on one of the Marlin lures. The fish put up a very hard fight. Out with the lines again and a 400 lbs Blue Marlin hit the same lure! This fish came up on its tail and tried to throw the lure, but the hook held. This was a beautiful Marlin and it was released after a short fight.
The next trip in April was with famous American angler, Terry Tri. The weather changed and we had water close to 30 degrees Celsius. This made the Marlin fishing very hard work. All the Marlin that we hooked came in the early hours of the morning. Terry was looking for Marlin and big Tuna. He caught our biggest ever Yellowfin Tuna we caught so far in the Andaman’s, this beautiful 160 lb fish. He also caught a very rare Black Trevally one night, and many Wahoo along with some smaller Yellowfin Tuna. Here also is a pic of a nice Sailfish.
The last two days the weather changed once again... We first had a big lightning storm during the night, the next day the wind changed from east to south to north in 30 minutes and I got cyclonic warnings over the radio from the Port Authorities. I decided to head back to Port Blair and wait for a good spell of weather to be able to do the 400 mile open seas crossing back to Phuket. Just after Gecko came back to Phuket the storm changed direction from heading for Bangladesh to hitting the Irrawaddy Delta in southern Burma (over 100.000 Burmese are feared dead by this cyclone), we were very lucky to escape this cyclone. It made me very angry to hear that the military junta in Burma refused aid from the outside world to help their own people! These generals are not even worth being Shark bait!
All in all the 2008 Andaman season saw some very good fishing action for a multitude of different species; we caught over 100 GTs, tons of Yellowfin Tuna and Wahoo. We hooked 15 Marlin and many Sailfish. We had fantastic night fishing for Shark and Grouper. The only thing that wasn’t as good as last season was the Dogtooth Tuna action. We hooked 3 big ones, but they all cut the line on the drop–off edges.
We are now accepting bookings for the 2010 Andaman Island season. The dates are normally fully booked before November so don’t wait too long if you want to be sure of a 2010 Andaman Island trip.