Fly fishing the Maldives
It is Christmas time, we will temporary escape the rigors of the winter to spend the holiday in the heat and the sun. The good is that the plan does not foresee only lying in the beach, the fly rod will travel along. We leave Europa on a cloudy and cold day, phantasizing of postcard-like places.
We land in Dubai that is deep night. The flight coincidence will start in a few hours. We mock about duty free shops and restaurants with no sleep until boarding. Another four hours and we land in Male. After the customs formalities we leave the airport. The harbor with the speed boats lies right in front, just across the road.
And off we are! The speed boat honors its name and covers the two hours trip in one go at full speed. The cruise takes no prisoner. The weak stomachs will better keep the barf bag handy. With the 750 HP engines' blasting roar in our hears, paradisal islands and amazing tones of blue scroll before our eyes.
The island where we stay hosts about 600 souls. Not only tourists, mostly local people. In the pictures: the main road, the lodge entrance, stingrays at the harbor.
After the long and tiring journey, we chill out on the beach. Here a local fishermen is literally surrounded by sardines. They form a giant black spot around him. The school opens and closes around him as he moves, like a giant living amoeba. The view is amazing and I get closer to enjoy the spectacle. And there I see something else at the margin of the shoal. A big shadow, a big bluefin trevally is hunting!
Next morning, 6 AM. Again on a boat, but a smaller one. About an hour from the island there are plenty of sand flats that extend for tenths of kilometers and that are all wadeable.
The fishing action is done by slowly walking on the top of sand banks. The flat stretches for hundreds of meter wide and extends for kilometers, resembling a submerged highway in the middle of the ocean.
Armed with two rods, a 12 # and a 10 #, the guide and I slowly walk, gazing the water. The 12 rod is rigged for GT: a 1,05 Ø hard mono leader ending with a big black streamer. The 10 rod with a 0.40 Ø leader and a shrimp imitation. Fish dark shadows contrast with the white sand bottom. They are mostly trigger fish. At time larger shadows roam across our path, sharks and stingrays.
Fishing the water is counterproductive. Each cast is done only on visible targets.
A bycatch, a banded trevally caught while stalking a trigger fish.
Bluefin trevally, golden trevally, yet king the giant is in hiding.
GT are often found in the wake of big stingrays. The stingrays rummage the sandy bottom in search of crustaceans and small fish while GT follow, foraging in the cloud of debris. GT appear fast, swim fast and are gone in a wink. The angler has not much time to react.
The guide alerts me: a GT at 11 o'clock, about 50 m. from us. I pull out line and cast. The fly lands a good 15 m. in front of the big fish. I start stripping at the speed of thunder. Despite the fly being quite far from him, the fish reaction is amazing: he accelerates at the speed of light, reaches the fly and engulfs it before I can blink an eye. The reaction is proportional to the aggression, and here I am glad to have a 12# rod to oppose to the brutal flights.
Now the GT got in the mood. We spot the next big fish heading like a train, same cast and scene. While trying to fight the unstoppable run of the big fish the unexpected happens. From out of the blue, a two meter shadow materializes from literally nowhere and snaps my GT. I am now fighting the biggest fish I ever had on a rod. Still flabbergasted, it takes me two seconds to comprehend that: the guy chewing my 80 cm. GT is a shark, we are waist deep in water and the boat is anchored 700 m. away. Let the line slack is the guide's prompt advice. We wait and watch the shark ending his banquet. In two bites he swallows my GT, my fly, shears my leader and lazily swims away.
After replacing the leader I hook two more GT, but they managed to set them free after stormy flights. Then, all goes quite and we head back to the boat for a quick lunch. In the distance a storm is roaring, so we sail the anchor to look for bluer skies.
We anchor on a flat facing submerged coral outcrops. I try my luck with some blind casts and I have some bites, likely grouper, the fly might be too big though. Then, the water explodes. A giant garfish fights with spectacular jumps and tail-walks dolphine style. It is a powerful fish and the 12 rod tames it in a couple of minutes.
Beatiful fish, looking like coming out straight from prehistoric dyno-movie.
The most successful flies for the GT were the black and black and purple. I have tried other colors too when the GT were apathetic, but all bites I had were on black or black & purple flies. Hooks 6/0. In the white sand the black has an amazing contrast.
Having a guide helping you spot and recognize the fish and sharing his knowledge is a great thing. Following his guidance, after some practice, I started to be able to spot on time the GT and recognize the other species.
The last GT I hooked was a great fulfillment of the time spent learning. I spot it all on my own, a hundred meter away. He was swimming in the border between the white sand of the flat and the cobalt blue of the deeper edge. I will never stop being amazed by the GT's aggressiveness and speed when they target the fly. And it is addictive. I badly need to come back here.
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