Breakfast was early on the Terres Rouges beachfront today, wild fruit followed by tea and toast was consumed in record time as we watched Douda and his crewman Romanise load the Tipaul. We could see the shadowed outline of the fabled Mitsio Islands on the pink and orange line of the horizon as we ate.
My pal Dave Lewis had been over a month or two ahead of me and all he could talk about was the Mitsio Islands and its legendary Giant Trevally. Bertrand Picarda my French fishing buddy had said to me that fishing for the Trevally in amongst the shallow reefs and deep drop offs of the Mitsio Islands was a fabulous experience and that I had better go prepared for some fish that were little short of "brutal thugs". Fish that would smash and grind expensive lures, fish which would take a perverse delight in breaking specialist rods, rip the teeth from the drive gears on all but the very best reels, test your back muscles to the limit and your knots had better be the best you have ever tied. Charles Reaves and I were ready for our "A level exams" because although the Sailfish were spectacular, the Amberjack and King Mackerel amazing, it was the Giant Trevally we had travelled halfway around the world to fish for, all the others were the icing on the cake.
The Yo-Zuri Surface Bull GT popping plug splashed down in the shadow of the spectacular overhanging rock. Picking up the slack line gave the lure its first movement, hardly more than a twitch really. Without warning there was a small wall of water obscuring the lure, the take was the hardest, fastest movement I have ever experienced from any fish.
It was gone, the fish had hit the lure in a split second, thrown the lure two feet into the air and was gone. I reeled in like crazy….. picking the lure out of the water the paintwork looked as it had been mauled by a sea going tiger. There were teeth marks all over the rear end, the middle treble had been ripped off and all the while Douda was telling me to throw the lure back to the same spot. Without hesitation I obeyed his advice, two twitches on the rod tip to "walk the dog" with the massive lure and again the characteristic wall of water as the Trevally reared out of the water to smash into the lure again with a ferocity which I have got to say lived up to every expectation and every word which my fishing buddies had told me about. The Trevally are exceptional sport fish, believe me I have got to have some more of this fishing, life is too short not to!
My love of the visual aspects of our great sport is well known. The "take" off the surface using a surface popper is like a big Trout taking a dry fly then multiplied by a ferocious factor of ten with the lure definitely in "harms way!".
What I was totally unprepared for was the headbanging violence of the fight. We had gone ready for action with rods which used thick walled blanks and would throw the four ounce surface poppers with ease. We were using thirty pound breaking strain Power Pro braid, later we found that the regulars frequently use fifty pounds breaking strain braid loaded onto fixed spool reels that would be used for beachcasting in the UK. Almost standard equipment amongst these guys and gals is the Shimano Stella fixed spool which start at £600’s retail. One angler I met had three of these reels in his tackle bag!
I was using a Daiwa 5500 which did the job without complaint, but it was not happy with braid line because despite the clever spring loaded anti-wrapping bars, still allowed the fine braid to get behind the spool. But it did the job, it had to.
The Mitsio Islands form a rough circle, I could not find out for sure but maybe they are the tip of an extinct volcano, the rock formations look soft and volcanic. The action of the Indian Ocean storms over many years have carved the soft rocks into some weird and wonderful shapes. What the undersea topography is like is something which no doubt ‘lung divers would find a total fascination. What is certain is that these sparsely populated Islands provide some of the most fascination fishing to be found anywhere.
Later that night John Peluffo entertained us with a story of exploration to the tropic sea’s to the North of Terres Rouges when a small group of adventurous anglers took a larger boat as a mother ship and a couple of the catamarans to the reefs and islands near the Cap’ de Ambre.
Experienced anglers tooled up for the job were being smashed out of sight on fifty pounds breaking strain line. John told us of GT’s weighing up to and over 100 pounds. Now that, my friends, would make my knees knock and a certain slackness might well become apparent!!
Fishing adventures such as this are not family holidays for young children and unsuspecting partners. They are focussed fishing holidays where you expect to fish every day from dawn till dusk in exotic locations for fish that might never have seen a boat, lure or human being. This is truly frontier fishing, bringing with it a necessity to ensure that everything you need is with you and anything you do not need is left at home.
Preparing for a trip such as this is half the adventure. What tackle is required, what inoculations are necessary, what clothing is essential, the medication you take in your medical bag and so on, can make or break the holiday. These are all things the experienced travelling angler will ensure is absolutely right before embarking on such an adventure. If these stories of the fabulous fishing to be experienced on the edge of the civilised world inspire your imagination, then take care to get these things right, because when the storms blow and the nearest town is three days away by Land Rover, finding out that you have forgotten your tablets or swivels is just tough luck.
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Fishing and Travel to Terres Rouges, Madagascar.
Contact details for GP – Chasse et Peche.
GP – Chasse et Peche.
12, rue de Saussure,
Tel 0033 47 64 47 47
Fax 0033 47 64 47 48