Catch Fish with
For anyone unfamiliar with the site always check the FRESHWATER, SALTWATER and TACK-TICS pages. The Saltwater page now extends back as a record of over several years of (mostly) sea fishing and may be a useful guide as to when to fish. The Freshwater stuff is also up to date now. I keep adding to both. These pages are effectively my diary and the latest will usually be about fishing in the previous day or two. As you see I also add the odd piece from my friends and correspondents if I've not been doing much. The Tactics pages which are chiefly 'how I do it' plus a bit of science are also updated regularly and (I think) worth a read (the earlier ones are mostly tackle and 'how to do it' stuff).
Antigua antics 2.
Before I plough on with the results of our second week's fishing in Antigua I should say that Jolly Harbour, close to our house, held some decent tarpon. We didn't fish for them because some of the local youngsters treated them almost as pets when the fish came in to feed on fish waste.
After our first totally fishless week Steve and I began to get the hang of a few spots. Despite our efforts the bigger fish refused to stick so we both lost modest specimens of various kinds from time to time. However, early in the second week we visited Cade's Bay where there was a reef fairly close in which enclosed wadable flats. Our first session was blessed with success of a kind. We waded on the shallow sandy ground for a couple of hours and eventually I had a couple of tiny barracuda on a shallow diving plug intended for bonefish (we didn't see any of these). It's amazing what a fish can do for your confidence and, on the next few tides, we tried again.
This time we went further along, where the flat changed from hummocky sand to broken coral. It was all pretty shallow and easy to wade. Being partly immersed in the water was also a recipe for escaping the millions of sandflies which plagued us on most shores in the still air of dawn and dusk. One of the most encouraging aspects of this area of the flat was when Steve spotted feeding permit as he waded towards the reef. Now permit are a bit of a holy grail for many anglers and we knew that they take crabs well so our next session involved a spot of crabbing.
The only bait-sized items we could find were a bit like tough porcelain crabs the size of a 5p piece - almost impossible to attach to the hook. Despite this the crabbing was interesting and produced one really tough customer which looked as though it could have eaten most of the fish we were after. We also caught a number of beautiful crawfish which, no doubt, would make decent baits but we thought they might be illegally undersized. We tried freelining small crustaceans for the permit but apart from one fish which I scared to death by plonking the bait on its nose (idiot!!!!) and an eagle ray which screamed away on an unbelievably fast run with Steve's bait, before wrapping him round a lump of coral, we failed with the permit. Steve tried plugging on the flat and had a couple of beautiful mutton snappers and we both caught the ubiquitous lizardfish. Anyway, things were beginning to look up a bit (they coud hardly have got worse).
At the end of the 'permit flat' was a deep water channel leading to a small fishing harbour. On either side of the channel were piers built from big boulders. By standing on the boulders it was possible to spin into the deep water. On his first cast Steve had a small jack and we could see countless sprat sized baitfish along the channel. These were really the first concentrations of bait that we'd found anywhere and we thought that they were likely to be a good sign of potential for something bigger.
You won't be surprised to hear that after the encoragement of a few bites and seeing the shoals of bait, for the last day or two we concentrated our efforts on the flat and the harbour channel. My first attempt with a deep diving 12cm sprat-like plug produced a solid bite and I found myself playing a snapper of several pounds. It pulled really hard, came to the surface and careered away, dragging off line against the clutch before the curse struck again and, for no obvious reason, it came unstuck.
Our next session from the pier was at the crack of dawn. Steve was still walking from the car to the water when I shouted "Fish!". This one had again taken my big plug almost as it hit the water and it was clearly BIG. I put on maximum pressure with my 30lb braid but there was little I could do to slow the fish down. To my surprise, instead of heading out into the deep water and the buoys which marked the channel it turned and after crossing to the far side of the channel made for the mangroves opposite. It was going like a train and I could see that its trajectory would eventually wrap my line round the rocks of the far pier. Despite my best efforts to prevent it the fish, after boiling once on the surface about thirty metres from where I stood (it was big and silvery - probably a jack), tore off more line in its unstoppable run before cutting the braid on the rocks. I was gutted.
We had to try again on our last morning and the harbour mouth produced a houndfish and two reasonable barracuda - so things were beginning to look up. All we needed was another two weeks and we'd surely have got the hang of it and landed a few spectacular fish. There were a number of spots that we found which didn't get a fair crack of the rod so as we said to our wives "we must go again sometime."