Fishing GT’s with Capt. John Llanes on the Sea Afare

Over the years we have been fortunate to have many GT anglers of various skill levels grace the decks of the numerous boats we have had along the way. After a few prototypes we got Islander boats to build and design the ultimate fishing boat for Taveuni for all types of anglers.

For Poppers, light tackle and fly fishermen she offers large casting areas fore and aft. We noticed on the Sea Dancer we lacked the amount of space for 4 GT anglers to choose their spot.

Preserving and Maintaining Healthy Fisheries

As of this writing John has released over 4,000 GT’s this does not include other species of Trevally’s. With that bank of knowledge, not including years of fishing in Kona and internationally, he has gained quite a bit of experience when it comes to fishing for all types of species. Wherever you fish, there are differences in the type of lures that attract the fish, types of equipment, optimum tides and areas where they congregate. GT’s in particular are known to range in excess of 14 miles seasonally. A productive area in July will not be the same in November. Therein lays the science and learning curve. Otherwise, you are confronted with an endless vastness of blue water.

Most importantly is how to preserve the fishery. If Capt. John had not released over 4,000 GTs, it would have had devastating effects on the GT fishery.

Another reason we release all GT’s is because they are slow growing, taking many years for them to reach their breeding size of 26 inches. Researchers still don’t have all the facts about how or when they breed or what kind of breeding areas they prefer. Every surviving GT is important to this delicate fishery. Their average life span is 25 years.

To that end Capt. John only allows anglers to fish with single barbless hooks on the boat. It doesn’t affect the amount of strikes. More importantly it is easier to release the fish and causes them far less harm so they can eat and live to fight another day.

Since GT’s are so hearty, when boated they survive the photo ops for the anglers as a memento of their great catch. They happily race off when they are released to live and breed.

One of the first things that Capt. John observed as well as experienced anglers is pound for pound how much stronger the GT’s in Taveuni are compared to other parts of the world. Standard rods and reels were breaking at an incredible rate. We contemplated that it might be some kind of genetic mutation.

The mystery got around the GT fishing community and we received the opportunity to send fin samples into the Hawaiian Ulua (Hawaiian for GTs) research facility to perform DNA Testing. Much to our surprise their DNA was normal. Although one little interesting bit of trivia was discovered in one fin sample that a GT had crossed with a Blue Trevally.

The only logical explanation was their strength was attributed to a healthy environment, diet and that the currents tend to be stronger here in their natural habitat. In other words we have very fit and athletic GT’s here that bring anglers back over and over again.

GT Fishing Equipment FAQ’s

That brings us to equipment. No one wants to come over here and have their equipment break on their first day. So do bring spares. For lures contact us and we will let you know which colors and types work seasonally. That is another long story. Once your dates are set with us we can let you know the best lure options.

Here are some excerpts from one of our keen multi-timed returnee guests who was educating a new GT fishermen on what to bring and what to expect. In this are the answers to many of the frequently asked questions for GT anglers coming here for the first time.

“The fish in Fiji are large and healthy. A lot of the fish average between 30-40lbs. Fish over 50lbs are common and the occasional 100+ pounder will show up. Gear failure is common and we try to do as much as we can to not lose fish due to breaking knots, hooks, poles, reels, etc.

Reel: The Spheros 12000 or 14000 are good choices as both hold enough line. The 12000 is good for 65lb or 80lb braided line while I would use 80lb or 100lb on the 14000. The 12000 line capacity is a little more than the Stella 10000 or Saltiga Z6000GT (these are the reels we use) so 80lb would be the best overall choice.

Braided line: All of us have gone away from Power Pro line as it seems to have a higher tendency to wind knot after numerous casts…..and you will be casting A LOT! When loading the line, always leave around an eighth of inch top spool lip exposed… not overload the spool with line.

Leader: We all use leaders of Momoi Diamond line (100lb) as this seems to be the strongest for the diameter. Our leader lengths are long 14ft or more so a smooth knot is critical to making it through the guides without problems. John’s recommendation of a Bimini / Slim Beauty connection works the best if you will be using a single strand of 100lb Diamond. We also use more complicated leaders and John can teach you those in the future if you are interested. The knot connection is critical as it must be able to withstand the casting as well as the fight. We test all of our knots and most break at levels over 60lbs (more load than can be exerted with a rod in a stand up battle). NOTE: DO NOT USE AN ALBRIGHT KNOT FOR TYING A SINGLE LINE LEADER, the knot will knock out the inserts in your rod guides.

Lure Construction: Please replace all the split rings and hooks with the Owner Hyperwire rings (#9 or larger as the stock hooks and rings will open up during a fight (NO JOKE!!) We have also had the wire in the lure break during a fight.)THIS IS IMPORTANT: John ONLY allows single hooks to reduce damage to the fish and for easy release. You should expect to lose 2 or more lures a day due to breaking line or mauling. Some lures have only lasted for one ulua and are totally trashed.

Rods: We have broken numerous rods and now have gravitated to only some brands of Japanese rods like Shimano. These rods will also break if “high sticking” (bringing the rod butt to or over the vertical position…..60 degrees above horizontal is about the max you want to go) technique is used. The best rod so far is the Black hole Cape Cod that you can find on Kil Songs site. Something in the 8′ to 9′ length is best for fishing from a boat and casts well. The Black hole is 6’3” and works well on a really big fish. Ours are mostly 7′ 6″ to 8′ is easier to get longer casts.

Other gear: A fighting rod belt and diving gloves are a must have unless you enjoy PAIN. The rod belt protects the “you know what” and the gloves help to hold the spool to apply more drag when the fish is running. The gloves also protect the casting finger that may get a bit raw after a lot of casting. A good pair of split ring pliers Boat shoes or sandals are good for when the boat deck gets slippery (not necessary). Ball bearing swivels in the 200lb or larger size (use this and a split ring to attach the lure to the leader; it makes for a quicker change if the color is not working. Extra terminal gear (leader, rings, swivels, maybe some mainline) is good as you will be doing repair either on the boat or in the evening. We always change our leaders at the end of each day.

Casting: You should really practice your casting before you go to get comfortable with your gear. Practice an overhead cast (side arm is dangerous on a boat… may hook someone) so you can throw about 60yds (meters) Capt. John will put you within 50-80yds from the reef and you need to be pretty accurate in some places

More stuff: ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS listen to Capt. John’s advice. He is the best captain I have ever fished with. He knows his stuff and is the best person to drive a boat when you are onto a BIG fish.”

I hope our new to Makaira anglers were able to find some useful tidbits to make their angling experience with us even more enjoyable. We look forward to fishing with you.

Aloha Roberta and Capt. John Llanes

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