Sportquest Holidays long-awaited exploratory trip to the very remote Rodrigues Island in the middle of the Indian Ocean was finally upon us and I was very lucky to be picked to guide a four-man group from the UK to this new destination that is Exclusive to Sportquest Holidays.
Before the trip had even began we had read lots of stories about the world-famous Hawkins Bank which is over 100 nautical miles from Rodrigues Island where the fishing can be amazing, to say the least. After 3 flights and over 25 hours of travelling we arrived at Rodrigues Island and we were greeted at the airport by Cyril our skipper for the week. On our way to the accommodation from the airport, all we talked about was fishing, Cyril’s English was much better than our French luckily and we managed to understand each other.
The accommodation was very basic, we did find a much better hotel not to far away and we spent most of our time there. It had much better facilities and was a lot more comfortable, I now believe this will be the hotel Sportquest Holidays will be using from now on. We now had three days to settle in before our first charter, the plan was to do a 65-hour charter to Hawkins Bank have a day off then do two 8 hour charters around the island.
Cyril informed us that the weather was excellent for Hawkins Bank and suggested we drop the two 8 hour charters and just do an 89-hour charter to Hawkins Bank, we all agreed to go with what the skipper suggested.
We now had to wait till Saturday for our trip but we also had an inshore charter booked to break up the time on land. On the way out he was telling us he recently had GTs to 130lb and the big GTs have been known to snap the reels in half!! Once we arrived at the inshore reef it was easy to see this type of fishing was hit and hold, if you give the fish any drag at all you would get reefed.
Fishing with your drag locked down and 80lb to 120lb Power Pro braid on the reels is a true tug of war with the GTs. Your tackle needs to be top quality Shimano Stella’s 14000, 18000 and 20000 reels, rods were Ripple Fisher, and Okuma Azores PE 10 to 12 (very strong rods that can cast 220g Lures). Hook pulls were very high, it was just sheer luck to get a good hook hold and pray the fish stayed on.
We landed 4 GT’s 70lb, 65lb, 50lb and 20lb we pulled the hooks on 9 and got reefed by 1 in just a few hours during the afternoon. The inshore fishing wasn’t supposed to be this good and if this was anything to go by the offshore fishing will be off the scale!
On the Saturday we set off to Hawkins Bank onboard Cyril’s 53ft mono hull big game boat called L’oiseau Des iles, it is fully kitted out with big game fishing tackle and Jigging rods and reels. We trolled all the way as the sun went down we lost a Spearfish as it was leaping out of the water, it would of been great to see it up close.
Once it went dark the crew switched to just one rod with a large clear muppet on and one of my blue glow sticks inside it, after just a few minutes a Yellow Fin Tuna about 80lb hit the lure and put up a good fight. That was it until we arrived the next morning at Hawkins Bank.
On the first day trolling produced Yellow Fin Tuna to 70lb (we lost one about 150lb at the back of the boat) Wahoo to 45lb and a single Rainbow Runner. Whilst Jigging, live bait and bait fishing produced Black Jacks to 20lb, Red Bass to 25lb, Blue Trevally to 20lb, Coral Trout, Spangled Emperor and Orange Grouper.
The Sharks were a problem at times and the biggest we managed to get to the surface was a 450lb to 500lb White Tip. It put up a great fight on 50lb class spinning gear and 200lb mono trace. We also planned to fish all night for Sword Fish but everyone was far too tired, what a great first days fishing.
On the second day trolling produced Wahoo to 40lb, (Lost a few big Wahoo due to bite off’s) Yellow Fin Tuna to 40lb and a single Dorado. Whilst Jigging, live bait and bait fishing produced, Dogtooth Tuna to 90lb, Black Jacks to 20lb, Coral Trout to 15lb, Red Bass to 30lb, Orange Grouper, Ruby Snapper to 15lb, Job Fish to 15lb and Spangled Emperor.
Catching live bait was much harder and the Sharks were extremely annoying, the biggest we got to the back of the boat was a 220lb White Tip. At one point we only had six live baits LEFT, we managed three Dogtooth Tuna to 90lb then we caught two more to 35lb on jigs. That night we set one rod up for a Sword Fish in over 3000ft of water but sadly we never had a single bite.
On our third day trolling produced Yellow Fin Tuna to 50lb, Dogtooth Tuna to 35lb and Wahoo to 30lb. Jigging, live bait and bait fishing produced Spangled Emperor, Coral Trout to 25lb, Orange Grouper and White Tip Shark to 100lb.
That evening we set off for Rodrigues Island trolling just one large muppet lure with a glow stick inside it. At 5 am in the morning all hell broke loose. Paul was first to the rod and after a 30-minute fight he landed a cracking 160lb Yellow Fin Tuna, we also caught a 20lb Dorado.
The 89-hour liveaboard charter was an excellent experience and we would recommend it to any adventurous anglers. All meals, fresh fruit, water and soft drinks are provided but if you want snacks like crisp and chocolate you need to bring them with you, alcohol onboard is only permitted in small quantities, for example, one or two beers after fishing is ok but no more.
Cyril and his crew are very professional and passionate about their fishing, they try their utmost to help you catch the species you are after. Speed Jigging is a very strenuous style of fishing especially if you have never done it before in a hot climate, your technique has to be perfect and this can take time to master.
Terminal tackle is very hard to get in Rodrigues so you need to bring, mono leader 150lb, 200lb, Braid 80lb to 120lb Poppers, Stick baits, Jigs 200g to 400g, Ball leads 500g, Circle hooks 18/0 for live baits and 1/0 to 3/0 for catching live bait, Swivels, Split rings and Solid rings all 400lb minimum.
Please note when trying to sleep on board a boat in this hot climate it can be very uncomfortable and hard to sleep due to the heat and noise. It is essential to stay hydrated at all times, I would recommend earplugs, eye mask, very light clothing, it might be a good idea to bring an inflatable mattress or lilo to sleep outside on the deck to keep cool.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank Cyril our skipper, Mario and Stefanu our crewmen and Sportquest Holidays for a trip to remember. And I cannot wait to do it all again in March 2020.
If you would like to book a trip like this call Sportquest Holidays on 01603 407596 they can put the whole package together with flights from many different airports.