It seems so long ago that Sam Edmonds, writer and blogger for Pure Fishing, first made contact with Sportquest to help him organise a tailor made trip for him, his father and mother to one of the most stunning parts of the world, Sri Lanka.
His main criteria was as many species as possible and after speaking with him on his return to the UK, it sounded like they managed to tick off more species than they dreamed of.
Our holidays to Sri Lanka have made so many anglers dreams come true and we are sure more to come. So if you fancy a trip to Sri Lanka but you are undecided on where to start, then call us on 01603 407596 and we can help put something together for you just we did for Sam and his family.
Sam has written two fantastic reports with the first being from his popper and lure trip fishing for GT’s and Dogtooth Tuna and the second report will be from Lake Bolgoda where they wanted to target Featherback.
Back in March last year, my family and I booked up a fishing holiday with Sportquest and Gamefishing Asia to Sri Lanka. We had researched the fishing in many countries and had been looking for a trip that would give us a great chance of bumping up our species lists, and at the same time, a good chance of catching some big fish on lures, such as Giant Trevally. The one species that really swayed our decision to go to Sri Lanka in the end was the Clown Knifefish, known in Sri Lanka as the Featherback, which was a fish Dad and I had been dreaming of catching. Sri Lanka looked like a beautiful country to visit and try for these, as well as many other species.
We flew out on the 18th December, staying for Christmas and New Year, with five days fishing booked with Nicolas Jamin in Kirinda on Sri Lanka’s south coast, and then a long drive to Lake Bolgoda in the hope of Featherback. The idea was to lure fish using different techniques so we could maximise our chances of catching different species – using poppers and stickbaits for big GT’s, heavy speed jigging in deep water and light or slow jigging on the reefs, which proved to be a great way of bumping up the species list.
We took along a range of chugger poppers, pencil poppers, floating and sinking stickbaits for the GT’s, as well as some GT Ice Cream lures. The takes were absolutely insane as they blasted our lures!
“Then all hell breaks loose, and you have a full on battle with one of the meanest, toughest, strongest fish that swims!”
Then all hell breaks loose, and you have a full on battle with one of the meanest, toughest, strongest fish that swims! It had been a while since I’d caught a big saltwater fish and my first big Sri Lankan GT, which was also one of my biggest of the trip, beat me up big time!
Most of our days were spent fishing various methods, but on two of the days we fished exclusively for big GT’s, and on our penultimate day, Nico said we were on a mission to catch as many GT as possible, as he was starting a tagging programme. On that day we boated 16 between us to around 20kg and lost at least 5, and missed as many takes. The Sébile Splasher 190, Heru Skipjack 150, GT Ice Cream Skinny and FC Labo floating stickbait were our four most successful GT lures.
Earlier in the week, whilst targeting the GT, I also managed to land a nice Spanish Mackerel using one of Nico’s poppers – the whole fish came flying out of the water as it took the lure! I was lucky not to get bitten off, as the teeth on a Spanish Mackerel are razor sharp – the popper also cost upwards of $80 too, which would have been costly!
Dad also caught a big Bluefin Trevally on a chartreuse Sébile Splasher. He seemed to be a Bluefin Trevally magnet throughout the whole trip – he must have caught well over 20 on all the lure methods – and I only caught one!
We also caught a few GT’s speed jigging and light jigging. I’ve only ever tried speed jigging once and that was in Mauritius a couple of years ago, and just like the popping for GT’s, it’s an exhausting way of fishing, especially in over 30°C, but very exciting.
At Kirinda we hooked up in to some very big fish – you’d hook up, get a few headshakes and then the fish would go on a run that was almost impossible to stop on the gear we were using! Nico reckoned these were huge Dogtooth Tuna. We did manage to land some of the fish we hooked speed jigging though, including smaller Dogtooth Tuna, GT’s, Barracuda, Tuna and Bluefin Trevally.
Some of the best fun we had was light jigging with speed and slow jigs between 60g – 120g. Before we headed to Sri Lanka I bought a PE2 slow jigging rod, which I coupled with an Abu Revo Toro Beast loaded with 30lb Whiplash, and this proved to be a great move – not only for catching multiple species, such as Tomato Grouper, Rainbow Runner, Doublespotted Queenfish and Lunartail Snapper, but I was amazed at the size of the fish it could handle! We caught some nice Gold Spot Trevally and I also landed this Spanish Mackerel after it gave me one hell of a fight! The drag on the Revo Toro Beast was certainly singing, but it was very smooth and handled the fish really well.
Nico also managed to catch this amazing looking Napoleon Wrasse – a fish that he’d been wanting to catch for many years.
We caught a lot of smaller fish too, but it’s always great fun when you’re not quite sure what you’re going to hook in to next and all of these were new species for us, which really made our trip.
One of the best sights I saw whilst fishing was a Blue Whale spouting, with the back and tail coming out of the water as it descended in to the depths – it was absolutely huge! We also saw Dolphins and on the following day, which was Christmas Eve, we went on a safari in Yala National Park. In the space of 24 hours I saw a Blue Whale, Elephants, Water Buffalo, Monitor Lizards, Crocodiles, Wild Boar, Deer, Hares, Mongoose, Monkeys and a Leopard!
There were plenty of monkeys around, even around the hotel Dad and I were heading off fishing for the day and my Mum turned the TV on, which she had been watching the night before, and there was no reception. Later that morning, whilst we were fishing, she asked at the reception desk, and they got a mechanic in to have a look. It turned out that Monkeys had stolen the satellite dish!!
Christmas Eve turned out to be a very special one as our taxi driver, Kamal, and his family joined us for the safari – his wife Priyanka, his daughter Prishani and son Shehan. You couldn’t find a friendlier family and after the safari we had a great Christmas Eve gala dinner at our hotel with them, with a few beers afterwards!
On Christmas morning we went fishing (as you do!). Kamal took us to a river, so we took an LRF rod along with us to see if we could catch some new species. It only took 30 seconds or so for Dad to catch his first fish, which was only a few ounces, but it was certainly a new species. He dropped it back in the water whilst I was getting the camera out, then he saw the head of a Crocodile of about 10ft long loom up from the murky water and engulf the fish! He didn’t have much chance of landing it on an LRF rod! Frustratingly, we didn’t get a picture of the fish – so we still don’t know what it was!
Just a few minutes later, we heard something running behind us along the road. We didn’t look behind at first, thinking it was a stray dog, which there were plenty of, but then, I looked around and it turned out to be a huge Monkey, probably about 4ft long! It missed us by a couple of feet and continued to run along the road for another 20m or so before disappearing behind the rocks!
Anyway, we moved after half an hour as we hadn’t had any interest since Dad hooked the Crocodile. We went to the estuary of another river, which was an amazing setting to fish in – there were Elephant footprints in the sand and loads of monkeys – on the other side of the river this time! There were many different types of birds, especially Kingfishers, including the Pied Kingfisher. We caught a new species for us both here (which I’m yet to find the name of), and I also landed a small GT on a crankbait.
We had a fantastic time in Kirinda, and we really enjoyed our stay at Elephant Reach Resort and fishing with Nico. Both Nico and his mate Achila were brilliant and Nico was arguably the best guide we’ve ever fished with – his knowledge and experience of fishing for a multitude of species all across the world is mind-blowing! Not only that, he’s a great guy, very friendly and very helpful.
On the 28th it was time to move on to our next destination – which I’ll talk about in my next post!
Wow, Sam it sounds like you guys had a fantastic time with the fishing and I am so pleased you managed everything you wanted from the first part of the trip, lets hope it carries on at Lake Bolgoda, which I am sure it will.
To view this amazing destination in Sri Lanka Click Here
Thanks for the amazing report Sam and we look forward to reading Part 2
All the best and of course tight lines