Sunday, August 2, 2015

The back end of CXI

We were now well in our groove.

Guide: Tyrone
Location: Smokey Flat, Back country
This day dawned overcast again, common theme. Jase had Tyrone for the morning session. Becaue of vis I found some shin deep water and just stood there waiting. Jase and Tyrone seemed to be moving fast; I preferred my heron-like approach.
To me this morning's fishing was the most satisfying, it was very tricky and technical. First to spot fish, then to make a cast without spooking and finally to actually hook one. I landed only 2 fish but was super happy to have done so; spotting was simply that difficult. The wind gusted in throwing ripples that made spotting impossible so we set off for new surrounds. Orvis flat was beginning to flood on the rising tide and we were greeted with the waving tails of triggers. Let me talk about them for a bit. Triggers look like the dumbest of the dumb, but they are cagey and hard to hook when cruising. However when tailing they have their nose firmly in the feed bag and are busy crunching stuff so if you can drop your fly within a foot or 2 of their snout you're onto a winner. Little 2" strips get their attention, then its tail up, snout down on the fly, a firm strip to set the hook then hang on!
I hooked and lost 3 in a row in ankle high coral. Then I had several moments of panic; as I walked a coral edge 2 GT's approached. They weren't huge but my heart started pounding; I threw down my pack and clawed at the elastic holding my #12 [actually breaking it in the process]. By the time I was ready to cast they were adjacent and I'd missed the prime opportunity, they then just drifted into the depths. I kicked myself, got repacked and had just got pack on back when 2 more approached! Or maybe the same fish on a beat. I had ample time to prepare the trap and had my fly out and in front of them like you would set a nymph for a cruising trout. At the first long strip the lead fish accelerated and I waited for him to inhale, but at the last second he turned away. I'd stayed on my knees to keep low, was fishing 60lb leader, everything was right... but something obviously wasn't. 
We then headed to the back country to take advantage of the tide which would begin to flood the flats. I had an utter ball, as bones cruised in from the depths to take advantage. With Tyrone along we made too much noise and his pace was too fast most of the time in my opinion, but we still caught a heap of bones. We also encountered a small GT busting up bait but that was over in a flash. This afternoon saw us surrounded by tailing bones in ankle deep water. It provided some great action.
That evening the guides put on a performance and we feasted on a boar that the chef had whipped up. Local kids performed on pipe drum kits - it was spectacular!
Before going to bed we said goodbye to our US contingent who had to be gone at 4.30 am.
Challenging spotting
The green waters of the lagoon reflect off the clouds
Jase & Tyrone
Lessons learned: take your time. The morning session was a blank for Jase and Tyrone, the guide admitting sheer frustration with the on going cloudy weather. I enjoyed success only by letting fish come to me, I'm sure if I was moving I'd have spooked them. Don't eat too much pig. :)
Guide: Tim [offshore GT specialist]
Location: Local blue water
The previous evening we'd detected a change in the wind. The temp increased through the roof, yup it had gone to the 'normal' easterly. We had until 11am to fish, our evacuation to the airport was at 1. Clint the big Aussie unit had offered to tease GTs in on his popper gear. Given he'd caught over 40 GT's in 2 weeks doing that, we were grateful to accept his offer. The sky had cleared and we ran out of the lagoon in flat conditions, armed with #12's and popper flies. We were soon casting into rocky structures in the surf zone and it felt fishy. We took turns on the heavy popper gear and within an hour I'd taken on board 2 litres of water. We realised that this was the normal weather for CXI.
We raised 3 fish in the morning, but none close enough to get a fly in front of. We cast flies into all the reefy structures we could find. Jase and I gave Clint a rest and took turns on the popper gear as well. Even though fishless, we saw the potential for fly fishing when no wind was about. We returned to base under searing sun and blue skies. Jase had a play with the resident fish after we'd packed. We gave Moana a crap load of extra flies we'd taken, made sure our crew were taken care of with tips, and I donated my rain jacket to Tyrone.
We all said 'what ifs' about the weather that had arrived, and Andrew expat described this as the normal weather based on his numerous previous trips. The spotting on the flats would've been insane, but such is life and we weren't complaining!
We said our goodbyes and got dropped at the airport where we checked in and then went to seek cover in the shade. It was HOT. After a 2 hour wait, we boarded the plane and were soon airborne.
Flat seas and blue skies
Clint the Big Rig gets ready to cast a popper
2 feet of clear water :) actually more like 20 feet deep, stunning clarity
Mantas doing their thing
Just stunning
Jase hassling the lodge's pet Bluefin trevs
The main social/dining area of the lodge; and the 'round tree'
Departure lounge; Cassidy International Airport
A bit of local colour; plane day is a social event [note puddles]
Lagoon from the air
Lessons learned: I found out that the focus had been changed on my camera [new to me so I wasn't overly familiar with it] so got a lot of just out of focus shots, which you may have noticed. Get familiar with the camera and shoot a zillion photos. Normal weather is 10 degrees on average hotter than what we got 6 out of 8 days - hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
Use your spare time to save time on the water, make spare leaders at night, sort your flies at night.
Write a diary. There's so much I haven't said about the group's experiences [Zak hooking a manta and handing rod to his dad for example] that I have noted in my trip diary.
Make the most of meeting new people. The locals are very shy but are a fountain of knowledge. we met great people from all over the world; dog loving quail hunters from Texas [hoping for that invite!], folks from Wyoming, Cairns, California...
Final lesson. I'm going back. Of that there is no doubt whatsoever.

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