Flyfishing the surf zone and coral reef
GT Fly Fishing
Fly fishing in the surf zone has become my obsession, and is without a doubt the only kind of fishing that can get my heart rate up to 180 beats per minute.
Just to see the Giant Trevally come cruising down next to the reef in the surf zone literally makes me shake in my pants. I’ve seen GTs that are literally bigger than myself. I was paralyzed, I did not know what to do. Should I throw my line out, or run away? I was actually scared, I felt a pain in my stomach,but I decided to cast my line out, but the GT did not care. It circled around me once, and was for sure just checking me out, she didn’t care about the fly or me, that probably why she had become so huge.
There are many reasons why i am obsessed with fly fishing in the surf zone, one is, that one can experience gigantic fish swimmig past in just a meter of water or even less, and it is not unusual to see bigger GTs come swimming sideways because it is too shallow for them to swim upright, then to see them explode in the same second they see the fly, sticking half of their body out of the water, and almost climbing sideways up the reef in an explosion of bait fish flying in all directions and trying to grab the fly.To be experiencing all this almost every day in the season we do our fly fishing, is like being in heaven. If one can call that an obsession, then I am morbidly addicted.
I remember the first time I stepped out of the boat and on to the reef ind the surf zone, what a shock I got. I was overwhelmed by the size of the waves that was constantly rolling over the reef.and pounding into my chest, I had to struggle to stay in balance.
My line became entangled in me and everything that was located around me, I did not use line basket or a flexi stripper back then, now I will never go to the surf zone without, so I had to constantly unwrap my line out of dead coral, simultaneously trying to cast my line out to shoals of Bluefin Trevally or Giant Trevallys cruising around. it was a crazy time, with many frustrations and defeats. Something that almost drove me crazy, was that my fly was constantly rejected the first eight days I fished, and I did not understand why the GT rejected my fly. I switched and I switched my fly, I tried with everything I had in my fly box but with the same result, they rejected my fly. So on day eight, I went on the reef in to the surf zone as I had done the past eight days looking for GT, when I saw a small shoal of Bluefin Trevally, I laid out my fly to them and started stripping my line in, they instantly starts attacking the fly, and while the shoal of Bluefin Trevally is heading towards the fly, I notes from the corner of my eye a dark shadow coming like a lightning strike towards my fly, and the water was whipped white the moment it took the fly and bum I had fish on, my heart almost hammered out of my chest, I knew right away what had happened. Finally, I hooked my first GT.
But as many would say, I did not see the fish until it attacked my fly so I might as well call it a coincidence of luck, but because I did see it coming it did not make the joy less, it was not a big GT but a beautiful silver colored GT on about 15 pounds. I was so delighted. But surprised how exhausting and difficult fly fishing in the surf zone really is.
I noticed when the GT came from the side, it was from a reasonable long distance away from the fly, when I spotted it, at least twenty meters away.
I began to realized what I have done wrong in the previous days, The Giant Trevally has very large eyes and can probably see movements and silhouettes from a very long distance, but how far can they really see?. Over the years and after spending countless hours in the surf zone, have I gained a bit of knowledge of the various reefs I fish on, I have experienced that The Giant Trevally presumably uses a mix of different instruments in its search for prey, such as sounds (splashes) and movement (silhouettes),but it also uses its sense of smell in their quest for prey, they are well-adjusted opportunists who throws themselves over everything they can swallow.
After I got the first one and experienced from how far they can see my fly, I knew that my mistake was, to throw my fly too close to them, the Giant Trevally is used to seeing baitfish trying to escape in the opposite direction, away from it itself, so by throwing my fly too close to the GT I’m probably made it suspicious, that something was wrong, and therefore ignored my fly.
Moon and Tide.
When hunting the Giant Trevally in the surf zone and on coral flats ind the Indian Ocean it is extremely important to know something about the tide on the locality you are fishing on, that can really save the day or your whole trip. Some reefs in the Indian Ocean extends as far as the eye can see. The the surf zone and reefs can look similar as far as you can see but can vary in many ways everything from oversized pieces of dead coral hidden just below the surface, or living coral everywhere and all are like razor blades, with swells that beat one constantly, the surf zone can be a tough ride to wade in, but are also some of the most productive places to spot the Giant Trevally.
Author whit full flex.
In the Maldives where we operate, there are many different options when it comes to fly fishing for Giant Trevally. Common to all of the locations we fish on, is they are all depending on the tide in one way or another. We have seen very productive places that fish well in falling tides and in low tide, but keeps no Giant Trevally in the rising tides or at high tide, despite that the location holds many baitfish in the shallow water of the reef. But on the same reef there may be places who only fish well in rising tides and high tide, so you can actually stand on a reef, that is as far as the eye can see, which fishes just as well at rising tides and high tides as it does at falling tides and low tide. One can say, that the saying to be in the right place at the right time makes good sense when fly fishing Giant Trevally in the surf zone.
Michael with 120cm dream fish.
So by getting acquainted with the tide and lunar cycle and obtaining knowledge of the geographical environment on the locations where we are fishing we will improve our chances of success. This however will never be a guarantee, that will insure you to land the King of the reef, but a helping hand to guide you in the surf zone, on coral flats, sand flats and sandstone plateau.