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For the third year in a row the family had decided to spend Christmas in the Maldives. I had four days of fishing to look forward to and had chosen the four days around the full moon, which happened to occur just around Christmas. Maybe not ideal given that this was primarily a family trip but what can you do...

I had decided to pack light and only bring three rods; one dedicated stickbait rod, one light tackle rod and one heavier rod that I could use for the few poppers I had brought as well as the largest stickbaits. The choice fell on a Carpenter The Blue Lagoon 80/40 (PE8), a Carpenter Black Current 80MRF (PE2-4) and a Ripple Fisher GT80XH nano (PE12) - or at least I thought so. While unpacking my rods I noticed, to my great despair, that I had packed the wrong rod tip to my Ripple Fisher. I had accidently packed my Ripple Fisher GT82LC tip! That's what happens when you don't pay attention! Two Stella 2008 18k and a Stella 2008 6k accompanied the rods. Stella standard and SOM spools, filled with Varivas Avani GT Max PE8&10 and Sunline Monster PE3, 4&10 lines.

I had packed 27 larger lures, of which only seven poppers. Stickbaits had accounted for all my GT catches the prior two year, so I had brought 20 larger stickbaits - mostly floating, as I prefer topwater to subsurface strikes. The larger lures were complemented by 14 smaller ones for the light tackle set-up.

Captain Mohamed picked me up at the jetty at 7.30am on the first day. Ahmed, one of his younger brothers accompanied him. This year, GT Fishers Maldives had upgraded their boat. Same make/brand as the previous boat, but with an additional six feet in length (37ft in total) and a cabin provided additional comfort compared to the old one, which was good as the wind had started to pick up the day before. Also the new boat was powered by twin Yamaha 200hp engines.

The wind was blowing from the northeast at ca 7m/s. We headed north/northeast and after a ca 30 min boat ride we started fishing around the most northern islands of the atoll. I picked a Gamma GT 140 black abalone as my first lure and had a bite already in the second cast. Good start, I thought as a launched another cast against the reef. It didn't take long before I came tight. The fish immediately turned and went for the reef but I managed to stop it. Then it changed tactics and dove towards the bottom and somehow managed to get the lure stuck. At first, I though that the fish was still hooked but as soon as we got the boat over the structure, I realized that is was long gone. Luckily, I was able to free up and retrieve the lure - phew! An additional benefit of fishing with barbless hooks.

A few casts later I caught the first fish of the day - a red bass and not long thereafter I caught my first GT for the day on a red head silver bones RAL Haku 120. No giant, but still a GT.

After fishing for an hour and a half I made a horrible realization, I didn't have the strength to continue fishing with the heavy set-up! The last year's extensive traveling with virtually no exercise, in combination with unhealthy food and too much red wine had taken toll on my physical strength and stamina. I simply wasn't fit enough to swing +200g lures for six hours in a row, while at the same time trying to make sure to stay on my two feet in a rocking boat. As a consequence, I had to switch to my light set-up. I also decided to sort out virtually all stickbaits that weighed more than 140 grams unrigged and leave them, plus all poppers, at home the following three days. A huge disappointment, as I had really looked forward to test a whole raft of new lures on the trip but it was also a real eye-opener. I am not getting any younger and since you only get one body, I need to start taking care of it. If for nothing else, then at least to be able to fish full days when going on future fishing trips. I continued fishing with the lighter set-up the rest of the day and ended up catching 9 fish in total, of which only 2 GTs. I had brought only fourteen smaller lures and lost two of them already the first day.

The most memorable fish from day one was a GT that I saw swimming in a zigzag pattern very fast just under the surface before smashing my lure, only to be lost a few seconds later after pulling out some 10-15m of line from my SOM 6k reel.


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