Stewart Downing Goes Fishing!

Big GT At Last…….what a fish!


Here she is......Estimated at 43kg...



Well its day 10 of our trip now, and so far we have only had a day and a half out fishing, but what a half day it was !

Steve had a half day with some Americans on Sunday morning, and he said that if we could get up to meet him at Ocean Sports by midday, he would run us out for an afternoon to have a go for a big GT. No problem. If there was one fish I wanted off my bucket list on this trip, it was a GT over 50lbs, having caught a few fish up to 35lbs inMozambique on Poppers when I went out there in 2002 with my good friend Steve Younger. These fish are ANIMALS when you hook them, making long searing runs for cover, and like all Jacks, seemingly fuelled on steroids and nitrous oxide!! The prospect of a big fish was very exciting, especially as Steve’s American party caught 2 that morning – both fish of 20-22kg.

When Steve texted me to let me know what they had caught half way through the morning, I asked him to make sure he saved one for me. His reply was simple – I’m saving a 50 for you !!

He was talking kgs, not pounds, and with fish to 55kg landed in recent years from the marks he was fishing, I knew that I was in with a chance of a real lump! I planned to fish with the new Penn TRQ 9000 and TRQ Jig rods, coupled with 80lb Whiplash, and trolling either a large Magic Swimmer, or a solid bodied lure on the other rod. We would troll  over the reef marks at 5.5 knots, passing over big schools of Rainbow Runner, which were being hunted by every other fish down there, but especially the GTs!!

I was trolling the lures set at 80ft and 100ft, in an average depth of 225ft, and after a couple of passes, the right hand rod folded as the lure was ripped from the downrigger, and I watched my Whiplash disappear into the depths, as the fish made a bid for the safety of the reef beneath us. After about a minute it finally stopped diving, and I was able to start the process of pumping it back. This went on for about another
ten minutes and I had managed to get most of the braid back on the reel, with about 50ft to come back. Then the fish took off again, and took it all back! This tug of war went on for about another 20 minutes, with the fish doing its best to kill me in the process!

I hung on though, as was encouraged by Steve, telling me it must be a big fella the way it was putting a bend in the heavy jigging rod! I could only put about half a turn on the reel every time I lifted the rod, and I knew that if I did not keep the fish moving, it would just hang in the fierce tide beneath the boat; and either come off, or get eaten by a shark. Decisions were swiftly made and I wound the drag up even tighter and put all my (considerable) body weight into hauling the fish up those last few feet. I could see the fish was moving in smaller and smaller circles, and then caught a glimpse as it flashed and rolled off the stern. I remember Steve shouted out from the flying bridge that it was a big big fish, and then,
in an instant, it broke the surface, the leader swivel hit the tip ring, and Zorro and Sunday both struggled to haul the fish over the side.

Steve wasn’t wrong.

I was gob-smacked when I recognized the sheer bulk of it, laid on the deck. We quickly got the fish unhooked and Jeannette did the honours with the camera, as Heather had been recording the capture on video. We nose dived her back into the Indian Ocean and watched here power off back to the depths again for another lucky angler to catch her in the future hopefully.

Steve estimated the fish weighed between 40 and 45kg, as it was tremendously thick set with really heavy shoulders, and in perfect condition. I was speechless, excited and delirious, all at the same time; and decided to settle on a weight of 43kg! That’s 95lb in old money, and undoubtedly a likely lifetime best for the species for me. Steve
still thinks I was being modest, as he has not seen such a big fish on his boat for some years, but either way, all credit to him for skills in putting me onto the fish, and steering the boat during the fight. Out of that famous angler curiousity, I tested the drag on the reel when I had calmed down, and I could not turn it by hand, it was so wound up at the close of the fight ! Awesome power those GTs, and I can thoroughly recommend Watamu and Steve’s many years of experience out here to help you land one of these brutes.

We had nailed a true dream fish for me, but it was Heather’s turn next; and we trolled around for a few more hours, and she had a take, but the fish came off, so we headed back to our mooring and I made a bee-line for the bar ! I will show you what it did to her lure soon – it was annihilated, and probably by another GT !

That fish was a real bruiser, and I have still got the bruises to prove it !!

We are off on safari for a couple of days tomorrow but will be back here soon ………

Bring on the Tiger Sharks next !

Be lucky too!

Stew and Heather

Categories : Fishing experience

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