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"Lucky Luke" at the Similan Islands.
By Neil Robinson.

American angler Gerrit, and his two young sons Luke (11)
and Seth (6) enjoyed an excellent two days, one night trip
to the Similan Islands on the 6 th and 7th of April.

Luke is already an experienced Big Game angler,
with many impressive game fish under his belt including lots of Tuna,
Barracuda, Wahoo, Dorado and two Sailfish!

Arriving at Chalong Pier at 07.30 AM with a perfectly cloudless blue sky,
we were quickly taken by longtail boat from the beach, over the short distance
to where "Gecko" was fully prepared, ready and waiting for the trip out to the Similan Islands.

After everyone had settled onboard, Jonas, Gecko's skipper
gave a quick but thorough safety briefing, making sure
that everyone knew the locations of the life jackets, life belts,
fire extinguishers and first aid kit etc.

The "Deckie" Tiew lifted the anchor and Gecko's powerful twin engines fired up
to take us slowly out from Chalong Bay towards the southern tip of Phuket.

Despite the early hour, the day was already starting to get hot
and the air–conditioned cabin was a welcome respite.

Coffee was served and we sat back to admire the scenery as the two outriggers
were put in position, quickly followed by two "tuna lines" led by a "bird teaser."

Two more rods were added, trolling lures, and a large "teaser"
was lowered into the water on a rope, which began to dive and surface
4 meters from the boat, causing a small wake,
and leaving a stream of bubbles behind the boat.

The lines had only been in the water for a few minutes
as we approached " Buddha Island ", (a small picturesque island
that has a beautiful golden statue of a seated Buddha)
when the sound of a "screaming" reel caught everybody's attention.

Tiew sprang into action, and quickly hooked up the fish that was taking line
on the left hand Tuna line, and handed the rod to Luke.
Expertly handling the 16 lbs outfit, he quickly had the fish under control
and a lively Skipjack Tuna was soon in the ice box.

As soon as the same rod was back in the water and the boat was moving again,
another Tuna was hooked up. This time it was Seth's turn,
and with a little help from his father, another Tuna
soon followed the first one into the ice box.

A steady stream of Tuna continued to be caught as we headed north,
along the west coast of Phuket, passing the popular tropical holiday beaches
of Kata, Karon, Patong and Surin.

As we approached the north, the aircraft direction buoy came into view;
this is a well known fish holding area, and attracts many different species around the buoy.

The first time we circled the buoy, we didn't get a strike, but second time around
we got a double hook–up of Tuna. After checking the fish finder,
Jonas decided we should move on, and eager for better fish,
we pressed on towards the Similan Islands.

A delicious lunch of spare ribs, chicken curry, steamed rice and fruit was served,
and was equally as good a standard as any quality restaurant.

As we got further out to sea, flying fish took to the air, skimming across the surface
at great speed as they were disturbed by the boat.

Soon we passed through an area that is known as Sam Jod ( Three Peaks ).
This is where three large underwater seamounts rise up from the very deep water
to a depth of around 50 meters below the surface. This causes a natural up swelling
of plankton, and small squid, attracting fish of many species into the area
creating a "hotspot" for game fish.

Luke suggested we try his favourite diving lure here, and was soon proved correct
when a large Wahoo snatched it, jumping clear of the water in a defiant bid for freedom.

The fish began to twist and dive in the current, stripping line off the reel at an alarming rate,
and then unfortunately, somehow managed to shed the hook.

Luke was very disappointed to lose a fish that Jonas estimated to weigh
in the region of 18 Kg, and the loss showed across his face.

Many more Tuna were caught, sometimes double and treble hook–ups,
the boys taking turns to land the fish, all the rest of the way to the Similan Islands.

Arriving at the fishing grounds west of the islands the action continued,
and many more Tuna kept filling the iceboxes, leaving us with little time
to savour the outstanding natural beauty of these remote islands.

Tiew prepared another fantastic meal, the fresh Sashimi being particularly tasty,
and once the boat was securely anchored, it was time for some serious bottom fishing.

There was a light refreshing breeze as the breathtaking sunset started to disappear into the sea.
Darkness was beginning to draw in, and the commercial squid boats with their powerful lights
shining into the water, could be seen on the horizon.

Jonas prepared some "chum" made from a few of the Tuna, and put it into the water
attached to a short rope, next to the boat. The hooks were baited with strips of Tuna
and lowered into the water, fished a few meters above the sea bed.

It wasn't long before the first "bite", Jonas hooking up a small fish almost straight away.
Winding in, he thought he had lost the fish, only to discover the small Snapper
he had hooked had been bitten clean in half! Only the head remained,
indicating that there must be some formidable predators around.

Shortly after Luke was into a good fish, and after a good scrap,
a nice Barracuda was in the boat. The Barracuda kept on coming
at a steady pace, Gerrit thought he had lost a good fish, only to find out
the same thing had happened again, when he reeled in
a good sized Barracuda's head, minus the body!

Plenty more Barracuda were caught and released,
plus a large snapper found its way onto the boat.

Jonas put out whole Tuna baits on the 50lb rods, suspended a few meters
below the surface from balloon floats intended for the many shark,
and other big predator species in the area.

A pleasant evenings fishing was enjoyed, with Jonas recalling his many intrepid
and interesting fishing adventures he has endured over his 20+ years of fishing
the Andaman Sea , and one or two tales about "the one that got away."

Around 11.00 PM, everyone was in their comfortable cabins fast asleep,
except Tiew, who continued to fish on his own, using a hand line.
That's dedication for you!

The two shark baits where left in position, and everyone slept
with one ear listening out for a run on one of the rods.

Rising at dawn, Jonas checked the baits. One was intact, but the other bait
had been taken, unfortunately not resulting in a hook–up.

A hearty breakfast was served, nicely setting everyone up for the days fishing ahead.
Tiew drew the anchor and we set off towards the drop off,
the rods all quickly in position awaiting the first fish of the day.

We didn't have to wait long before a nice Barracuda struck Luke's favourite lure,
which after a good fight was released unharmed. The many teeth marks
embedded into the body of this lure are a testimony to the large number
of toothy predators that have fallen victim to it.

Trolling along the drop–off, the Tuna started to come steadily to the two "daisy chains."
I spotted some Frigate birds feeding 200 meters to our left hand side,
and Jonas swiftly manoeuvred "Gecko" into position to troll our lures
through the area the birds were feeding in.

Just as we were almost past the area, the left hand rod, "Luke's lucky lure,"
screamed off with a good fish stripping line off the reel, at a terrific pace.

Tiew hooked up the fish and handed the rod straight to Luke,
just as the large female Dorado broke the surface in a spectacular jump.
Repeatedly the fish jumped again and again, flipping over completely
in the vain attempt for escape.

After a nerve–racking battle the beautifully coloured fish was safely on board,
and now it was a race against time to photograph the fish as quickly as possible,
as the colouration rapidly fades the longer the fish is out of the water.

As it was nearly lunchtime, Tiew expertly cleaned and filleted the fish,
also packing the remainder in ice so it could be taken back to Singapore,
for the family barbeque.

The lunchtime meal Tiew prepared was incredible,
certainly the best food I have ever eaten on a game boat.
The Dorado practically melted in your mouth!

Back to the fishing, and the Tuna continued to come at intermittent intervals,
until all too soon it was time to bring in the rods.

As we passed by Kata Beach about a mile offshore, a small school of Dolphins
came to have a quick look at the boat, before disappearing into the distance.
A nice end to a great fishing adventure, the weather had been fantastic
the whole trip and everyone had caught plenty of fish.

With iceboxes packed with Tuna and Dorado, we said our goodbyes at Chalong Bay.
Hopefully it wont be too long before we do it all again,
and next time the Marlin won't be so elusive.

See you soon guys!

Tight Lines!

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