'We were fishing a new moon so the tides were pulling water and the big boys were on the move. Time to break out the 12-weight for giant trevally, golden trevally, green spot trevally, blue fin trevally and barracuda the length of my refrigerator (no joke). All these were available each time we went out, provided you could hold it together as they blew past. Sometimes I did but most times I didn't. I loved every minute!!!
'The atoll's bottom is composed mostly of sand and pancake flats, which makes for ideal conditions for spotting fish and easy wading. This is a great location for the mature angler who may be a little unsteady and has been limited to fishing from a boat. Although there are sharks around, they paid no attention to the anglers, unlike Abaco, Bahamas, where I had to keep my rod butt at the ready. 'One quibble I had was that at times we had as many as nine people walking the same flat. With so much water, if they had provided a fourth tender, my fishing partners and I would have chosen to fish away from the group to capture the essence of a true exotic fishing adventure. That's what we paid big dollars for. At one point during the week we were actually 'pushed off' our water by a more aggressive fellow angler fishing nearby. This is an easy fix for the outfitter: They simply need four tenders for eight anglers, not three tenders. That will allow everyone flexibility on a daily basis.
'As for the weather during my trip, a storm named Cyclone Cleo posed a threat early on. But, as storms do, it changed course. Fortunately, we had high winds, murky water and chop for only two days followed by two days of unusually still air and pancake-flat water. The remaining days of the trip were more in keeping with what is expected on the flats: moderate winds that keep a nice ripple on the water that allows you to get close to the fish.
'Turning to problems on the trip, the group dynamic was a little odd. We had four people who had traveled together before and four people who had never met. In my opinion, the former controlled the daily flow of events - the pack mentality. As previously mentioned, there were only three tenders for eight people. So, virtually every other day, you were forced to coordinate your whole day with another pair of anglers and their guide as to where and how long to fish. It has been my observation that, at fishing camps, people who complain the most and are difficult to deal with wind up getting the best water. That's particularly important to me because I don't complain and consequently seem to find myself assigned to water that is more difficult and/or less productive than the water assigned to others. I spoke to the head guide about this, and he assured me that that was not happening.
The problems I was perceiving, he said, were simply due to coincidence. Be that as it may, more and more women are making time to fish these days, and I think we women anglers need to try a little less hard to be 'one of the guys.' We need to speak up about some of the real differences that we quietly muddle through out on the water. In the future, I am going to make an effort to be more honest about my needs. I am no longer going to dehydrate myself so that I can go eight to nine hours without using the washroom. I don't even know how to broach the topic of the menstrual cycle with the guides in this location because you go out for eight to nine hours at a time. We are wading up to our waists at times with other anglers in the vicinity, and we can't return easily to the mother ship without disrupting the other anglers with whom we share the boat. An easy fix is to have control over when you go out and when you go back - in other words a fourth tender.
'My training as a sailing instructor always kicks in whenever I am in open water and small boats. These guys are better than most when it comes to safety, but I would like to recommend that self-inflating life vests be put on the packing list, and anglers should be required to wear them coming and going from the fishing venues each day.
The swells here are large enough at times to make it difficult to spot an angler if he ended up in the water. There were life jackets on the boats, but they were stored under a hatch and they were the bulky type that you generally choose not to wear. The guides were always in touch with one another and the ship by radio, but I would have felt more comfortable if they had kept the emergency shut-off cords attached to themselves while they were operating the dual outboard engines standing up. The shut-off cords would have killed the engine if they lost their balance and fell overboard.
'As for the mother ship itself, The Gryphon is a lovely boat and ideal for the location, but it needs a little tender loving care. On the cruise over, our cabin leaked fairly heavily through a porthole which was later caulked shut. Also, the A/C unit was not draining properly and therefore was leaking into the clothes closet, making it impossible to hang up our clothes. The shower drain did not drain properly either, which left you standing in water. On the other hand, we were very happy to have a private bathroom.
'All problems aside, I recommend this trip. It is a dream destination, a trip of a lifetime provided by a professional tour operator. It offers spectacular fishing of a quality that is increasingly hard to find today. '