When Yves Fraisseix, our good friend in India, was scouting for the right destination to start a new fishing operation, the Laccadive Islands was just one of several possibilities. Then he started to ask around about the necessary permits to run a fishing operation on the islands. Most reactions were like ”You can’t”, ”Don’t do it”, ”Too complicated” and ”Impossible” – and those were the more positive ones. In Yves’ own words, ”that’s when I knew I had found the right place!”
We all know that – all things equal – the lesser fishing pressure, the better fishing. Here was a whole group of islands in the Indian Ocean that no one had ever fished! For Yves, all that was left was to make the impossible happen. He eventually did, and when all the red tape was finally cleared, and he got the permissions to bring foreign anglers to the Laccadives, it was just a matter of finding the right boats and someone to run them, right? Well, not really…
We won’t go into detail about how the locals first thought, he was downright mad, when he returned fish (=food) to the sea – and as a consequence refused to take him out again. Or how six different Indian authorities each need to approve a ten page form for every client. The thing is, when you throw your popper toward a reef that has probably never been fished before – you don’t care about all the obstacles that had to be cleared on the way. Yves took care of that, anyway.
TRAVELLING TO THE LACCADIVES
SEASON: November to May.
FLY TO: Cochin.
Day 1: Arrival in Cochin, short transfer to hotel.
Day 2: Flight to Agatti, boat transfer to tent camp.
Day 3-8: Six full days of fishing, mainly as live aboard.
Day 9: Boat transfer to Agatti for the flight to Cochin. Short transfer to hotel.
Day 10: Early morning transfer to the airport for the flight home.
Longer trips possible.
PRICE: From €3800 per person for an eight nights, six days fishing package.
INCLUDED: Flights Cochin-Laccadive Islands (return), all transfers and all meals on the islands, six full days of guided fishing (three anglers per boat), eight nights at hotel/resort.
NOT INCLUDED: International flights to Cochin (India). Soft drinks, gratuities, possible overweight Cochin-Laccadives Islands (approx. €150 per angler).
FISHING AND FISHING GROUNDS
Though there isn’t neither much sport fishing or any commercial fishing that target the species we are after – with the GT being the most sought after species and the napoleon being the most welcome by catch – there is no doubt that the longer you can venture away from the inhabited islands the better the fishing gets. Even if the locals don’t fish much for the bigger predatory species they still net the lagoons for lots of smaller fish and with less food the local waters dont’ hold the same number of big fish.
Therefore, fishing in the Laccadives is all about getting to the remote islands – and not least getting the special permissions to go there as a foreigner. If you find any local fishermen around these islands you can be pretty sure they are only targeting yellowfin tuna – with poles, lines and hooks in the most sustainable way – and the fishing around these remote islands can be absolutely amazing. All the popping is carried out along near endless reef edges, quite similar to what we fish in the Maldives further south
BOATS AND ACCOMMODATION
Since our first visit in 2012 a lot has changed. The boats have gotten bigger, the engines are less noisy and run reliably, the food is better and the crew is working harder than ever. There is even a toilet on board now, which is a real step forward. You should, however, bring along a good dose of adventurous spirit, as we still spend the nights on the water, on mattresses under the stars.
When we are not fishing the remote islands, we sleep in a well-equipped tent camp.
We use the local wooden boats, from which it is easy to fish. There is plenty of room for three anglers and the boat crew now knows how to steer the boat to position it ideally along the reefs. The boats are not very fast, but since we cover the longer distances to the distant fishing spots at night, we lose no valuable fishing time during the day.
CLIMATE AND SEASON
The Laccadives experiences a tropical climate all through the year without much variation.
The temperature ranges from 25oC to 35oC and outside the monsoon season (mid May to late September) the sea is usually calm. December to May are the driest months.
The fishing season runs from November and into May.
We recommend a quality rod with a casting weight of around 180 grams. That will basically cover all your fishing with poppers and stick baits. There are lots of good rods on the market and for a while we have been fishing new three piece rods. They are much easier for travel as you can fit them into a larger suitcase or duffle bag but being a bit shorter (usually between 7’ 6” and 8 feet) they don’t cast quite as well as the longer (8’6”) two piece rods. Still, we think it’s a fair trade off.
When it comes to reels we think a fixed spool reel like Shimano’s Stella 14000XG (or 10000SW) is the perfect size for the Laccadives. There is no need to bring bigger (and heavier) models.
The choice of line is a matter of personal taste. Some prefer 60 lbs braid as long casts can be very effective, with most strikes happening on a long line. However, you will brake it more often than heavier braided lines so we most often fish 80 or 100 lbs.
It is impossible to get hold of any tackle in the Laccadives so you must bring everything you plan to use. And be sure to bring a back up rod just in case.
When the fishing is hot most poppers will get eaten sooner or later – but here are some proven winners: Heru Cubera, Dumbell Pop (L), Fisherman Paro Paro, Sebile Splasher 190 and especially our favourite Heru Skipjack. Of course, many other poppers in the 100-180 range will work well too. Stick baits of 20 cm and up that will cast well also do really well in. One of our favourites is the GT Harrier.
We always do a little jigging in the Laccadives but often it is just to catch some fresh fish for lunch in the middle of the day. Sometimes there can be nice surprises in the shape of bigger dog tooth tunas or even napoleons – but for jigging you don’t really need to bring the most expensive stuff. A suited rod and maybe a less expensive reel like Shimano Saragossa, Penn Conflict or similar. Jigs around 200-250 grams work well.
Though most people still haven’t even heard about the Laccadives it is relatively easy getting there.
From Europe there are several one stop flights via Dubai or Doha to Cochin in India. Here we spend the first night (included in the package) before we board the flight to Agatti in the Laccadives the next morning.
From Agatti we continue by boat to the neighboring island Bangaram where the tent camp is located. And from Bangaram we start our expedition, either going North or South.