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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Back from the Queen's Gardens in Cuba. Just spectacular!

I have just come back from Cuba. The location is the same, the Queen’s Gardens, thus this time we explored an area I have never been before, and this is something because I have already fished the place 12 times…. Our route was heading east, towards the Cabo Cabeza del Este, on the very other end of the area I know. Quite a chellenging trip, nothing we knew about the area, the fish we could find and the environment. I just knew it couldn’t have been bad.

We left the jigging rods at home. The boats there have no sounder and to be very honest with you, my friend and I just wanted to use top water lures, both on light and heavy tackle. I had 5 rods with me: 1 heavy popping rod the Daiwa Saltiga GT86, 2 medium spinning rods, one built casting and one built spinning. Same blank, the good ol’ TP7030SP better known as Caranx Medium by Lamiglas. Las but not least, I carried in the suitcase 2 light Lamiglas Travel, XTC7025 casting up to 1 1/2oz and XTS704 spinning, up to 3/4oz. Eventually, the latter two became my favourite together with the heavy popping rod.  The very light one was with me for the Bonefish. Small jig heads, tiny grubs and good sight needed. Thus, I used it a lot with offset hooks and weightless soft plastics, like the Super Fluke, an all time favourite. I matched the rod with a tiny Daiwa Bradia and Tuf Line XP 10lb line with a 15lb fluorocarbon leader. Incredible good fun! Amazing fishing! I landed a couple of Snappers in the 10lb range in less than 10ft of water. Fought hard, digged the rocks, got stuck and finally hopped into the boat.

The 7025 was the walking the dog stick. Rigged with a Daiwa Fuego low profle baitcasting reel and 20lb braid, handled pretty well the majority of the mid size fish, including several snappers, Cudas and Tarpon. Had is rought moment when fighting a very large Cubera in 20ft of water: almost managed to turn its head to finally give up on a big rock where the leader parted. Twice it happened, not much to do about it… Didn’t use much the Caranx Medium rods, either I wanted to fish lighter or heavier, I wasn’t a trip for grey tones, mostly black and white. The Daiwa GT86 showed everything it can do and pulled hard on the big fish. Hooked three Cuberas and landed them all on 80lb braid and 130lb wind on leaders (I’m making them pretty decent now…) . The rod is a beauty to use, not the best for popping thus a great pole for stickbaits.

To make a long story short the 5 days of fishing have been nothing short of sensational. Between the two we counted more than 120 fish landed with probably as many strikes of fish we hooked and lost. Best day topped almost at 50 fish, most of them in the 4 to 10lb range because we really wanted to fish light tackle in the small pass and canals among the mangroves and the shallow reefs. Mutton Snappers, Dog Snappers, Jack Crevalle, Yellow Jack, Barracuda, Groupers, and then Bonefish and Tarpon, the ultimate gamefish of the flats. Our skipper, Vicente, an old fried, sure is the major responsible of our success, in fact nobody know the place for top water fishing as he does. The guy holding the Cubera is him :-)

I have been to this place many times as I said at the beginning, 13 now if I’m not wrong, and for some reasons I haven’t been back since 2005 but, I promise you, as soon as the skiff started crusing among the calm lagoons, running between the mangroves I asked myself.” Why on heart did I take so long to come back?” This is the place where I have learnt most of the things I know about saltwater spinning and tropical popping. I think I have lost some great years of amazing fishing in one of the best places I have ever had the pleasure to visit.

The Queen’s Gardens is one of the lost paradise of this poor planet. The nature is untouched, the fishing nothing short of amazing and the people the best you can find ever. The whole crew we had on the boat was amazing. Great guys, right attitude, good food, excellent service and total dedication. If you don’t want to go there is because you are either crazy or maybe … crazy! For me it sits among the Top 3 fishing spot around the globe. I have been away for too long, not going to do the same mistake again.

Check the web site here: Cuban Fishing Centers

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The "perfect models": The deep water Jobfish family

Many tropical jiggers hate this fish; I don’t even dare to repeat the names they call it or how disappointed they are when they land one. Is pretty easy to catch and its average size is not so exciting thus, to its detractors I like to point out a couple of things.

First of all I show them the size of the tail of the fish. Is just huge. This is a strong swimmer, fast and powerful. Then I tell’em that if this fish would grow in excess of 30 or 40 kilos nobody would be chasing Dogtooth Tunas anymore, because the Rusties pull way hard. When you catch eight kilos Jobfish you find yourself with your hands full, I promise. You start thinking you have a nice Doggie , or a medium Amberjack for that matter.

But my love for this fish doesn’t ends to its sport value. For me is the perfect subject for my distorted, over exaggerated, ultra wide angle photos. His mouth to me is as beautiful as the best mannequin’s face to a fashion photographer. The texture of its skin (scales) is just perfect for side lighting, and its colour a real plus when working against a blue sky. Is also easy to handle and to hold for the fisherman, which makes things better and most of the time is among the favourite choices for dinner, so there’s no hurry to release it.

Well, so much for those who don’t like it. I’m Rusty’s # 1 fan, bring’em in and I’ll shoot’em. You’ll probably ask me for the photo later 

Monday, April 19, 2010

Some good readings

As many of you I have been reading tons of fishing books, some good, some bad, some horrible. Among the good ones there are few that I'd like to share with you. We might not have the same taste but at least you have somebody to blame if you don't like the book....

The first one is such a great book. Looking at the title looks not so appealing yet, once you start reading it gets more and more interesting. I highly recommend it

My second pick is The Fisherman's Ocean, by Dr. David A. Ross. Is the view of an oceanographer who is an avid fly fisherman and he is able to explain in a simple way the environment and behaviour the most popular of game-fish.
Last but not least for today, is Bluewater Fly Fishing, by Trey Combs. I'm not a fly fisherman myself but this book is very interesting. Trey Combs picks his favourite game-fish and dedicates a chapter to each one of them.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Ringflash Vs Rayflash

This toy makes me look at my Visa with evil eyes. I've been about to buy one already three times, and I don't know for how long I will be able to resist. I don't know how it would work for my fishing photos, but is sure interesting for general portraits

Have a look at this video, is quite interesting

Thursday, April 15, 2010

And the winner is....

Just got the news that one of my images has won the march contest of the Lumiquest group in Flickr. Thanks a lot guys, I very much apreciate

Lumiquest web page

Monday, April 12, 2010

Video information about Nikon CLS

Since it took me a bit to understand how the Nikon CLS system worked, I think it could be of some use for those willing to master this powerful tool to watch these videos

The "Commander" use is for me the #1 choice both when I'm indoor and outdoor, especially when using the SB600 or the SB800, very reliable and powerful units. You can trigger your flashes either with the pop up flash of your Nikon or using the SU800 commander. The important thing is that the receiver, which normally is on the lower right end of your flash, can actually see the light from the pop up or receive the infrared signal from the SU800.

These videos are not new, they've been out for a while, as well as the CLS, but they are still of much use.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Vision Mongers by David duChemin, a truly good reading

There's an intersting book I recently red and that I feel like reccomending to anyone either simply interested in photography or seriously determined into turning it into his business.

This is not a know-how book. Nothing to do with exposure, composition or alike. Is a book that helps you putting together a plan to make a living in this business. Is about motivations, dedication, strenght, marketing and general ideas that will sure help the reader desing his own path (or giving up)

I enjoyed the reading, duChemin is a goor writer and is quite fun too, but most of all, even though the subject could be boring, it never gets to that point, is always alive, sparkling and uttely interesting.

Vision Mongers by David duChemin

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Jig colors? Do you really care?

Lately, I have developed an idea about colours, shape and size of the jigs that is pretty close to the one a Neanderthal could have thought of. Yet, again and again, there are examples that keep me thinking that maybe, we should stop for a second and weight our established theories. Should we eventually put in rewind and get rid of some truths that maybe, are not so truthful?

During my latest trip to the Tropics, the Andamans to be precise, everybody spent a lot of time jigging. Different places, different species, depths and tides. Every one worked with his favourite jig, included myself, and I picked a few. The reason for every lure I choose was different, yet most of them were simple, rusted, or paintless pieces of lead with zero appeal whatsoever. My main goal was to test, once again, what would make the difference and what would not.

I thought about my crappy jigs as soulless particles of metal, puppets maybe, and that I was their Mangiafuoco, the puppeteer. Without me, they had no chance to come back to life and draw the attention of any kind of predator. I worked hard for the money, fishing was quite good on day one to three but after that the tide changed and the action slowed down big time. So it was the moment to show all the tricks and turn a dead situation into some lively action.

Well, it was a tough deal, those animals don’t like very much any kind of slow retrieve (apart from GTs), and hence keeping a faster pace kind of tired me down. Thus, my crippled jigs, with no eyes, no paint and no sex appeal made some serious damage, even when the other guys, with good looking stuff would see no action.

I sell lures, have an internet shop and stock many different kind of lures with several different colours. None of them catch MORE fish, not a single one is miraculous yet there’s a jig that will catch more fish that any other: is the one that we will drop most of the time and that suits our style better.