SANCTUARY: GAAFU DHAALU ATOLL EXPEDITION




SANCTUARY: GAAFU DHAALU ATOLL EXPEDITION


Last week of July 2012, the team of GT Fishers Maldives made Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll Expedition.€Before we acquired 400HP speedboat in November last year, we had only Dhoni Hariyana for Fishing Safari for the last 15 years; Hariyana had never been to Gaafu Dhaalu for Fishing Safari but for Diving Charter only with some families.€ Gaafu Dhaalu is so far away as 340km away from Nation’s Capital Male City that Dhoni takes 3 straight days to reach without any fishing in those three days.€ Maldives GT Fans from mainly Europe also tend to go Northern Maldives such as Haa Alifu, Haa Dhaalu, Shaviyani, and Noonu Atoll; We also went to Noonu in Jaunary & March earlier this year as well with similar mindset and had wonderful time.€ The Southern Maldives have been ignored by GT Fishermen for long; thus, we hypothesized that Fishes in Gaafu Dhaalu would have been unspoiled that was the reason for us to decide about this expedition.


Conclusion First: For 6.5 day fishing expedition in Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll was Explosive!


  • We get 40-50 bites & attacks daily on top water poppers and pencils.
  • We had over 30 GTs throughout, including 11 GTs in a single day.
  • Caught 3 GTs over 40kg topped with 48kg while we lost quite few including apparent over 50kg that we could see in our own eyes
  • We also got many other fishes totaling nearly three digits; Yellow Fin Tunas, Napoleon Fish, Groupers, Red Snappers, Blue Fin Trevallies, Sharks, Etc.€ Yellow Fin Tunas were particularly massive and full of stock including gigantic ones over 70-80kg.€ These are numbers only by Top Water fishing and does not include those caught with Jigging.

Thus, our hypothesis was proven correct and had a wonderful time, even though we were nowhere near Full or New Moon for better tide period as I could take only this week off (Main Business does not turn around the status NOT for good tide cycle).€ If tide is good, it would have been nuclear explosive experiences?!€ Anyway we had some observations for our a week long expedition:


  • We tried only outer reef unlike January/March Noonu Atoll Expedition.€ Noonu’s outer reef has been fished so much that not much activities but inner reef that was unspoiled territories because Dhoni is difficult to approach those points effectively with find navigation with that big body and slow engine.€ On the other hand, Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll was completely different.€ Outer Reef had fantastic conditions and the Atoll was big enough that we could not even cover all outer reef in a week!€ We have to go back in a couple of months to try untouched reef and points.€ Inner reef was not even touched.
  • Points were not so much of issues to catch fishes but tide mattered more.€ As between the new and full moon, current activities were not so much that we had to do some calculation and planning on daily basis to pick good time as we learned by fishing everyday over 10 hours a day.€ Tide going higher was very good and going down was not as good.€ Especially at reef edges to inflow the waters into inner reef and atoll were just sure things all the time.€ When tide is completely up with no currents, we tried super shallow.€ It worked quite good though it is risky fishing if specially you catch groupers and huge red snappers that go so fast down to coral and rocks; we ended up losing quite a few expensive lures including $160 abalone pencils!
  • When currents stop, there are a few things you can do.€ Some of us can just jump into coral beach to snorkel to enjoy!€ Another way is JIGGING; Yellow Fin Tuna stock in Gaafu Dhaalu is phenomenal and very easy to catch which may be a good things beginners or accompanying wives and kids to try out.€ However remember that there are a lot of over 70-80kg monsters.€
  • Every few days we found what we call “Nabura that is a group of bate fishes being attacked by a bunch of Yellow Fin Tunas as well as birds from sky.€ By some bloods from those predator activities, sharks are also attracted.€ You literally see a so many gigantic Tunas jumping around surrounded by hundreds and thousands of birds hunting small bate fishes, followed by quite a few again huge sharks.€ We capture some video clips while we were also busy casting into this Nabura.€€ This is the time you really appreciate fast speed boat to catch this Nabura that there is no ways slow Dhoni can catch up fast moving Nabura!!€ First time, Captain Mohamed caught several Yellow Fin Tunas under 10kg.€ I on the other hand hooked 30kg shark that I lost just before landing.€ Then brought another rod and threw then BINGO!€ Huge Yellow Fin was hooked and long, challenging fights started over 10 minutes.€ It was definitely over 70kg as I later got 48kg GT and this was not even comparative to this Tuna fight.€ Unfortunately I got line cut after 10+ minutes…€ In this Nabura, we lost 5 lures in 15-20 minutes!!€ Next day we saw smaller Nabura and caught quite few smaller Yellow Fin that turned into delicious Sashimi and BBQ on that night in the Guest House Garden with a lot of soft drinks!€ (Remember Maldives are Muslim country and alcohol is not usually available; do not buy any duty free alcohol to bring in as they get confiscated at airport customs without any mercy!)€ Resorts and Dhoni boats are exception though.€ http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=3852974516647


 

Access to Gaafu Dhaalu is amazingly easy. Yes, I said earlier how far away this is and that is why this place was preserved.€ However, if you come to Maldives with international flights, likely you can transit to another domestic flights to reach Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll (Kaadedhodhoo Airport) as latest flight is 11pm departure.€ If you prefer to fly in the morning, it is 7am.€ You can still start fishing probably by 9am then to sunset time.€ Last day is similar that if your international flight is late night red-eye, you can fish all day then you can fly back to Male and still able to catch your 10-11pm flight out to Male. You can check the most recent domestic flights at http://www.maldivian.aero/.€ Advantage of domestic airlines is that they can fly at night and you know the schedule ahead of time.€ Many of resorts in various atolls, you take Sea Plane or Air Taxi that they do not fly after dark and their schedule is not decided until the day before your flight.€ Hours of fishing can be killed by those Sea Plane manual scheduling despite our requests!€ Luggage is handled easier as well. Over weight penalty is pretty reasonable compared to Sea Plane as well.


However this is still far destination because it cost a lot more compared to fishing around Male.€ This boat is my first boat to own.€ The way speed boat consume gas is just incredible.€ I own anti-ecological American V-8 Mustang Convertible that uses a lot of gas.€ Nonetheless, it is not comparative to speed boat by far!€ This time we took our speed boat from Male to Gaafu Dhaalu for 340km x 2 round trip.€ Do you have any ideas how much we consumed gas to make this trip?€ We try not to use max speed that consumes gas like crazy and we found fuel efficient speed and RPM that we try to stick to, because it makes difference by 100%!!€ Anyway, it was 1900 litters of gas for round trip.€ Plus we used average of 200 litters for aggressive point coverage throughout the week.€ Fuel is single most expensive cost items for these boat that you have to understand.€ On top of fuel, we have to change oil every 100 hours that is over $200.€ So, our prices to go Gaafu Dhaalu is $2,500 on top of daily charter but this is just simply covering the costs of fuel and oil without any margin whatsoever.€ For crews’ guesthouse charges we are picking up the bill in order to make our charter trips as affordable as possible.€ Gas prices in Gaafu Dhaalu is usually 20% higher than Male as well.


Gaafu Dhaalu, it is such a fantastic place for fishing, literally sanctuary, In order to make this more economical, we are thinking about nominating a few months every year to base ourselves in Gaafu Dhaalu.€ Then, we do not have to charge $2,500 for every trip but shared by multiple customers.€ I just would like to ask you all as potential customers if this idea is a good one or not.€


Maldives are actually quite a big country if you travel up and down to the edges of borders on both ends of north and south; it is nearly 1,000km.€ If you go fishing to Indonesia, you just go to each island such as Bali, Komodo, Alor, etc.€ We on the other hand trying to cover all Maldives from Male.€ Anyway we are just starting our operations and learning a lot as we go by.€ Any feedback and customer voices, particularly criticism is welcome to improve our services!


Thanks!!




Where Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll is located in Maldives!





Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll Map





Captain Mohamed’s 41.5kg http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=3824812532615





This time Record 48kg, Need to improve how to take picture... 
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=3842320410301





One more over 40kg. Most favorite photo!





Blue Fin Trevally, such a beauty with sparkling cobalt blue!





Yellow Fin Tuna! Earlier lost over 70kg…after 10min fights with line cut at end…





Napoleon Fish, Very rare and protected species Immediately released with extreme care!