We left Djibouti on the evening of Saturday, October 7th, utterly exhausted. Fly fishing for Triggerfish and Giant Trevally on Martian terrain takes a special kind of angler.
Hooks in fingers, corral in shins, delirious from heat and the occasional stomach spray, it was a team effort to keep the mind focused. The evening banter was depraved, hilarious and the finest I’ve been a part of.
What follows is from my trip journal, written in real time as the trip unfolded. Glaring typos that would lead to confusion have (mostly) been cleared up. Extra clarifications have been added inside parentheses.
Note: I write my fishing journals when I first wake up or right before falling asleep. Efficiency is of the essence and thus most sentences lack personal pronouns. It is safe to assume I’m talking about my own actions or emotional state when no pronoun is mentioned.
GT, geet - Giant Trevally
Napo - Napolean Wrasse
Emperor - Sweetlip Emperor
Permit - Indo-Pacific Permit
Trigger - Titan Triggerfish
Margin - Yellowmargin Triggerfish Pseudobalistes flavimarginatus
Grouper - Malabar Grouper
Trevally - Various smaller Trevally species
Dragon - The Welsh Dragon, Johnathan Wyn Roberts. Fan favorite and strong believer in the good luck of gold chains
Shark - New York Sean, Sean Clark. One hell of a baitfish tyer and inspiration for my continued bachelorhood
E - Ethan, the youngest member of the expedition, wilderness first aid responder certified and (yet to be jaded) Alaska fly fishing guide
Abdo - Local boat captain, father of 12, lover of Khat
Mohammad - local contact, lover of Big GT poppers, foe of unproductive fly fishing and non-perfect USD cash
6:29am (Atlanta time)
On the plane. Right over Slovenia right now! 1:40 to go. Feelin solid. Been sleeping real well.
11:02pm (local time)
About to land. Been sleeping like a champ. Full row on this one after the first hour or two. Slept for two hours straight.
Stoked about the gear. Seems like we were able to carry on just about everything we wanted. 8 kilograms for carry on and 5 kilograms for personal items on Turkish. Brutal. But that was really just the gate agent. We never got checked while boarding.
Pretty pissed the camp has been moved. April’s location really was prime. Small gravel everywhere there. Mud sand here. The massive enclosed long house was excellent for gear storage. Nothing like that here. Sean and I tore down the front cover of our Yurt to allow more breeze. Hopefully it works.
slept well. Sun is brutal tho. No getting around that. Mohammad just grabbed my foot. Austeen Austeen. Fish fish. Then - money money.
exhausted. Just slid into bed. We have reconfigured this place a lot. Liking it a touch more. But still wish we were at April camp. Body is worn out. Mind as well. Solid first day.
We get moving a little after 8. Wind is up. Start with organizing gear and getting the rods strung up. Takes a bit. Show the right knots to the guys. By 10am we are at the gazebo ready to eat. Food has been ready for a bit. Tasty.
We hit the water by 11:15. Get to the (redacted) around 11:45. Tide is RIPPING out. Wild. Massive swell on the break. Abdo is back. Good to see him. Different boat with 85 old school Yamaha. Same panga hull with tee top.
Cove is already low. Spook a fish or two. Get out. Onto rocks. Walk over to point to sling spoon. Then can see Abdo is looking at driving over the flat. I’m pissed. Forgot about that problem. No action on spoon. A few chases from smaller fish.
Drop off ugly stick (spin rod) and grab 8wt and 12wt. Check in with Ethan and Dragon. Nothing spotted yet. Walk down rock shore to reptile point to talk to Abdo. Water still decently deep near the island. Don’t see anything. Almost to boat. He’s screaming at someone on the phone. Then he sees me, hello my friend. Lol
He pulls anchor and drifts with the wind towards far beach. Get back up high. Spot for Ethan.
Spot a trigger. Ethan moves it then it spooks.
Spot another that’s happy. Out in the middle. Deeper water. Not tailing but it is feeding. Dragon is with me by then on the high rock point. Ethan does well. Trigger closes super fast from far away. He tries to bury the strip but never connects. Not sure if the fish just kept swimming towards him or if the pull was too abrupt and took it out of its mouth.
Don’t see anything for a bit. Water is dropping steadily. Can see (redacted) out of water now.
Walk with Dragon towards beach. Nada.
Then walk on own. Get around final rock peninsula. Boom. Nice trigger. Out in the middle. Deeper water. Moving away. Nice long cast. Work him back. Feel tension twice but don’t connect! Ugfhhh. Follows all the way to 8 feet or so from rod point tho as leader connection knot is well inside. Dang. No interest on follow up shots.
Then nothing. Super slow as tide continues to drop like crazy. Flat is dry by 1:45. Keep dropping. Looks like a Yucatán bonefish flat! Haha.
I walk to Abdo a little after 3. Language barrier I guess. I said 3 again and again. Fascinating to see the color of the corral mounds in the low water. Tricky to get into boat. Bow is scratched some. Abdo does well to avoid real damage. Other guy is no help at all.
Guys are near the cove. They’ve been seeing spray out in the middle.
We drive over. Bait is pulsing. Get the spin gear. Some more bait spray. Then Shark gets nailed on the big popper on the 9’ rod. The water (around the popper) just disappears. Line is screaming out. Holy hell. I take charge and tell everyone what to do and where to go. We get all the rods on one side. Get everyone to sit down. Clear starboard side. (6 people, 8 fly rods & 4 spin rods in a small panga is, uh, interesting). Get my glove. Fight is going well. Then the rod doubles over and the fish goes straight down and can see it jerking. Bait is still spraying near the boat and with occasional boils.
Then the rod goes slack. Braid is split. Shame. That’s the lighter set up. Only about 50lb.
We switch to teaser on that rod. Popper instead of spoon on my rod. And Dragon gets to bow to try to throw the fly. Dragon puts on a life vest as the front of the bow is moving in the surf like crazy. Works pretty well with Ethan throwing popper in the back and Shark teasing from bow behind Dragon. Real shame we have the tee top as that makes 70% of the boat unusable (for spin fishing). Ethan gets worn out from the odd balancing.
I take over the back (of the boat) popper. Hot damn does it move water. But it’s a work out to pop it with no bracing. We chase bait around for an hour or so but it never really goes crazy again like earlier.
By 4:30pm we head to the beach to fish on foot for sunset. Tons of bait along (redacted) shoreline near (redacted) but no triggers. Shame. Water is still crazy low although it’s started to come in.
Draining tide pinned baitfish to the inside of the (redacted)
Birds and GTs were working it by 1:30/2 on a (redacted) super low tide.
Slept well. Might be the most extended sleep I’ve had since I first got back from Alaska two weeks ago. In bed at 9:30. Just woke up for good. Wind is ripping. We may have played ourselves by opening up the Yurt. The plastic is super loud. Should have brought my crocs. This ground is tougher on the feet than April camp. Also just more spread out.
just finished (Day 1) recap. Can start to feel the air warming up! Wind is still ripping. Temp was super pleasant in the night. I put on a t-shirt for warmth!
Worn out. Front of my right foot is pissed. Swollen under the skin on the pad right below toes. Big tired. Time to pass out.
Interesting day. Wind is howling when we wake up. Ripping the plastic off our Yurt.
We have a very delayed morning. Chef is no where to be found at 7 am. Classic. I ask for food and he says yes yes, five minutes. Well it takes a good 40 to get the Naan. So maybe the five minutes was that he would start in 5. Lol
While waiting for food, Ethan and I watch some small fish get wrecked by the nearly peaking high tide. They get swept up in a small chute in the sand and beached. This makes me reconsider my go to the (redacted) ambitions. Maybe we should stay in the (redacted) as the current is surging and pushing everything (redacted). Maybe the pack of Geets from April will be on the prowl.
We load up. 9am. Head to Kaniak cove. Boots on the ground by 9:29. Water is pretty damn high. I make it across to get to the interior peninsula. Nearly neck deep in the middle.
Nothing much happens at first. Water starts to drop and vis increases. Spot a titan trigger coming in. Follow it into the flat but lose it. Then boom there’s a margin right there directly down wind. And I blow the shot. Too much splash. In deep water. Should have waded out and got to the side of it so the wind wasn't slamming down the fly. And being out in deep water would have helped casting stealth.
Back to rocks. Super blue Napo in the drop off. Get one shot but no reaction. Then it disappears. Bastard.
Back up to the top of rocks. Oh baby. A happy Napo cruising the edge. It’s gray and orange. I run up ahead and then cut down. Get some line out. Wind is howling. Back cast is trash in wind so do a big roll cast. Get out and ahead. Working it back. Napo is eyeing it. And then spooks right near the fly. Figure it would crushed it.
Makes me wonder if grouper baitfish fly presentation is what is needed there (soft landing cast and barely twitch the fly). Like a lost corral trout. I led the Napo like crazy and hit baby twitches back. That’s the first time I’ve gotten a really good 8wt presentation on a Napo at the rock. Thought for sure it would work. Usually they spook on the cast or the first strip even if it’s super far away.
More rock time. Wind gets worse. Shark has hooked, fought and lost a massive trigger. At the gt cove. And then he fed two more in the flat.
Ethan gets a great trigger shot in the beach cove. I run over and can see the tail fully out of the water. He gets hung up on the bottom. Pass him my rod so he can get another shot. But E can’t get close enough to him. Dragon then gets a margin shot soon after. It spooks on delivery tho.
Things slow down soon after. No gt spotted. Back to boat around 1:30. Eat. Shade is nice. Abdo says too choppy to make it to the (redacted).
They go to pop. I snorkel. It’s trash. No vis after getting deeper on the reef. Water is choked with organic matter. Check out gt cove. Super low water. Trash floating. No fish. Turtles.
Back to rock. Big puffer cruises by. I line up the force feed right away. No luck. Then finally get it perfect. Smack right in the mouth. Good fight. Have to force it out of the rocks a few times. Then walk it back to edge. They have returned with bait. I wave them over. Haha.
Even with a glove, I can't handle it. Spikes everywhere. Only clear place is the mouth or the edge of tail. It blows up. That’s hilarious. Then let it ride. We stake out the rock. Water clarity steadily gets terrible. Wind nearly knocks me over walking on rocks.
Back to the boat around 5:30. So low we scratch coral like crazy. Motor won’t start. That’s not helpful. Finally clear. Coral bommies in front of camp are gnarly. Water is so low. Back to camp. I’m worn out. Wondering to myself why a baddie in Atlanta isnt enough.
Still no food at 7. I go ask. Oh ok ok. Yes yes. Lololol. Dude hasn’t even started. Dinner is great tho. Salad with tuna and green beans. French fries! Dragon is stoked. Then macaroni. And chicken in Marinara. Conversation is great. Shark mentions he’s ready to settle down?! And have kids?! What the hell. We shoot the shit til 9 or so.
The mind is wandering. Been awake since 4. Even the lay on the stomach trick didn’t work. Gave up about 20 minutes ago. Been visualizing how things could work with (redacted) if there’s another chance.
There are plenty of reasons on both sides. But I think the only choice is to send it if the opportunity arises. Success is when preparation meets opportunity. I think I’ve been so (redacted) all summer in Alaska I never got the chance to fully process the split once it happened. I had started to wonder as the communication dried up. So I knew a bit in my gut.
But now with a little space and two weeks of non-stop (redacted) the mind is clearer. And I can visualize what life looks like without the chance of seeing her in it. And I don’t like.
Would I enjoy living in (redacted)? I’m not sure.
Would I miss my good friends in Atlanta? Horribly. But Dragon and Flowers are the two closest and we do a good job of talking on the phone and they both want to fish so that gives us a couple of weeks each year.
Would I miss my parents? Yes. That’s tricky. How long do we have of our relationship like this? I don’t know. That’s scary. Every time they talk about health issues with their friends I wince.
Would I enjoy living with (redacted)? Hopefully. Do I want her in my life? Yes. Unbelievably yes. I need it! I want it. I gotta have it.
So what to do. Do I reach out? Do I wait for her to become single? What would moving there even look like? How much time could I reasonably be there? Isn’t the freedom of schedule the whole thing I’ve been holding on to dearly? And hasn’t that been a massive proponent for the success that has come from the travels?
Dear lord, this is a total crisis right now. It’s a blessing and curse that these sort of mental wanderings happen when I can’t reach out to anyone for days at a time.
What a day! I’m the Trigger king! At least for titans. Yellow margin next.
Abdo was excellent today. The guys did really well as well.
Get moving a touch earlier. I’m totally manic. Screaming at the guys that I've made up my mind: I'm getting married. They aren't having it. That was super fun. Nice breakfast. Hit the water at 8. Get to the (redacted) party shoreline at 9. Hop out with a bunch of water with plans to meet up with boat at 3.
Walk towards (redacted) to start. Nothing. Vis is solid. Back to bag drop off. Configure pack. Start walking west. Nothing for a bit. Walk with Dragon. Some dark shadows cruising by. Likely Napo. Work on rod switch. Dragon isn’t fast enough at first.
Catch up with Ethan. Bring him his pack. He’s been chasing a big shadow out deep.
Throw some blind casts for groupers over rock piles but nada. At the next rock pile I see small movement in the green water on the outside. Trigger. Cast well ahead into the black water. Can’t see anything. Small strips. Then the trigger rides up and bolts over. It’s a Margin. More strips. Nails it. We are on. Sort of hand line it. But it’s still taking line. Heading straight to the reef. Turn it twice. Lock down drag. Seems like there’s a chance. Then the hook pulls. Devastated. Tan cheeseburger. Drag is super tight. Likely too much. Maybe there needs to be a little more balance. But I’m stoked to have turned it twice and kept it out of the rocks. (this is now the closest I have come to landing a Yellowmargin trigger - pain!)
Keep cruising down. Spot two more triggers and a grouper spooking in the last rock pile before the cove. Bunch of goats walking by there. Adorable. One goes to chew on a Dragon's backpack.
Up and over the pass. It’s hot. Old camp flat cove is looking insanely good. Walk down with Dragon. We walk east on rocks to beach. Nothing spotted. I ditch bag and walk to rocks east of old camp beach.
Feel so odd. Like I’m going to pass out. Must be heat exhaustion. Getting cold flashes. Light headed. Walk the whole rock range and don’t see anything. Body feels heavy. Walk back to my bag. Take off shirt. Lay in water. Eat energy chews. That helps a lot. Wind has died down. That wasn’t helping.
At high noon Abdo pulls up. No beach no beach! We shoo him off to deep water. Two small GT cruise by right after. Dragon makes a good shot and turns one initially but no bite. Talk over retrieve style and tactics.
More food. More water. More sunscreen. Waiting for flat to drop and vis to increase. Looks good around 12:30.
Walking in water. Don’t want to risk the rocks. (Don’t want to risk falling while walking because it is overly hot in the black rocks) Nothing in deep. Head over to the point while crossing the flat. Oh shit. There’s something on the sandbar. Nice titan just chilling. Hardly moving.
Cast to the right. Let it sit. Decent strip. Another one. It moves on it. And then nails it. Bury the hook. It takes off to the rock point. I hand line. Turn it. Surges again. I’m running after. Holding line and working angles. Force it left to the deeper water. Then start walking it back towards middle of flat. This continues a few more times.
Getting close. Can see fly is buried in the side of its mouth.
Try to tail it. Rips my fingers. So belly grab it. Boom!!!! Walk it over to rocks and put it in small tidal pool. Amazing. So stoked. Don’t go totally wild as guys are right nearby and do wish they had a chance at one as well.
Big photo shoot. So fun. Let it ride. Then sitting on rock. Dragon is re-rigging to change to the same fly. He asks me to confirm. Yep, that’s the one. Then I’m ranting again about I’ve made up my mind and when the chance arises I’m going to send it and move to (redacted). He's not having it at all.
I walk back to bag. No NO NOO!!! I stop. Oh shit. The leader is wrapped around my boot. The hook is buried in his left middle finger.
He’s freaking out. Rightly so. Gnarly. So deep. We do a plier check. Sit on rock. Talk options. Only thing to do is drive it through and get barb out. Dragon bites bundled up buff. I put his arm under my right arm pit so he can’t pull away. Grab his hand and drive hook up and through. It takes a lot of force to get the hook point through. It is deep. But not in bone as it does slide through to the other side of the the skin. Nasty.
Pinch barb. Still a good bump tho. Remember that Shark has heavy duty cutters in his pliers. Walk across flat. Get them. Walk back. Test them on a duplicate fly. Cut hook no problem. Time for the moment of truth. Steady his finger, line up pliers and squeeze. Pop. Slide remainder of hook out. Lots of cleaning and bandaging. We start walking to the next flat.
Dragons trigger shot.
My second trigger.
Dragons going away trigger shot.
Boat pick up at 3pm. Perfect.
Head to (redacted). Bait going wild. It’s everywhere.
Shark stuffs a nice GT on popper. I get to tail it! Hell ya. Likely 20lbs. Fights like it is way bigger.
Ethan gets a Tuna on fly on way back!!
Slept pretty decent. Went to bed way too late! Too much trying to get charger stuff going then rinsing rods and then did a work out. Glad I did it though.
Welp, the right forearm tendon is hurting. Too much fish fighting yesterday. I love it.
Big tired. Rough day. Back is worn out. Time for bed.
A tough one! Slow start. We hit the boat around 9. On the beach at the bottom end of reptile flat by 10:15. Walk up. Sean books it. Ethan close behind. Dragon and I move slowly.
Boom. Spot a titan at first rock pile up from beach. It’s doing head stands. Dragon casts inside. It doesn’t react. Another cast. Nothing. One more and it slides deeper. Then I spot what appears to be two margins running around in deeper water doing the spawning stuff.
Dragon hooks a wrasse. I think it’s a baby napo at start of fight but believe it’s a rainbow wrasse. Green body with red Sun lines around eye. Very cool.
Keep working up. Nothing. Eventually up to cove. Find a massive turtle shell. At least I think so. But it has these side spines poking out along both outside backs. Wild. Still nothing. Water is dropping but very slowly. Dragon spots Shark fighting fish around point. We go. He’s hooking Bohar. And getting some follows from a couple big grouper.
Also, there’s this brown with a black back stripe fish that is blitzing sargasso. Shark said that the groupers would rush them occasionally.
I have to shit so head back. Spot orange thing moving in cove from high rocks. Yell at Dragon. Realize I gotta shit now. Drop shorts and shit into crevice while Dragon makes shots. No reaction. After a bit it surfaces. It’s a damn turtle. It was doing head stands on the bottom. Wtf! Walk back to bag cheeks out to get some wipes. Lol.
More nothing. Walk back down to look out rock. Still nothing. Dragon tosses out going back to old camp when we are at mini look out and still nothing. Fuck it. We motion over Abdo. I go back to get my bag. Motion over Ethan & he motions Shark. We load up.
Back to old camp. Get out at beach. I walk to rock point, nothing. Meet guys back in flat. It’s pretty skinny by then. Around 3. They’ve had good chances. Shark had a great shot. But pulled fly and recast right as trigger is coming to it!
We walk to the back flat. Nothing! Heart break. Especially since there was still fish there at 3 when we left the day before. Fucked up. One small trevally, like 4 lbs, chasing bait at our feet. Otherwise nada.
Catch some small fish over on the West Point rocks. One is a baby grouper. So pretty with brown and white spots. It has a crab, eel and tiny baitfish in its mouth!! Amazing. Not sure if it puked it up during the fight or just was on a feeding Frenzy.
Shark joins me and Dragon. Shark has had a day. Lol. Still nothing. He snorkels and sees a ton of baby fish. Luckily Ethan hails Abdo around 4 and comes to get us.
I get dropped off on the trigger shoreline just west. They go to pop. I ditch bag and cover ground. Walk west for 30 min. Then back. Don’t see shit. Water is so low. All the rocks the trigger have been in in the past are dry. Sucks.
Thought while walking is that all of our trigger shots seem to be right after we get to a spot. Like each flat has a trigger. We get a chance. And then nothing else cruises in like it would in the April trips. So maybe it’s time to bounce all over.
When I share this back at camp Shark adds that the popping seems to be the most effective in the first 10-15 minutes. Which is also true. The waves make it tough to think about bouncing around (on the boat) non stop but I think that is going to be the move.
Really disappointed in reptile flat. I mean just nothing. And to think we were seeing triggers and napos and gt and permit there in April. Conditions seem good. Water temp is good. Lots of vis. And water level is getting to where it needs to be. But it’s a falling vs a rising and maybe that’s the difference. Or season is the major issue. But the gt are still at the (redacted). So it seems unlikely.
It got chilly in the night! Even though the wind isn’t as crazy. Wild. Luckily a shirt fell from the rafters so I put that on my legs and put my cotton t-shirt on to wear it. Def needed more but was too out of it to grab more clothing.
Wild dreams. (redacted) was in them. Oh lord, I need to see her.
Bed time. Much better day although nothing landed. Lots of good trigger shots.
Dragon had a Micky Mouse meltdown (Ethan’s term) getting into bed as there was a mouse inside his Yurt, specifically, on his pillow. Hilarious. We were all egging him on.
Better day. Lots of chances. Pretty decent timing on breakfast. Got moving. In the boat by 8:20 or so. First stop is Kaniak cove. Ethan and I hop out. And then Shark and Dragon head to mini flat.
Hop out on the main peninsula. Watch both sides back and forth. Stay high. Then spot a flash of off-color in the dark bottom near the permit spotting from April in the camp side flat. Go down. Sure enough, happy Titan. Tailing away. Get in water. Present fly to the upwind side. Dude is on it. Connect. For a second. Spits it. Stays put. Re-cast. Strip. Comes over. Eats again. Doesn’t connect. This happens four more times! Dude won’t spook! But also won’t leave after the bite so hook set isn’t happening!! For one bite it’s like a dog playing tug of war. Shakes its heads and moves backwards and bares its teeth. One eat is maybe 8 feet away from me. That is one happy fish. Eventually it spooks. Shame.
Then there is a Pargo idling in the shallows on the Kaniak cove side. The grouper cove. Massive mouth. Not interested in squid (fly). Although the fly is so fluffy I can’t get it to sink on the first cast. Lesson learned. Get a second chance. Use 8wt. Nada.
There’s a massively ancient turtle in the deeper stuff. Holy hell. Dudes got a city on his back. Spot a trigger in the gt blitz cove. On the north side rocks. Ethan has just walked back over the peninsula peak. I yell and he hears me. He gets over there but can’t see it anymore. Shame.
Check out those rocks. Nothing. Back to peninsula. Big Napo cruising rocks. Had spotted it earlier. Decide to follow and then climb down to get a shot. Get well ahead. Crawl down rock slide. 12 wt is ready. Going to barely move fly and stick it. The Napo never arrives.
Jump to the other side. Spot a trigger in deeper water. Make a shit cast from up on the rocks. Think it’s the first trigger shot I’ve blown on this trip. Disappointed in that. Rushed it. Casting from rock and super windy so poor decision to go for it. Should have waited for better angle.
Do a couple of laps of the interior flat as it drops. Nothing. Go to peninsula point. Ethan on island. Makes gesture about something big. I wade out. Trigger tailing right on rocks. Couple of shots and nada. Then I see what he's talking about. On the deep water side there a massive Titan floating sideways. Just huge. Twice the size of the regular trigger that was just tailing and is now next to it. Insanely large. Couple of good shots but no reaction.
The smaller titan comes back inside once more but no interest. Switch flies as tan cheese is worn out. Go to chrome. Wade over to island. Chat with Ethan. He had a shot at massive napo. It got within a foot or two of baitfish fly and then spooked. Damn.
Hang out. Spot another napo. E gets a shot. Sit and watch more. Some puffer fish.
Shark and Dragon are still gone. Now nearly 1 pm. The risk of splitting up. Figure that means it’s either been really good or boat trouble. More watching. Around 1:15 boat goes by. We walk to interior flat to meet.
They've crushed it. Lots of trigger shots. Dragon fought one for a bit! Love it. He’s pissed he lost it. Quick baguette. Shark swims. We head out. Going across. Screw it. Wind is howling.
So dang gnarly. Waves are massive. We are getting rocked. Spray all over. Get to (redacted). They are badass. Abdo motions here? No no. Keep going. Back into the nasty stuff. It gets worse. Wind is just gnarly on this water.
Eventually get across. First bit looks bad but we get around the point and there’s a massive beach flat!! Hell ya. Sketchy to get out. Waves break on reef. We won’t have long as the tide drops.
Guys seem a little under-stoked but I am frothing. Looks like prime GT and permit area. Waves are gnarly tho.
Big walk. Interior flat is too shallow. Tons of big crabs though. Waves on sand are nice. Water is warmer though. Walk to end of the dry beach. Nice rock flat at point with island. Looks great. Walk in waves back. Bait fish all over. Sling the 12 wt. fuck this rod sucks. Way to stiff. Either needs a 500 grain line or it just sucks. Will have to find out. Classic Sage. Kings of the parking lot (extra stiff rods tend to cast much further for poor casters when testing them out at a fly shop). That’s what I get for buying a 12 wt that I’ve only cast the 8wt on. The 8wt is sweet tho! (Sage Maverick)
The rod just does not bend at all. So in super gnarly wind trying to cast into the wind, it’s awful. I need some bend to get distance with a super tight loop.
School of 12 inch fish jump in unison out of the wave right next to me. Gotta be a big fish close by. But nothing. Shame. Check on boat. It looks like it’s in a better spot. Ditch pack and take 8wt back to the point. Nothing. Shame.
Stay on schedule on walk back. We meet back up. Basically right on an hour after jumping out. Dragon and Shark had some trigger shots in the rocks. Water is still deep enough to get into the boat on the reef. Almost gets bad tho. My foot collapses into a hole. Rock slams into my shin but luckily right on the edge of the sock. Only a small cut. Everyone makes it into boat. Waves are pounding.
Back to camp. I jump out on the black rock peninsula. It’s cool. Small interior tidal pool has baitfish. Looks promising on the rocks but nothing. Walk back is as gnarly as I recall from our last day in 2022. Spot one fish from up high. Still nerve wracking to walk the final part. So many fissures. And rocks are jagged as ever. Make it back to camp a touch before 6. Boys are chilling. Popping didn’t last long. Shark suggests walking over to the point to pop. We agree. Looks cool but no action.
(good lord, calm down bro)
Better day. All the boys hooked into triggers. Ethan fed titan and yellowmargin. And stuffed a mondo GT on popper. Plan is to get up early tomorrow.
Pretty solid day! Worn out. Straight to mini flat. Puffer fish for Ethan right away. Spotted a big shark in back of cove. Ethan chases.
I Wade to tiny island in middle. Nice tailer. Call Dragon. While he’s walking over, another titan shows up and chases it around. Ends up swimming right by my feet. They disappear before dragon arrives. Go up on the peninsula. Looks amazing. Nada tho. Move around a bunch. Lots of tiny flats in the rocks. Really cool.
Find a tailer in back of southside of cove. Ethan closes. Talk him through the shot. Excellent presentation. Trigger closes. Connects. And off! Damn. It snapped the lead eyes on the fly.
More walking around. Spot one off the peninsula. Too deep. Shark feeds one trigger three times in waist deep water. Two floaters ocean side for Ethan. No luck. Floaters are the worst.
At 12:40pm, I walk over to go hail Abdo. Sure enough, get to other side of flat and there’s a happy tailer. Deeper water. Sand bottom. Going ham. Shout and motion Dragon from super far away. Trying not to also alert Abdo as he’s close to my left. Only use right arm. Ha. Luckily down wind from Abdo too so don’t disturb him. Boat driving in would ruin this. Fish stays put. Just tails and tails. Dragon gets there in like 5 min.
Great presentation. Goes up wind. And far out. Let's fly sit. Strip. Titan comes over. Then closes. Eats. And off. Damn!!
I walk the party shoreline for afternoon. Don’t see shit. The boys pop. E lands an absolute tank. So awesome. 100cm GT on the popper!
Slept well. Alarm hurt. Wind died down at dinner. Came back a touch. But it still cooled off in the night. Still needed to cover up middle of the night. Slept well. Out solid for a little over 6 hours.
Holy fuck it’s hot. Almost packed. The wind died off today. Good lord. 100 in the shade.
Fully exhausted. We’ve been asleep by 10pm each night! Tons of airport drama. Holy hell.
Tuna busting bait in the am. Dragon sticks one. Great fish. Then head to mini flat. Shark gets on a tailer right away. Won't eat tho. Then not much.
Get in the water by 11. Snorkel is awesome. Spotted a new wrasse species for me. Black color with vertical white stripes. And a bunch of tiny wrasses together. Looked like finding Nemo. Absolute monster clam spotted by E. Shark slips and wreck shin on corral. Nasty cut. Dragon slips and cuts hand while trying to help. Oh Lordy. It’s time to leave. Djibouti is not the place to be making small footwork mistakes due to exhaustion.
Back to camp around noon. We are whooped. The wind has died and its peak sun. Bad combo for packing. Hit the road at 3pm. Even I am ready to leave and get to air conditioning.
The boys are D O N E.
Evening is low key. We lounge at the restaurant. Drama returns at the airport. We are some of the first to arrive and the bag scammer is ready to go. I’m yelling at him to stop as he starts whisking bags off the X-ray belt while I’m getting checked. Too late. The yelling continues and he keeps trying to grab stuff. And then here it comes. Smallest bill I have is $10. And it’s worn. I know this won’t go over well. Now it is his turn to start yelling. But as his “help” was never wanted I could care less. Whatever tranquility of being on the cutting edge of wilderness is long gone. We’re back in the toils of civilization.
There’s no way to sugarcoat it - the fishing was slower on the flats than prior trips. After a few days of reflection, I believe the issue was this - while the hottest days of the year had passed (August) and the water temp was essentially the same as past trips, the majority of baitfish were still in deep water (hot water habitat) and hadn’t yet moved to the flats. And thus the large trevally were only in the deep water. Now why we didn’t see as many triggers on the flats and then no permit or napos (napos were only on the rock points) I’m not sure. But I imagine it was a seasonality issue as well.
Even with a slower week than in the past, I still think Djibouti is the most exciting “on the cutting edge” saltwater fishery at this moment and I can’t wait to go back. Monsters are waiting.
On a topical note - I think the boys talked me off the ledge with my marriage ambitions. Maybe.