When the topic is Maldives, thoughts that come to mind are; Sun, Sand & Sea, Paradise on Earth or even Island Luxury. When someone says Maldives to me however, I think of Katsuwonus Pelamis. What on earth is that you ask?
It is the fast swimming pelagic we all know as Skipjack Tuna. Stunning, powerful and delicious, this is the most important and abundant species around the seas surrounding Maldives.
There were many things about our recent trip to Maldives that was just magical, jaw dropping and special unlike any other; contrary to popular belief, we did not set foot on any over-water bungalow and our wallets were fine! I’ll share more of that in other posts however would like to focus on one of the best fishing experiences i’ve had thus far – catching the stunning Maldivian Skipjack Tuna.
It was 5a.m, the island of Maafushi was sound asleep, all you could hear were waves crashing and strong winds slowly settling from a heavy downpour the night before. Locals tell us we need to head out to sea early in the morning to catch the first run of Skipjacks, that also meant we would need to go through large ocean swells that makes the swells in Malaysia look like a walk in the park. We have been fishing every day since we arrived, it was the sixth day in Maldives and our first attempt at catching the Skipjack, there was no way I would let some ocean swell stop us from having a swell day.
It was a long wait, the hotel bed would’ve been ideal but we got used to waiting a lot longer than we should in Maldives. One cannot help but to slow down when surrounded by stunning serenity however the service providers have a time frame to keep to, to ensure efficiency; so they tell you to arrive an hour earlier. We waited, the sun came up, we got a breakfast box from the hotel and hopped onto a pretty fancy boat. Off we went, Skipjack Tuna Fishing!
Battling the rough seas and being thankful for padded seats, we soon found out no rods were necessary, we confidently signed up for some handline fishing. The 10 year old in me was ready to burst out in excitement. Gloves on, teasers and lure in the water, we hung on tight to the line and the boat as we trolled around waiting for a bite.
Lies they tell that the Tuna would “bite”! Instead, it was a yank from what felt like an underwater torpedo, along with it, I jumped off the padded seats, surfed the swells hoping not to fall off the boat and started pulling in the line like my life depended on it. I’m certain at that time it did. Up comes the most compact, sparkling & muscular fish I have ever seen, it was tough to get a good look because it was still “swimming” in my hands trying to escape. So powerful it sent my entire body vibrating as I tried to hang on to it for a photo. Naweshad tells me to “hold it tight, stop moving!” but he soon got a bite and God Bless him but he too could not stop vibrating!
It brought back so many amazing memories of when we started fishing together. We were laughing our hearts out catching Skipjacks after Skipjacks. I made one silly mistake of removing my gloves and losing a much more powerful take from the Tuna, slicing my hands with the mono line. Never again will I take my gloves off handline fishing!
Skipjack Tuna does not only make for amazing fishing but also a staple breakfast in Maldives known as Mas Huni. Tuna, onions, grated coconut and chili eaten with Roshi (Maldivian flat bread, widely known as Chapati outside Maldives), breakfast for champions!
Another species off the list and what a location to catch it in!