So here is the story and short video below of my epic battle of a GT I hooked from shore in Aitutaki. The story begins earlier the previous week with new found friend John Magoteaux hooking a GT with a guide around a couple lagoon cruise boats that anchored up each day about 150 yards from the house we were staying in. So I knew the GT's liked to hang out there and had been down there every day just casting a large fly with no luck. But, on the day before we were suppose to leave I told my wife I knew there were GT's there and I was going to give it one more try. She said can I come watch and I said sure since she had always been my good luck charm.
So after several casts with no luck I was ready to give up when my wife noticed a splash near one of the cruise ships. So I went over made one cast with no luck, then on the second cast the fly hit the water and I made one strip and I saw the GT come up from out of the deep blue hole and engulf the fly in his mouth. A quick strip set and it was off to the races.
Now I need to preface the rest of this story. The GT's I had caught the week before with a guide were all from a boat. There is a huge difference hooking a large fish from a boat that you can chase down versus hooking one from shore that runs away with all your backing.
This GT shot away from shore like a rocket on steroids. My drag was initially set to medium on purpose for any kind of hook up then I would crank it all the way down to full drag once the fish hit my backing. After doing so he kept pulling drag like it did not even exist on my reel. Locked all the way down I estimate he ran 200 yards into my backing before the bear jumped on his back.
Once he stopped I said to myself I've got him. Not to be true, at least in his mind. He starts heading back to open water of lagoon and along the way he finds the only buoy attached to a rope right in the middle of the lagoon. Crap....now what. My wife says to me "you really did not think this through". So next ten minutes I'm not only fighting the fish but also start fighting the buoy. Finally I can no longer pull the buoy any closer. I beg my wife to go back to the house to get one of our rental kayaks, but she refuses as she is not confident rowing one. My head is spinning what do I do, I'm scared to break the line for fear the fish may not free himself and die.
So plan "B" hits me....I loosen the drag and hand the rod to my wife (her eyes got really big). I said just point the rod and if he pulls let him go. Meanwhile I sprint back to the house and get a kayak and row like the wind back to where my wife was holding on for dear life. She hands me the rod, I lock the drag and literally reel myself out to the buoy. Once there I can still feel the fish pulling against the buoy rope and see that he had wrapped the line around the buoy about five times. The adrenaline was pumping by this time. The wind was blowing, I had to hold the buoy for dear life unwrap the fly line all while sitting in a little kayak with a fish pulling in the opposite direction.
I don't know how but I managed to free the fly line. Now the GT starts pulling me out to sea and away from shore. Crap now what do I do. My only hope was to loosen the drag, put the rod between my legs and start rowing backwards towards shore. It took everything I had to row backwards and even tonight I still have bruises on my back from the kayak and bruises from the fish pulling line causing the reel handle to hit the back of my leg. My wife said she could hear me grunting and screaming at the top of my lungs with each stroke I made.
Took me what seemed an eternity to make it back to shore (but was probably only 10 minutes) but I managed with fish still intact on the end of my line. Now he's not only tired but I am as well. I start pulling him back in by walking backwards then reeling as I walked back forward. He's finally coming in and start to feel confident I've finally got him whipped and he is heading to shore. This took another 10 minutes to reel back all the backing he took on me again.
So what should have been a 15 minute fight ended up taking about a half hour. The fish was revived and released unharmed. Enjoy what few clips my wife shot and I told her it was a team effort. Half the glory belongs to her for being such a trooper hanging on to the fish while I went after the kayak and for shooting video and pics. Also thanks to Hardy Fly Rods, Galvan Fly Reels, and Scientific Angler Fly Lines that held up under duress.