By Kyle Willis
At first, India was the next challenge in my fishing career – the Giant Trevally, a predatory monster, was finally within reach. We started the first day of fishing early. Got in a car and drove to Port Blair to meet our guides and get our gear sorted. We got to the outfitter’s office and spoke to the manager on their balcony and had a nice cup of chai. He explained how the day would go, what we would focus on in certain spots, and made us feel comfortable and excited to catch the fish I had chased to the other side of the world.
After only watching videos for months about how ferocious, aggressive, and territorial these beasts really were, I was finally entering their world. The technique that we would be focusing on for the two days of fishing was popping. Casting out 5-ounce poppers that sit on top of the water and reeling them in while yanking the rod back, again and again, to create a splash on the water was endless, but worth it. In anywhere from 20 feet to 50 feet of water, our goal was to bring the GTs out from the depths and experience the sheer amount of power and force that they use to dominate the waters. Tirelessly we popped to hope to fire up the GTs waiting below. On our second day on the water, I had popped so much that my left arm locked up and felt paralyzed and the guides had to stretch my arm out and crack my fingers to get my arm to work again so I could immediately get back to casting. This really was the most extreme fishing of my life.
The amount of anger that a popper causes a Giant Trevally is unrivaled. All they want to do is destroy whatever is causing the commotion on the top of the water. That anger is what makes the fight so incredible. Their determination is obvious when they launch themselves out of the water to destroy the poppers. There is no greater feeling in the world when you finally hook up with a GT and get it into the boat. When I personally hooked up with a GT, it was insane. It felt like I had hooked into a brick wall and I thought I was going overboard. At first, it is impossible to even pull back on the rod because the fish just runs with the popper. When I finally got my balance and rod under control the fish was peeling drag. The only thought that was going through my mind was to not let the fish get down to the coral and break the line. I was reeling and yanking up on the rod to keep pressure but it felt like I was making no progress. After a few minutes of fighting the GT, I was already out of breath and tired. I felt like I could no longer even reel. I found it inside like a second wind to fight harder than ever to land the first GT of the trip. After getting the GT next to the boat and seeing it for the first time I was speechless. I did not have any emotion until the guides pulled the fish onto the boat. Then, I yelled out of excitement and I felt like the king of the world. Little did I know that I would do this same routine two more times over the duration of the trip.
India was a trip that I will never forget and catching three Giant Trevally just added to the excitement and joy that India brought me. When I originally decided on traveling to India, I was mostly looking forward to the fishing, but after experiencing everything that India has to offer I was the happiest I have been in years. The reason for my immense amount of happiness on this trip is because I had never had the chance to explore and be free like I was in India. Hiking in Agora, walking through the streets of New Delhi, talking to people in the Andamans, fishing every chance I got, all things that were so different from what I am used to in the US. Whether it was eating at Karim’s in Old Delhi and having the biggest pile of napkins ever because the food was so messy and spicy to the point of not bothering to sterilize the unpurified water, but so good that you just keep eating and eating until you are literally going to explode. Or feeling oddly comfortable walking through the streets where cars are inches from running you over because it reminded me of my hometown. Or from talking to Suman and Praveen or anyone in India about their lives or what they think about a certain thing because we all experienced things for the first time together. Or finally hooking up on the fish of a lifetime and having moments with friends that I will never forget. I think that difference, the chance to feel like I wasn’t doing the same thing I always do, is why I enjoyed India so much. It was like nothing I had ever dreamed of doing and yet I went at it full force and got the most out of it. Agora, Delhi, and the Andamans all had their special moments that we all remember – from the people to the food.
I hope someday to return to India to revisit the places that have truly changed my life.