Bologda is a huge estuary around an hour and a half south of the capital, Colombo. Similarly to Kirinda, there is so much wildlife - we’d wake up most mornings to a 5ft long Water Monitor just outside our door, and as we were fishing we had Monkeys and Crocodiles watching us! There was one particular Crocodile that was huge - it must have been 13ft long!
We had a day exploring the island, relaxing and preparing the fishing gear before getting up at 5.30am the next morning for our first day’s fishing with our guide, Sakthivel. Our first morning was spent in the lower part of the lake, and using small crank baits and bucktail jigs, we caught Mangrove Jack (Snapper), Ox Eye Herring, Giant Herring and small GT’s, which were great fun on light tackle. The Mangrove Jack fought particularly hard!
I also managed to catch a species of Catfish that Sakthivel said was the first time he'd seen one caught on a lure, using a bucktail jig that my Dad had tied up back at home. I've since found out that it's called a Shovelnose Sea Catfish.
We returned to the house for lunch, which would normally be a Sri Lankan curry cooked by our chef Asheen, before heading out in the afternoon for our main target - the Featherback.
As we journeyed to our first spot for targeting the Featherback, we woke up thousands of Fruit Bats resting in the trees, which was an amazing sight!
Around half an hour after leaving our apartment we arrived at some prawn traps, and we couldn’t believe what we were about to see next. There were Featherback rolling literally everywhere! However, they soon had us tearing our hair out, as they proved very difficult to catch. We made cast after cast, trying many different hardbaits and soft baits, when suddenly, I had a very delicate bite on a Sébile Koolie Minnow, which I struck in to - it zoomed towards the prawn traps, but unfortunately came off! About an hour later, just as we were running out of time, Dad also lost a fish on a 3” shad. It had been a frustrating afternoon to see so many fish and not catch one - it had us wondering what we’d done wrong, but we had been warned that they can be frustrating to catch!
The next morning, which was New Year’s Eve, we started at a different area, and after trying even more lures, after an hour or so I pulled out a Berkley Powerbait Rattle Shrimp and showed Sakthivel, and he gave me the thumbs up that this could work. Not long after, I had a tiny tap and hooked in to a fish! The fight was similar to that of a Tarpon, leaping everywhere - the main difference though was that this fish was swimming backwards as well as forwards! Even as it slid over the net it was still trying to swim backwards to escape! I was over the moon as I’d managed to end 2016 with our main target species of the trip!
Later on that morning, after trying the Rattle Shrimp for another hour or so without a bite, Dad suggested that one of us should try a Power Tube, so I rigged one in Pumpkinseed up on a Berkley Nitro Beam hook, which also looked very much like a shrimp. This worked almost straight away and I soon landed my biggest Featherback of the trip!
Unfortunately for Dad though, he lost a Featherback, which shook the hook as it leapt out of the water. Our morning session was over, but at least one of us had caught our main target species. We fished for Barramundi that afternoon, but only caught a couple of small GT’s and Giant Herring - these were still great fun though on light gear!
Now we were hoping that on our last day’s fishing, which was on New Year’s Day, Dad would be able to land a Featherback. Dad was desperate to catch one and I could see he was feeling the pressure!
The Sri Lankans certainly know how to party for New Year - the parties and fireworks were still continuing as we were heading to one of the Featherback spots at 7am!
When we arrived the fish were very active and I caught a fish almost immediately on a Rattle Shrimp, then Dad hooked up soon after arriving, but he lost it, then hooked another but lost that one too! It’s rare to see him get wound up by a fish but these Featherback were really getting to him!
About a hour later, he hooked up again, and we were praying that this one wasn’t going to come off. It was very acrobatic and then, right at the boat, it leapt out of the water - but thankfully landed straight in the net! Phew! I don’t know what Dad would have done if he had lost that one!
It turned out to be the biggest Featherback of the trip, and then shortly after, he caught another smaller one on the tube.
Over our three days fishing we’d definitely noticed that the Featherback had really short feeding spells, and the best action had been in the mornings, probably due to the tides. Dad was relieved to catch those fish in the morning as, just like the previous days, the fishing in the afternoon had been much tougher. They’re an awesome looking fish and I would love to catch one on the fly - definitely an excuse for another trip back!
I managed to capture a few of the Featherback we caught on my GoPro, which I've put in to a short video.
That afternoon I had a Barramundi swirl at my crank bait - if I’d have hooked and landed it, that would have been another new species for me. That was the last of our guided fishing, but we had one spare day before heading back to the UK and we decided to have a couple of hours wandering around Ruskin Island to see what we could catch. Dad was using a Pit Boss Jr. and had cast in to a pond on the island full of lillies and duckweed, and as he retrieved it back across the surface, we noticed a wake chasing it. It was stopping and starting again, and then, from beneath the duckweed a huge Frog came up and nailed it! It was the biggest Frog I’ve ever seen - with its legs extended it was well over 1ft long! Unfortunately though, as we were using a barbless hook, as Dad was holding it ready for me to get the camera out, it somehow unhooked itself and escaped! That wasn’t the only one though - we ended up catching a few more, although none as big as the first one!
Those two and a half weeks flew by, and two days later we were back in a frosty UK. We’d set out to catch as many different species as possible and we ended up with 37 in total, which was awesome! A big thank you to Sportquest and Gamefishing Asia for organising our trip and making it a brilliant one, and to our guides Nico, Sakthivel and our driver, Kamal!