What a fantastic country Sri Lanka is! From the moment we arrived at the international airport in Columbo, which is as modern and efficient an airport as I’ve seen, our group were struck by the genuine friendliness we encountered everywhere we went; even the immigration officers were full of smiles! Outside of the airport we found the streets incredibly litter free, and while the traffic in and around the city along with the various villages and towns we passed through was chaotic to the point of insane madness, mostly we drove through beautiful green countryside, flanked by the Indian Ocean. English is spoken everywhere, hardly surprising as Sri Lanka was once the British colony of Ceylon.
The famous stilt fishermen who fish the numerous bays south of Galle are one of the iconic images of Sri Lanka. Sat gnome like upon a precarious stick ledge lashed midway up a stout bamboo pole, these historic fishermen manage to winkle out a mixed catch of invariably small reef fish using little more than a stick and fixed line. Well, I just had to have a go didn’t I! Yes before you say it they must be VERY strong poles to support my bulk but hey, how many of you can say you’ve been stilt fishing in Sri Lanka!
We were based at Krinda, midway upon this island nations south coast, an area devastated beyond belief by the Boxing Day 2004 tsunami, which killed 100,000 people in Sri Lanka alone. If you look you can still see the remains of buildings destroyed all along the coast, but what is remarkable is just how well this coastal community has recovered. Certainly this is as scenic a tropical coast as you’ll find anywhere in the world, a great location for a holiday. We stayed at Krinda Beach Resort which was perfect in every way. I hope to revisit soon with my wife, which is as strong a recommendation as I can give.
And so to the fishing. Yet again we were faced with unseasonable weather conditions, which impacted negatively upon our sport. This time it was strong force 4-5 occasional 6 north-east winds that from around 1100 each morning turned the ocean to a maelstrom, especially in the vicinity of the shallow reefs we mostly intended to fish. It was as tough a week as I have spent fishing anywhere, a week when for much of the time staying on our feet was a major challenge, let alone casting or jigging. Luckily our hosts Game Fishing Asia run two fine boats with experienced skippers, but even so by early afternoon most days the smaller of these had been forced back to port.
Throughout the five days we fished we steadily pulled together a somewhat modest haul consisting of GT’s to around 50lb, yellowspot and bluefin trevally, various groupers and reef fish and a lone 30lb+ dogtooth tuna for Darius. Fish of the week was a chunky 40lb plus king mackerel, one of two caught on a surface popper by Simon Powell; what a take! Yes we struggled to catch fish, but as we all know there is nothing you can do about the weather, the strong north-east monsoon winds we were experiencing should have ended in early January. Certainly there are plenty of fish here, the boat sounders frequently marked dense schools beneath us, I guess we will have to go back to catch them!
Krinda is located just 12km west of Yala National Park, and part of our package included the option for either an early morning or evening game drive, something most of us took up, especially the latter once we had been forced back to port in the afternoon aboard the smaller boat. Yala is Sri Lanka’s second largest game reserve, noted for its large population of leopard, which I managed to see on each of the three game drives I went on. There are plenty of elephant, spotted deer, water buffalo, wild boar and lots of other animals including the elusive sloth bear. The bird life is truly staggering with lots of wild peacock, vast flocks of colourful wading birds, and exquisite kingfishers and bee eaters that positively glow in the rich evening light. Fishing aside, I’d go back for the game viewing alone.
In summary Sri Lanka is somewhere I fully intend to return. This is one destination that is perfect to take your wife or family, giving you the opportunity to escape for a day or two tropical popping and jigging offshore. This really is one of the most impressive ‘developing world’ countries I have visited, with daily direct flights from the UK only adding to Sri Lanka’s overall appeal as the perfect holiday/fishing destination.
Most trips we have a client or two burnt to varying degrees by the sun. Over the years I’ve heard all of the excuses as to why this has happened, the bottom line being the victim has not used sufficient high factor sun cream. One of the most overlooked and painful places to get burnt is the tops of your feet. I have seen cases so bad the client has been all but bed ridden for several days, one case I heard of in Namibia resulted in a three week stay in hospital for skin grafts. One of our Sri Lankan group got badly burnt, take a long hard look at the pictures, yes it was as painful as it looks. Remember this image when next you pack for a tropical fishing trip. You need cream/sun block of a minimum of SPF30; if you are fair skinned SPF50 is better. And remember you actually have to squirt the stuff out of the tube and apply it to your skin in order for it to be effective!
Trips to Krinda and a few other locations throughout Sri Lanka with Game Fishing Asia can be booked through Anglers World Holidays, Tel 01246 221717
For more information visit: http://gamefishingasia.com and