30 Mar 2007

Pacific Sailfish – Lures that work here in Fiji

When targeting Pacific Sailfish, we mostly use bait & Switch techniques or troll rigged skip baits. Sometimes however we want to cover more ground and increase by-catch of other species such as Wahoo, Spanish Mackerel, Yellowfin tuna and mahi mahi – so occasionally we run lures.

The Sailfish season coincides with the Wahoo season so all lures are rigged on 125lb 49 strand wire. Make the leader long or the sail will use the lure head weight to throw the hooks when he jumps. We tag 4 out of 5 sail hook-ups when using long leaders. We find our lure spreads work best at about 6kts in most weather conditions.

This is what works for us. Its not necessarily what will work in your neck of the woods !


1. Wellsys Medium Talai – Purple or lumo green

2. Daisy Chain behind bird – Pink squid with blue/pink Mold craft Hooker on the end


1. McWhog – Blue/Chartruese – Rigged in front of a garfish (Ballyhoo)

2. Pakula Cockroach - Purple


1. Wellsys Medium Turbojet – Blue Silver / Green Gold (Evil)

(This is our absolute ‘must have’ in the spread)


1. Hollowpoint Mahi Sniper – Blue/White or Silver/Pink

2. Pakula Phantom - Blue Silver / Green Gold (Evil) or Blue Angel

3. Pakula Sprocket - Lumo


1. Marlin Magic Kona Bullet – Black/Red

Where we get our lures :

Lure Manufacturer Links :

Above pictures by Tim Simpson – BlueWater Magazine

28 Mar 2007

Circle Hooks: On again, off again?

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has published a proposed rule that would suspend the requirement for using circle hooks with live or natural baits in all Atlantic tournaments featuring billfish categories. Curiously, the proposal states that the rule might be suspended of 2007 in order to take advantage of the conservation benefits that circle hooks afford through the increased survival of released fish. Read more about it here.

This issue might be critical to the ongoing review of the status of white marlin in relation to the endangered species act. The reaction to the circle hook requirement has ranged from full support to a demand for an exception for baits trolled with artificial lures.

This new rulemaking comes in reaction to the complaints about the requirement and may conflict with many tournaments that already have printed literature and rules for 2007.

Public comments on the rule are being accepted through March 30 via the following means:

E-mail: 0648–AV25@noaa.gov

Mail: NOAA/NMFS HMS Management Division, 263 13th Avenue South St. Petersburg, FL 33701.

Fax: 727–824–5398. Include the following in the subject line or envelope front: ‘‘Comments on Proposed Billfish Circle Hook Rule.’’

25 Mar 2007

Circle Hooks 101

If you are still pondering the relative merits of Circle Hooks verses J-Hooks, there is a good article by Bill Boyce on the IGFA Anglers Digest website which may help you make up your mind

Circle Hooks verses J-Hooks

Also on the site is more information about how to use those Circle Hooks effectively:

How to Fish Circle Hooks

Pacific Fishery Management Council to Consider Longline Allowance

At its upcoming meeting (April 6, SEATAC Marriott, Seattle Washington) the Pacific Fishery Management Council will make a recommendation on the request for an Exempted Fishing Permit that would allow a single vessel to use longline gear to target bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna, bigeye tuna, albacore and swordfish in the waters of the coastal Pacific from California north to Washington.

Although this permit now includes a provision that would prohibit fishing in the Southern California Bight that includes the primary range of striped marlin in U.S. Pacific waters, The Billfish Foundation is opposing the issuance of this permit on the grounds that three of the target species (bigeye, albacore and yellowfin tuna) are either currently overfished or approaching the overfished condition. We do not believe that it is wise management to begin to explore the possibility of a new longline fishery on species that are currently subject to excess fishing mortality. Click here to see our letter and the list of options available to the Council.

You can contact the Council to provide your opinion on this issue by sending an email to: pfmc.comments@noaa.gov. Reference Agenda Item J.2 Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP) for Longline Fishing in the West Coast Exclusive Economic Zone in the subject heading of your email.

Join TBF or renew your membership today! Please visit our website at www.billfish.org.

18 Mar 2007

Peter Pakula’s Wonderlures

I see from the latest edition of BlueWater Magazine that the world famous angler, lure maker and pioneer of Gamefishing tackle and tactics is turning his skills to designing a new range of (super) lures.

Apparently, (and I don’t doubt it for one minute) these lures will run at any trolling speed, in any position and are designed to set the hook, regardless of what the angler does or does not do.

Moreover, they will be pre-rigged so all you have to do is attach them to your line, throw them in the sea and drive about a bit. Indeed, they will catch fish even at a standstill.

Kind’a takes the fun out of fishing doesn’t it Peter ?

I mean, catch a fish on one of those lures and it’s not much of an achievement is it ? All you have to do is fish in the right place and not do anything too stupid.

The old expression “That’s why it’s called fishing not catching” looks like its heading for obscurity.

Peter’s full article is available at www.bluewatermag.com.au

Buying a Boat ?

I skipper Matava Resorts big game fishing vessel ‘Bite Me’ however I was also involved in the decision making process of which type of game boat the resort should purchase and from whom. After much research, we commissioned DeepVee Marine to build us a twin engined DV310. In the two years that we have operated ‘Bite Me’ I have yet to see a better, more suitable game boat for the resort’s Gamefishing clients.

I see that this year’s single engine model, the DV310s has been nominated for ‘Boat of the year’

I’m not surprised. If you are considering buying a game boat I recommend you take a look at the DeepVee range.

If you want to talk to an owner who fishes one hard, drop me a line any time.

DeepVee www.deepv.com

What Went Pear Shaped # 2: Trolling for Pacific Blue Marlin

Trolling for Pacific Blue Marlin

12.00 Noon on the Kadavu Seamount

Trolling a 7kg Yellowfin tuna skipbait rigged with a 16/0 Duratin Cirle hook. The hook was rigged to sit 4 inches ahead of the tuna’s nose and connected with waxed rigging thread. 9 feet of 400lb Ande leader, 19ft of wind on leader to a Melton bent butt & Penn International 80 STW.

A small blue marlin of about 100kg comes up behind the bait and quietly tries to eat it. The angler backs the drag off even more (it was set light already) and allows the bait to drop back controlling the spool with slight drag pressure to avoid over-spooling (bird’s nesting the line). The blue gobbles the bait and turns. Skipper calls for the angler to slowly bring up the drag. Some line pressure then the bait pops back up on the surface. No hook-up. Marlin comes back for attempt # 2. Same procedure but this time we give the marlin a good 10 seconds to swallow the bait. No hook-up.

Marlin comes back for attempt #3. This time the angler pumps the rod after raising the drag and the skipper gooses the throttles. No hook up. By now the bait is a good 100 yards behind the boat and the skipper can’t see what is going on below the surface.

Marlin comes back for attempt # 4. (This guy has to be very hungry or very stubborn). This time we drop back, all go inside, have breakfast, take a nap, wake up, make coffee, come back out and push up the drag. Marlin spits bait and finally gives up.

So do we.

What went right ?

  • We went to the right place.
  • We used the right technique to raise a blue.
  • We theoretically used the right technique to hook him up on a circle hook
  • Pumping the rod and goosing the throttles really wasn’t going to help when using a circle hook but hey, conventional wisdom wasn’t working. Try something.

What went wrong

  1. After 2 drop backs we should have wound the bait back much closer so we could better see what was going on.
  2. The bait was too big for the size of marlin we raised. We should have had a second rig ready to go with smaller bait, perhaps a stand-up 50lb outfit with a garfish pitch bait. We should have teased the little blue up and switched him onto the lighter tackle.

In my humble opinion”

Just because you rig for a monster and go after a monster, it doesn’t mean the first fish you raise will be a monster. We missed a nice little blue because we were ‘thinking big’. Shame.

Be prepared for something other than what you hope for or expect.

16 Mar 2007

Bamboo Fly Rod Care

Excellent page by Danny Heus about the best way to care for your split bamboo rod. If you follow these guidelines you will keep your rod in an excellent condition.

Bamboo Fly Rod Care

Bamboo fly rods

14 Mar 2007

Wahoo – Lures that work here in Fiji

From May to October, packs of wahoo congregate along the Great Astrolabe Barrier Reef. The average size of wahoo is about 50lbs with a good fish weighing in at 75lbs. Each wahoo pack usually has a fish of close to 100lbs. We almost always use lures when targeting wahoo however we often get jumped by fish when bait & switch fishing for sailfish. If your teaser is rigged with mono…wave bye bye to the end of your daisy chain….

The biggest problem we encounter is a mass attack, wahoo porpoising in at break-neck speed, every rod in the spread going off and then multiple bite-offs as other wahoo attack lines or swivels cutting through the water. We combat this by trolling a full spread until we find a pack and then switch to towing just two lures. Often, just a garfish (ballyhoo) on a two hook rig with a small pink skirt on the nose. Trolling speed is usually around 6-7kts. Most wahoo skippers around the world troll faster. Here, higher speeds do not increase strike rates. Last week on the Kadavu Seamount, we were feeding a skip bait back to a small blue marlin and a 60lb wahoo hit a Lumo green Pakula Sprocket that was only doing about 2kts.

All lures are rigged on at least 4 feet of 124lb 49 strand wire. (Longer if we think sails are in the area) At this time of year, if it isn’t on wire, it isn’t coming back….


1. Wellsys Talai – Purple or lumo green

2. Halco Laser Pro 190 minnow - Redhead


1. McWhog – Blue/Chartruese – Rigged in front of a garfish (Ballyhoo)

2. Lurestreet Raptor minnow – Green/gold or Red/white


1. Wellsys Medium Turbojet – Blue Silver / Green Gold (Evil)

(This is our absolute ‘must have’ in the spread)


1. Lurestreet Yahoowahoo – Black/green/red (I have seen wahoo charge this lure from 100 yards away)

2. Pakula Phantom - Blue Silver / Green Gold (Evil)

3. Pakula Sprocket - Lumo


1. Hollowpoint Mahi Sniper – Black/green or Black/red or White/pink

Where we get our lures :

Lure Manufacturer Links :

12 Mar 2007

Largest Fish Ever Caught On Fly

Marty Arostegui recently landed a 385lbs Lemon Shark on fly line, not only taking the M-08kg tippet class but also the distinction of landing the heaviest fish ever caught on a fly rod.

After the fish was weighed it was eased back into the water and released unharmed.

See IGFA website for more details...

9 Mar 2007

Pacific Blue Marlin from Bite Me

Marlin fighting away
Originally uploaded by matavafiji.

7 Mar 2007

What Went Pear Shaped # 1

Trolling Lures for Pacific Blue Marlin

Although most of the Gamefishing my clients enjoy aboard Bite Me at Matava is light to medium tackle, I occasionally get the opportunity to break out the bent butt 80s and go after marlin. Every encounter with these monsters is a learning experience. We have learnt a few things along the way and for what its worth, I will be posting a few examples. You can learn from them, or laugh at them. I recommend both.

2.30pm heading away from the Kadavu Seamount

1. Trolling a spread of 4 lures near the Kadavu seamount – A purple Hollowpoint Cabo Killa on the long rigger, and a blue/white/yellow/pink Black Bart Hot Breakfast on the short rigger, both lures with a single 10/0 Stainless steel hook stiff rigged on wire. 19 feet of 400lb wind-on and 9 feet of 300lb Ande leader. Short and long corners were a huge silver / yellow custom MBT Monster and a John Lau Linda, both 12/0 double hook loose shackle rigged at about 45 degrees. (Pakula style)

A large blue of about 600lbs comes in from the right, nails the short rigger, (skipper guns the boat) then crosses over and nails the long rigger as that lure passes her as well. Two Penn International 80s howling. The fish then charges away in the opposite direction to the boat on the surface for a few seconds and then disappears. (Pandemonium on deck- is it a double hook-up? Who goes in the chair ? – lots of yelling coming from the bridge). Angler standing by each rod till we find out exactly what’s going on. (I know I know, immediate failure to comply with IGFA Rules - but you try standing and indefinitely holding a screaming bent butt 80 with 25lbs of drag – Hays Handle or not) 5 seconds later the blue emerges only 40 yards behind the boat and launches vertically clean out of the sea giving everybody a magnificent image of a huge blue, side on, silver and golden flanks, 15 feet in the air. The blue seems to hang, suspended in the air whilst 6 jaws hit the deck then crashes back in a fit of anger, throws both lures and disappears. Anglers wind in tangled mess of two lures with both leaders heavily scuffed for several feet ahead of each lure. One of the hooks had its point bent.

What went right ?
  • Well, we went to the right place. (had another small blue earlier on a skipbait)
  • We ran the right lures in the right colours. (lures imitating the skipjack tuna and mahi that were in the area)
  • Our hooks were sharp
  • We gunned the boat after the strike to help set the hook.

What went wrong

  1. Single hook stiff cable rig is not the way to go. The blue was able to throw both lures. If they had been rigged with a 2 hook loose shackle rig, the trailing hook may have swung over or under the bill and given us a hook-up. If we had still run single hook rigs (because of extra weight killing the lure action) it might have been better if we had not used a stiff wire rig and used heavy mono instead, allowing the hook to swing a little.
  2. One of the hooks had its point bent. It had tried to penetrate but the point area, being very sharp, was also thin compared to the gauge of the hook. The line pressure must have been trying to set the hook at an angle to the direction of the hook point and instead of driving the point in, it bent it.

In my humble opinion”

If you are fishing for blue marlin, I recommend a two hook rig or a single hook set well back in the skirt and rigged on heavy mono to give it some flexibility. Yes, a 2 hook rig can pin a marlins jaws shut so you absolutely must remove the hooks and yes- a big mahi mahi on the deck with one hook in its mouth and another flailing around is a nightmare for any deckie but if you are worried about that, go with a single Duratin hook on mono. (we do worry about that)

Don’t hone your hook points so much so that the point is long and thin. By all means have a sharp point but keep that point length shorter rather than longer.

As to whether or not you should use hooks where the point is parallel to the shank (like the Shogun T481 or Maruto 1983) or turned in slightly towards the shank (like the Mustad 7691 or Maruto 1962) ?

Jury is still out. I know some skippers use one of each in their large lures with the trailing hook being the turned in style.

I suspect that the whole issue of hook rigs in large Marlin lures is a hotbed of discussion. I have posed the question to Tim Simpson, the Editor of BlueWater magazine. It may be that the next issue of the magazine has some interesting comments from professionals such as Peter Pakula.

Oh, by the way – the Feb/Mar issue has a lead story on the top Blue marlin skippers favourite lures and how they like to rig them. www.bluewatermag.com.au

5 Mar 2007

Joe and mega marlin

Joe and mega marlin
Originally uploaded by matavafiji.
A successful day marlin hunting for Joe and Adrian. See more on Flickr.

World’s first hands free underwater head camera

Tony Ludovico, the creator of the world’s first hands free underwater head camera has put an amazing array of underwater photographs and video footage on line.


The Billfish Foundation (TBF) Report

The Billfish Foundation (TBF) carried out a review of all tag, recapture and release data for the 2005 calendar year and have reported their findings. Headline points were :

  • 11,261 Billfish reports were received of which 3,881 were releases of billfish without a tag.
  • 29 tags were recovered through recapture.
  • Sailfish made up the majority of recaptures
  • 5,242 tag reports identified hook type. Of those, 49% were circle hooks and 51% J hooks.
  • The longest period at large for a recapture was2,580 days (7 years) for a blue marlin tagged and recaptured in Puerto Rico

More info see The Billfish Foundation (TBF) website

New Regulations from the US NMFS

The US National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has issued new regulations regarding anglers fishing from Highly Migratory Species (HMS) permitted vessels (also a requirement) in Atlantic Billfish Tournaments.

Specifically: From 1st Jan 2007 anglers must deploy only non-offset circle hooks when using natural baits and may not use J hooks with natural baits or natural bait / lure combinations. J hooks may only be used with artificial lures.

Annual retained landings of Atlantic white and blue marlin will be capped at 250.

More info:

The Billfish Foundation (TBF)

The International Game Fish Association

Canberra Game Fishing Club Back for More

The Canberra Game Fishing Club group that visited Matava Resort last year will be returning in July for some more winter action with the wahoo, sails and GTs.

Last year the wahoo season was not up to our normal mayhem standards but the sailfish more than made up for it. Many of the group tagged their first sail and one even plans on returning this year to land his first sail on fly.

They are a great bunch of guys and gals and we are looking forward to having a lot of fun and putting some serious wahoo on the deck.

World Record Attempt

Tim Simpson and Trevor Manwarring of BlueWater magazine and DeepVee Marine will be coming to Kadavu Island in June 07 to board ‘Bite Me’ and make another attempt at the Wahoo and Pacific Sailfish IGFA World Records.

Last year’s week of light tackle record hunting fun saw the Mens 6kg Fiji National Record smashed with a nice wahoo weighing in at 28kg (about 62lbs) but the World Record fish remained elusive. On three occasions a potential world record Pacific Sailfish was fought for over an hour on 4kg line, only to be lost in the last stages of the fight.

In one such fight, a double hook-up resulted in a 42kg sail on 8kg and a possible world record sail on 4kg. The fish on 8kg was allowed to move off and the angler moved to the foredeck whilst the team concentrated on the possible world record fish. One and a half hours later, just as the sail was visible behind the transom, the sail on 8kg came right back to the boat and bust off the record fish. Bugger!

Oh well, that’s ultra light tackle for you.

Better luck this year !

Jim fishing on Bite Me

Jim fishing on Bite Me
Originally uploaded by .alethea..
Posted direct from Flickr.com!

3 Mar 2007

Matava Flickr Photo Group now LIVE

At long last after many requests from past guests we have managed to get a place where we can all share photos from Matava.

As many of you know we have very limited communications out in the resort in Kadavu. In fact if we even have phone lines that we can speak on we are grateful. The internet connection is a very ropey dial-up where we get an average of 9kbps if we're lucky.

Therefore when kind hearted guests send us photos by email, we unfortunately spend hours shouting and swearing (who us?) and trying to remove these 2MB attachments form our servers before picking up email, and/or the line dropping out.

SO... we have found a solution where we can see and share everyone's photos and still remain sane on our dial-up connection.

Cruise on over to www.Flickr.com, (join up and get your free Yahoo! name if you don't have one already) and then post pictures and join our group:

We hope to see your photos up there soon guys. (send us a small email to say you've joined and we'll surf over and have a look)