14 Feb 2011

On The Water : Fiji Fishing Resort

To anyone who has traveled the world in search of fine fishing locations, an un-deniable fact we keep contending with at so many of these destinations is .. Paradise Lost.. Paradise Lost… Paradise Lost. For we have all been to places we dreamed could never exist, and once there, had the most insane adventure, vying to return as soon as humanly possible. But when we did make that much anticipated pilgrimage back to paradise.. It was indeed .. Lost. Typically due to over development, to people who for one reason or another just don’t seem to belong there. You know the scenario, we fishy type people in our shorts, and industry related T-shirts, keep getting replaced by the dreaded “suit and tie on the beach” look. Or worse yet, the bald guy clad in Bermuda shorts, with white sox, black polished wing tips, and a big obnoxious woven hat with MEXICO sewed across the front of it. Tell tale signs that your “secret spot” is a little less a secret, and more likely the hottest new time share condo destination.

Well, I just returned from a filming expedition of a new travel / fishing series called IGFA Angler’s Digest TV on the remote Fijian island of Kadavu. From the moment my Top Siders touched the ground, I knew I had found a special place. A place sooooo different from any other I had ever been. One which gave me the immediate imminent feeling that I will soon be truly experiencing… Paradise Found…!!! The 40 minute skiff ride from the small air strip that services Kadavu was an adventure unto itself. Passing thru stunningly clear waters where the pristine virgin coral reefs pass just a few feet under the flat bottomed hull.

Going thru reef passages where the current is flowing. Giving me visions of giant trevally, and bluefin trevally lining up to brutally beat down any un-suspecting baitfish, un-lucky enough to find itself within eye shot of these fantastic predators. As my mind wonders, my focus suddenly becomes the verdant green rain forested slopes that cover the North side of Kadavu, where large colorful parrots are seen transecting the coconut trees. Secluded white sand beaches pass by that look right out of a Hawaiian Tropic Tan ad. The only thing missing are the bikini clad women waving at me as if from a float in the Rose Parade on New Years morning.

The only signs of human life are a few small villages where native Fijians reside in communities no larger than a few hundred people. Amazingly friendly, hospitable people I might add with exponential emphasis.

People so removed from our uptight materialistic worlds that they have no need for petty jealousy of “keeping up with the Jones’s”. Their continuous laughter, and the perpetual smiles plastered to their faces will make you wonder what planet they are from, or better yet, which one we all need to visit for a reality check.


Little was known of what type of fishing to expect other than a smattering of yellowfin tuna, wahoo, dolphin, sails, and perhaps a marlin of various colors and stripes. But since we never really hear much about Fiji offshore, we assume it is not a place to spend much time, money, or effort in pursuit of the ultimate blue water experience. Boy was I WRONG..!!! From the first glance at the British Nav Charts presented to me by IGFA Captain Adrian “MEGA” Watts, I knew we were in fishy territory.

The Astrolabe Reef runs over 125 miles around the Northern edge of Kadavu Island. Plenty of openings, channels, and inlets are geologically placed to allow a good mixing of inshore reef forage species to venture out and beyond the outer reef drop off. Placing them in the beady eyes of all the above mentioned predators who hang on those walls like wolves waiting for Little Red Riding Hood. The beautiful thing about the geography of the reef and the surrounding islands, is that a lee can always be found where fishing can commence in relatively quiet seas.

Our trip was made in July, considered the Fijian winter. The Fijian island group consists of 310 islands, and is located in the Southern Hemisphere. To be exact, 19 degrees south of the equator. Though not considered the rainy season, it is a season where North Westerly trade winds can blow for several days at a time, making the act of fishing the front side of the Astrolabe a bumpy affair. We had some of those winds, but all were less that 20 knots and seas were less that 4’. Hell, whose kidding who.. That is an awesome day off the Texas coast, the North East canyons, and the Caribbean in general..!!!

No worries for us as we were under the skillful guidance of Capt. Adrian, aboard the BITE ME, a solid 31’ twin diesel, Aussie built DEEP V sportfisher. A sister ship to the popular Black Watch platform. Adrian’s knowledge of the reef is legendary and the boat currently holds 19 Fijian line class records. His soulful mate, Joe Tuku also shares “god like status” and is great in the pit.

In the act of filming a show, quantity can often over ride quality, when fishing an area. People watching these shows want to be entertained with fish being caught. In Adrian’s case, quality is always his mindset. This time of year, the waters cool to a range of 74 – 76, and the wahoo and sailfish are most active. They were our target species. The heaviest outfit we fished were 30’s but most were 16 – 20’s, with a great day spent fishing the 8, and that will have it’s own happy ending later in the story.

Full article here:
On The Water