Chasing Game Fish in the South Pacific

Fishing, Fishing Travel, Vanuatu

Fish on!

It has been a great first week of fishing since we arrived in Port Vila, Vanuatu aboard the sportfishing catamaran, November Rain with 6 crew.  Swishy has returned to the salt mines of NZ, leaving 5 of us to fish on.  

We have concentrated on the two nearby FADs as well as the shallows of of Hat Island, not far from Port Vila. Total fish for the first week included one blue marlin, est 220 kg on 37 kg line, 2 wahoo, 2 yellow fin tuna, (1 about 30 kg and the other, gutted  weight 64 kg), and 1 rainbow runner.  

 Our first day out, we raised a sailfish on trolling lures, had one unidentifiable hit and Kevin boated a single, but large rainbow runner on a rapala.  We blamed the full moon on the poor bite.  After dropping anchor for the night in Esema Bay, near Havannah Harbor, we decided to give bottom fishing a go, using rainbow runner chunks as bait.  Before Garry could carry the carcass across the deck, a passing local boat filled with a Ni-Vanuatuan family shouted out and raced over as they spotted the fish. After Garry removed just enough flesh for our bait , we make a quick bargain of the remaining carcass in exchange for 2 heads of Bok Choy.  

Kevin gets the first fish of the trip

Trading with the natives

Day 2 earned Kevin a large Wahoo which was a slab big enough to  feed the five of us heaps, plus give the other side away to yet another village.  

  Day 3,  Jonas got into his first Wahoo.  The nearby village sent a canoe out to pick up the prize and later, welcomed Jonas and Keiry for a short tour of their 5-hut village, and showing off the village’s sole pig , even inviting the boys to return for an upcoming wedding in July, when the pig will be slaughtered in celebration.  The hospitality of the locals is incredibly  genuine and real.

Jonas gets a bath

Day 4 and Kevin got a nice yellowfin, which morphed into a sushi dinner that we shared with Mitch, an old friend of Garry’s from NZ primary school, who coincidentally  runs a game charter biz in Port Vila. He had a group of 3 anglers visiting from Perth and we traded fish stories until late.

 Day 5. About 3:30 pm, while trolling  FAD 366, we got into some insane action, raising 4 blues within 10 minutes.  It was pretty crazy with fish smacking lures right behind the boat, and one of the fish was well over 250 kg.  The hook was set on the last fish, and I fought it on standup gear for an hour and 45 minutes, which was a real feat for me, a 54 year old woman. We had the damn fish at the starboard side of boat multiple times, with experienced Kevin leading the fish. This was the toughest fish I’ve ever fought, (including the 283 kg blue from Tonga last year), having to chase it to the front of the boat and then back down the 3 steps to the stern.  Thank you to Jonas for keeping me on my feet!  We had it on the leader 5 times and somewhat under control alongside the boat twice, but she would suddenly wake up and go beserk, and she just wouldn’t submit to allowing us to remove the hook.  In the end, she took matters into her own fins, cutting herself off on the port prop, taking Garry’s custom made, maiden-voyage lure with her as a lovely parting gift of lip jewelry.  We definitely would have been able to put a tag in her, were we so inclined, so we are counting it as a caught fish. 

Blue marlin on the leader

The next day, Gaz was sure that the bite wouldn’t come on until 3:30 again, so we slept in, ate hot scones for breakfast and motored back to the same FAD around 9:30 am. We saw nothing but boat wake until 3:30, when Jonas picked up the big tuna.  The fish peeled of 300 meters of line in just the minute it took for us to clear the gear.  After about 25 minutes, I leadered the fish, Gaz gaffed and boated it. It was a personal best for the boat and all the crew as far as yellowfin go. 

Jonas and his dinner date

Gaz, Jonas and Kiery with the yellowfin tuna

The fish dressed out at 64 kilos, gutted and apparently is the largest yellowfin tuna caught in the area in the past couple of years (the local record is 82 kgs?)  (The tuna fishing has been especially good lately and there has been a glut of fish on the market, according to Mitch).  We donated the meat to a local organization in Port Vila, after towing it ashore behind the dingy, hoping not to get “sharked” in the dark. 

 The week was capped off by a nice dinner at the Waterfront Bar & Grill, followed by State of Origin Rugby game at a local sports bar.  Today, we are saying good-bye to Kevin as returns home to New Zealand.  We are so thankful for his help in bringing the boat up from NZ and hope he comes back for more fishing!

Tomorrow, we head up north to Santo. Fingers crossed that we get into more blues as we travel the next 3 days.

Lori keeps the boat near the reef as the boys cast poppers out the front