Monday, 12 August 2013


This story is not just about the fishing but also the travel and whole experience, so I won’t bore you non fisho’s with all the details.   But this is true village living and we have to first go and round up some bait before we even get going,  there are very early starts all week!  We spend about 3 days fishing in the deepest water we have ever dropped a line in, after a few miles in these basic wooden boats we are fishing in roughly 300 meters of water, absolutely crazy with standard gear. 

 Most guys back home would be using electric reels for this kinda thing, you could seriously finish a cigarette before your bait hit the bottom!  There is no sounder, no GPS, just a young guy up the front of the boat with an oar,  using it keep us roughly on the spot.   The ‘spot’ mind you is found with only a landmark on the island and a rough guestimate of where we should be.   The ridiculous part is that we are only about 300 meters off the island and in water this deep.   None of us have ever seen anything like it.

Our first day out is a real lesson and an eye opener on so many levels,  the heat and humidity is the first and major factor,  it is just energy sapping and we spend our days drenched in sweat but covered head to toe to stop the sunburn.   But we are like kids in a candy store and loving every minute of it,  we have great fishing back home, but there is nothing like your first day on the water, your first bait in a foreign land especially one so exotic, wild, remote and beautiful.  

 The journey and the experience are equally, if not more important than the fishing.   The first day provides some good fish, some very sore muscles and an insight into what the trip, the people and the region will be like.   The scenery is stunning and only continues to impress and amaze throughout the trip.

Just winding up an empty hook in this depth had you stopping 4 or 5 times for a rest, let alone when you had a good fish on.  Aside from throwing big poppers it was some of the most brutal fishing on our bodies we had ever done, mainly due to the depth and heat, but the skipper and decky thought it was hilarious watching us grunt and groan our way through it. 

We had a couple of tins of energy drink powder that we took with us and made mixes up every morning before heading out, I think it was the only thing saving us and if you ever make the journey, be sure to take some with you.

The water is like glass for basically the entire stay at Mavo Lodge, May being the best window of weather for the entire year,  the crossover between October and November is your other best time to go.   Such a great feeling of peacefulness when you’re out on an ocean that flat with tropical islands, coral reefs, palm lined beaches and volcanic cliffs every direction you looked. 

We would head out on the open ocean every morning as the sun came up, watching the islanders frantically paddle their tiny dugout canoes into the distance to chase down skipjack tuna, a staple diet for the villagers, for us – bait!  They would go on the deck for later and sometimes it might be a couple of hours, but after we had cut the fillets off for bait, Raymond would grab the carcass and greedily start chewing any leftover flesh off the bones.   Mmmm, breakfast! 

That sight alone, of maybe 50 canoes all working together and paddling like mad towards the schools of jumping tuna to get food for their families still sticks with me and was a bit humbling.  Ok our boats weren’t flash, but as we cruised past with our outboard and expensive rods and reels’, you truly realized ‘we aint in Kansas no more’. 

Even with our knowledge and gear, the villagers’ with their traditional methods probably still out-fished us on the skipjack! Some mornings we would have to go and pinch a few off the guys in the canoes, Zutu was part of the fishing crew at Mavo and I think he was obligated to help us out!   They didn’t mind though, come the afternoons when we would arrive back on the beach with a good haul of fish to feed everybody.  

The long jawed snapper were a beast not only to catch, but to look at, and were sometimes up to 10kg!  We tried to work out what some of the other fish were,  they could tell us some of the local names but when we pointed to the really small ones they replied ‘they ladies fish’.  It is very clear who is the dominant gender here, but the women to me seemed as capable as the boys at any task, including the fishing.

Our trusty boats