This year wasn’t exactly the best year we have had fishing wise. As noted in a previous Captains log, we steamed from Cairns at the end of the 2009 heavy tackle season, and I pondered why we were leaving the worlds best big marlin fishery, especially after the best fishing trip I and the crew, had ever experienced. However, I remember, I quickly looked on the bright side and dreamt of a beautiful tropical paradise with blue marlin equally as big as the blacks in Cairns, and funny enough, here we are, one year latter living that exact dream.
Tahiti, and for that matter, all of French Polynesia, is as all the books suggest. Stunningly beautiful. I have been lucky enough to travel to a lot of South Pacific Islands, and with out question, in my view, French Polynesia has the most spectacular scenery. It has it all, beautiful white sand beaches, clear water, amazing coral reefs, Lagoons, surf, Palm trees, dense tropical jungle, soaring cliffs, peaks and rock formations, food, services, amenities and last but definitely not least, the PEOPLE. We have been greeted with incredibly humbling generosity and kindness from the local people and in turn have made great friendships that will last a life time.
So, what about the fish you ask! One good Tahitian friend noted just recently with regard to our scrolling fish photos on the saloon TV, “when you first arrived, the TV had only giant marlin and fishing photos, but now, there is more party photos!” So, there you have it, we have been busted, The Ultimate lady has become a party boat…..I have reassured the owner, that its ok to mix it up!
All, jokes aside, for a number of reason’s we haven’t done the fishing we had planned for 2010. We had 146 days operation with approximately 120 of those days fishing, or traveling and fishing. Our initial strategy was to get the lay of the land and cover some ground between the Society Islands and Tuamotus. This we did, with what I call average results. If we tried, we had a bite or two per day in the season, and most fish were on the small side, of 250 to 300lbs. The Tuamotus showed promise when we had the ITM guys onboard. On 2 particular days we had 4 bites from blues catching 2 of 4 of them each day. We also had enjoyed good popper fishing in the lagoons for good-sized coral trout and Job fish. The dogtooth were plentiful, however so were the sharks, therefore a different approach was required to catch them! The rest of the marlin fishing days were numbered between traveling and “mixing” it up, but all the while we usually had a bite most days.
My favorite part of the year was spending two and abit months in the Marquises Islands. We had heard some good stories from the area and so we just had to check it out. Apart from one particular story, what interested us mostly about the area was the pop up satellite tag results on blue marlin from Hawaii. Most of the fish, once tagged in Hawaiian waters swam south to the Marquises and the tags popped off in October/November. This “could” be interpreted as fish leaving the season behind in Hawaii and swimming south for the season/summer in French Polynesia.
The Marquises are situated about 800 nautical miles North, North East of Tahiti, and roughly 1600 nautical miles South of Hawaii. The other interesting fact is that the Marquises, at 8 degrees South, sit’s in the southern extremity of the equatorial current, which has a mix of cold water from South America and warm water from Northwest America. So cold the water from the South, that it cooled the breeze and I had to wear a jacket in the tower. It also bought the water temp down to between 25 and 26 degrees.
We steamed up to Nuku Hiva mid September and found the place to be most unusual. We arrived at the Northern side and the crew quickly questioned my navigation, as the landscape was nothing to what we had in mind. It was very similar to Australia and Lizard Island! Bare, dry, rocky and windy. However the following day, we moved to the Town side, which is nestled in the “caldera” or the side of the volcano. What a stark contrast! The towering peaks of the caldera were lush and thick with vegetation. Again the people were most welcoming and friendly there after.
The water surrounding the Northern islands of the Marquises takes a green hue, and it wasn’t until we moved further north to the uninhabited island of Eiao that we sailed into better looking water. Over the next couple of months we enjoyed good fishing around the island and banks, of which there are numerous. During a couple of trips in the middle of our time there, we were plagued with green water, which bought the yellow fin, but made the blue marlin scarce.
Overall we managed a bite a day on blues, and the yellow fin, Wahoo and Mahi-mahi kept us VERY busy while waiting. What was interesting was the size of the blues. The fish we raised and caught were 450 to 550lbs, excepting one very large fish that was up near the 900lb mark. This was a great fish, and if it were not for the hook falling out after tagging, we would have weighed it. During the same trip we also caught numerous yellow fin tuna to 70kg and had some awesome jigging sessions on dogtooth and GTs, where our anglers quickly discovered that there is more to jigging and catching doggies then meets the eye!
While we were stuck up in the Marquises we kept hearing stories of big fish being caught back in the Society Islands. Received with groans of despair and mutters of “we cant be every where at once!” However, I am keen to return to the Marquises, hopefully we can make time during the season and get up there for March, April, May…..as maybe this is when the fish move through the area for the summer Hawaiian season?
Back in Tahiti, we are furiously making plans for next year for some serious fishing. Our plan is too spend considerable time in the Society group, out towards Bora bora and Raiatea and maybe a trip South to the Australes Islands. This year there has been some extraordinary fish weighed in the Society’s. A few days after the 4th of july competition, a girl and her father hand lined a 670kg blue marlin, also this year a 475kg, 395kg, 363kg, 441kg were weighed, and these are just the ones that we know of. So, my dream isn’t too far wrong, except hopefully 2011 is Ultimate lady’s turn to see some more of these giant blue marlin.
Bonne Annee, and may 2011 bring you Good Fishing. Tom