Where can I go big game fishing in Fiji?
There are many reasons to visit the beautiful and welcoming Fiji Islands. Its idyllic sandy beaches and palm fronds waving gently in the ocean breeze beckon travellers from all over the world. From exotic honeymoons, family beach holidays to some of the best diving available anywhere in the world, the Fiji Islands offer something for everyone.
One increasingly popular adventure activity is the sport of big game fishing. A growing number of anglers from around the world now travel regularly to Fiji and consider the islands one of the best game fishing holiday destinations available.
Surrounded by thousands of miles of deep ocean, Fiji's main islands are the visible tips of extinct volcanoes that rise over 5,000m from the sea floor below. These peaks provided a foothold for a plethora of hard and soft corals and the extraordinary amount of marine life that lives on the reefs.
As with any ecosystem there are prey and predators and the predators here are very well fed indeed.
Fiji’s World Record Breaking Game Fishing Haul
The International Game Fish Association (IGFA) has recorded numerous World Records caught in the Fiji Islands, in fact there have been two new World Records taken in the past few years.
In 2009, Tim Simpson landed a 31.6kg Wahoo on a 4kg fishing line; while in 2010, Fiona Stallard landed a 21kg Wahoo on a 3kg fishing line. Tim is a professional game fisherman but Fiona was a complete beginner. It just goes to show that with the right boat and professional crew and right location, anybody can succeed at big game fishing, indeed even catch a World Record!
Both World Records were taken aboard the charter boat Bite Me operated by Bite Me Game Fishing Charters. Based out of Matava Eco-Adventure Resort on Kadavu Island, the resort and game fishing operation enable anglers access to the Wahoo, Trevally and Marlin that dwell in the clean waters of the Great Astrolabe Barrier Reef. Known as the world's fourth largest barrier reef, it is a magnet for adventurous divers, snorkellers and game fishermen.
Hooking The Big Game Fish
The species list of tropical game fish available to anglers is an enviable one. All species of billfish found in the Pacific Ocean are regularly caught in Fiji Island waters. Top of the list and caught frequently is the Blue Marlin. Reaching sizes in excess of 1,500lbs, this apex predator is renowned for its sheer power and spectacular leaps across the ocean. At certain times of year Black marlin migrate along outer reef slopes and during the winter, large numbers of Pacific Sailfish form up into packs enabling many anglers to first experience the thrill of tagging and releasing their first billfish.
Indeed, during the winter months it is quite possible to achieve a “Grand Slam” of big game fishing – namely the tagging and releasing of three different species of billfish in a single day.
What Fiji is best known for in game fishing circles however is the annual winter gathering of huge numbers of Wahoo. This species is considered one of the fastest fish in the ocean having been recorded at speeds in excess of 50kmph. With razor sharp teeth and resembling a streamlined torpedo, Wahoo dart into the spread of lures behind a boat, smash the tastiest looking lure and take off for the horizon at break-neck speed. These fish really are the origins of the term 'screaming reel'.
Called 'Ono' by the Hawaiians meaning 'good to eat', Wahoo visit Fiji in such numbers that their schools can sport numbers of up to 50 fish. When a game fishing boat encounters a wahoo school the resulting pandemonium of screaming reels and excited anglers is a sight to behold.
Also high on the list for visiting fishermen is the Yellowfin Tuna. Considered one of the hardest fighting fish in the ocean, they are caught almost year round. Growing in excess of 100kg they can be an enormous challenge to land.
Yellowfin form huge schools feeding on bait balls that they corral on the surface. It is common to see hundreds of sea birds such as Boobies, Noddies and Terns wheeling and diving over a frothing mass of ocean as yellowfin charge into the ball of baitfish with such speed that they leap clean out of the water. A sight to get any fisherman's heart racing.
Popper Casting In Fiji
Over the past few years, a new type of fishing called “Popper Casting” has come to the fore. Once the preserve of a handful of secretive specialists, it is now gaining widespread popularity. Popper Casting involves casting enormous floating cup face plugs at reef edges and working the lure back to the boat in a furious series of noisy bloops and chugs. The primary target species is the Giant Trevally, colloquially known as “GT”.
Looking somewhat like a throw-back from the dinosaurs, this reef bruiser grows to sizes in excess of 70kg though any fish over 40kg is considered a trophy fish. There are some regions off Kadavu island that have become so specialised that most rods used for popper casting are custom-built and handmade. Often an individual rod and can cost upwards of $1,000. With a top of the range casting reel to match, this type of fishing is not for every holiday angler but anyone can get a taste for this sport by targeting smaller GTs on lighter tackle. Some anglers even fly fish for GTs over shallow lagoon sand flats.
Big Game Fishing Conservation In Fiji
There is no doubt that commercial fishing around the world has had a significant impact on the abundance of game fish species. Fortunately the Fiji Islands recognise the importance of a healthy fishery, not just for the small local fishing industry and the seafood it provides for Fijians but also the increasing income generated by visiting anglers.
Charterboats like Bite Me play their part by tagging and releasing all billfish. Like billfish fishermen, GT anglers have very strong preservation ethics and all GTs caught aboard charterboats like Bite Me are released unharmed. Anglers use monstrously heavy tackle to ensure a short fight. GTs are gently lifted from the water, a salt water deck wash hose placed in their mouth, a quick photo and then released immediately.
The amazing abundance of marine life in Fiji is a national treasure and one that every visitor to this beautiful paradise should experience, whether it is a day’s fun fishing aboard a game fishing charter boat or simply snorkelling along any one of a thousand stunning coral reefs.
The Fiji Islands, particularly Kadavu Island and Taveuni Island are considered some of the world's hot spots for big game fishing and as sport continues to develop, Fiji is careful to ensure the eco-system and reefs remain unharmed by human activity.
Getting there and away
Fly to Nadi or Suva with Fiji Airways. From Nadi or Suva Airport then fly to Kadavu with Fiji Airways. From Kadavu airport take a 45 boat ride to the resort
Organise your Fiji Diving Holiday
Flights to Nadi - Fiji Airways operates flights to Nadi daily from many international ports including flights from Sydney to Nadi,flights from Auckland to Nadi, flights from Los Angeles to Nadi and flights from Hong Kong to Nadi.
Flights to Suva - Fiji Airways operates flights to Suva regularly from many domestic and international ports including flights from Nadi to Suva, flights from Sydney to Suva and flights from Auckland to Suva.
Flights to Kadavu - Fiji Airways operates flights to Kadavu daily from its domestic ports including flights from Nadi to Kadavu and flights from Suva to Kadavu.