Everyone knows Fiji has fish.
You see them in all the tourist brochures, schools of tiny tropical critters in the most vivid shades of fluorescent yellow, pink and blue, drifting and darting around the coral in impossibly blue water.
But there’s another Fijian marine encounter that will take you far from land, require a certain amount of concentration and finesse, and have you taking on creatures that are considerably bigger and a whole lot stronger than the fish you see in the lagoon below your over-water suite.
Deep-sea fishing is serious business in Fiji with anglers taking on giant marlin, shark, sailfish, barracuda, king mackerel and wahoo during ocean-going expeditions that can last from just a few hours to several days, and there are numerous ways for a holidaymaker to go about dropping a line.
While it’s rarely acceptable to cast from the balcony of your bungalow – the sea around many of the resorts is protected in an effort to encourage breeding and shelter the existing fish population – it isn’t hard to organise a boat to venture out to the open ocean.
A number of Fiji’s resorts offer morning and afternoon excursions. There are boats staffed by experienced crews and with all the necessary equipment available for hire, and a few enthusiasts have introduced all-inclusive “fishing farm stay” programmes.
The Shangri-La’s Fijian Resort & Spa offers bay, trolling and deep-sea fishing excursions to guests.
“Fiji is good for all-year-round deep-sea fishing.
The water is deep and clean and there’s no pollution and over-fishing because we don’t have a large angling population here,” says Shangri-La general manager Michael Monks.
“We don’t offer any fishing from the land, it’s all done on the sea, and the traditional deep-sea catch is marlin – black, blue and striped – varieties of shark, sailfish, barracuda, yellow fin tuna, kingfish, dolphin fish and wahoo.”
Shangri-La guests can charter a whole vessel or buy a seat on a deep-sea excursion that will carry a maximum of six anglers to the ocean trenches where the big fish roam.
“Our boat the Fleet Lady, which is fully equipped with a fighting chair and outriggers, will go out at 6am for four hours, or alternatively late in the afternoon and stay out until just after dark,” Monks says.
“The crew is made up of locals from the village on the other side of the causeway.
These are people who have been fishing these waters all their lives, and they all have secret places they like to fish.”
Vomo Island Resort, occupying a private island in the Mamanuca Group off Viti Levu’s western shore, also organises outings. Says Vomo’s Luisa Koroi: “If it’s simple handline fishing, then our activities team do that themselves, but game fishing is organised through Adrenalin, which is a separate company based at the Denarau Marina.”
Preferred deep-sea fishing spots are along the Coral Coast on the southern edge of Viti Levu Island, around Vatulele and Beqa islands, and near the Mamanuca group.
Pacific Harbour on Viti Levu’s south coast is home to Fiji’s annual game fishing competition held every August, and it’s also the base for many of the charter companies that take anglers out to the deep water.
You don’t need a boat to fish in Fiji – casting, spinning and hand fishing from shallow flats, estuaries, mangrove streams and freshwater rivers are just some of the options – but anglers need to be careful not to drop a line into “taboo” (protected) waters.
Fiji Sun – Sarah Nicholson