Our trip to French Polynesia this Summer was especially interesting because I had a chance to explore the differences between one tropical Pacific island chain and another.
In doing my pre-trip research, I realized that the Leeward Islands of French Polynesia had extensive barrier reefs and relatively small tidal fluctuations. This got me very excited to try fishing for trevally there.
In my last post I mentioned bottom-fishing. Day or night, it is one of the easiest and most productive styles of fishing from a boat. Just rig your line with a weight and a baited hook, drop it to the bottom, and wait for something to bite.
We spent two weeks in May sailing through the Leeward Islands of French Polynesia. Our shipmates were two good friends, who actually know how to sail! Together we chartered a bare boat (meaning without crew), the 43 foot Utrillo.
This is our second sailing adventure. Two years ago we joined the same friends for an eight day journey through the Whitsunday Islands of Queensland in Australia. I trolled several lures during that trip, including one recommended at the marina, but had no action at all.
Before this trip I tried to do some research to increase our odds of catching fish but I did not find very helpful information. A lot of the specific tips came from sailing websites and seemed to focus on the fish, how to get them on board or how to kill them. This makes sense because sailors are not necessarily fishers, but I was more interested in how to hook fish, not what to do afterwards.
After having some success, I thought I would write down a few things that we learned so that I and others don’t have to start from scratch on the next voyage.
This is a birthday card I received from my family last Fall. The painting was done by my father, Terry McIlrath. He has been a professional artist since before I was born, and has been drawing, painting and sculpting fish images for just as long.
Fish and art have long been parallel themes in my own life and I guess it is only natural that they have combined in many ways.
I used to get a bad case of the Winter fishing blues every year. I could usually make it to February without going too crazy but eventually I’d bundle up and go looking for something to catch, which was usually nothing at all. For many fishers (especially the carp on the fly variety) Winter is a tough time of year. Even in Hawaii the storm fronts start to roll through weekly and the water temperature falls just enough that the fishing slows down noticeably. This year has been a little bit different. This year, my fishing blues are of a different kind.
Flats fishing on foot and flats fishing from a boat are fairly different experiences. Like most things, each comes with it’s own advantages and disadvantages. I have spent quite a bit of time fishing solo from an inflatable boat or SUP board, but this was the first year I have spent any meaningful time fishing from an actual boat while being poled by another person. I have yet to really get the hang of it, but I have definitely learned some important lessons, which I thought might be useful to others.
The demise of our inflatable boat changed my fishing strategy. I had planned on using the boat to fish for carp on a number of backwaters and lakes connected to the Columbia River. Instead, I had to focus on places with shoreline access. Despite this turn of events, the fishing only got better and the fish only got bigger. I landed a couple of chunks and just missed one beast that was probably over thirty pounds.
Ever since we started visiting the Columbia Gorge, Tara has wanted to paddle across the river from Oregon to Washington (visiting different states is a bit of an obsession for people from Hawaii). Last spring we packed up our Sea Eagle inflatable kayak and brought it to our cottage on the Columbia River. I was excited to be able to take it out on the water this summer but the boat was going on ten years old and it had not been inflated in over a year so I decided to start small and work up to an interstate adventure. Continue reading →