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.
My predictions were correct. The islands were extremely suited to the type of fishing I wanted to do. Most of the reef edges were fishable any time. The only real obstacle was the surf, as we learned one afternoon when we literally got washed off the reef and back into the lagoon by a big wave. Fortunately, the only damage done was the loss of my hat.
The big surprise was how few trevally we caught! We caught quite a few other fish, which was fun. The wrasses were big and aggressive and there were a lot of bluespotted groupers willing to take a bite.
We also consistently ran into blacktip reef sharks hunting in the shallows, which is rare in Hawaii. It’s always fun when a four foot shark sneaks up behind you in thigh deep water, and it’s always hard to say who is more surprised.
On our last evening, Duncan and I fished the edge of a large pass, or channel, in the reef. Since we had only caught small fish from the reef so far, I rigged up the light tackle rods. The surf was up a little bit so were forced to stand pretty far inside the drop off. After getting into the rhythm of the waves and the current, I caught a large trumpet fish. After about 45 minutes the light started to fade and I figured we better pack it in. It seemed good timing because Duncan looked to have gotten snagged on the reef. As I took a second look though, I realized he had hooked into a decent fish. I splashed towards him, trying to yell instructions. The backwash of the surf over the shallow reef edge was strong and I tried to tell him to wait for the next incoming wave to pull the fish in. I also cursed myself briefly for not bringing the bigger rods. Although he doesn’t fish much, Duncan has more ocean-sense in his left foot than most of us will accumulate in a lifetime so, with excellent timing, he deftly reeled the fish in with the next wave. It wasn’t huge, but it was the best trevally of the trip!