Trevally Fishing in Tahiti

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.

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Chasing Tails

chaisingtailsI have been chasing a lot of tails lately, bonefish tails mostly.  Using my new light tackle reel and rod I have been spending a lot of time refining my flats fishing technique and the current evolution has proven effective.  I have managed to catch nearly all of the reef fish species that hunt on the flats, though my last four bonefish have come infuriatingly un-hooked (there is no consistency in these loses so at this point I am chocking them up to bad luck).  I have also had some pretty epic wildlife sightings – after twice spotting a big shark cruising the flats, I had a close encounter with a Hawaiian monk seal.  I have seen monk seals hauled out and sleeping on land but have never spotted one swimming in the wild.  This one was swimming slowly in about four feet of water, well inside the surf zone, and was close enough that I could make out it’s whiskers when it poked it’s nose up for a fresh breath of air.  It may have been hunting, reef critters like octopus and lobster are among their primary prey.  From the size (big!) I suspect it was a male.  According to the Waikiki Aquarium website there are only about 153 of these endemic and endangered mammals in the main Hawaiian Islands so I feel extremely lucky each time I encounter one.

A Shark Named Iselle

I went fishing on the heels of Hurricanes Iselle and Julio, two storms which didn’t seem to affect our neighbourhood even slightly.  The water was murky with run-off from rain in the mountains and there was quite a bit of debris washed up on the sand.  I spent about an hour casting for bonefish along the flat without a bite, or even seeing any signs of fish.  Strolling through the shallows back to shore I caught movement out of the corner of my eye and spotted a black-tipped shark fin in the water.  I have spent some quality time with blacktip reef sharks, enough to say with confidence that this was a big fish!  The gap between fin and tail definitely put it in the 6 foot plus range.  The shark was cruising very slowly away from shore, no more than 40 feet from me.  Now, I should probably have gone for my camera but instead I did what any self-respecting flats fisherman would do.  I made a cast!  I dropped my 3/16 ounce shrimp jig about six feet in front of the shark and gave it a couple of quick jerks but the shark showed absolutely no response and continued placidly into deeper water until it’s fin finally disappeared under the surface.

Two days later I got up at dawn and went out to the same area.  After about 15 minutes I found a dozen tails in thigh deep water and hooked a nice bonefish.  It made three long runs and I got it within about 15 feet of me before it came unhooked and swam to freedom.  I fished for another hour or so until the sun was away from the horizon and called it a day.  Just as I turned around I glimpsed, not more than 200 feet from me, a black tipped fin followed by a black tipped tail slip under the surface.  I waited for a few minutes but the shark had gone.  Though I didn’t get a good look, it may have been the same one I spotted two days earlier … is Iselle here to stay?