Monday, April 27, 2009

Anglers Paradise fishing trip

Rosie and I decided to take a little trip. A get away for the weekend. See something different and try something new. This idea led to my suggestion that we drive to the other side of the island and stay at Anglers Paradise. We both had heard and read about the fishing retreat. The owner James Siers had quite the reputation as a fisherman and a photographer.

So after several email and a couple of phone calls the plans were made. We would make the leisurely drive, about 3.5 hours to their place on Friday afternoon. Sleep there Friday night and fish on Saturday, sleep Saturday night and take off Sunday morning for a nice drive home.

After packing enough fishing gear for twenty people, I finally have the truck loaded and we are off to a great start at exactly 12:00 noon. Gas up, check the oil and fill the fluids. After all our truck is a bit old.

On the road again

The wind in my hair and pot holes under my tires. The road has degenerated since my last trip down here. Bad weather and lack of maintenance has taken it’s toll. Two hours later we have traveled what should have taken one hour.

We grab a bite to eat and hit the road again. Now it is starting to rain, but that does not dampen our spirits. After all we are going fishing!

We make a scheduled stop at a fishing store in the Jet set town of Nadi. We find nothing to buy and decide to just move on.

The road conditions in Nadi are horrible. This is the first impression a tourist/visitor receives. It is like driving on a logging road only with heaps of traffic and rain to boot. I have to say it is rather embarrassing.

It is now 4:00 p.m. and we still have an hour to go. Traffic is bumper to bumper and the final stretch takes us two hours to cover.

We arrive just at last light, exhausted, wet, dirty and ready to fish.

After meeting James (Jim), his sons Conrad and Kaji and the two women that take care of the cooking and cleaning, Lisi and Sisi, we have a bowl of kava and dinner and retire to our room.

The plan

Up at 5:00 a.m., breakfast at 6:00 and on the water at 6:30 a.m. Put in a full day of fishing and return around 4:00 p.m. For a shower and kava session followed by fish for dinner.

Our captain for the day is Conrad and the deckhand is Murad and the tag along is Kaji (he is 14 yo). They decided we should take the 40ft boat instead of the center console. A decision that would come back to haunt them.

The morning

The weather has cleared and it is shaping up to be a beauty, blue sky and a little puff of breeze. As we motor along to our first stop I am busy prepping our gear for the day. The mood on board is upbeat and anticipation is high. We are soon visited by a pod of spinner dolphins and they proceed to put on a show for us.

We arrive at our first fishing spot and after a little jostling around we pick our spots on the boat to fish and settle in.

The tide is starting to turn and go out, the weather is great and we are soon into a rhythm of casting giant poppers in hopes of enticing Giant Trevally to bite.

Things are a little quiet to start but that does nothing to dampen the spirits on board, after all, this place has a reputation of producing GT’s that can bust 80lb line like it was thread.

We are cruising along the edge of reefs and coral heads, casting at bait and anything that moves. There are big rises all around us and schools of bait everywhere. What a fishing dream.

The haunting

After about an hour of fishing, suddenly the motor is switched off and the crew are all inside the cabin with the engine compartment open. This can’t be good. Turns out the engine is over heating and no one knows why. The decision is made to drop anchor and call for help.

Unfortunately where we drop anchor is too far away from the reef to fish. So after 15-20 minutes of casting practice the rods are put up and we settle in for the wait. By the time help arrives in the form of a mechanic and Jim, several hours have ticked by.

It is decided that we switch to the center console and the mechanic and Jim will take the big boat back and we will fish on.

The afternoon

By now the tide is running full out and the sun is straight up. It is starting to get hot and the breeze is nonexistent. We continue to fish without a bite for the next couple of hours. Finally the deckhand, Murad, hooks what looks to be a nice fish. Unfortunately the fish made it home before Murad got it to the boat. Fish 1, boat 0. Amazing how one fish can get everyone a bit excited and reinvigorated.

A little while later Murad makes up for his lost fish and lands a nice GT.

Now everyone is fired up and the boat is abuzz with excitement. All for not.

The next fish would not be seen until 3:30 p.m. I was lucky enough to be the one to catch it. The surface exploded and a hole opened up where my popper was. As my 50lb braid came tight it was obvious this was a good fish. The fish gods were smiling down upon me as the GT headed for deep water instead of it’s home. That gave me a fighting chance. After several good runs pulling braid at 10kg of drag, the GT finally gave in and came to the boat. It pulled the scales down at a respectable 16kg. Not the biggest but a nice fish none the less. That proved to be the last fish we would see for the day until dinner.

Rosie had a total of one looker for the day.

I guess that is why it is called fishing and not catching.

We wrapped up the evening drinking kava with the staff and telling stories of fish caught before.

The drive home

We left our new friends from Anglers Paradise around 10:00 a.m. On Sunday morning and headed home. We decided to stop in Nadi to grab a bite to eat. As I was waiting for Rosie to get the food a friend who goes by the name of Elvis hijacks us to go to his house and have a bowl of kava. This turns into an all day ordeal. Oh well such is the life in Fiji. We finally arrive home after 6:00 p.m. And sleep early.

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