Kadavu Island


Kadavu Island

Kadavu Island – The land of the monster GT
Kadavu Island is about 90km south of Suva, the capital of Fiji.  Along with a few other smaller islands it forms part of the Great Astrolabe Reef.  With only 10,000 residents it’s covered in rainforest and palm tree lined beaches.  It’s also completely surrounded by pristine coral reefs.

All three of us on this trip were returning visitors to Matava Resort on Kadavu Island.  This was to be my third trip, fourth for Scott and second for Dan.  After an overnight stop in Nadi we were looking forward to five days of fishing.

It was also a great opportunity to re-test some of our Ocean Addiction Fin Cases as the journey consisted of:

  • a trip to the airport
  • an international flight
  • 2 cab rides
  • a domestic flight
  • transfers in the back of a ute and
  • a 45 minute boat ride

Day 1 – The Seamount (the no photo day)

Making the most of the fine weather we decided to run south to the seamount. At 32nm it is quite a long trip but travelling at 20 to 25 knots ate up the distance in no time. It receives little pressure from the locals and can produce awesome fishing. On previous trips out there we caught dogtooth up to 64kg and heaps of yellowfin.

When we arrived we found a few scattered birds but no surface activity. We decided to jig over the 150 metre deep top of the seamount first. Scott was the first to hook up midwater landing a nice yellowfin around 20kg. Before we could take a photo the boys were bleeding it and had it on ice for dinner.

Soon after the tuna started busting up on the surface. There was little convincing needed to ditch the jig rods for 30 to 50 lb casting outfits. Throughout the morning we landed about 30 yellowfin up to 20kg. We used poppers and stickbaits and had some great surface strikes.
When the tuna schools were down we dropped jigs on the seamount. Dan got an almaco jack (highfin amberjack) on a jig. Scott gave his jig rod to the deckie while he cast to some tuna. The jig got nailed by something huge which we hoped would be our first dogtooth for the trip. We had morning tea while the deckie hauled it up only to find an oceanic white tip had taken the jig.

On the way home we popped for GTs. We had several enquiries before I hooked the first GT of the trip. A nice little 10kg model that we returned to the water.

Day 2 – Ono Passage and beyond – The bodyboard GT

Fiji-Dan-StretchThe wind had picked up overnight so we decided to stay inside the reef for the day. We headed north around Kadavu Island and through the Ono Passage. We popped the deep channels that drain the inner lagoon back to the open ocean.

Dan put in a “one last cast” to one of the channel markers that we had completely flogged. In full view his popper got attacked by a huge GT that looked like a bodyboard with fins. He kept the hooks in it just long enough for me to get a photo of the bend in his rod before it shook the hooks. This was to be the story of the day for Dan with 6 fished dropped throughout the day.

The afternoon was still windy and seas quite choppy. We braved the conditions to pop the outside of the reef to try and find some fish activity. Dan was the first to set the hooks into something big. My popper was a few metres behind his and also got hit for a double hookup. Mine was a tiny GT but Dan landed the biggest, stinky barracuda in Fiji.

All up it was a slow day. Dan lost 6 fish but landed several reefies including the barracuda. I missed a couple of hits and landed a little GT. Scott got a few miscellaneous reefies on the jig.

Day 3 – The South Reefs – Red Bass save the day

The wind was continuing to pick up making conditions outside pretty uncomfortable.  The plan was to head south, find spots sheltered from the swell and throw poppers for GTs.  We tried several spots along the reef hoping for a GT (or anything).  After several hours of casting poppers we were buggered and needed a change.

Inside the reef we drifted over shallow reef flats casting small poppers and stickbaits.  Scott and I picked up a few yellow lip emperor that fought hard in the shallow water.  They were also quite tasty as baked fillets for dinner that night.

Over some of the deeper bombies we had pack attacks by red bass. They had some decent size to them and tried the absolute best to reef us on the light tackle. You know it is a tough day when red bass are the savior!

Day 4 – The Far South, Cape Washington – did a dolphin just eat my popper???

With a big swell still running outside the reef many spots were too difficult to fish for GTs. We headed down to the far south of Kadavu Island to a place called Cape Washington. Along the way a pod of spinner dolphins kept us entertained with their antics.

We popped a few sheltered locations but the swell was still quite large. I was starting to get back into the trance of not catching anything. Then something bizarre happened, a dolphin lurched right onto my popper. It took a moment to register what was going on. The captain and deckie were screaming “doggie, doggie, doggie, set the hook!!!!!”. So I did, five times before this thing woke up and hit the afterburners. It took one insane screaming run before spitting my now splintered popper. Bugger!

Working the outside the reef we caught several GTs between us. The biggest would have been about 25kg. Scott landed a massive coral trout that measured exactly 1 metre on the brag mat.

After lunch schools of yellowfin were busting up outside the reef. We had to chase them with the boat as they were moving fast. We had some awesome takes off the surface and several triple hook ups to round out the day.

Day 5 – The Atoll, North Astrolabe Reef

Last day of the trip. The plan was to head far north to the coral atoll between Ono Island and Suva on the mainland.

First stop was Ono Passage where Scott landed a massive rosie jobfish on the jig. Continuing on our way we passed some spectacular scenery. The tropical beaches lined with palm trees and coral reefs were just spectacular.

Popping for GTs at the atoll was like most other locations – quiet. Dan spotted some birds hanging over a school of feeding yellowfin. We motored over and cast into the mayhem for an instant triple hookup. Dan and I landed fish around the 20kg mark but Scott had a brute hooked up on his heavy popping gear. It hit the decks and the captain called it for 40kg. It went straight onto the ice with his mates. Sashimi for dinner again.
Final afternoon was time to thin out our tackle collection drifting the flats again. It was difficult fishing due to the strong winds. We landed heaps of bluefin trevally, coral trout, red bass and other miscellaneous reefies. We got a look at 2 solid black GTs but both missed the hooks. Over the next 3 hours we lost an absolute stack of tackle. There was plenty of practice tying FG and PR knots as well. No excess baggage charges on the flight home for us!

All said it was a fantastic trip. The great yellowfin and red bass action turned many slow days around. We got a look at several monster fish but luck was not on our side. It’s easier to handle losing big fish if the gear performs, knots hold and the angler doesn’t make rookie mistakes. That’s just fishing. Now I just have to wash my gear up!

This report was also posted on Fishraider (www.fishraider.com.au)

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The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope.

John Buchan