Pelagic paradise

Chris Beattie | VOLUME 30, ISSUE 3
The fishing only ever varied from spectacular to sensational.
It’s hard to beat this six-day trip to Samoa, one of the world’s great sports fishing hot spots.

If you’re not a serious fisho now, you will be if you indulge in a Fishing Getaways’ trip to the sports fishing Mecca of Samoa.

Club Marine was fortunate to visit the Friendly Isles, as Samoa is known, a couple of years ago where we experienced the great relaxed lifestyle and culture of the locals. But there was absolutely nothing relaxing about the fishing.

In the week we were there, fishing off both main islands, we managed to bag everything from mahi mahi to marlin in some of the most frantic fishing action I’ve ever encountered.

The two most memorable piscatorial exploits were both off the island of Savai’i, where we based ourselves at the Va-i-moana Seaside Lodge.

We had barely left the jetty and were headed for a break in the reef to explore deeper waters when we were ambushed by a trio of giant trevally. The reels screamed, the lines tore off in three different directions and we spent the next few minutes crisscrossing the cockpit as the GTs gave us a solid workout. By the time we boated the fish and untangled the lines, all we could do was laugh and wonder what else lay in store considering we were only a couple of hundred metres from the beach. Such is fishing in Samoa.

We spent two fun-filled days at the Va-i-moana Seaside Lodge, which overlooks a beautiful tropical lagoon that also offers great snorkeling. Apart from enjoying the picturesque location and warm and friendly hospitality of the staff and locals, the fishing only ever varied from spectacular to sensational.

BRUISING BLUE

Day two had us out early and past the reef into deeper water where the angling possibilities were pretty much endless. In a packed day we hooked up to tuna, barracuda, some very energetic mahi mahi and finally, with minutes to spare, a 160kg very athletic blue marlin.

We were on a tight schedule, with a ferry to catch back to the main island of Upolu, and the pressure was on to bring the fish in. In the end, the marlin kept me occupied for nearly 40 minutes before lodge owner Salei Vaai and deckie Gary finally managed to wrestle it into the boat.

It was one of my most memorable and intense sports fishing encounters and, while we were understandably elated at our catch, the people of the local community also welcomed our arrival back on the beach, with the promise of enough fresh fish to go around for the next few days.

During their stay in Samoa, guests are in the capable hands of experienced Samoan fishing charter operator Greg Hopping, who heads Troppo Fishing Adventures. Hopping runs Pure Indulgence, a sports fishing-dedicated 35ft Bertram flybridge cruiser, out of the capital Apia.

Apart from fishing out of the lodge, one could also enjoy the trip up from Apia, with lures in the water just in case something large and hungry happens to be nearby …

FISHY PLACE

“Due to its position at the top of the mighty Tongan Trench, Samoa is a very ‘fishy’ place,” explained Hopping.

“The deep drop-offs and canyons that lie close to the coast provide excellent big game and sports fishing opportunities, drawing blue marlin, sailfish, yellowfin tuna, Spanish mackerel, wahoo and mahi mahi for most months of the year. In addition, we’ve got GTs, dogtooth tuna, trout, bass and emperor prowling the fringing reefs and sea mounts, ready for anyone who wants to cast a popper or drop a jig.”

Made up of nine volcanic islands, including the two large islands of Upolu and Savai’i, Samoa is located about halfway between Hawaii and NZ in the Polynesian region of the South Pacific just south of the Equator. While Upolu is the centre of commerce and government, and also where the capital and largest town of Apia is located, Savai’i is the larger island.

Smiling faces and laughter are two primary Samoan cultural traits, along with the ability to summon up a feast of local fresh produce at the drop of a coconut.

LOCAL COLOUR

Located on Upolu’s northern coast, Apia is the commercial hub of Samoa, but no one ever seems in too much of a hurry to do anything here. Rush hour in Apia is a concept as alien as a warm beer in Darwin. Locals in colourful sarongs stroll the foreshore, giggling children chase each other through the market, and implausibly decorated buses vie for the most outrageous colour schemes and names.

While in Apia, guests might choose to stay at the famous Aggie Grey’s Hotel. Aggie’s became famous during the Second World War as the place where a young Miss Aggie Grey made her famous hamburgers for American soldiers on leave. This beautiful, colonial-style hotel has recently been totally renovated and is now part of the Sheraton group of hotels and resorts.

Beyond Apia, Samoa very quickly reverts to its rural and cultural roots, with traditional villages dotting the coastline, their open areas full of playful children and free-range domestic and farm animals.

Upolu’s natural features include the Piula Cave Pools, the soaring Papapapaitai Falls and the cavernous Sua Ocean Trench. There are also plenty of spots for snorkeling and exploring the reefs on both islands.

RURAL FEEL

An hour and a half ferry ride from Upolu sees visitors transported to Savai’i. Savai’i is much less populated than Upolu, and with a more relaxed, rural feel. Distances between villages are greater and the vast majority of the land is undeveloped and clad in lush tropical rainforest. A fringing reef surrounds much of the island, with lagoons rich in coral and fish life to delight divers and snorkellers.

“Greg and his expert crew ensure our guests have an entertaining and rewarding fishing experience aboard Pure Indulgence,” said Fishing Getaways’ head, Gordon Howlett. “And Salei and his staff at the Va-i-moana Seaside Lodge always make visitors feel more than welcome. Visitors get to experience the authentic Samoan culture when they stay there.”

Guests can also enjoy savouring the tastes of freshly caught fish as their catches of the day will be prepared for them each evening.

Fishing Getaways caters for individuals, groups, families, social clubs, angling clubs and corporate functions and has access to a large number of boats throughout Australia, the Pacific Islands and parts of Asia. For more information, call: (03) 9894 0006, or 0438 088 885 or go to: FishingGetaways.com.au.


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