No Frills, Big Thrills

Go Travel The Pacific - - Cook Islands - By Jack Greene

The sound of the flight at­ten­dant an­nounc­ing the land­ing in­struc­tions to the cabin roused me from my doz­ing night­mare of last week’s mis­er­able weather and work. We were about to land in sunny Raro­tonga, the ma­jor is­land in the 15 is­land group known as the Cook Is­land for a fam­ily wed­ding. I had other in­ten­tions as well as I had heard that the game fish­ing was great. My son Graeme was with me and I de­cided to take this op­por­tu­nity to see for my­self.

Wed­ding done and dusted I took Graeme and mosied down to the wharf to see what was avail­able. I wanted to check the boats first hand and talk to the skip­per be­fore I made my de­ci­sion. As a mad keen fish­er­man back home I had high ex­pec­ta­tions. There was only one boat I liked the look of which ap­peared solid and sea­wor­thy. The skip­per was friendly enough and seemed to know his stuff. We were given the op­tion of a shared char­ter of up to 6 peo­ple max­i­mum or a pri­vate char­ter. Since it was my birth­day I shouted the son and my­self to a pri­vate 5 hour char­ter the fol­low­ing day. It was a glo­ri­ous day when we ar­rived at the wharf. We were wel­comed aboard and given a briefing about the fish we would be tar­get­ing and what to ex­pect. Our first big im­pres­sion was head­ing out. The wa­ter there is a turquoise colour and so deep. 300 me­tres out it is 300 me­ters deep and the lines are fish­ing the mo­ment you leave the har­bour.

We headed for the first FAD which is a Fish ag­gre­gate de­vice used to at­tract lit­tle fish which then at­tracts the big­ger fish. Here we picked up a cou­ple of small Yel­low fin Tuna then about an hour into the trip the shogun starts to scream. It’s a strike and th the way it is run­ning shes a big one. Graeme jumps into the gamechair and I can see his face as he takes the rod. It’s a big one. Graeme has never neve caught any­thing big­ger bigg than a 12kg snap snap­per so this is go­ing to be b good. 20 min­utes later with mus­sels aching and the heart pound­ing Graeme reels in to the boat a 38kg Wa­hoo. He is happy to let the deckie gaff the fish and bring it aboard. Hes bug­gered but mighty happy and im hooked if this is game fish­ing in Raro­tonga I will be back.

I caught up with some old friends when I re­turned to NZ to see if they would be keen to do a weeks char­ter on Sea­fari. All keen fishos they agreed and we were away. It was a fan­tas­tic week in July. A blokes dream, to wake up ev­ery day and go fish­ing. Fish was taken on ev­ery char­ter. Mahimahi and Wa­hoo be­ing in pre­dom­i­nance with mul­ti­ple strikes on lures and lo­cal baits. Our morn­ing char­ters were some­thing else out there where we got to see the sun rise over the hori­zon. The days got even bet­ter as we were here dur­ing whale sea­son and sev­eral times we got to see the great hump­back whales breach so close to the boat. Raro­tonga is truly par­adise. The week came and went far too quickly so be­fore we left we booked our spots for an­other week this time wait­ing un­til late Oc­to­ber to do the trip and tie it in with the Cook Is­lands Game fish­ing club tour­na­ment. On ar­rival we took the first char­ter we could just to prac­tice, just in case we had gone rusty.

Great ex­cite­ment a short time out while pass­ing one of the FADs the rods goes off and we are hooked into a Mar­lin jump­ing crazily out the back of the boat. Cameron jumped into the chair pump­ing and work­ing the rod. Af­ter 20 min­utes the mar­lin came up be­side the boat was gafted and hauled on board. Un­for­tu­nately for us it was not the com­pe­ti­tion un­til the next day.

Last year 2013 we again went back in Oc­to­ber and once again the fish­ing ex­celled. We caught ev­ery­thing from trolling for yel­lowfin Tuna with quin­tu­ple hook- ups. Our best day saw us come back to the wharf with 27 fish. 5 Mahi, 1 Wa­hoo, 18 Tuna and 3 Skip­jacks. Not bad in our books. While the fish was get­ting fil­leted we got to drink a few ales and dine on fresh fil­lets of Yel­lowfin Tuna, sashimi style. This is tuna dipped in Kikko­man sauce and wasabi. If you have never tried this put it on your to do list. In Ja­pan they pay a small for­tune for this. It doesn’t come any fresher or get any bet­ter.

The “Happy Hook­ers” as we call our­selves keep com­ing back not just for the fish­ing but for the hospi­tal­ity and friend­li­ness of ev­ery­one we meet. It is a very spe­cial place for us.

Sea­fari is a great sea boat and has proved it to us on sev­eral oc­ca­sions. The skip­per Kevin and crew are ex­cel­lent and do ev­ery­thing they can to en­sure that we catch fish. The gear is well main­tained and noth­ing is too much trou­ble. The cu­sine that is sent out on each char­ter is always plen­ti­ful and de­li­cious and is made by Sharon who also or­gan­ises our ac­co­mo­da­tion, trans­port and itin­ery.

The is­land is laid back and ev­ery­thing is rea­son­ably priced. Ac­co­mo­da­tion, at least from our per­spec­tive, has been ex­cel­lent.

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