Fishing World Magazine | March 2015

in Paradise
A trip to Fiji provides you with plenty of
opportunity to tangle with quality fish while
your family enjoys a laidback tropical island
holiday. BEN CADDAYE reports.
34 | | March 2015
There are hundreds of estuaries like
this one all over Fiji. Although they’re
rarely fished by holidaying anglers,
they produce GTs, mangrove jack and,
in the upper reaches, jungle perch.
INSET: Gerard O’Neill looks happy with
his big bull mahi mahi that weighed
close to 20kg. Fiji’s warm blue water
means there are plenty of these
spectacular gamefish on offer.
IJI’S fishing potential is obvious even
before your plane kisses the tarmac at
Nadi Airport. As you approach the main
island from the air, the sight of countless coral
bommies, shallow lagoons, secluded creeks, deep
drop-offs and fingers of reef is enough to make
any sportfishing enthusiast salivate.
The fishing in Fiji is as good as it looks from
the sky. I’ve recently returned home after a
fishing holiday in Fiji to celebrate my 40th
birthday. I received lots of presents in the form
of some memorable inshore and bluewater fishing
for everything from small trevally to speedy
wahoo and massive mahi mahi. | March 2015 | 35
My wife and young kids tagged along as well
and had a blast, proving that Fiji lives up to its
billing as one of the best places to enjoy a
family-friendly fishing holiday.
Where to begin?
A trip to Fiji is generally a laidback affair, as
this obligatory “coconut palm on a beach
with boat in the background” shot reveals!
LOCATED a stone’s throw from Pacific
Harbour, Uprising Beach Resort is the
perfect spot to base yourself for a familyfriendly fishing holiday in Fiji. A 2 ½ hour
bus ride from Nadi Airport, Uprising is well
worth the journey as it lies beyond the
popular Coral Coast resort strip and has
more of a genuine, relaxed Fijian feel.
Importantly, the fishing and dive charters
that leave regularly from Pacific Harbour
are just up the road – and you can easily
make a booking from the resort. Laidback
but comfortable, Uprising sits right on the
beach overlooking Beqa Lagoon and boasts
a great little restaurant and bar, as well as a
beaut pool for the kids. It’s a great resort for
families and the staff go out of their way to
make guests feel welcome and relaxed. A
range of activities outside the resort can be
organised via the friendly reception desk
staff. It’s also just across the road from the
Arts Village, which contains shops, a
supermarket, banks, cafes and restaurants.
36 | | March 2015
The biggest challenge for anglers visiting Fiji is
deciding where to begin. Fiji is made up of 333
islands, but the vast majority of tourists visit
the main island, Viti Levu, where more than 85
per cent of the population lives. Viti Levu is a
good place from which to launch a fishing
holiday as it’s home to a number of charter
operators who can accommodate a variety of
fishing needs, from half-day reef-fishing trips
to overnight adventures to the outlying islands.
We based ourselves in the Pacific Harbour
region, which is a 2 ½ hour bus ride from Nadi,
beyond the popular Coral Coast resort strip. It’s
known as the “adventure capital” of Fiji and is a
great location for anyone interested in diving,
snorkelling or fishing , as it sits on the doorstep
of the fish-rich waters of Beqa Lagoon and is a
short boat ride to the 2000m drop-offs that
harbour marlin, tuna, mahi mahi and wahoo.
There are also a couple of rivers in the area
that, although rarely fished by visiting anglers,
are pretty handy little spots to target mangrove
jack and small GTs.
This region’s a bit “off the beaten track”
yet still boasts a range of excellent resorts
(see Fact Box) plus access to shops, eateries
and recreational activities.
We fished with Pacific Harbour-based
Freedive Fiji Charters, which has established an
excellent reputation for putting traveling fishos
on to big fish (see Fact Box).
Over the course of two days we had the
opportunity to sample most forms of fishing
Fiji has to offer – estuary, inshore and
bluewater. While the fishing didn’t exactly fire
during our visit, we still managed some
outstanding catches and learnt a great deal
about fishing in the region.
The deep, cobalt-blue water off Fiji’s coast is
synonymous with big game fish. Beyond Beqa
Lagoon, where we fished, the water depth
drops sharply from just a few metres to more
than 2km – and this is where the serious
predators hunt. Depending on the season,
anglers can expect to tangle with marlin,
sailfish, Spanish mackerel, wahoo and
yellowfin tuna. Mahi mahi (or dolphin fish)
are abundant in the warmer months and we
experienced some great action on trolled
skirts, catching big bulls to about 18kg, along
with a smattering of “smaller” fish around the
12-14kg mark. Anyone who’s caught one of
these fish before knows how ballistic they are,
especially when they get in the boat! Even our
deckie, a muscular rugby playing Fijian, had
his work cut out for him tying to tackle nearly
20kg of angry bull mahi mahi as it thrashed
about on the deck of our relatively small,
rocking boat. It was quite a sight.
The deep water also produced a nice wahoo
and school-sized yellowfin, both of which
proved tasty on the plate later that night.
Peak wahoo season is late winter and early
spring, with multiple hook-ups on these
lightning-fast pelagics very common when
conditions are right.
Late summer is when yellowfin tuna fishing
is at its hottest and recent seasons have been
some of the best Freedive’s Jaga Crossingham
has experienced since coming to Fiji 11 years
ago. The fish can range from jellybeans to
monsters and turn up in huge numbers.
The billfish, sadly, eluded us but I saw enough
photos of big beakies to get an idea of the calibre
of marlin and sailfish this area produces.
The reef fishing in Fiji was a real highlight. We
fished the reef edges and coral bommies of Beqa
Lagoon in just a few metres of water for an array
of trevally and bottom-dwelling fish. In a
memorable early morning session on the rising
tide, large Halco Roosta Poppers flung into the
wash produced a trio of GTs that dragged the
anglers in question from one end of the boat to
the other. While this was happening I happily
flicked metal slices into the shallows and
connected to some smaller trevally, including a
stunning bluefin trevally, which gave me a great
workout on relatively light gear.
The fringes of the reef also regularly produce
coral trout, rosy jobfish, red bass and other
mean, nasty predators.
A move into deeper water (between 100 and
200m) is a great way to snare a tasty feed of what
locals call puka puka – a pinky/orange reef fish
that looks like a cross between a nannygai and a
jobfish. The best way to fish with these is with
multiple fish-flesh baits and a big lump of lead.
We didn’t get around to trying this approach but
I’m keen to do so next time.
The estuary fishing in Fiji is an unknown
quantity. There are literally thousands of
creeks and rivers flowing through Fiji, but
hardly any visiting anglers fish them. I guess
they’re too pre-occupied with catching
trophy fish out to sea. Nevertheless, most of
these waterways harbour mangrove jack,
small GTs and, in the upper reaches, there
are some jungle perch. We had a couple of
epending on the season, anglers can
expect to tangle with marlin, sailfish, Spanish
mackerel, wahoo and yellowfin tuna.”
Marlin: Year-round, although best from
November to February
Spanish mackerel: Year-round, although
best from May to September
Wahoo: July-September
Mahi mahi: October – January
Giant trevally: Year-round
Yellowfin tuna: November – February
end of 110cm of angry ‘cuda, taken on light
spin tackle and, as you can see, a “free”
promotional X-Rap lure given away with
Fisho’s 40th anniversary edition; Reef edges,
islands and drop-offs make Fiji a very fishy
location; The author working a coral-studded
reef with light spin tackle in search of bluefin
trevally, red bass and coral trout. | March 2015 | 37
RUN by ex-pat Aussie Jaga Crossingham
and his wife, Heather, Freedive Fiji is the
premier fishing and diving charter
operator in Fiji. Jaga hails from the
mid-north coast of NSW and is a fishing
and freedive spearfishing nut. He came
to Fiji 11 years ago and now calls it home
with his young family. Regardless of your
fishing tastes and budget, Freedive has a
charter to suit you. Jaga specialises in
trolling the deep canyons for marlin and
other gamefish or poppering the coral
bommies and reef edges for big GTs and
other large, mean customers. Freedive
can also organise lengthier live-aboard
trips to the outer islands where clients
can chase huge dogtooth tuna. Freedive
provides quality fishing gear as well as
snacks, drinks, lunch and sunscreen.
Visit or email
[email protected]
38 | | March 2015
Mark from Bathurst
and deckie Ratu
display a solid GT
taken on a popper
over a shallow reef.
brief but enjoyable sessions on the small,
picturesque Qaranaqio River, which spills
into the sea at Pacific Harbour. It’s a typical
Fijian estuary – shallow, mangrove-lined and
very fishy-looking. A selection of small trevors
showed an interest in our trolled lures, but the
highlight was hooking a big barracuda on
light estuary gear. The big ’cuda, caught by
my mate John, took a free Fishing World
Rapala X-Rap lure that was given away with
copies of the 40th anniversary issue in 2009.
Apparently these lures are a bit of a
collectors’ item so John has decided to put it
safely back in his tackle box and has vowed
to keep it away from large barracuda in
the future!
Bring the family
The best thing about a fishing holiday in Fiji
is you can bring the whole family and they’ll
enjoy it just as much as you – even if they
don’t wet a line.
Fiji is a family-friendly destination and
there’s always something going on to keep
wives, partners, girlfriends and kids busy while
you fish – and that’s very reassuring to know
when you’re out on the water.
My recent visit to Fiji certainly lived up to
expectations and it was a great way to mark a
milestone birthday.
Now, where should I go for my 50th?
Ben Caddaye fished Fiji courtesy of Tourism
Fiji. Visit