On the morning of day 1 we took Ocean Blue’s new boat, our second big 32ft EdgesWater ‘Al Dente’, to sportfish Vanuatu’s deep reefs and islands. Our target was dogtooth tuna, the best one came in well over 30kg.

In the afternoon we stopped for some jigging just infront of one of Vanuatu’s steep jungle clad towering islands. During the drift, the reef and ocean floor below goes from 25 meters to 90m depth, and we are literally no more than a few casts out from the beach. From sea level to altitude in one almost vertical climb!

When you’re out on the boat fishing, you see dozens of these impressive island peaks, some relatively near, more are far off in the distant horizon.  Names include Nguna volcano, Matasso, Emao and Monument Rock. These are just a few of the spots that skippers Andrea and Eric like to fish, and you can fish 360 degrees around each one of them.

So with this as a back drop, I enjoyed a fun session jigging on my PE5 outfit (Shimano Twinpower 8000 & Daiwa Saltiga 63S) which is a perfect outfit for the 130g – 180g jigs used for the big variety of ‘smaller’ species found here. (tip for anglers, bring minimum 6 jigs in this size to Vanuatu, not only do they catch the fish, but prolonged jigging is hard work and the smaller jigs are easy to work for longer). Ofcourse the flip side is you run the risk of hooking an average sized dogtooth or GT and getting blown away on too light gear, or simply prolonging the fight long enough for the sharks to move in and finish the job.

The following few days our focus then was popping for Vanuatu’s GT’s, aswell as light tackle. It was great to spend this time seriously peppering the water with stickbaits and poppers. Picture turquiose lagoons and shallow reefs, deep tidal fed channels between islands aswell as rocky outcrops, blue holes & jagged bommies amongst swirling currents.
GT popping is hot and hard work, and big GT’s aren’t easy to entice. Long casts are essential, and lure presentation, good technique & experience often makes all the difference.

It’s an extreme sport all right, to be good at it you have to be fit and strong, and it’s fair to say I’m not. Aswell as GT’s we had red bass, coral trout, bluefin trevally and jobfish hit the lures. We didn’t get any doggies on poppers this trip, but then again we weren’t targeting them. It all came together for us however with an encounter with a GT of XOS proportions which inhaled my Hammerhead Tobi 123 in shallow water on top of the reef.

A lot of hard slog, a few colourful adjectives and support from the boat pulling the fish into deeper water meant we could land her, get a few photo’s and release her back in the water in good shape.

It was Anthony’s turn next, with another nice GT coming soon after out of the same area. The afternoon session we fished some new territory, and Tony was first up with a nice jobfish on a big popper.

The spot of the day however was deep water hard up against a cliff, and looked like the perfect ambush area for any big fish to hunt. It went as I’d hoped, another damn big GT smashed my lure just after landing, but while I was getting from the bow to the stern to do battle again, the barbless hooks pulled free & I was off…  Wind, wind again, and the popper back on the surface as a big red bass hones in about to pounce, but just before it does, another GT hits it first and I’m on again…. Epic stuff!

A bit more grunt, wind and hanging on to as much drag as I can handle. The fish comes in, a few quick photo’s, release, and Andrea marks another new unfished spot on the GPS. Vanuatu GT popping, it’s certainly delivering for us.

So this is just a taste of the last few days fishing onboard Al Dente, Ocean Blue’s new big EdgeWater centre console, which alongside twin sister Azzurra, operate out of Trees & Fishes Anglers Lodge, Port Havannah.

Back at the lodge each afternoon we’d step off the boat and be welcomed with a chilled refresher towel and cold drink to freshen up. The time ashore is pretty lush… swimming, massages, mouth watering food and attention to detail everywhere you look, all this is served naturally and doesn’t feel over the top or forced. It only takes one sunset and this kind of hospitality to totally lose track of time here.

I’m flying back now, and wanted to write this to fill in the easy 3 hour trip home.,

They say each picture tells a thousand words and I’ve got about 500 odd pictures from this entire weeks Vanuatu fishing experience to sort through now.

I’ll be back in the Ocean Blue office on Monday with a new screen saver of a jubilant angler holding a pretty decent Vanuatu GT, a nice reminder of my week away sport fishing Vanuatu.

Thanks again to guides Andrea onboard Azzurra, Eric onboard Al Dente, Angele at her team at Trees & Fishes, and fisho buddy and Ocean Blue head honcho Anthony for a great week away.

David Noble – Ocean Blue Sydney office

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