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Arriving through the entrance of Trees and Fishes we immediately saw this lodge was more than we had expected.. “Tuskers” were ready for us in an ice bucket and our briefing begun whilst we overlooked the glass out conditions and the 32 foot weapon parked ready to launch at the end of the jetty…don’t think any of us heard a word! Gear at the ready and a swim out the way we all paced up and down with light tackle off the beach, each wishing the day away so that tomorrow would come quicker!
First drop of a jig sent a Stella 20 000 screaming, this just off a seamount that’s head was just below the surface…5 mins later our first GT was boated and the lads looked at each other and all nodded in agreement…. it was “ON”!!
Next 7 – 8 drops had us at a minimum of a double hook up every time, but after seeing the scream of a Stella only last 20 odd seconds and most only coming back with braid it was time to “harden up” the drags and leader and tempt the doggies again.
Next drop we managed to hold what I can only imagine to be a very big Vanuatu dogtooth tuna, Andrea tried his skills in assisting with the boat but as the reel came to a stop and the first few winds it hit the afterburners again, and was not going to be stopped!!
The next few hours were slower (or we slowed) with the odd barracuda and juvenile GT bothering the jigs.
The afternoon was spent casting a few poppers on the flats in 5m crystal clear water where we managed a small 8 kilo doggie on light tackle.
This sparked a few big GT follows and a good few landed, we had a horse of a GT come up behind a stick bait, missed it twice and looked for all money to have committed for a 3rd as the shoulders, almost as broad as mine, came out at a fleeing stickbait only to duck under last minute as the stickbait sighed relief in the shade of Azzurra’s hull.
End of the day saw us greeted by friendly staff and cold refresher towels, fresh snacks and a pretty awesome view of the Vanuatu sun setting over the harbour and islands.
Just around the corner from Trees and Fishes was our first stop, we threw a few poppers out on a deep reef, it didn’t take long before a doggie came in and bumped us around. No hook up.
Within 5 mins we had not 1 but dozens of doggies simply cruising around Azzurra but not intent on eating our jigs. All this in 60m depth, and in sight of all of us onboard.
We moved from spot to spot and had similar luck, jigs followed by numerous doggies smiling back at us but with zero hook ups. That afternoon to try get rid of the frustrations we threw a few poppers and stick baits over the shallows, we ended the day with a few good Red Bass and a Coral Trout that will certainly go down as the biggest any of us had ever seen, it would certainly have push the scales up around the 20-25 kilo mark.
We started the same as day 2, a follow and shortly after a pack of doggies all just grinning at us from 30m. We moved to two different spots with similar luck, at approx 10am we managed to snag a small Rainbow runner, after Andrea quickly sent this down it lasted all of 2 mins and a doggie engulfed it. Then all pandemonium broke loose…it was doggie after doggie, dogtooth jigging quadruple, triple & double hook up, fish from 5 kilo up to 35kg & larger ones that earnt their freedom!!
This unreal session Vanuatu dogtooth jigging lasted as long as we could jig, our first casualty was shortly after boating a fish close to 40kilo this round 13.00, Andrea spotting the anglers near exhaustion decided that it would be best if each had a turn on a live bait out back, this at least provided the angler with 10mins to have a drink, cool down and take in some pretty spectacular Vanuatu scenery whilst he waited, rather ready for the next doggie to jump on the ‘livey’ out back.
After a cracker day and a huge comeback from a quiet day the previous day we all returned home “buggered” but smiling, Vanuatu had provided what we expected, everything after this is a bonus!
We ventured out on a 2hr cruise to some distant islands and sea mounts, whilst we paused to watch some epic Fiji cyclone swell hitting the coast line the first sneaky jig was sent down and we were bang on the money, the first doggie arrived and released in a few minutes, the rest of us got gear ready and joined in the action.
It wasn’t every drop but close to it, all better fish on average as previous days and a decent doggie of approximately 35 kilo was landed on a bucktail jig of all things!
We ended the day with a few Red Bass and yet another stonker Coral Trout, however the day was made when a last ditch livebait effort went off as we called lines up…then “Ballie” (oldest and wisest of our group) was hooked up to a good fish, after much panting and cursing the doggie of the trip was boated at close to the 50kilo mark, a sensational fish & some equally happy anglers!
It was a majority vote on the day to set heavy gear in search of a Vanuatu blue marlin, which unfortunately provided none but yellow fin tuna in abundance, this on light tackle was a welcome relief to the intense jigging over the past 4 days.
A few Mahi Mahi were hooked up and one boated and we ended the day with plenty of tuna and revitalised bodies for our final day.
Andrea ventured to (another) secret spot, once there we knew why…it screamed fish and was in the middle of nothing and nowhere. It didn’t take long for the first doggie to smash a popper, which came to the boat a lot easier than when caught on jig, the bait was everywhere on the surface and packs of GT were often in desperate chase of our poppers to the extent that we even had a double hook up, no not the normal kind but a double on one popper which provided some spectacular underwater footage in the crystal clear waters.
A few good GT, Bluefin and Red Bass we regular visitors to the boat and poppers, we could have had more but unfortunately two rods were broken in the carnage of a pack of GT frothing for a popper…all’s well that ends well..
Special thanks to Andrea for putting in a huge effort on the boat and getting fish to fire, Tom for working through the pain of a treble hook through the finger, Angele for simply 5 star service, food and making Trees and Fishes feel like home it was a joint effort that made this trip a simply must do, a return trip for us for sure and I’m sure a few mates will follow in our wake.
Thanks To David Noble for putting it all together and giving us all the details to get us on the right trip…I look forward as always in working together to put together the next adventure. Well done Ocean Blue!