Beaches and waves are often enjoyed in different ways rather than hiking them with a 9-foot oversized walleye rod. However, in my opinion, this is the best way to enjoy a beach and really get to know not only about the aquatic life, but the community surrounding it.
On New Year’s Eve, some close friends of mine and I embarked on a trip halfway across the world to a small remote island, which was a three-hour detour from Fiji, called “The Kingdom of Tonga.” Prior to the trip, we had heard stories of the kingdom, but have never experienced it first hand. Luckily, Mike, one of my accomplices, had an uncle that was a local of the island that was able to show us local traditions, such as drinking cava, and how to climb a coconut tree.
The point of this trip was not to relax as much as it was to catch as many exotic species of fish as we could, but it ended up being much different than we had originally planned. For starters, my main bag of luggage was lost with all of my clothes, majority of the fishing lures, and deodorant. It stunk, literally. Luckily for me, I had a pair of light, UPF 50+ hiking pants, and a sunhat to keep the sun off me. We had our rods and reels, but only a handful of top water baits and jigs, so we could still fish.
Enjoying the beautiful landscape of Tonga in the UPF 50+ Fishing Shirt
Another problem we learned was having the ability to fish with knowledgeable people. On the island, there seemed to be very few people that understood what we were trying to fish for and mainly fished the local way with hand-lines and nets. Not only that but everything was always delayed. We quickly learned of the term “island time”, a name for islanders generally being later than the original plans, which greatly played into factor on most of our trips. We would line up fishing guides (one of which was the prime minister) for the day, and when we went to meet them we were always postponed an hour or sometimes even three hours because of the looseness of island time.
On our first fishing outing with the minister, it was a hot scorcher of a day and it was very important to stay cool and hydrated. After an hour of fishing, we saw a white flash under the boat, shortly after followed by the squealing of line being drug out from a reel. Before I heard Mike say “There’s one!” my reel started screaming too. After a long hard fight, all three of us reeled up beautiful trevallies, which are a native fish we were targeting. The locals we were with were very happy and smiling knowing they would go home with dinner that night.
The next few trips out were a struggle, losing most lures to sharks, and still no sign of my bag. It had been five days and I had the same pair of pants I was wading in saltwater and sweating in, but somehow they didn’t smell. We caught very few fish, with some acceptations of finding more trevallies from shore, but realized that we needed to find someone that understood what we were targeting. After using some of the locals to give us leads on a guide in the area we stumbled across Steve Campbell, a true pioneer of marlin fishing. Although we didn’t particularly want to target marlin, our trip with Steve was one I will remember forever. The night before our trip, my bag showed with all of the lures, and the day that followed was filled with Tuna, Mahi Mahi, and the occasional shark catch. That night we were able to share our catch with the locals, who were more than thankful.
The last few days, we spent our time fishing from the beach and catching more trevallies, I even caught my favorite, a six-foot-long barracuda, from shore. Quickly our trip came to an end, and I was thankful for all of the new friends I had made and the memories that will live on. It is safe to say that I have some unfinished business in Tonga, and I will be back.