Thursday, May 17, 2007

Astrolobe reef and Fishing

Astrolobe reef lies about thirty nautical miles south of Suva and is comprised of a seven mile by 10 mile oval shaped reef containing about 10 small islands. Leaving Suva at six thirty in the morning we spotted some dolphins and altered course to be escorted for a few miles by a pod of fifty or so gregarious creatures. Got some great pictures. We arrived at Namara Island anchorage around two in the afternoon. The water was a beautiful shade of blue over the white sand bottom. A thirty minute snorkel revealed the water was not quite as clear as desired, but none the less I saw an amazing array of fish species from tiny neon blue fish less than an inch long to a five foot plus white tip shark and two different sea anemones one with an accompanying clown fish. The shark was a bit of a scare as I was looking into a hole in a rock at an immature lobster and saw the beast not so far away. Kathy was ready to return to the boat and I assured her that this was nothing and at some point on a future snorkel with better visibility we be sure to see as many as fifteen sharks at once. Surprisingly, she was reassured by this somewhat illogical explanation and we continued on and enjoyed the snorkel. Today we moved on to Ono island and into Nabouwalu Bay.

My fishing luck has been despicable thus far especially considering how hard I've been fishing. Changing lures quite frequently, checking the line for weeds and adjusting the boat speed as well. All this "work" having produced maybe just a few strikes after at least 36 hours with lines in the water. So to improve the fishing odds we decided to go outside Astrolobe reef taking a more circuitous route to Ono island to hopefully pass through more productive fishing grounds. Just a mile or so shy of our destination the big Penn 114 offshore reel with over six tenths of a mile of line wound on the drum screams like I've never heard a reel scream before in all my fishing days. The reel has tons of drag set so much that it's nearly impossible to strip out line with out cutting your fingers. So this reel is really screaming when I decide to put the boat in reverse to slow our 6 knot progress and perhaps slow the separation with what ever beast is on the other end of the line. Kathy meanwhile is pulling in the other hand line trailing behind the boat and moving the dingy up to the bow. The reel is still screaming and I've yet to take the rod out of the holder... just marveling at the sounds the reel is making and wondering what angry sea creature is down there pulling so hard. Several minutes go by and I'm now holding the rod and my arms are starting to burn before I even begin the battle. Kathy brings out the fish fighting belt that I thought I'd never need and I proceed to get a few turns of line back on the reel before the fish makes another run. Kathy is maneuvering the boat to keep the fish from going under and I'm reeling away. At one point I turn the rod over to Kathy to give me a much needed break. Anyway, we get this monstrous Wahoo along side and it is huge. I'm saying five to six feet long. I have this gimpy gaff in one hand and think to myself there is no way this thing is coming aboard with out some sort of huge gaff or spear to first dispatch it from this world. With a tinge of regret I pull the hook free with the gaff and the Wahoo slowly swims away. I think I made the correct choice as what would I do so much fish. The pictures would be great, but it would be a big waste with no where to store so much food with the refrigerator already full. Not all was lost as Kathy did get some pictures with the fish along side the boat.

Next up a peek into traditional Fijian custom of "Sevu Sevu" or bearing gifts to the chief of the village.

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