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Tonga Fish Tales Newsletter – November 2013

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November  .....  Moderate SE Trades, settled weather and increasing water temperature, produced a good run of baitfish, in particular kawkawa and skipjack. The current has swung back to the SW and the middle grounds and FADs have fished a lot better than the previous month.

It is great to see the arrival of skipjack schools but alas the physical biomass and actual fish size is well down on previous years and one can only surmise that this is directly attributed to the increased per seining activity in the general pacific region. There has been an increasing knock on affect from overharvesting throughout the Pacific but still more commercial boats are working the region. 

Billfish  Action .....  A bit go-no-go but some reasonable fish reported in the 130-180kg range. The migratory waves of billfish have been inconsistent this season and on review it pretty much relates to the availability of key bait such as skipjack. No black marlin have been caught for months and sailfish have been equally slow.

Yellow Fin Action ..... Following on from the September run some good yellow fin in the 60-70kg range have been caught. A few very big work-ups were reported this month and fish in the 20kg-70kg were caught. The middle ground has produced the best fishing, especially west of the middle FAD where a good current line runs out to the Sea mount platform.  

Mahimahi Action .....  A good run of fish but the size is small on average, around the 8kg. The middle ground and out west has been more productive.

 Wahoo Action ..... Still a bit slow and average size is around 12kg. The south bank started to fire mid month when the kawakawa schools arrived on en mass, but the run didn’t last more than a week.

Reef Species ..... With more settled weather the Eastern reef area has fished well with good reports of GT’s in numbers.   GT's appear to be in a spawning phase.  Many large black Trevally have been spotted along the western shores.  There have been many strikes, but the fish are not super aggressive.


   

Tonga Fish Tales Newsletter – September 2013
 
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September  .....  A mixed month of weather conditions with strong easterlies and cold water averaging 25 degrees, some 2 degrees cooler than average . The bait concentrations were not consistent and at times fishing was slow for this time of the year. The on again- off again marlin fishing did however produce some big fish and some very hot days.  The highlight of the month was the 22nd Tonga International Billfish Tournament with 10 boats and over the 4 days there were 85 confirmed billfish strikes, 49 hook –ups and 22 caught fish. The heaviest fish weighed was 235kg caught on 24kg line – a new National and Club line class record for Des Caddy fishing on Kiwi Magic. (See full tournament results in this issue)

Billfish  Action .....  The south bank fired a couple of weeks leading up to the tournament but it was a bit on again- off again for the balance of the month. GPS a visiting boat from Tutakaka –NZ, hooked up a very big blue est. 900-1,000lb and unfortunately the hook broke on the leader right at the boat.  A good few days produced great action with boats reporting 4-8 bites a day with fish in the 85-160kg range. The lack of skipjack for most of the month made lure fishing interesting and Lumo combinations did most of the damage.

Yellow Fin Action .....  At long last a few good fish turned up and the heaviest for the month was caught during the tournament – 68kg by Warren Moore fishing 24kg line. A lot of school size yellow fin turned up into the 3rd week and this shows promise for October and hopefully the beginning of the run which usually last right up to Xmas.

Mahimahi Action .....very patchy and average size around 8kg and the FAD’s have not been holding a lot of bait. Still lots of flying fish about so it is difficult to work out why the concentrations   have been so erratic. 

Wahoo Action ..... Similarly poor for this time of the year with the average size around 10kg

Reef Species ..... The easterly swells have made it tough for targeting GT’s.  GTs in the 25 - 30kg size were found, but mostly in the surf zones requiring strong casting abilities to access the fish.  Red bass and Bluefin Trevally were available in strong numbers on the protected Northwestern areas, but the GTs were hard to raise there.  

New records

 35kg Shortbill Spearfish   caught by Andres  Adkins on 60kg – Kiwi Magic. This is a new Junior national and club all tackle  record and is the largest fish weighed in Tonga.

235kg Blue Marlin caught by Des Caddy on 24kg – Kiwi Magic. A new line class club and national record       

 
 
Tonga Fish Tales Newsletter – August 2013
 
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August  .....  Weather and sea conditions were much improved by mid month and the fishing fired especially down the south bank area. Skipjack and kawakawa schooling has been slower than normal but deep set bait such as squid has concentrated good runs of blue marlin. The water temperature is 25.2 C, a bit colder than previous years at this time and may well indicate a late run of target species such as yellow fin.


Billfish  Action .....  Through the month it just got better and some reasonable fish in the 230-260kg plus range were reported. The south bank has been very productive with 6-8 shots a day.  A number of boats have reported 3-5 caught blue marlin a day. No Black or striped marlin have been caught and sailfish have also be hard work.  The lack of good sized skipjack has made live-baiting  pretty slow.  Lumo lure/skirting has been doing well and this may well reflect the high biomass of squid.


Yellow Fin Action .....  Plenty of school size fish  around the FAD’s and drop- offs but nothing over 22kg has been reported as yet.


Mahimahi Action ..... Average run of fish in the 10-14 kg  and only a few reports  of bigger fish in the 18kg range.  Mostly feeding on flying fish and squid.

 
Reef Species ..... The easterly swells have made it tough for targeting GT’s but all the other species are in good concentrations.

 
 
Tonga Fish Tales Newsletter – July 2013

 
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July  .....  Strong winds and heavy rain dominated the first three weeks of the month and fishing was somewhat restricted. When the weather finally settled a good run of bait was followed by an abundance of mahimahi, blues and small yellowfin tuna. The water temperature dropped to 24.8 C due to the southerly cold stream and we expect it to rise over a few degrees by August. Even the humpback whales seems slow in arriving but by the end of the month pods were arriving en mass.

Billfish  Action .....  By the end of week three, the south bank & the middle ground kicked in with a great run of blue action. Most boats experienced a hot bite with 3-9 shots a day and this is likely to run right through August . A few good fish were reported around the 260kg plus range with a good spread of 130-150kg fish. Mostly caught on lures and on a few days  ..... hard to keep the hook in.

Yellow Fin Action .....  School size fish turned up in the middle ground and FAD areas and most were around the 6-8kg mark. A few boats reported 30kg fish but the fishing was not consistent.

Mahimahi Action ..... A good run of fish but small in comparison to last year - average of 8-10kg. The Mahimahi are all full of flying fish but stray lining around the FADs has been dynamite.

Wahoo Action ....  A few fish in the 20kg range were reported early in the month but following the adverse weather the fish moved on and only just started to run the last few days of July.

Reef  Species .....   Not many boats ventured out to fish for reef and bottom species and only the Big Bay could be fished in reasonable comfort.  A few Barracuda, rainbow runner and small coral trout were reported.

 
Tonga Fish Tales Newsletter – June 2013

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June  .....  A strange month with patches of brilliance then followed with unpleasant trade winds and average fishing. The baitfish are not holding for much longer than a few days at a time and this certainly matches the fishing cycle we have seen this month.  The skipjack schools in biomass and individual size are very small and this is unusual at this time of the year.

Billfish  Action .....  The middle ground and the Southern FAD area have produced most of the action with a few reports of Blues in the 160-180kg range. The average size is around 85kg at present and they are patchy to say the least.  A lot of the hits have been in relatively shallow water in the 250-600m depth range and this suggests they are feeding on deep set prey, most likely Squid. No sailfish have been reported during the month.

Yellow Fin Action .....  The school size fish are still around but not as concentrated as last month and nothing over 25kg has been reported.

Mahimahi Action .....  Half the month produced great fishing with a few bulls in the 18kg range.           A lot of small fish about in the 6-8kg range and strip baiting has accounted for the majority of the reported catches. The Mid FAD is holding very small bait which is keeping the mahimahi active in the general area.

Wahoo Action ....  A bit inconsistent and found where bait is holding around the FADs and drop-offs.  One fish in the 20kg range was reported but most are in the 8-12kg range..

Reef  Species .....   An average month for the common species such as coral trout, snapper, grouper and job fish but a couple of 25kg GT’s were reported from the eastern reef area.  The SE swell has made it hard to work the eastern hot spots.

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