Trip Reports • Ono; Paradise with a GT wonderland

Go on then, tell us how you went...

Ono; Paradise with a GT wonderland

Postby Decay » Wed Jun 20, 2012 2:50 pm

Ono; Paradise with a GT wonderland

Ono is a small Island 90 km West of Fiji’s capital, Suva. It sits on the Astrolabe reef which is considered by some as the best fishing in the world. There aren’t many kayak’s there, but my Hobie “classic” lives there :D
If you’re feeling up to it you can read my other stories about this fishing paradise:

viewtopic.php?f=17&t=35066
viewtopic.php?f=17&t=35105

Before I get into this year’s story I would like to thank a few people that helped me make this year’s trip possible:
Mal from Sunstate Hobie for supplying me with possibly the last remaining rear hatch cover for a hobie classic (the last one got blown away in a cyclone).
Paul O’Leary for loaning me his “light” Saltiga GT popper rod (160 Lb rated), a Saltist 6500H reel and some Poppers (all of which have been returned …errr some with extra “modifications” that look remarkable like a dog has chewed them).

Here’s a picture of the resort I stay at, the Oneta fishing resort. It caters for fishermen and only takes one group at a time.

Image

This year I finally convinced my wife, Jenny, to come with me. We flew Brisbane-Nadi on the midnight flight and boarded our private plane (nobody else aboard) for the 50 min flight to Kandavu Island.

Image

The pilots joked with us on the way out and we had a tranquil flight to Kandavu.

As you can see the airport stretches from the sea on one side of the island to the sea on the other side with reefs on both ends of the airstrip.

Image
Image

The pilots circled the airplane for us and we got a good look at the astrolabe reef

Image
Image

Landing is FUN, the pilot points the plane straight down and tries to get the plane on the deck and stop it before hitting the beach at the other end, somewhat like landing on an aircraft carrier. I know it hasn’t always worked but each time I go there we make it and as you can see, the rods were the first thing safely out of the plane:

Image

Next we walk out of the airport and straight onto the beach where our boat “Loloa” is waiting. “Loloa” is a center consul game fishing boat that will take us for the 1 to 2 hour trip to “Oneta” resort. Simili is the boat person and captain for the trip, we smile and greet each other as we have done this a few times now, he looks at the rod tube and says “Piero (owner of the resort) tells me you have a Saltiga GT popper in there, are you going to leave it in there or are we going to wet it?” We sat in the calm waters of the bay rigging my rod for the trip to Oneta while Jenny not so patiently tapped here foot on the floor saying ”are you guys serious? Isn’t Piero waiting for us?” Simili smiles and says “Piero doesn’t expect us until Derek has caught enough fish for dinner”. When we are ready Simili checks my knots and we’re off:

Image
Image

We travel for 30 min when a school of flying fish skitter out of our way, and I know this is usually followed by action, 30 seconds later the yellowfin tuna, about 1 meter long, are dodging our boat and leaping out of the water. I look at Simili he smiles and says “too small”,

Image
Jenny looks around incredulously and says “that’s my dinner swimming away, why aren’t you guys fishing!?”

All jokes aside, Simili has rigged me up for GT, not tuna and not the gt we get around Brisbane. By this I mean he has rigged me for GT (as opposed to gt…. See the difference …. You will). We pull up at a reef and Simili says cast there.

Image

I follow his command, nothing. “I said cast there” as Simili points to a reef edge in only 2 meters of water, I cast, nothing. “Give me that rod”, Simili casts and hands it back, “Now calm down and fish properly” Grrrrr, he’s right, I’m being sloppy, deep breath and POP and BANG! I’m caught off guard as a baby gt takes the lure (not a GT, just a low life gt). The drag is locked up so I can’t tell you it went ZZzzzzzz, ‘cause it didn’t, but I’m being pulled off the boat, all I can hear is Simili yelling at me “get that thing off the reef or you’ll lose that lure!” By your command, so here’s the first gt for the trip, caught on the 3rd cast, 25 min into our trip and we haven’t even unpacked yet!

Image

Simili smiled and said; “this is the nursery, let that baby go and tomorrow we will get serious, for now we should move on to avoid a large storm approaching.” We tried to avoid the storm but then the yellowfin and the Dolphin fish started jumping in front of the boat. We were unsuccessful in our efforts to land these as we weren’t really geared up for spinning and had to abandon the fish to avoid a now intensifying storm. It was unfortunately the last time I would see Dolphin fish on this trip.

That night we ate Mahi Mahi (Dolphin fish) that Piero had caught the day before (just in case I wasn’t able to provide the goods).

Home for the next week was in this Bure:
Image
Inside looks like this:
Image
Waiting for dinner looks like this:
Image
We ate at the restaurant:
Image
The inside looks like this:
Image
The meals typically look like this:
Image

Day 2:

7:00am Fiji time, a gentle “ahem” from outside the bure and Simili says in a soft voice, “the ocean is calling”
Image
I clear the haze from deep sleep and said “what?”
Piero sent me to say: “the ocean is calling and what the hell are you doing in bed?”
Jenny and I get out of bed to find the storm had cleared and the weather was nothing short of spectacular. We have a quick breakfast and this time take the smaller game boat, straight out over the reef edge of Astrolabe reef and into the 200 meter deep reef drop off. We start with a quick troll.
Image
Unfortunately to no avail.
Then Piero stops the boat, puts Simili in charge and says, “time for some GT (not gt)”
Now GT fishing on the Atrolabe reef is somewhat different from gt fishing from the kayak. So here’s how the story pans out. The GT I’m talking about are up to 50 kg, I’m going to pop for them on the boat which is in 200 Meters of water, We cast LARGE poppers about 30 meters into 1-2 meters of water. Maybe a picture can help. Take a look at this, sorry if the fish is in the way, ignore that, the boat is in deep water (80 meters in this case) and we’re casting onto that wave break behind us:
Image
OK, you got it, the options are:
1. the GT takes the popper and pulls you off the boat
2. the GT takes the popper and cuts you off a microsecond later on the coral
3. you somehow stay on the boat, win the first 5 secs and get the GT into 20 meters or more of water and try to keep it away from coral
4. the gear flies out of your hands as the GT rips you off

Option 3 is what we’re after. OK, lets see what happened on cast #3:
Image
Maybe not the biggest GT but by far this was the most vicious of all catches. It pulled like a train and surprised everybody when it started taking line, reasonable runs even with the drag locked. Now, people that know me also know that I’ll happily fight a large fish for more than an hour, but after a 10 min struggle with this monster I heard Simili laugh and say “he’s just about had it”.

Hmmm more detail required….. Simili is the Fijian in the previous photo, he’s built like a tank, at that stage my knees are locked into the gunnels of the boat, Simili has a leg either side of me and his feet are locked into the angle where the floor meets the side of the boat, he’s holding me by my belt so that when the fish pulls I don’t go over, I’m praying inside that I hope the belt doesn’t break, I’m not worried about my pants falling down, this thing would pull me over board easily. So when Simili says “he’s just about had it”, I said “I don’t think so, it’s still pulling like a train and I’m not making any head way”. To which Simili said “I wasn’t talking to you, I was letting Piero know that you’re almost done, you’re shaking like a leaf, can you keep going?” ……. “too bloody right I can” and I landed it. But even to my own disbelief, I was jelly, indeed you can see in the photo I can’t really lift the fish and I have it resting on my body. How much did it weight ….. about a tonne!

Piero had warned me that 15 min with a strong GT is more work than 1 hour with a tuna and he was right. I stopped poppering for 2 hours to recover and we trolled back to the exit point on the reef and made our way back to the lagoon where we swapped over to light gear and poppered on the reefs. We scored several Gropper, red bass, I caught us dinner and headed back to the resort. Casting those big lures and fighting several GT can create some muscular stress so that afternoon Piero made his masseur available to me to work on my casting shoulder and back:
Image

Oh, did I mention there is a special gazebo for the massage? So you can have some peace while you relax and don’t need to worry about anybody poking a camera in your face while you’re drifting off…. Well that’s the idea. Here’s the massage gazebo:
Image
Gentle waves lapping on the coral, and the click of your wife’s camera! :(

Day 3

7:00am Fiji time, a gentle “ahem” from outside the bure and Simili says in a soft voice, “the ocean is calling”…… "again”
New part of the outer Astolabe reef drop off today. We were in the larger “Loloa” today and Piero and I were casting in turns from the front. I won’t bore you details and get straight to the fish of the day:
Image
And the live action:


I don’t have a picture of the runner up but here’s what I think might have been 3rd best:
Image
Opps does that make it sound like we caught a lot of fish? Good ‘cause that’s the way it was!

Here’s the scene coming back:
Image
And on the lagoon closer to the resort:
Image

Day 4

8:00am, nobody coming to wake us up? Ohh, I can hear the wind from the bed. It was blowing ~20 knots, Piero was not going to take the boat out so I prepared the hobie “classic” or as Piero called it last time “the Hobie classic popper” on account of the fact that it works like a big popper attracting sharks :( . OK, I’m prepared, I brought my shark shield and comfortably left it in my suitcase knowing that it would do its job there. See, just having one along helps calm the nerves, even if you never turn it on.
Image
I’m paddling here because I just have 10cm of water but I plugged in the mirage drive just after I crossed the reef rubble crest and off I went to Cup cake Island, about 2.6 km north of the resort.
Now let me fill you in here. Fishing from the kayak in Fiji is a tad different from my local haunt in Brisbane. I like fishing in about 2-5 meters of water in Fiji. Your options are:

1. take 30-60 lb gear with 60-80 lb leader, set the drag tight and try to stop the fish cutting you off on the coral by giving them no line

2. take light gear 20-30 lb with 30 lb leader and try to play the fish the best you can.

People ask me why don’t you go for option 1? You can read what happens when you take option 1 in my previous stories, in short, I lost a lot of blood when I got pulled off the kayak and dragged over coral. I went for option 2 today.

So far, I had caught my first fish each day on cast #3, today would prove to be no different:
Image
Image
This year I got him on a spinning lure, 5 cm long, and he took me straight over the reef rubble crest and speeds I hadn’t seen before, 30 min later I had him onboard. A relatively quick fight this year, last year it took more than 6 km from Cup cake, past Vurulevu and into the greater lagoon. 2 hours to land that larger model.
These went to the staff, who like cuda, they made steaks and ate for a few days on this.

And for our dinner:
Image
Modest but they are bulked up and fed the three of us nicely.

That afternoon I met some more of the very friendly locals:
Image

Day 5
Sort of a rest day, in a way?!?!?! I started by taking Jenny out on the RTM two seater kayak:
Image
Bottom kayak on the rack.
We paddled the gruelling 30 meters to the reef and we took some pictures, here are some samples of what to find there:
Image
Image
These photos were taken from the kayak using a Nikon AW100 (compact waterproof camera), these are NOT touched up.

That afternoon I went to Cupcake again and using a soft plastic on the third cast, I struck gold, my preferred fish, not a GT but a BlueFin Trevally. They fight like a train and make the best sashimi. I vowed I would catch one this trip so I could feed fresh sashimi to my wife:
Image
A spectacular fight that had me in coral 3 times, the kayak whizzed around the inner lagoon for 15 min before she took me out, over the rubble crest, to the greater lagoon, 20 meters of water and I knew she was mine, just a matter of time.
This is a large Bluefin, they are not a big species, so this was a spectacular catch. We ate sashimi for the next 2 days from this one.
I caught some other fish for back up and I went home for the day.

Day 5

I started by going out with Jenny, this time she did a solo in the Dagger:
Image
As you can see in the background, the weather was not improving.
Jenny likes the kayak but she can do this annoying thing where she gets bored and just hops out and walks back home over the water, I wish I could do that!
Image

That afternoon I decided to head south to another reef. It was full of action but I didn’t take any photos. I caught a cracker Queen fish and a coral trout but then it went a little wrong for me. I caught a big perch, maybe 45-55 cm but I was caught off guard, as I was being blown onto a bommie so I quickly unhooked the fish and tossed it overboard, but didn’t pay attention as I released the fish and it scratched my hand. The pain was instant but went away as quickly as it came, no pain, ….. at all. Hmmm, I peddled away and looked again, my hand felt strange, a light scratch, not even any blood. Then I realised, I had lost all feeling in my finger. I headed the 3 km back home and attended my scratch. A week later and I still loose most sensation in my hand when I take a shower. So no photos today, the kitchen staff had my fish out of the kayak and cleaned before I could think about it.

Day 6

A walk with my wife around the local area in the morning:
Image
Cup cake island is just out of view to the left of the screen, behind Jenny you can see Vurulevu and behind that Bulia. Yaukuvelevu is out of view behind those islands.

I went fishing again from the kayak but it was reasonably unremarkable, the weather was a problem and my hand was still a bit of a concern.

Day 7

Our last day and the wind was blowing 45 knots. For the first time in 7 years Piero was not willing to take us to the airport using the western side of the islands. We would go for the first time on the Eastern side and land the boat on the “wrong end” of the airport and hope to find a local that would help us to the airport. The sweetener was that Piero knew a reef drop off where he hoped the weather would allow us to jig in 80 meters of water. We headed off and were soaked and blown about for 2 hours on the boat, then a break in the weather, the clouds opened and Piero turned to Simili and said, forget the jigs, break out the trolling gear. I was jumping up and down trying to interrupt then when Piero looked at me and said “What?” Excited like a puppy I pointed at a huge bust up not more than 30 meters from the boat. Simili dropped a rig in the water and Piero expertly manoeuvred the boat and 30 secs later I was hooked onto a tuna….. yehaaa, what a departure present. Then we went to the jigging spot, I send down a jig and it came back with some trevally species I had never seen, we all scratched our heads and before I could take a picture of either fish the storm hit. So we navigated in 20 meters visibility, in sheeting rain, in 40 knot winds across reefs we couldn’t see to a town we didn’t know for sure existed. After 40 min of heart stopping navigation we came to a small port with some locals loading small boats. We got our bags off the boat and into the mud. Negotiated a ride to the airport and we were on our way. At the airport it took the plane 3 attempts to get down…. not an encouraging sign. We boarded and spent a nail-biting 90 min getting back to Nadi. Water was pouring into the plane and we would lose 200 ft in the air pockets but I’m here to tell the story so obviously we survived.

From Nadi we went to Bounty Island but why should I bore you with that story!
Last edited by Decay on Thu Jun 21, 2012 12:07 pm, edited 3 times in total.
User avatar
Decay
Valued Member
 
Posts: 348
Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2008 9:24 pm
Location: Brisbane and Caloundra
Kayak: Moby the Hobie - Adventure Island


Re: Ono; Paradise with a GT wonderland

Postby HardPlastic » Wed Jun 20, 2012 3:11 pm

Man I'm jealous. Thanks for sharing that with us Derek. Top photos, top fish, top guides and a top mrs for coming along and sharing it with you.

Awesome mate.

Cheers

Greg
User avatar
HardPlastic
Veteran Member
 
Posts: 600
Joined: Mon Jul 02, 2007 5:51 pm
Location: Moffat Beach Caloundra Sunshine Coast
Kayak: Hobie Revolution

Re: Ono; Paradise with a GT wonderland

Postby HardPlastic » Wed Jun 20, 2012 3:29 pm

Man I'm jealous. Thanks for sharing that with us Derek. Top photos, top fish, top guides and a top mrs for coming along and sharing it with you.

Awesome mate.

Cheers

Greg
User avatar
HardPlastic
Veteran Member
 
Posts: 600
Joined: Mon Jul 02, 2007 5:51 pm
Location: Moffat Beach Caloundra Sunshine Coast
Kayak: Hobie Revolution

Re: Ono; Paradise with a GT wonderland

Postby HardPlastic » Wed Jun 20, 2012 3:35 pm

Man I'm jealous. Thanks for sharing that with us Derek. Top photos, top fish, top guides and a top mrs for coming along and sharing it with you.

Awesome mate.

Cheers

Greg
User avatar
HardPlastic
Veteran Member
 
Posts: 600
Joined: Mon Jul 02, 2007 5:51 pm
Location: Moffat Beach Caloundra Sunshine Coast
Kayak: Hobie Revolution

Re: Ono; Paradise with a GT wonderland

Postby Marty75 » Wed Jun 20, 2012 3:36 pm

Amazing! Is this fishing resort available to all tourists and does it have a website???
PBs: Kingfish 74cm Bream 41cm Flathead 68cm Tailor 51cm Hammerhead 6ft Salmon 70cm Bonito 56cm Hairtail 95cm Spotted Mackerel 95cm
Hobie Revo Serenity II rigged here
Stealth Evo 465 (ex-IndieDog) rigged here
User avatar
Marty75
Elite Member
 
Posts: 1261
Joined: Tue Oct 23, 2007 2:59 pm
Location: Pennant Hills NSW
Kayak: Hobie Revo_Evo 465

Re: Ono; Paradise with a GT wonderland

Postby Junglefisher » Wed Jun 20, 2012 3:39 pm

Truly awesome, an inspiration.
Any idea what the snake is?
Cheers
Craig

Sooty grunter Tarpon Jungle Perch Jack Aust. Grayling Coral Trout Barra Longtom Cobbler Brown trout Atl. Salmon Rainbow Trout Spangled emperor Estuary cod Flathead Snapper Murray Cod Mack Yella Whiting Pike Walleye Artic Greyling Snapper
User avatar
Junglefisher
Legendary Member
 
Posts: 4098
Joined: Mon Jun 02, 2008 2:41 pm
Location: Alberta
Kayak: Revo Finn X-press Outfitter Gizmo Pelican

Re: Ono; Paradise with a GT wonderland

Postby Decay » Wed Jun 20, 2012 4:11 pm

Marty75 wrote:Amazing! Is this fishing resort available to all tourists and does it have a website???

Yes the resort has a website:
http://onetaresort.com/
The owner, Piero, and I are friends so if you have questions feel free to ask me, I can help out with some information.

Junglefisher wrote:Any idea what the snake is?

I don't really know what species maybe Matt Spencer can help with identification, I assumed they were children's pythons (Mat, where are you?), Piero has three of them that he got locally out of the trees. One is super tame, the others are OK but more timid.
Last edited by Decay on Wed Jun 20, 2012 4:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Decay
Valued Member
 
Posts: 348
Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2008 9:24 pm
Location: Brisbane and Caloundra
Kayak: Moby the Hobie - Adventure Island

Re: Ono; Paradise with a GT wonderland

Postby Junglefisher » Wed Jun 20, 2012 4:24 pm

patwah wrote:
Junglefisher wrote:Truly awesome, an inspiration.
Any idea what the snake is?


Was thinking the same thing, like a cross between a Children's and a Brown tree snake (NT species)


I was thinking a juvenile Darwin Carpet but really not sure.
Cheers
Craig

Sooty grunter Tarpon Jungle Perch Jack Aust. Grayling Coral Trout Barra Longtom Cobbler Brown trout Atl. Salmon Rainbow Trout Spangled emperor Estuary cod Flathead Snapper Murray Cod Mack Yella Whiting Pike Walleye Artic Greyling Snapper
User avatar
Junglefisher
Legendary Member
 
Posts: 4098
Joined: Mon Jun 02, 2008 2:41 pm
Location: Alberta
Kayak: Revo Finn X-press Outfitter Gizmo Pelican

Re: Ono; Paradise with a GT wonderland

Postby paulo » Wed Jun 20, 2012 5:31 pm

Fantastic report Derryk. Good to see the fish fired for you and the weather was kind. Marty its a top spot for a week. I went with three mates early last year and we lived like kings.
Paul
Qld Member - Hobie State Fishing Team
Yak PBs - 60cm Tailor | 72cm Spangled Emporer | 85cm Flathead | 90cm Yellowfin | 75cm Snapper | 85cm Mac Tuna | 2.5m (78kg) Black Marlin | 1.2m Longtail | 1.32m (19.5kg) Kingfish
User avatar
paulo
Elite Member
 
Posts: 1720
Joined: Thu Nov 01, 2007 1:25 pm
Location: Hawthorne, BrisVegas
Kayak: Hobie AI

Re: Ono; Paradise with a GT wonderland

Postby paulsod » Wed Jun 20, 2012 5:34 pm

Now that is what I call a fishing trip.
Great read and photos Derryk. I am only 1/3 as jealous as Greg (hardplastic) is though. :lol:
Cheers
Paul
Best in yak:- Gold-spotted Sweetlip - 44cms, Snapper - 75cms, Estuary Cod - 54cms, Dusky Flathead - 49cms, Long Tail Tuna - 104cms, Grass Emperor - 54cms, School Mackerel - 64cms, Giant Trevally- 63cms, Mulloway - 89cms
User avatar
paulsod
Veteran Member
 
Posts: 911
Joined: Sun Dec 28, 2008 2:41 pm
Location: Redcliffe Pennisula, Qld
Kayak: Hobie Outback - Stealth Supalite X - A.I

Re: Ono; Paradise with a GT wonderland

Postby blueyak » Wed Jun 20, 2012 5:53 pm

Looks like you had a great trip.
Thanks for sharing and making us all envious.
User avatar
blueyak
Elite Member
 
Posts: 1088
Joined: Tue Jan 20, 2009 8:30 pm
Location: sutherland shire
Kayak: Hobie Outback

Re: Ono; Paradise with a GT wonderland

Postby keza » Wed Jun 20, 2012 7:09 pm

I was only just starting to forget about my trip there and now you've made me want to go back.
Not true, I'm always thinking of going back.
Great read as always.
kerry
www.kerrywilson.net www.kerrywilson.net/blog instagram: kerrywi1son

yak pb's
kingfish 90cm, flathead 65cm, snapper 56cm, salmon 60cm, trev 56cm, barracouta 75cm, YFT 65cm, spanish 20cm (sharked), hairtail 156cm, bonito 68cm, spotty 85cm, tailor 55cm, LTT 101cm, bull shark 2.5m
User avatar
keza
Legendary Member
 
Posts: 8610
Joined: Tue Mar 06, 2007 11:38 am
Location: sydney
Kayak: Barracuda SoT Ultralight + OK Scupper Pro

Re: Ono; Paradise with a GT wonderland

Postby carnster » Wed Jun 20, 2012 10:26 pm

Seriously awesome trip and gr8 pics.
User avatar
carnster
Elite Member
 
Posts: 1839
Joined: Tue May 27, 2008 8:45 pm
Kayak: Pro fisha 475 and a plastic fantastic

Re: Ono; Paradise with a GT wonderland

Postby Zed » Thu Jun 21, 2012 2:19 am

* * * * *

I'd like to hear more of the finger. Was it biochemical or just touched a nerve? Is there no ciguatera there? 'Cuda are notorious for storing it up in HI. Top notch blue! Those are so beautiful in the water. I've caught a total of 1 in southern Baja MEX. You've found a good wife/partner. Or she found you, maybe. You're my hero. Do you adopt? I'm 43 and independent/self sufficient, but I'm "special-needs" as I don't pedal a Hobie.

Thank you for posting up the report!
Ocean Kayak P13 - Con Limón
"What possessed a farmer like you to set foot in a boat, beats me."
--Kipling
Captains Courageous
User avatar
Zed
Legendary Member
 
Posts: 4221
Joined: Tue Sep 19, 2006 1:06 am
Location: Gurgling maw of the Pacific ^v^v CA, USA
Kayak: OK P13

Next

Return to Trip Reports

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests