Vanuatu Marlin Fishing

Marlin fishing is a hugely popular sport through the world. One of the great destinations is Vanuatu. Vanuatu has blue marlin fishing all year round and there are some great boats and operators running day to week long charters out of Port Vila and Santo.

For marlin fishing in Vanuatu the vessels vary in size, some as small as banana boats however the better marlin charter operators are operating vessels from 21ft through to 50ft. There are a number of privately owed vessels large than this however most are not operating commercially.

Tackle on these vessels is usually of very high standard which is essential for marlin fishing because if gear is not spot on the truth is soon revealed. Most operators carry gear from 15kg or 30lb through to 130lb for day charters however a few operators specialise in light and ultra light tackle which can be organized by request. Light and ultra light tackle requires much more experience on the anglers behalf, patience and a lot of shots on blue marlin as one can end up with a lot of bust off’s. Several of the operators in Port Vila are also experienced in Blue Marlin fly fishing. One particular vessel (Nevergiveup) currently holds several world records for marlin on fly.

Some of the more popular techniques used to catch marlin are towing lures, bait and switch, live baiting, skip baiting and drifting dead bait. Most operators will spend time on most charters towing lure or trolling at some stage of a charter. This technique allows you travel to a destination and cover a lot of ground and a lot of area. If for argument sake you wanted to go live baiting at one of the F.A.D,s (Fish Aggregating Device) a lot of skippers would deploy lures on the way and might cover half the 20m trip. This is a great way to utilize travel time and maximises you chances of catching a fish. Another great place for lure fishing is out wide along a trench known as the marlin highway.

The marlin highway has consistently turned up great fishing over many years with marlin, huge yellow fin, wahoo, mahi-mahi, sails and the odd shot billed spear fish turning up. At certain times of the year schools of big yellow fin pass through this area. If you have the good fortune to run across these 40 to 80kh models in schools the size of football fields you are in for an amazing day. When these schools are running the marlin are usually not too far away.

Another exciting technique when you are marlin fishing in Vanuatu is bait and switch. This is a technique where hook less lures or some sort of teaser or teasers are towed and when a marlin appears following or striking the lure or teaser a skilled deckhand or in some cases depending on vessel setup the skipper might retrieve the teaser and the angler then casts or pitches a bait to the fish. If the fish is fired up and keen to eat it will then take the bait and the battle begins. This is a very popular form of fishing as it is a great spectacle seeing the fish follow up to the boat and then take the bait. Usually the hook up rate is fare better that lure fishing as well.

Wild Blue Fishing Charters is one of the leading charter operators in Port Vila. They have 3 charter boats available and run everything from 3 hour reef fishing charters for mum, dad and the kid’s to full on game fishing adventures for up to a week at a time. They also offer on site affordable accommodation for fishing groups that might just want to do day trips out of Port Vila. The fishing ground are within 15 to 20 minutes of the jetty. Vanuatu is still considered to be one of the best blue marlin fisheries in the world and marlin are caught all year round.

For more information on trips like the one above please go to Wild Blue Fishing Charters or Game Fishing Vanuatu:

Blue Marlin at 483.4kg

Big fish story tops them all

4:00AM Saturday Apr 18, 2009  (New Zealand Herald)
By Mathew Dearnaley

Ross Jameson’s giant blue marlin is the first billfish he’s ever caught.

A “virgin” bluewater angler has landed New Zealand’s biggest fish yet – a 483.4kg blue marlin – but isn’t bothered about a bureaucratic technicality stopping him from claiming it as a record.

“I’m not too worried about this record business – that’s their problem really,” Whangarei builder Ross Jameson said of International Game Fishing Association rules requiring him to be a member of an approved club before claiming line honours.

Mr Jameson, who reeled in his catch off the tip of the North Island on Thursday, on the eve of the 58th birthday he was celebrating with friends last night on the Bay of Islands charter vessel Harlequin, admitted never having caught a billfish on three previous expeditions.

“We usually go out diving, and snapper fishing,” he said last night from off Northland’s east coast.

But asked how he would assess his fishing career now, he said: “Well, it certainly got a bit of a boost, didn’t it?”

His catch was more than 10kg larger than the next-biggest marlin caught in New Zealand waters, a 473kg black hooked by Alain Jorion off East Cape in 1963, and 2kg heavier than a 481.26kg mako shark hooked by J. Penwarden in 1969.


“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime fish, very impressive – everyone up here is really excited,” said Houhora Gamefish Club weigh master Lisa Lilly, who recorded details before Mr Jameson’s marlin was sent to a taxidermist in Tauranga to be mounted.

The fish took a pink lure just past the “The Hook”, a pinnacle between the northern tip of the North Island and the Three Kings Islands, from the boat Harlequin under the command of skipper John Douglas.

It took just 80 minutes to be landed on the vessel, with others of Mr Jameson’s five-member party of “senior gentlemen” pitching in with giant meat-hooks to bring it on board.

“Most people have a blue on for hours [before it is landed],” Ms Lilly said. Fishing guide Chris Ash said it took about 20 minutes longer for the seven on board to heave the fish through the boat’s cockpit door from the deck.

“There were seven of us pulling on it,” said Mr Ash of Ahipara, who was also a crew member of a boat skippered by his father, Bob Ash, which landed a 456.7kg blue marlin over the “The Hook” in the late 1990s.

He said that fish retained the New Zealand record for a blue marlin caught on a 37kg line, but the fact that Mr Jameson was not eligible to claim a new record was of as little concern to his father as to the latest charter party.

“He doesn’t think it matters, he’s just rapt that I’m on the boat that did it again – I just told him to move his thing off the wall [of the Houhora Gamefish Club] – we’ve got a new one to put there.”

Mr Ash said he was proud of his charter party, all aged over 60 apart from Mr Jameson.

“I’ll tell you what, these old gentlemen know how to gaff a fish all right – they couldn’t miss because there was a lot of fish.”


Article curticy of the New Zealand Herald

Vanuatu Game Fishing

Vanuatu is still regarded as one of the best blue marlin fisheries in the world. There have been several world records broken here on fly rods and numerous other fish caught weighing in over the magic 1000lb. If you were to fish these waters for a couple of days you would be unlucky not to at least see a blue marlin or two and most of the busy operators catch 80 to 100 per year. Tag and release is the most popular method of marlin fishing in the islands.

Where to fish in Vanuatu

Many of the islands offer some sort of fishing expeditions however you might be fishing from a banana boat or some other small vessel.  The better game fishing boats operating in Vanuatu are found in Port Vila (on the island of Efate) and in Luganville (on Santo). Most of the large fishing operators work out of Port Vila as it is a short run to start fishing, sail fish frequent Mele Bay as do yellow fin when they are in season and this is all 10 minutes from the jetty. . From Santo, the journey is considerably longer; however there is good fishing along the way.

Fish can be caught anywhere in the waters out from Port Vila however the most productive areas are the Marlin Highway, Blue Hat, 366,  Nguna Volcano, the Erromango Sea Mounts and Hat Island and there is usually 2 or more F.A.D’s in place to improve your chances and each area is known for particular types of fish.

Types of fish that frequent the waters of Vanuatu

The fish that both Port Vila and Santo are most famous for is the Blue Marlina magnificent fighting fish. Gun fishermen come from all around the world just for the Blue Marlin game fishing in Vanuatu, often resulting in Blue Marlin catches with average weights of 200-500lb, with the largest ever caught weighed in at 515kg or 1135lb. Santo fishing turn up great fish as well however there hasn’t been a grander caught there and that might be due to less boats operating there.

In addition to Blue Marlin, the Vanuatu fishery offers a huge range of other species being Black Marlin, Striped Marlin, Yellow fin Tuna, Mahi Mahi , Wahoo, Sailfish, Dog Tooth Tuna,Coral Trout, job fish and red bass as well. The dog tooth tuna have been known to reach 80kg+ while the yellow fin tuna grows even larger, sometimes up to 90kg.

The best time to fish in Vanuatu

Game fishing in Vanuatu is brilliant all year round, however the species vary during the different months of the year. A lot of fishing takes place from March to November to avoid the wet season which can bring rough weather however the seasons in Vanuatu seem to have changes as has the rest of the world. A lot of fishing is done by New Zealander’s and Australian’s during their winter or off season as the fishing is great here in Vanuatu during that time.

Fishing trips in Vanuatu

Game fishing in Vanuatu has been a large part of the tourism industry for many years now and there are some great operators running trip almost days of the year. Even if the general conditions are a little unfavorable there is almost always somewhere you can tuck in in the lee of and island and fish. The fishing boats are generally first class and most provide all the equipment you would need to successfully go game fishing.

A lot of the larger operators run day trips which would have you back in the comfort of your resort or hotel each night or you can opt for the live-aboard option and some operators prove a liveaway program where you get to stay on outer island in locally run guest houses. One operator in particular has on site accommodation on the waterfront in Port Vila so it is out of your room and onto the boat to make thing very easy.

Vanuatu fishing tournaments and club events

The Port Vila Game Fishing Club runs six competitions a year. Some of the larger ones such as the Marlin Classic attract lots of international anglers, as well as the locals. The tournaments are held in February through to November. There are competitions for everyone from a great day out in February with the ladies fishing comp, the Yellow Fin Shootout, through to the big money Marlin Classic or the Tusker Game Fishing Classic held in November.

Fishing Vanuatu

Vanuatu fishing is rated up there with the best in the world. So with that being a forgone conclusion how would you guarantee that you are going to have a great time and enjoy your trip to the maximum.

One of the crucial elements is having reality and expectation in order. If you were to book a four hour charter and expect to catch two marlin, three 80lb plus yellow fin and two wahoo on the way home I can tell you now the chance of all that happening is slim however not impossible. You certainly won’t catch all the above mentioned sitting on the couch dreaming about it.

There are few things to remember when looking to book a charter. The most important usually is the price of a charter and like most thing in life, you get what you pay for

Some anglers choose to share a charter with other people and in some cases they have never met the other people until the day of the charter. This works quite well for the budget conscious however if the majority want to go jigging that’s what most of the time will be spent doing and when the big one turn up it might not be your turn on the rod.

Another popular option is to organize a group of mates that are like minded on the type of fishing that they would like to do and charter a boat or do a trip overseas chasing the species they are after. This is a great way to get a few days fishing at a very affordable price. Vanuatu fishing operators offer shared charters and a lot of the larger operators run trips through the islands for up to a week at a time.

Another problem that seems to spoil angler’s trips is that some people choose to book through a travel agent or charter wholesaler. In some cases, anglers are sold an inferior product. You must do your own research. Are the species that you’re chasing running at the time of year you are looking to book? What is the weather traditionally like at the booked time of the year? Is the vessel that you are booking really suitable for the style of fishing you intend to participate in? If you are doing a trip away from you home location or overseas is the accommodation close to the operator or is it an hour travel before and after the charter? Is food included in the charter? Do I get enough fresh drinking water? What does the angler need to bring either tackle wise and personal requirements?

With the growth of the internet this was become a lot easier, you can talk directly with the operator and ask the above questions and more. If you are traveling to another destination, is someone going to pick me up from the air port when you arrive? Where do you change some money if you are traveling overseas and how do you pay for the charter and if I pay by credit card it there any additional charges?

This is pretty basic stuff however a lot of people get caught up in the excitement of heading off on a fishing adventure thinking it is going to be one thing and can end up being something else and in some cases ending in disappointment.

The reputable Vanuatu fishing operators have web sites to make contacting them easy. They are also regulated by a Charter Boat Association and the local Maritime Authority. It still pays to ask, is the vessel I am fishing on in survey, does the skipper hold a current ticket.

As previously mentioned this is pretty basic stuff however if you apply some of these ideas you will be guaranteed a great fishing adventure.

The only thing that any operator can’t guarantee is the amount of fish you will catch.

The Fishing News Team are back.

I take a lot of people fishing in a year and I find my job as a game boat skipper very satisfying. I get to know some fantastic people and hear some great stories and peoples philosophies on life. One of the yearly trips is the annual visit by Grant Dixon the editor of Fishing News New Zealand. Grant and his mates has been fishing with me for about 4 years now and I always feel just a bit intimidated as this guy travels the world fishing on some of the best boats and with the best operators in the world.

Grant, Pete, Dave and Trolley flew in from N.Z with the usual amount of tackle that jigging, popping and big game fisherman carry on a trip into the tropics. Our boat is full of tackle as it is so some of that had to come off.

After the usual amount of mental preparation (cold beers) the gear was rigged and we were off to dinner for some more laughs and preparation.

Day one was a run up the edge of the marlin highway and past the F.A.D’s for a quite day, only 2 mahi-mahi and a good doggy on a jig at Nguna Island.

The day ended at Kakula island which is fast becoming one of the favorite stopovers for our stay-away anglers.

Day 2 had us hearing N/E to a sea mound that gets rarely fished. Within an hour of having the gear in the water nice 120kg aprox blue marlin jumper on and put on a great display. Within about 20min it had been successfully tagged and released leaving Dave a happy man. With 20min we had another much bigger blue on and this one put on even a better display. About half an hour into the battle the fish was at the boat however just out of reach of the tag pole. On closer inspection it was discovered the fish was tail wrapped so a decision was made to break it off or break the line to release the fish so as not to kill it. Another was seen not long after free jumping in front of us however we didn’t catch that one.

On arrival at the sea mound we managed to hook a wahoo straight up followed by a triple of yellowfin. We pulled the trolling gear out of the water and started with some jigging and Trolley nailed a great doggy and the other boys were getting bites but getting busted off. We were running low on time to stay there as we were to start heading to Epi which was our next port of call which was still 60nm away. I asked to boys if they wanted to stay on the mound and stay at Kakula again for the night and it was unanimous that it wasn’t wise to drive away from fish. The day turned out well with another four doggies landed and the boat was getting lighter by the hour with the amount of year getting lost.

Our biggest was 37kg and the rest were not too far off that mark.

A couple of hour later we headed for home with a pass over Scotts Rock and on into Undine Bay with nothing else being caught for the day. Not a bad day though.

Day 3 saw us take a run to Erromango Seamound for one of the slowest days I have ever had done there. A heap of tiny mack tuna was it for the day.

Day 4 we decided to head back to our sea mound to the north east which was a couple of hours steam from port. The day was nothing like our previous visit with a few smaller doggies turning up and some reasonable yellow fin being caught on jigs in midwinter on top of the 170meter deep mound. We trolled all the way back to Kakula for no further acting.

Day5 was head home day with a run down past the F.A.D’s again for some small yellow fin and not a lot else.

All in all we had a reasonable trip, a couple of tough days however the good ones help you forget the others. For all you Kiwi’s the article will be in Fishing News due out in April.