Journey for Giants in Tonga

Giant Trevally

After breaking my record working 2 years straight for an employer, it was seriously time for another fishing expedition. Now based in New Zealand I wanted to fish somewhere in the Pacific and I knew what I wanted to catch: a GT! Giant Trevally is highly ranked on the list of hard fighting game fish and I wanted to experience how high they would go on my list!


Going to Tonga?

Now I knew what I wanted to catch, now the biggest question was where in the Pacific…
While browsing flight deals I found a cheap flight to Tonga. But where was Tonga?
When I googled maps I could just see the word Tonga and not even the alignment of the country.
As I zoomed in I saw heaps of small Islands groups located somewhere in the South of the Pacific, South of Samoa and about 1-3 of the way from New Zealand to Hawaii.


A fishing adventure

That same night the flight deal would go of the World Wide Web and I just had an hour to decide –to book or not to.. So that was an easy quick decision; A Tongan fishing adventure!

With my flight booked and my mind set on which fish I wanted to target the next big questions came along:

  • Where in Tonga would I go?
  • Why did I never hear of Tonga before?
  • What kind of fishing gear would I need?

Travelling to catch big fish

I was actually not too fussed about planning all my travel plans as they always tend to change anyway. The fact I had never heard of Tonga before made it sound even more exciting and adventurous. Really, Tonga somehow never got my attention, maybe because everybody talks about Fiji and Samoa?
If you like traveling in less touristic countries, Tonga is a fantastic choice. Not too touristic country and with so many islands to explore right in the South Pacific!

The biggest question on my mind remained; What kind of fishing gear I would need for tackling this big fish? GT popping was all new for me. The more I researched it became obvious. No space for cheap split-rings, hooks or weak tackle. With no money for fancy smooth reels and quality custom made rod I kept asking myself. How cheap and how light can I get away?

It had to be a 3 piece rod that I’ll strap onto my backpack, easy travel, within the budget and of course strong enough to fight those reef gangsters.
I ended up with an Okuma Azores rod and reel and a few different poppers, stick baits and decent terminal tackle.

To be honest my setup was way to light but I got away with and had a blast!
No doubt next time I go much heavier as I know there are roaming big, BIG GT’s in the Pacific and require specially designed heavy rods and reels!


Mmm, not well prepared

Finally, the aeroplane was descending and I could catch the first glimpse of the islands.

When walking through the airport terminal I noticed I was the only backpacker. A few other tourists seemed to have pre-booked transport to fancy resorts and I was the only guy not sure to know where to go.

For a moment I cursed a second and mumbled in myself: Always book your first accommodation the first night, that’s your own rule dumbass. Now you’re a bit lost…
While smoking a cigarette not even the taxi drivers approached me. I thought: this is strange as normally I get harassed by taxi drivers.
Then 3 guys asked me if I wanted to share a taxi to town. I jumped up, got in and got to know Tonga vibe really fast. People are friendly, helpful and totally not pushy.

The next days I discovered the main island and just kicked back. All the tourists seemed not too fused about exploring the main island too much and rather flew as soon as possible to the outer islands.
After exploring and fly fishing the shallow coral beaches a few days and not really have seen and caught a lot of big fish I decided I had to make my way really soon one of the outer islands groups.


The Vava’u Islands are well known by game fisherman as Vava’u has it all; blue water on the West side and reefs on the Eastern side.
Flying to Vava’u was more expensive then my International flight so I started to look for a cheaper alternative way.
After talking to the locals it was confusing if there was still a boat going as the main ferry boat was already months out of service. I managed to secure myself a space on a small cargo ship. It was like a flashback of travelling Central America where I heard the same departure time. Thursday it would be leaving at 3 o’clock or maybe a bit later depending on when the cargo got to load up. And yeah the boat only left at 9 o’clock at night but that’s Tonga time… You just go with it…

Rough topwater

After a rough night of sleep on a cold metal deck, the cargo ship finally arrived. A lot of locals seemed very excited as the cargo harboured. The island was already a week out of sugar and flour! With the good news for the locals, I received the bad news. There was no fuel on the Island!
The cargo ship I had come had carried a few drums of fuel but there was a .big line with taxi drivers and other important people.
With no fuel on the island, it was going to be hard to find a local who could take me out fishing. There were a few locals with fuel but I could see from far away the boats looked very unsafe and not well maintained.
Otherwise, there was literally no one able to take me out fishing. Bugger!
I had come all this way and now the no fuel is holding me back, what a bad luck.
It was not even possible to rent a scooter and find a good fishable beach.
So I tried my luck in the harbour.
Throwing big poppers attracted for sure some interest, only not from the fish but from a local guy.
As we had a chat I told him that I felt a bit down about the fuel situation.
He smiled and said: Just go on a charter as those guys always stock up fuel. This is typical island problems, they are prepared.

Breaking the budget

With the locals left out of fuel, the only chance I had to go out fishing seemed to be with a charter.
I really didn’t want to approach charters as they always seem to destroy my small budget very easily. There were a few charter companies but at the look of the logo´s I could see they were very commercial and way out of my budget.
After having my hopes down I´ve had been told to see the American expat Kurt.
Kurt is a great guy who takes people out Gt fishing and has built up a great knowledge GT fishing in Hawaii and those local years based in Tonga. He is certainly the man to see!

With my best negotiation skills I called up Kurt and tried to convince him to knock some of the prices but unfortunately, I had to break my budget and booked the half day fishing with him.
A bit disappointed I could only afford to fish the half day I think my muscles were really thankful I only had spent the half day popping! It’s really psychical and your stamina will get tested!