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Thread: Fishing in Fiji

  1. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Begbie
    The locals used to catch a long thin fish which swam in shoals by throwing a heavy three pronged hook
    We used that method for mullet but I'm not sure what fish you're referring to when you say "thin". Possibly garfish or piper?

  2. #27
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    Mullet. There were two types where I lived. The common grey one also found in NZ and Aust and Thailand, and another one, not quite as large, that had yellow fins.

    In the mornings I would get up and if the tide was high, walk along the beach with my 6-pronged bamboo spear. The mullet weren't always around, but when the were, it was great sport spearing them. Get a couple for breakfast, and life was good.
    My FIL had a casting net and he taught me to use it. That too was fun and could net a few dozen mullet in a single cast.

    The spear. Shaft made from bamboo, a bit thinner than a broom handle and about 2m long. The bamboo is cut (I used to have to get mine from Taveuni as there was no bitu vatu (stone bamboo) around home), and then hung in a smoky outdoor kitchen with a heavy rock hanging from it.
    After a few months seasoning and straightening in the smoke, cut to length and do the fine straightening over a fire, rubbing the kinks and bends out with a coconut-oily rag. Once as straight as a pool cue, it's time to insert the prongs. These are made from number 8 fence wire.
    No8 is quite soft, so you first have to strengthen it and this is done by tying one end of a length to a fence post and the other end to a stout stick. You then pull and wind, pull and wind. It gets very straight and becomes stiff, with a slight spring to it. If you've wound it enough you will see the spiral thread running the entire length. Cut into 10 inch lengths and sharpen. Insert the bundle of 5, 6, or 7 prongs (depending on the inside diameter of the thick end of your bamboo). I liked to have 6. one in the middle and 5 surrounding it snuggly. Then whip it with fishing line, very very tightly.
    Last edited by Maanaam; 19-10-2016 at 08:51 AM.

  3. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maanaam View Post
    I intend to build up to what was probably the climax of my fishing experiences and learning: Catching a marlin on a handline from my canoe.
    A bit lazy now to continue writing, but to be continued.....
    When I was on Malolo a fella pulled in a marlin on a hand line, an incredible feat.

    I loved fishing in Fiji, catching yellowfin tuna, wahoo, job fish and GT 's

  4. #29
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    Number 8 wire. This brings me to a highlight of fishing: Futifuti (pull pull), a style of jigging.
    Prepare a 1.5 metre length of wire by winding it straight. Turn a small "eye" at each end and tie a swivel to each eyelet. A strip of sheet lead around the "top". 3m of trace line, around 30lb breaking strain tied to the bottom swivel and a long hand reel of 90lb line to the top swivel.
    Lures are made with 4 long slender neck feathers of a white rooster tied on with red cotton to a (nz)#6 or 7 long shaft hook. I don't know why red cotton, but FIL insisted and he was right, other colours never seemed to work. Red appears grey at the depths we fish futifuti, so explain that!
    To futifuti properly, you have to do it from a canoe and drift, although I have done it from boats with mixed success.
    Paddle out, way out beyond the reef to wherever the water is between 25 and 40 fathoms. Too shallow and it just doesn't work, too deep and you're working too hard. 30 fathoms is ideal. I usally went a few miles straight out (eastwards). Blue water. Tie your lure to the 3m trace at the bottom of the futifuti rod. Drop it over and let it free-spool off the reel, but holding the line between your thumb and fingers. You have to be onto it! As soon as the line goes slack (the heavy end of the rod hitting the bottom), start hauling it up again with fast long jerks upwards until you've retrieved about 4 or 5 metres of line. Drop again, repeat. If you have not had a strike within 3 or 4 goes, move. There's nothing down there.
    I've pondered this long and hard: what's actually happening down there? well, I got my BIL to do it in shallow water 15m while I dived down to watch.
    The heavy end of the rod hits the bottom, and when the hauling up starts, the rod flexes and the light end (with the trace on it) turns down as the top end is pulled up. This makes the trace turn in a long arc, and the lure actually "swims" horizontal to the bottom for about 2 metres just above the seabed before starting to follow the rod up. Unlike modern day jigging which just has an up and down action, this futi rod makes for a very realistic sardine swimming fast in a natural direction.

    In Fiji, it is common to catch barracuda night fishing. People rarely catch them during the day, but futifuti would reap many. Barracuda were the most common catch, but other types of fish were plentiful too. Occasionally you'd get a big one which would snap the trace.
    When the barracuda were there, they were voracious. Many a time I've pulled up just a head, and a few times actually caught the preying barrcuda still with it's jaws sunk into the one I'd caught. 2 in one blow!

    One time I was futi fishing and got a huge strike. A real big fish. I played it and played it, letting out more and more of the 90 lb handline, mindful that the trace was only 30lb. I started running out of line, so got a bit tighter with letting the line spool out. Of a sudden, the line stopped pulling and I had lost the big one. Hang on, no, there was something still struggling down there, which I quickly (for the 60 fathom of line I had out) hauled in, line coiling around my feet in the bottom of the canoe.
    I had pulled in a large remora! I can only surmise that the remora had taken my lure and immediately re-attached itself to it's host shark but had finally let go when I had increased the resistance when playing the big guy.

  5. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by crocman
    When I was on Malolo a fella pulled in a marlin on a hand line, an incredible feat.
    There's a secret to it which will be told when I get to that style of fishing.

  6. #31
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    I forgot.....harking back to the first story about night-time full moon slow trolling. A guy from the village would do it with just his finger. Never saw him actually do it, but I have seen him return to shore with several fish, and no fishing tackle in the canoe. Everyone in the village believed it, and knowing these people as master anglers, I have little doubt he was the real thing.

  7. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maanaam View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Begbie
    massive grey colored fish name forgotten, would circle the boat all night.
    Possibly a saqa (GT) or ogo (giant barracuda). Even walu (spanish mackeral).
    Giant Trevally, is that Saqa? Most about a meter long but at night a few two meter monsters would appear and swim with the sharks.

  8. #33
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    An amusing story:
    Aside from using a lure, futifuti can use a strip bait. A triangle of bait about 4 or 5 inches long and a half inch wide at the base. The hook goes through the tapered end once (through the skin and flesh), is twisted once, and then through the strip about a third of it's length down. White belly parts of a barracuda best, but any strip will do.

    The routine for a day of futifuti was in the evening before, get your tackle ready, lures tied etc. Wifey would get up about 2 am to cook breakfast and lunch and I'd be up and ready to go by 3. There was a reef about 4 miles out that I wanted to reach just on sunrise to do some heavy trolling for walu.
    The procedure was to reach the reef, do some light trolling around it for bait. Almost any fish would do for trolling bait, (but a whole barracuda was best). The idea was to put your #1 hook twice through the bait (through the eyes, pull right through past the hook eyelet, then hook into and through the body to create a realistic lure.

    Anyway, this morning I set out, paddling east towards the reef. I got there just as the first glimmer of sunrise appeared over the horizon (incidentally, where is was was only a few miles west of the actual 180th meridian, so I would have been one of the first to see the sun rise that day (and every other day)).
    Beautiful dawn, time to start trolling for bait. I turned around in the canoe to get my light trolling line from my kete (fishing kit bag) which I keep behind me (in front is kept clear for pulling the handlines in)....Oh no....I had left all my gear on the beach! A long paddle for nothing, and too late to come out for heavy trolling, plus Grandma-in-law was staying with us and it was incumbent upon me to provide something to eat. Damn.
    Then, in the morning gloom, I saw the silhouette of a frigate bird, sitting on a pole that someone had placed as a beacon to mark this small reef in the middle of nowhere.
    Hmmmm....dinner to be provided?
    I paddled slowly up to the beacon, stood up wielding my paddle like a tennis racquet, and whacked the bird off the pole. Not a killing blow, but I had broken a wing. The bird flapped furiously, going round in circles on the water. I finally got it and wrung it's neck and headed back home.
    Wifey plucked it and we boiled it up for lunch. Lunch time came and I pulled the cooked bird from the soup. sliced a bit off and tried it. Yuck! Imagine shoe leather boiled in fish soup.
    Ok...no meat for lunch, lets boil this thing some more for dinner.
    Dinner time, and looking forward to the by now tender fowl.
    Wrong again. Still unchewably tough, and still reeking unpleasantly of bird-cooked-in-fish soup.
    Lesson learned: Don't waste your time trying to cook frigate birds.

  9. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Begbie
    Giant Trevally, is that Saqa? Most about a meter long but at night a few two meter monsters would appear and swim with the sharks.
    Hmmm, I don't know. If it was deep sea and not reef fishing, I would hazard dogtooth tuna.
    Possibly walu if it was near or above a reef.....but I have never seen them swimming close to sharks.
    I tend to think giant barracuda, but have never seen them in schools, nor with sharks.

  10. #35
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    Giant barracuda. I am pretty sure this is a species different from the small schooling cudas. They get huge.
    One day out heavy trolling, I got one.
    Heavy trolling is done like this: Very long 300 pound line on a large hand reel. swivel and a metre of 200lb trace. A number 1 hook.
    pull the hook through the eyes and hook into and through the body of a bait fish. You can also go in through the mouth, out the gills, and into the body. On this day I was using a kabatia....somethng like a bream, about 8 inches long.
    I actually used a 500 lb braided line. It was thinner than 300 lb nylon and I had heaps from Dad's days long-lining.
    Start paddling, letting out line as you go until you have maybe 20 fathom of line out. Wrap the line a few times around your foot, and paddle. Paddle, paddle paddle. Not fast, and you can go slow. This is out in the blue water.
    An hour or so of this and strike!
    The fish dragged the canoe backwards before I had a chance to unwrap the line from my foot. Beginner's mistake. Like a scoop, the stern of the canoe filled the craft with water. No biggy as the wood is sort of like a hardish balsa and floats even when fully emmersed. However all my kit was awash and I was losing caught fish over the sides.
    A bit scary, miles from land and a huge fish pulling me and my sunken canoe.
    Anyway, I regrouped my wits and started hauling in the fish, hoping to high heaven it wasn't a shark. This is the secret of catching big fish with a handline: You don't actually pull the fish in. In your light canoe, you are pulling yourself to the fish!
    Not so light, now, my canoe, being full of water, It still worked and soon the monster was beside me. At this point I saw it for what it was, a very big barracuda.
    Handline washing around my knees, I struggled to reach my cane knife (which is part of every good fishing tackle kit)., I got it, and after a brief fight, managed to chop the fish's head and killed it.
    Time to clean up and get things in order. I tied the cuda to the outrigger pole and then labouriously untangled all the line and wound it up. Gathered what possessions I had and tied the kete to the pole also.
    The way to bail a submerged canoe is ingenious. Straight out bailing doesn't work as water is always coming in over the sides. You have to jump into the sea, and start slowly pushing the canoe fowards, then backwards, gathering momentum as you go. This is a sideways action, as you are facing the boat with both hands on the sides.
    Slowly forwards, slowly backwards, and a wave starts to form inside, sloshing water over the bow, then sloshing water over the stern. Before long, enough water has been ejected, that you can use a bailer and bail, then climb back in and continue bailing until it's all done.
    I tried to make a quick job of it as there was baracuda blood and a whole lot of dead fish (that I had caught earlier) floating around...It's not a comfortable feeling out in the blue water to have your legs lolling around down there.


    So, my first big one. Everything was shipshape and the SE trade wind started. Every afternoon at 3:30 the wind would come from the south east. I hoisted my polynesian rig triangle sail and headed home with the wind directly behind me. I put the trolling line out again and just before home another strike and another barracuda!

    I never weighed fish as I had no scales so it was always a measurement...a guess as to length in inches/cms, feet, or metres, a forearm's length, an arm, spread arms, etc. The bigger fish that day, when I had it with my hands under it's gills holding it to me and it's snout well above my head, had all it's tail flat in the sand. I stand 183cm, so it was at least 2 metres long.

    That was my first biggy from trolling. The marlin was the same minus the drama of getting swamped. Future trolling, I wrapped the line only once around my foot, and was always constantly ready to release it. I have also caught GT and walu trolling from the canoe. GT are much harder because they dive deep and it's a real struggle, but the pelagics generally don't dive, so they are easy to pull yourself to and whack on the head.
    Last edited by Maanaam; 19-10-2016 at 12:58 PM.

  11. #36
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    Salala. A kind of mackeral. I think it's the bla du of Thailand, though bigger than the ones you see in the markets with the bent heads.
    During the day you would often see the calm water have a patch of white, disturbed water. A school of salala, heads sticking out, trying to make like birds. You know there is a predator or predators underneath them, driving them to the surface.
    One time I threw my spear into the massing school. Couldn't miss, and didn't. The spear shook and wriggled....and slowly sank. My bad. Should have tied a string to the spear.
    Never known salala to be caught during the day, but at night, it was a different matter. There were two ways to catch salala, by handline with a bait of flour dough mixed with fish oil, or scoop net.
    I would tie a forked stick to the side of the canoe or boat to hang the Coleman lamp off, over the water. This attracted lots of small fish: sardines, garfish etc. But also schools of salala. When they came this close, scooping them up in a basket made from woven coconut leaves was the way to go, sometimes netting 3 or 4 at a time. If they weren't schooling so thickly, they would be prowling all over the place, and a line with baited hook was the way. Some nights I could bring in over a hundred.
    Nice fish to eat raw, and awesome bait.

  12. #37
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    Great fish stories and a wonderful background on your early years.

    I have a friend that used to surf a at Tavarua. It's probably a Club Med destination by now...which would be very sad except for potential job generation.

    Keep on fishing...watch out for the great white. ;-)

  13. #38
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    Great thread. I'm gonna have to come back and read more of your stories!

  14. #39
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    Great thread, indeed. Fishing memories of my childhood.......when times were simpler.

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    Night diving: I didn't have a waterproof torch, so what I would do is the forked stick tied to the bow of the canoe thing and hang the coleman lamp from it. A short painter, and I would trail the canoe behind me while I snorkeled in the lead. Enough light cast for up to 3 m deep.
    The so-called Hawaiian sling was a length of #8 fence wire about 1.5 m in length, sharpened one end, and flattened the other with a notch. A speargun rubber sling, one end with a length of cloth whipped to it to wrap around your hand, the other end a 22 guage tie-wire loop, to fit into the notch of the spear. Aim like a slingshot, release. A pretty dangerous weapon, much quieter than a speargun, but with the disadvantage of no string attached. I've lost many, to deep water or a poorly aimed hit on a big fish.
    Night snorkeling was exhilarating. The crackling noises of the reef are much louder at night, and fish eerily loom into the small circle of light, but outside that circle is dark mystery. Imagination can spoil the serenity.
    Crayfish are a common score at night. You can get them during the day if you spot their antennae sticking out of a hole, but at night they roamed the bottom.
    Another nice common score was the 7-11 crab. Very hard shells, so they would just be picked up.
    The good thing about trailing the canoe behind me was my catch went straight into it easily.....heh, reminds me of an octopus I speared one night. I did turn it inside-out before throwing it in the bottom of the canoe, but at the end of the evening's dive, the octopus had escaped over the side.
    Occasionally I would score a turtle. The thing with them was to aim for a flipper. Even if you're not quick enough to grab it and it escapes, it swims in circles and must come up for air, whereupon you can grab it.
    Best one I ever got was huge. I was out with the boys from the next estate, specifically looking for turtle, and had a speargun. I shot it in a flipper, but the thing was strong. It dragged me down and I wouldn't let go. Luckily the others saw what was happening and came to my aid, but even with 3 of us it was a battle to get it to the boat, and even harder to get the heavy thing into the boat.

  16. #41
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    Thanks guys. It was a unique experience and one that has left a legacy in my body, mind and soul.
    Just a quick break from the sea, but still "seafood": Land crabs. We didn't have the hordes of them as seen on Norfolk Island (I think?), and there were those small ones but also a larger variety. You could go "torching" for them or trap them.
    Torching involved making several torches from dry coconut fronds tied up. Light one end, and it burns down not too quickly if you've tied it up tight enough. Be careful of the cinders though! Taking several torches, all you do is wander around in the forest near the beach looking for them. Grab, throw in a sack.
    Or you could trap them. I used a large Breakfast Cracker tin. I can't remember what kg tin it was, but lets say the tin was about 40cm square, and a bit deeper. cut the top off to create a square "bucket". Dig a hole to fit it in, with the top edge matching the surface of the ground. Simply place a stick across it, and hanng a piece of coconut kernel from the middle of the stick. The crabs come along and reach for the coconut and fall in, but the sides are too slippery for them to crawl out. Easy, and can last for a year or more before the tin rusts out.
    Really delicious if boiled up, de-shelled, then the meat returned to the pot with coconut cream and onions.
    Fijian name, "lairo".
    The big crabs would sometimes come into the house at night and steal stuff. Quite freaky the first time you hear it.
    One might come into your bedroom and steal your undies on the floor, or a flipflop, or anything, and as it's larger claw is holding the "booty", it would lift it up, stretch out sideways, and plonk it on the floor, then scramble the rest of itself up to it's out-stretched claw. So what you would hear in the dark of night was, "Clunk, scuttle scuttle, scuttle. Clunk, scuttle,scuttle, scuttle".
    Quite enjoyed the reactions of visitors to these midnight incursions.

    Are there land crabs in Thailand? There must be.

  17. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by PeeCoffee
    I have a friend that used to surf a at Tavarua.
    I think the only place to surf in Fiji unless you want to get dumped onto a reef.
    I did try surfing off our reef....ONCE. Although it looked surfable during a storm, the fact is the waves would draw all the water from in front, and thus as you caught the wave, it was nigh on bare coral that you rode down to. Not good at all.
    Having said that, I did enjoy a mild surf on the canoe when conditions were right. If you have a look at the map in photo mode, (1643'25.6"S 17954'34.2"E) you will see the reef extends outwards,directly north of the house. A break would occur on that spur and gently roll shorewards. Catching a wave in the canoe was fun....once I had learnt what not to do.
    Being 18 by then, I was full of testosterone and of myself. I had looked at the outrigger and decided that instead of a pointy small log, a wide flat float would be even more stable. And it was. I cut a flitch of wiriwiri (relatively hard balsa-like wood) and fashioned what could be described as a very thick surfboard to act as outrigger float. It worked well. Slid through the water with ease and gave very good stability.....until you had weather. As soon as that flat plane got a bit of water over it, it would act like a paravane and dive.
    I could probably have tinkered with the design, fashioned a high prow and/or attach it slightly upwards-pointing, but my first surf with it was a disaster and I ended up being tossed into the brine. My second experience was during weather, and it was touch and go whether I would get home, so I gave up on the idea.

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    With mention of the map.....you will notice a black wavy line extending out from the beach in front of the house and going eastwards and returning back southwards to shore.
    That is a moka, a low stone wall, used as a fish trap.
    It works like this: At low tide, go into the moka pool and turn over rocks, exposing the small critters living underneath. At high tide, the sea easily covers the wall and fish come in to scrounge around. Busy scrounging, as the tide recedes, they are trapped.
    Walk through with your spear. Fish in a barrel.
    The nice thing about this system is that it is perpetual, and if you don't hunt in it, the fish swim out next tide and live another day.
    Sometimes a school of parrot fish would get trapped. Fish in a barrel. Sometimes a large predator. Fish in a barrel. Once my brother got an octopus that was so big we actually measured it...7 foot from the top of it's head to the tip of the longest tentacle.
    I'm allergic to octopus...I come out in hives, so I did not partake of that feast.
    (Oddly, I can eat squid with no problems).

  19. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maanaam View Post



    Anyway, this morning I set out, paddling east towards the reef. I got there justplus Grandma-in-law was staying with us and it was incumbent upon me to provide something to eat. Damn.
    Then, in the morning gloom, I saw the silhouette of a frigate bird, sitting on a pole that someone had placed as a beacon to mark this small reef in the middle of nowhere.
    Hmmmm....dinner to be provided?
    I paddled slowly up to the beacon, stood up wielding my paddle like a tennis racquet, and whacked the bird off the pole. Not a killing blow, but I had broken a wing. The bird flapped furiously, going round in circles on the water. I finally got it and wrung it's neck and headed back home.
    Wifey plucked it and we boiled it up for lunch. Lunch time came and I pulled the cooked bird from the soup. sliced a bit off and tried it. Yuck! Imagine shoe leather boiled in fish soup.
    Ok...no meat for lunch, lets boil this thing some more for dinner.
    Dinner time, and looking forward to the by now tender fowl.
    Wrong again. Still unchewably tough, and still reeking unpleasantly of bird-cooked-in-fish soup.
    Lesson learned: Don't waste your time trying to cook frigate birds.
    or sea gulls. Not that tasty. Love a good fishing story

  20. #45
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    Parrot fish. This was fun. Parrot fish would graze on the coral in tightly packed schools. At low tide you would sea all their tails flapping out of the water as they nosed down to the coral. Try and sneak up close enough to throw your spear, and you'd more than likely scare them off before you got within range. The slightest crack of breaking coral beneath your feet and they'd speed off and disappear over the edge of the reef. Lucky if you got one.
    One day my dog came with me. He couldn't contain himself and charged madly at the school of flapping tails. Well, this sudden fright made them panic and scatter briefly, and instead of fleeing, the entire school would simply "hide" by leaning against a rock or sticking a head under a coral shelf.
    Walk into the area, and you see all these blue fish ridiculously trying to be invisible. You could step right beside any one of them and they'd remain frozen. Drum (the dog) was a laugh: He'd bury his head below the water and bark at the petrified fish.

    As you can imagine, it was slaughter. Spear them one at a time at my leisure.

    After that, this is what I did every time. Don't try to sneak, but rush them and panic them.

    We had a small (like bar fridge size) kerosine fridge, so no cold storage for fish. Bountiful fish catches were either taken to a village nearby to sell, or were smoked, and the smoked fish sold whenever.
    Last edited by Maanaam; 21-10-2016 at 05:39 PM.

  21. #46
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    ^ We both grew up with our grandparents... my Grandad (RIP) was a gunner on a MTB boat in WW2... was like (or more) than a father to me... damn, I miss the old bugger.

  22. #47
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    Maanaam, you had a very lucky childhood and count your blessings that fishing entered your life at an early age in such a fish rich environment. I started around the age of five and my grandfather, father, mother, aunts and uncles all loved to fish. They all started in Texas along the Gulf Coast and then moved to California where the fishing was excellent back in the 40s, 50s and 60s. I began in the early 50s since my grandfather and father always had fishing boats. Much different fishing than what you experienced, but the enjoyment factor was the same.

    I had numerous fishing pictures in the US going back to the 40s, but they are not here in Thailand. Once I begin telling some stories, I will see if I can locate some that I do have here. Thanks for starting a fishing thread since I still consider myself an avid fan.

  23. #48
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    Small digressionional anecdote.

    My dad was Fijian Liason Officer to the Australian Consul. Being both Australian by nationality and Fijian by birth, Trinity College (Sydney) and Sydney Uni educated, he was an ideal appointment when we first moved from Sydney to Suva.
    But he was no desk jockey, and soon bought a ship and a copra plantation to escape the rat race. This put him in debt, and we were henceforth poor. Money-wise but not in life.
    MV Leleo was a 45 m vessel with crew's quarters sleeping 5 and a saloon with bunks for 4. She had a mast with a big square rig sail, really only suitable for running before the wind to save on fuel, but I loved it when Dad hoisted the sail whenever the wind was favourable.
    On Leleo, we traveled all over Fiji...Initially based in Suva, our first forays were to Beqa and Kadavu. I have fond memories of over-nighting at Beqa and fishing through the night at anchor in some isolated bay. What great fishing! Trevally and jacks, barracuda, in my memory, it was these pelagics, not reef fish, that were the main catch, yet it was not blue water, only deep harbour.
    Later trips were from Suva to Narewa (the copra estate), and Taveuni (my dad's ancestral home).
    There were two ways of getting to Taveuni from Suva. Straight out through the passage to open sea and sailing east then north on open water, or a slower route through the Rewa delta, coursing up rivers until coming out near Ovalau. The Koro Sea....what an abundant and wild place. I recall one time travelling to Suva through the Koro Sea and encountering a school of manta rays. Mantas for as far as the eye could see. we cruised over them, and at times it seemed that a single ray was wider then the ship. Another time in the Koro Sea, a pod of whales....whales everywhere. We had no choice but to sail through them. There where whales and porpoise. Bump. Bump. Thud. We could not avoid but hit them, they were so abundant. Amazing looking out in every direction and seeing only whales and porpoise for kilometres.

  24. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by NZdick1983
    my Grandad (RIP) was a gunner on a MTB boat in WW2
    My grandad served too, and is still living an active life in Onehunga, He'll be 96 this year.

  25. #50
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    Pigs.
    Fiji's gun laws were quite strict even back then before any coups. You had to have a reason to own one, eg owning a farm and needing to protect the chooks from mongoose or to slaughter a beast. Your ammunition was rationed to 500 rounds per year. We initially had a Winchester .22. Mum lost it overboard one day while trying to shoots a goat that was on the headland. That got replaced by an old BSA .22 bolt action.
    The BSA had a problem. There was a small spring-loaded "hook" on the bolt that hook over the rim of the cartridge and pulled it out of the breech. The spring was gone, and so the old blunderbuss would often backfire as there was that gap where the hook should be.
    One morning I went out for a pee, and there under the mango tree was a wild pig. Not a big one, perhaps 40 cm at the shoulder, skinny and tough-looking, he had the beginings of tusks emerging and so was dangerous. I went and got the rifle. I had one bullet.
    I circled around so that he was between me and the sea, and I had the forest at my back. I took aim, bang! Damn thing backfired, filling one eye with soot.
    The pig was unscathed. He went off to the right, heading for the forest. I cut him off, so he switched left. I cut him off again. By this time my sulu (sarong) had fallen off and I was buck naked, dashing left and right. We had visitors over night, a couple from a nearby estate, and they and my wife came out at the sound of the gun. Must have been quite a scene.
    Anyway, the plucky little boar stopped, put his head down and charged me.
    I was never into cricket much, but that morning I gave a very good impression of Martin Crowe. As the pig came at me, I sidestepped and holding the barrel swung the rifle butt at it's head. He went down.
    Our visitors stayed another night and we all enjoyed boiled wild boar.


    I often had no ammo. I used to use it shooting wood pigeon for the pot, and mongoose and hawk as they preyed on the chickens.
    One morning there was a large wild boar just behind the house. No ammo, but my large turtle spear was handy. I snuck up close enough to spear it, and got it good and deep just behind it's front leg.
    Round and round it ran, squealing (like a stuck pig, funnily enough). I could do nothing as this fella was dangerous and angry. It tired to get through the fence and got stock....here was my chance, so cane knife in hand I chopped it on the back of the neck. Mistake. Probably the thickest toughest skin on the animal and hardly hurt it. So I pushed the spear in deeper. That did it, and it slowed down and eventually gave up.

    One day, Drum the boxer dog brought a pig home. He had it by an ear and steered it all the way to the paddock beside the house, pushing and pulling, he did not let go. I went with the wood axe and dispatched it. Good boy Drum. This was after my parents left and before I'd got married, so I was by myself. I cleaned the pig and boiled up the meat, had a feast with Drum.
    That night I was as sick as a very sick dog. I was very sick for a few more days, hardly able to even crawl to the door to go to the toilet, let alone reach the outhouse. I put the big pot of boiled pork on the floor for Drum to help himself and stayed in bed. High fever and just sick. On the third day, I heard a boat passing, so I mustered up all my energy and went down to the beach and waved my blanket at the people. They, in true hospitable Fijian style waved smilingly back and disappeared around the point. I collapsed.
    I woke up in bed at the neighbours house. It was the labourer boys who had gone by and when they got home and stuck into the kava, one of them was unsettled. He said he saw me sit down on the beach just as they disappeared around the corner, and he felt something was wrong. Bless them, they got back into the boat and came back to find me unconscious on the beach. A few days later and I was fine.
    Damned undercooked wild pork, I think.

    I don't have a tally of the number of pigs and goats I shot or speared, but it was quite a few.

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