BMM’s first Season In Tonga…….

It has been a hectic year with the normal ups and downs …. ‘welcome to the world of boating and fishing …. as they say.
The delay in getting the boat to Tonga was one of those downers and on arrival in Samoa finding the boat had been broken into at LA Port … so much for a secure port facility. We lost a lot of stuff .. the most annoying items, spares for the generator and engines, a brand new canopy and safety gear.

We finally started chartering late August …. no time to set the boat up the way I wanted but that all said, we had a great first season with the final tally as follows:

83 x Blue Marlin … average weight 119kg (up 20% on the last decade average)
3 x Striped Marlin … average weight 130kg .. most likely related to the cooler water temperatures
2 x Shortbill …. average weight 25kg … most likley released a close to world record fish est 35kg
2 x Black Marlin …average weight 90kg
2 x Sailfish .. average weight 37.5kg

We didn’t quite maintain our average blue marlin daily catch rate of 1.5 but got pretty close recording 1.3, so given the late start, I am very pleased with the boat’s first season in Vava’u waters.

The significant increase in average weights for blue marlin in 2015 is a bit of a puzzle … the water temperatue was significantly cooler right up to the end of November and during this period we also caught a couple of very big striped marlin 160kg & 140kg range – very rare to have this sized fish in our waters, so it most likely points to the impact of an El Nino influence.

We caught eight blues in the 200-300kg range and lost a few bigger fish, most taken on the short corner and long flat positions.
In a normal season we usually catch around 80 percent of lure caught fish on purple/black skirting combinations (last 14 year stats) but this year …. only ten percent. The hot colours were fruit salad, lumo and gold variations which matched the run of yellow fin we had throughout the season.
Hardly saw any good skipjack schools this season …and that clearly supports the low catch rates on purple/black skirting.
I love the south bank grounds …. and normally it accounts for 80 percent of all my caught billfish and this year only 39 percent …. we had persistent trades 20kts plus, so we didn’t get down the bank as much as I would have liked and consequently we didn’t do as much baiting as normal.

Caught a few blues on the new Stella 30000 switch gear … and even had a go myself. I have to say it was bloody hard work and the biggest fish I nailed was around 90kg. Can’t imagine taking a 200kg fish on the gear …. the body would fail … if not expire!

The consistent hot spots other than the south bank grounds were Hunga Island drop-off, 171 sea mount and slightly west of the middle ground area. I prefer to work structure which has current and food web dynamics working for you and this year I pulled my biggest average fish from Hunga, working an area no more than a mile or so long, right on the 500m contour.

Fished the outer Islands a few days – Toku and Fornulea Islands in particular …. I have to get back there more often, the fishing was pretty special with bigger than average blues, a few blacks and yellow fin, not to mention the reef fishing.

During the low season I will be working on the boat to get it set-up the way I wanted from day one …. then of course I will have to do ‘test-days’ out on the water … exploring and just fishing hard out always looking for that special fish of a life time.

Well that’s about it for the 2015 season ….. special thanks to all clients and my crew members for your support. All the best for the new season and hope to see you back soon.

Bobby Brown …. should have his sea legs in a few months …. we will see if he lives up to his name!

Capt. Steve