Drinking Cocktails When I Should Be Fishing

My all-time biggest fishing mistake was neglecting to pack any fishing gear for my recent endless long weekender trip to Ratua Private Island, just off Espiritu Santo in Vanuatu…

Sure I was paradise-bound, but how many times have I packed fishing gear on the hope to be able get some land based fishing done, only to arrive and realise the water around my resort was barren, and the only place I’d stand a chance would be onboard the boat well offshore? My trip coincided with our 43ft Cabo Sportfisher’s arrival up to Santo, where it has spent the past month exploring the fish-rich waters surrounding this area. As this was a game fishing trip, and knowing just how good marlin fishing Santo in Vanuatu is, I didn’t even consider the possibility of land-based options. Plus I was hosting some travel journalists who were 1st time anglers, and I only had 1 day offshore fishing with them on the Cabo. The rest of the time for me was filled up enjoying the rest of what the incredible place has to offer…

On the first evening at Ratua we enjoyed an incredible sit down banquet dinner on the beach, complete with a few cocktails and selection of fine wines! It was a fantastic introduction to the Ratua luxury experience.

After dinner, I was in my bungalow taking in the atmosphere; the doors and window shutters were open and the water was only 15 meters away. My bungalow, named ‘Monkey’, was one of about 5 located at this end of the island, and my closest neighbours and I were positioned around a little bay that was maybe only 100 meters wide.

The beach was made up of soft sand with some broken coral, and the shoreline gradually sloped away to a fringing reef; it was a fish haven with the strong current of the adjacent Malo Passage pushing past the bay. And then it started, the sounds of nervous fish splashing indicating predators giving chase. I stood outside on my verandah and listened as this incredible display took place, probably all within casting distance! These were no 3 inch baitfish being harassed by lightweights – these things were big, v-e-r-y big… Huge splashes and boofs filled the night air as (what were most likely) big GTs harassed, herded and hammered the smaller fish into submission. Hoots and cheers came from the villas around me, as others witnessed the show. It sounded more like a crocodile attacking a water buffalo in the shallows! I’d left all my casting gear at home and it was killing me, all I could do was to stand there totally impressed, dumbfounded and applaud the show…

The next morning I took a walk around to discover the lay of the land. At the other end of the bay, a nice point jutted out, with the magnificent Malo Passage to one side. We named this point Daybed Point as it was a great place for some of the guys who cast small poppers for a host of fish. Anthony filmed Gregg’s poppers being nailed and promptly dusted on his light gear, 4 casts in a row by GTs and other reefies, while standing on the villa’s daybed deck. In a nutshell it was a very fishy spot; if I had heavy popper gear, I’d expect to find big GT’s off that point for sure.

look over the charts showed plenty of areas to return to to cast a lure, jig or troll a deep diver. It’s all there within striking distance of Ratua and accessible from their centre console dories. NZ journo and keen angler Scott Lee got to experience some fun action casting lures from one of the resorts 25ft dories, with a estimated 40kg GT chasing down his hooked coral trout sending his pulse racing.

Ratua is a place for the senses; visually it is absolutely stunning from every angle. The resort is self sufficient, eco friendly, understated and can only be described as absolute luxury.

The story on how it came to be built will impress on people the lengths and detail the owner has put into this resort. Each building began its life 150 – 200 years ago in Sumatra, Indonesia and have been salvaged, restored and painstakingly rebuilt piece by piece in this setting. The ethical approach of the resort is to contribute 100 percent of the profits to help the surrounding communities.

There are so many details, images and experiences that are now deeply etched in my memory after spending and endless weekend in this magical location. I use the term endless weekend, because although it was only a few nights away, time stood still from the moment I arrived.

Make no mistake, this place is not cheap, but it is worth every cent. Ratua is the ideal destination for the discerning angler, their friends and partners who wish to mix their fishing with an absolutely luxurious experience.

David Noble, Nov 09.

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Drinking Cocktails When I Should Be Fishing

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