April 19th, 2010 | By Rowan Stanek
Well the day finally arrived! After what felt like eternity, it was time for our first GT popping trip to Ono Island Fiji. Between my close friends Bernard, Jack, Drew and myself, the closest any of us had been to popping GTs is popping bream in Cowan creek! Armed with heaps of new tackle, we were super keen to get casting.
After a short flight and boat ride we anchored the boat in front of Oneta resort. My first impression was, “Wow, this is paradise!” and after looking around, I was right. The owner, Piero, and his staff at the resort greeted us; everyone is so cool and the service at the resort makes 5 star hotels look like backpacker hostels! The resort makes you feel very welcome and adds to the experience. All the meals that are cooked are fine dining quality and each day’s fishing is finished with a massage.
The first day’s fishing was difficult due to strong winds so we were restricted to fish sheltered areas, which were not as productive. We managed to catch a tasty bluefin trevally on a jig, then a red bass and good size coral trout on a popper. During the day we were photographing some casts when one of the funniest things happened, check out the pics! In the arvo we had another go at jigging and after a few drops Drew hooked the only doggie of the trip.
The second day saw us venturing to the outer reef. It was still windy and still not where Piero wanted to pop, but at least it put us in with a chance at GTs. Piero told me to throw out a small dark popper, looking through my bag the only small dark I had was a 120gm Sea Frog. Damn it, it was the only one I had, but it worked!!! I scored my first GT, a nice one to start with at around 20kg. I got another around 15kg and Bernard also got 1 around 10kg.
The third day gave us quick opportunity to fish Piero’s favourite area while the tide was up in the morning, and it was awesome! In a period of what must’ve been 30 minutes we had 2 GTs hooked and landed, 2 GTs hooked and busted us off, and 2 GTs that didn’t find the hooks. After that the wind picked up again and we went back to the area fished the day before. Conditions started to affect us and it showed with 3 of us sitting back most of the day except for Jack, who persisted with cast after cast and it paid off with a really good GT on the outer reef. Later we entered the lagoon, which we hadn’t paid much attention to previously. We were all casting lures of different size with small poppers getting constant hook ups on coral trout and red bass. Piero was casting a Heru Tuna 100 when a massive GT erupted from behind his popper and dragged it back to the bommie he came from. Jack then cast over to the bommie and a second GT came out from behind. This time Jack was able to control it and landed a very nice GT estimated at 35kg. Jack’s persistence this day was awesome and it paid off!!
Day four was the windiest of the trip, which had us fishing the lagoon for green jobfish and red bass. We also managed to sneak out to the reef after lunch where I got a small GT.
Last day of the trip rolled up and the weather was sensational. Finally Piero could take us to the section of reef he considers to be the best. He wasn’t joking; this days fishing was absolute mayhem, a truly unforgettable day with so many hook ups it was exhausting! My first fish was massive and took my favourite black Kong straight back to its home. Changed to a blue Wiggle and I was on to a smaller fish that we watched surf the break to grab my popper. Then as Bernard was working his stick bait, a good size GT followed his lure all the way to the boat, before dropping back. I threw my popper only 3-4 meters from the boat and we watched this GT came straight back up and slurp it down. Later in the day I threw a suicide cast right on top of the reef and without even blooping the popper it got engulfed by a really good size GT. After a fair battle I landed a nice 38kg GT. Everyone on this day got into some nice GTs. Being our last day at Ono we begged Piero to bring us out for an extended arvo session which he agreed to without an issue. We didn’t stay out long, and still managed 2 nice GTs with Bernard getting his PB, estimated at 30kg.
So unfortunately the trip had to come to an end, but I will never forget the experience. Everyone in the group is now a GT popping junkie and I can’t wait for my next hit! Great friends, great place, great fishing, great experience; what more could you want?