Who to Fish With
For me it was clear… if I was going to fish New Caledonia, it was going to be with La Poisson Banane. LPB (aka the “banana fish”) was started eight years ago by two French brothers, Rudy and David Boue Mandil. Their love for extreme big-game fishing brought them to this magical place that they now call home. From the moment you meet them and start talking about the fishing, you're overwhelmed with the fishing knowledge that seems to seep from their pores. These two young captains/anglers are about as dialed in as anybody I've ever met.
Operating two boats, a 40-foot Antares sportsfisher and a 27-foot Edgewater center console, they run charters from the north and south of the island. Day trips generally take place in the south where the brothers live and run a specialty tackle shop. The live-aboard trips run from two to 10 days for up to four anglers. These trips take place aboard the 40-foot Jack Yvan and run out of the “Extreme North.” This was the location where I was lucky enough to fish for five days.
Although we were fishing the offseason, the nonstop action did not dissapoint. Our group averaged about five GTs a day with a host of grouper, snapper, barracuda and mackerel to fill in the gaps.
We spent the majority of our fishing time targeting shallow reefs, coral bommies, deep channels and deep drop-offs. Most big fish are caught by aggressively popping topwater lures along these edges and drop-offs.
After a few days with GT's, I began to notice some trends. First, the rougher the water the better — these fish were more active in choppy waters and strong currents. Second, the fish have a seriously bad attitude. Rather than biting the lure out of hunger, they seem to head-butt it out of territorial aggression. Third, there is a sibling rivalry. The GT's behave with an "I-want-what-he-has" mentality. I hooked two fish on one lure — and it didn't just happen once. It happened three times!
New Caledonia is a long way from the United States. I took off from New York and flew to Los Angeles then on to Auckland, New Zealand, and finally arrived in Noumea 23 weary hours later.
Noumea is the capital city. It's located on the southern part of the island and it's quite westernized for a Pacific island. With posh hotels, lavish colonial-style mansions, and an array of fine dining, it's a wonder it is not a more popular tourist destination.
Dominated by a remarkably strange but beautiful landscape, the northern stretches of the island truly deserve the name “Extreme North.” Tumbling waterfalls and lush river valleys carve out the mountains here, reminding me of a combination of New Zealand, Fiji, and Costa Rica.
New Caledonia is basically split lengthwise by a large mountain range. The east of the island remains tropical due to the exposure to trade winds, while the west is a dryer, more temperate climate.
All in all, this was a trip that I would happily repeat although the travel and expense is a commitment. I thought the fishing was very productive, but I got the sense that we didn't even scratch the surface of how good it could be. Simply told, I learned more in five days of fishing then I thought was possible. There's still hundreds of miles of unexplored reef to the far north, and I get the chills just thinking about a return visit!
Adrian Michas is an active contributor to www.bdoutdoors.com and always seems to wow the BD community with his forum posts from exotic locations. He's literally traveled the globe in search of fish and enjoys posting his photos and recounting his adventures through the forums and travel articles.