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KIWI TOUTS FISHING SAMOA'S SOUTH SIDE; PLANS NEW TRIP

Red bass are also regularly caught around the reef fringes, this one was caught on a stick-bait by Paul Davies and held up by crew member Sally Asafo. [Fishing News]

Over the years I have had the pleasure of fishing in Samoa many times, and generally the results have been good.

On some of those occasions I've fished the more exposed south side of Upolo Island with some great catches. Unfortunately, most of my trips to Samoa have been based out of the main port of Apia, where getting around to the south side in a day has been something of a 'mission impossible'.

The good news is New Zealand Fishing News, in conjunction with Dive, Fish and Snow Travel, have put together a 'Fish Samoa's South Side' package for 2013.

Last September, accompanied by my wife Faith and anglers Mike Wessels, Geoff Peake, Paul Davies and Bill Cavanagh (with the latter two accompanied by wives Donna and Trish), we did a test run.

Our plan was to have four days' fishing: two aboard the Ian Moroney-skippered 10.7m (35ft) Bertram Pure Indulgence, and the remaining two with Chris Donato and Southern Destiny. It was to be a mix of gamefishing, jigging and casting for giant trevally and dogtooth. However, a blown turbo saw Chris unfortunately eliminated from the gig at the last minute, leaving us to do four days with Ian.

Our base for the week was the delightful Aggie Grey's Lagoon Beach Resort and Spa, located just 10 minutes from the international airport on the shores of a calm lagoon. It's also close to the south side, providing access to some great fishing opportunities, making it an ideal base for what we were hoping to achieve.

On board Pure Indulgence Ian had two crew for this trip - his regular Samoan deckie Sally Asafo and an 'Aussie import' in photographer Dan Young-Whitforde.

Ian knows this area well, with Pure Indulgence often bringing live-aboard charters to this part of the coast.

It would be fair to say the majority of the anglers were keen to tangle with the GTs and dogtooth in particular, and this fishing is something of a speciality for Ian.

Over the four days we saw some good action, both on jigs and surface lures - and while the GTs were not especially big (twenty kilos stopped the best of them), as anyone who has fished for them knows, even fish of this size will put up a tremendous and exciting scrap.

We also caught dogtooth up to 15kg on jigs in 40-80 metres of water; fortunately the weather gods smiled on us for most of the trip, enabling us to fish the handy grounds with relative ease.

The billfish were less co-operative. A couple of sailfish shots and the attention of one marlin was all we managed, and none stuck. (Typically, the following week Ian told me it was 'all on', with a number of fish raised and caught on the south side, as well as a couple of respectable tuna - as they say, timing is everything!)

I must say it was great to come home to the comforts and luxury of a resort at day's end; Aggie's staff could not have been more helpful, and certainly played their part to ensure the success of the fact-finding mission. Early breakfasts and lunches were not a problem, and the executive chef Horace Evans and his team went out of their way to prepare our freshly-caught mahimahi and wahoo on several occasions.

Similarly, general manager Theresa Sing and function and events manager Greg Meredith smoothed the way, whether it was organising late checkouts and rental cars or other special requests.



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