Fishing tournaments are about great times with great people and the 2019 Samoan International Gamefishing Association (SIGFA) tournament was no exception. Grant Blair, Managing Director at NZ Fishing Media, was invited to enjoy a wonderful few days with an enthusiastic bunch of very hospitable fellow fishos in Samoa.
Although the fishing was fair rather than frenetic, 14 teams comprising 58 anglers enjoyed a week of fabulous hospitality while notching up some great catches and a few of those inevitable hard luck stories.
The first two days were flat calm and not the conditions preferred for yellowfin tuna or marlin. On day one, Team Troppo Adventures fishing on Pure Indulgence battled an estimated 200kg black marlin before the rod unfortunately transformed itself into a two-piece and the fish was lost at the boat. Later in the week there were several other similar stories with large fish being lost after torrid tussles such as a blue marlin on the final day, a potential tournament winner for team Sailfish after a three-hour battle.
The largest fish of the tournament was a 179.4kg blue marlin caught by Karleen Rasmussen, team Hurricane Angels on Ladies Day, from the boat Le Doradi.
The club enjoys outstanding support from local sponsors, in particular Apia Concrete Products and Invest Samoa, resulting in a prize pool valued at over WST30,000 in cash. There a similar value of fishing gear, and other product – plenty to keep anglers quite focused on their performance! All major prize-winners received a fabulous locally carved trophy as an enduring reminder of their achievements and just how much fun the 2019 tournament was.
The top team, winning WST10,000, trophies and a pile of other prizes went to Team Stevenson’s on Reel Cat with 146 points, chalking up their first win in 15 years of participation and after being bridesmaid on several occasions. Champion angler with most points went to Sam Balian from Australia fishing for Team Troppo on Pure Indulgence with a respectable 38.4kg yellowfin and several spanish mackerel to his credit. Champion female angler was Pafuti Taupua from American Samoa on Double Trouble.
SIGFA tournaments are not just about the fishing. Larger than life character, charter operator and MC for the event, Greg Hopping from Troppo Adventures ensures the prizegiving each night is about as entertaining as you’ll get at any tournament anywhere.
As Greg says, “It’s all about the vibe!” and when you talk to many of the international anglers, that’s one of the reasons for returning year after year. The hotplates are fired up each evening after the 5pm weigh-in and anglers and the many family, friends and supporters enjoy a taste of the day’s catch, matched with a few local beers at a very affordable WST5 (NZ$2.90) to rehydrate.
Two anglers from Upper Hutt, Bart Curry and Paddy McCarthy, have been fishing the SIGFA tournament for the last six years and this year struck it lucky when Paddy boated a 60.2kg yellowfin after a couple of hours playing it sitting on a chilly bin aboard Le Doradi, winning Team Hurricanes first place in the yellowfin section and some excellent prizes including ST500, a Shimano 80W and lure. Bart contributed to the hard luck stories earlier in the week when a blue marlin estimated well in excess of 200kg jumped and managed to land on and break the line after a hard-fought five-hour battle.
The tournament in American Samoa follows directly after the SIGFA which means international anglers have the opportunity to fish both events if time allows. If you’d like to experience a well-run fishing tournament where there’s some good odds of winning a prize or two, the SIGFA tournament in Samoa would be a great place to start!
We travelled to Samoa courtesy of SIGFA and stayed at the recently refurbished and very comfortable Sheraton Aggie Greys in Apia. Thanks to James Ibrahim and Alvin Theseira from Salt and Glass for some fabulous photos and to the management and executive committee at SIGFA for their wonderful hospitality.
Fish Samoa Planner
• Best fishing month: May
• More wind May-October with the trade easterlies
• Mahimahi: May to November
• Yellowfin tuna: December to March, with another run in May and June with bigger fish
• Blue marlin: All year – bigger blues December to end of March. Rest of the year fish average around 120kg.
• Giant trevally: All year – March and April are the best months
• Dogtooth tuna: All year
• Spanish mackerel: All year
• Wahoo: May to November.
04 June 2019