I traveled to Samoa in late March for a week of exploratory fly fishing with Australian professional angler Jonathan Jones. Both of us were hopeful about the fishery—it looked promising on maps, with wide, sweeping flats dropping off steeply past the reef edge to cuts that just look fishy. I confess to getting a little giddy on the turbulence-ridden airplane ride in from Auckland.
Halfway through the week, we were less than happy. The fishery, as it turned out, was largely fished-out. Sometimes it happens; Jonathan and I have both fished around the world enough to know this. But, damn, it’s not fun when it does.
We made the most of it, putting in long hours on the flats and in the blue water. By the end of the week, we had a few fish to hand, but, as is so often the case, the true value of the trip was meeting new people and exploring a gem of a country. Jonathan went home to the Great Barrier Reef to chase fish in waters he knows. I returned home to Montana and spent a solo day on my favorite stretch of home water, where a fat rainbow trout grabbed my fly on the third cast.
Photo: Jungle and ocean—there’s not much in between. Jonathan casts out in the channel between the two islands that comprise Samoa (Upolu and Savai’i), where little islands dot the open waters of the Pacific. After bringing up a few mahi-mahi in deeper water, we move to a reef edge in hopes of hunting up a few giant trevally. Nearby storm cells had offered a bumpy ride further out, but nestling between small islands the ride—and the casting opportunities—improve.