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“Being semi-retired, I’ve been fortunate enough to fish all over the United States and, to some extent, the tropics. One place I visited recently and plan to visit again is Kosrae, an island of about 6,000 people approximately eight hours from Honolulu by commercial jet flight. From the air, as you approach Kosrae, you first see the island with its fringing reef and its spectacular blue and green waters, as well as some rivers flowing off mountainsides to the sea. If you look closely, you will also spot something called the Blue Hole inside the reef, beginning about 100 yards offshore.
“I stayed in a nice motel-like resort in Kosrae (www.kosraenautilus.com) across the road from the Blue Hole. I almost died of sunstroke exploring the Blue Hole, by the way. Be careful if you come here. The sun is intense. Kosrae’s Blue Hole is roughly 200 yards in diameter and you can walk right up to the edge of it, where the coral drops off into deep blue water about 60 feet deep. It’s the finest saltwater fishing hole I’ve ever seen. It would take all day to fish clear around it. Using both spinning gear and fly fishing gear, I hooked several barracuda, snapper, and trevally, as well as fish that I had no way of identifying. Fish around Kosrae, I quickly learned, will not take a slow-moving lure or fly; you have to reel or strip at warp speed, and they come at your lure or fly at double warp speed, hitting harder than you can imagine. A five-pound trevally here fights as hard as any fish I’ve ever seen. They move blazing fast and will break you off before you realize what’s going on.
“Back at the hotel, after resting up a bit after my Blue Hole excursion, I decided to exhaust myself even more by paddling one of the resort’s kayaks up a river behind the motel in search of barracuda and snapper. I was also intrigued by rumors that there were tarpon in the river. Indeed, those rumors proved to be accurate, as I personally landed one on a fly that weighed about 10 pounds. I saw many others. The tarpon hit a Clouser I had been throwing along a mangrove shoreline, occasionally taking small snapper. Suddenly, at one point when I made a cast into the middle of the river, I got a vicious hit. I promptly cruised through the area again and hooked a tarpon, which immediately went airborne several times. I eventually landed and released him. After that, I had no additional hits during the next hour.
“The only other fishing I did around Kosrae was to go offshore one morning with a local Kosraen who hand-trolls 200-pound test monoline at 10 knots. He told me he once landed a 300-pound marlin that way. My own success that day was limited to hooking a yellowfin tuna that promptly stripped my fly reel and then a wahoo that chain-sawed through 60-pound test wire leader.
“Kosrae has real sportfishing potential, I think; maybe no bonefish but certainly some tarpon and trevally and other game fish. The owner of the motel where I stayed, Doug Beitz, told me he is game to explore the potential with any anglers who would like to plan a visit. Here is what he had to say about the tarpon potential in an e-mail he sent me recently:
“‘You ask about tarpon around Kosrae. Most of what I know about tarpon is secondhand, as I have not fished for them myself. It’s not uncommon at all for people to catch them in the channel behind our hotel, but they are usually around 18 to 24 inches long. My son tells me officials from a local environmental agency who came to his school to encourage children to look after the environment showed his class photos of tarpon four-plus feet long. These were apparently caught around the southern part of the island in the Utwe/Walung Biosphere Reserve. The locals don’t try to catch tarpon because they aren’t good eating. That’s all I know. Kind regards, Doug Beitz, Kosrae Nautilus Resort.’”
Postscript: So, is the fishing around Kosrae worth additional exploration? I’ll leave that up to individual
subscribers to decide. In my view, one thing that makes this fishery interesting is the paucity of knowledge about Pacific tarpon. And you can rest assured there is indeed a Pacific tarpon. I have that from Dr. Jerald S. Ault, professor of marine biology and fisheries at the University of Miami. Dr. Ault is also on the board of Bonefish Tarpon Trust. Ault says Indo-Pacific tarpon (Megalops cyprinoides) are much smaller than the tarpon we are used to in North America. He says they do not get larger than one meter in length (about three feet) and about 50 pounds in weight. I’m sure Dr. Ault is correct about Indo-Pacific tarpon being on the small side, but what about those reports of fish measuring four feet? Was that just exaggeration on the part of schoolchildren, or are the tarpon around Kosrae an unstudied population of Indo-Pacific tarpon that grow a bit bigger than normal? And here’s another question: What’s wrong with catching tarpon up to 50 pounds in weight and three to four feet in length, along with trevally, if there are a lot of these fish around and they are eager eaters? Interestingly, as this issue went to press, I traded an e-mail with the owner of Kosrae Nautilus Resort, the place where Shorett stayed, exploring the possibility of an offer for a FREE fishing trip to explore this fishery in more depth. He said he was eager to do so, so you can look for an update in a future issue. If this fishery intrigues you and you would like to get into the running for this FREE fishing trip, all you have to do is upgrade your subscription to Online Extra. You can do so by going to our Web site, www.anglingreport.com, or by calling Edi Bell at 800-272-5656. Just do so quickly, as the FREE trip invitation for this trip will be going out very soon to Online Extra subscribers, inviting everyone on the list to spell out why he or she should be chosen for this trip. For sure, an old tarpon hand with wide experience at chasing silver kings will get the nod for this trip. Enjoy!