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The 2024 SIGFA Coast 2 Coast Tournament was held last weekend and was another great success. For the first time, the tournament was held over two days. As always, teams had to circumnavigate Upolu, Samoa’s main island. At the end of the first day all teams would moor their boats in Tafatafa lagoon for the night.

Day one was massive. We headed out of Apia at 4am. The plan was to steam for 3hrs around the western end of Upolu, through the Apolima Strait and on to the 2000m drop off out the front of Lafaga. We had a tip that there were schools of solid YFT in the vicinity. It was a beautiful morning with calm seas, so after a comfortable run we arrived at the mark around 7am. We set the spread and started trolling.

It didn’t take long to get a strike and a few minutes later Randy was playing a small mahi mahi that had grabbed the JB Dingo running on the long rigger. It was soon in the cooler. It was big YFT that we came here for and it wasn’t long before we spotted vast schools of fish working east of our position. Within minutes the Bonze lure running on the short corner was inhaled by a fat yellowfin. Randy jumped in the fighting chair and was quickly playing the big fish. After 45mins and dripping sweat, Randy had the fish to the boat. With Tautua on the leader and Ollie on the gaff the fish was quickly on ice in the large kill bag. It was a good start to the day.

With the schools of yellows and skippies frothing the surface all around the boat, it wasn’t long before we had another strike. This time a marlin engulfed the JB Ripper running on the short shottie. It was a solid fish of around 150kg who quickly stripped 300m off the 80W standup. Once again Randy was on the rod, was quickly harnessed up and fighting the fish. It was a battle of strength and wits as Randy played the black marlin to the boat where, after taking a couple of pics, it was quickly released by Tautua.

Over the next few hours we continued to follow the schools and another two solid yellowfin were landed, this time by Olsen.

It was now 4pm, so we headed to Taftafa lagoon where we would weigh our catch, enjoy the barby, have a few beers and then spend the night on the boat.

Day two, we started early. Leaving the lagoon at first light and then steaming for a couple of hours to a seamount 15klm south east of Nu’etele Island. As we got to the mark we noticed a small school of Aku/Mac Tuna working some sardines. Around and around the school we go and not a touch. But as we trolled away from the school BANG! All hell broke loose as a whopping blue marlin smashed the Pakula Cockroach running on the long corner, ripping of the skirt. It then spotted the JB Ripper and smashed that in a big boil of foaming water. As it did a high leap, twisted turn and deep dive, the tail wrapped the 37kg mono top shot. As the line broke, the tension flung the line back into the boat. It was a sad moment as we watched the marlin dance off into the morning light with one of our favorite marlin lures flailing in the breeze. We were in the right spot, so we stuck to our plan, knowing that another marlin release would put us in a good position to win the tournament. As we made our way north east, past Aleipata and into “The Twilight Zone”

when whack, another big blue struck the jet head running on the shotgun, stripping 400m in seconds. This one seemed to be well hooked as Randy set himself for a good fight. However, after playing the fish patiently for 30mins it did a quick head shake and was gone. OH NO! Two marlin strikes, both dropped and we still needed a winning fish. That’s fishing, so we continued trolling around the eastern end of Samoa, passing schools of false killer whales, spinner dolphins, sperm whales and mating sailfish. It was fishy, but much quieter than the first day. Suddenly, I spotted a school of big yellowfin breaking the surface a half mile in front of the boat. As we approached, a small dorsal fin appeared in the spread. Tap, tap, as the billfish attempted to kill it’s pray. Then bang and with an aggressive lunge at the lure the fish was hooked and running away from the boat. After a short fight, Randy had a feisty Pacific Shortbilled Spearfish next to the boat where it was quickly released.

Hopefully, the release of this fish would give us just enough points to edge out the competition. With the other boats continuing to land plenty of yellowfin tuna it wasn’t a given.

A BIG THANK YOU goes out to SIGFA, the tournament committee and to all your helpers for putting on another fantastic Coast 2 Coast Tournament.

Well done Team Troppo. Once again it was my privilege to fish with you. Yee Ha!!


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