Fishing Bora Bora Heiva

Fishing Bora Bora – the island enjoys good year round deep-sea fishing with blue marlin, tuna, yellow fin tuna, mahi mahi, trevally, wahoo, skipjack & jacks amongst others all readily available. It’s a magical place to fish as the off-shore views back to the islands are stunning – this is some of the world’s best ocean scenery. Add to this the expertise that is readily on-hand – fishing has been a way of life for most islanders for generations – & it all stacks up as a great day out!

A fishing competition is run each year during the Heiva. The Heiva is a festival for all the community & in keeping with this spirit of community participation an event is run in which all can participate.

Here’s the quay at Vaitape with the ‘barracks’ (restaurants hand-built from local materials for the month long festivities) in the foreground. It’s here the catch for the day will be weighed:



Whereas fishing with rod & reel favours the bigger more powerful craft, a competition has been divised that allows even those with the smallest boats to compete on level footing. It is an outing enjoyed by a great many of the island’s locals.

The basis of the competition is that all competitors head out of the lagoon following an 8am start. Once reaching the area where the sea shelf drops down away from the coral reef, the fishermen put down lines attached to buoys – there’s no limit to the number of lines so placed. It’s an interesting configuration – the lines are attached to the top of the buoy; a sardine bait is put on the hook then the bait ‘tied’ to a stone with further sardines included in the parcel. The baited lines are then sunk to varying depths but usually between 110 & 160 metres, the depth at which the Tahitians have found the style of fishing to be most effective. The stones weigh around a kilo & most boats take some 50-60 stones to sea.

A series of literally clothes pegs are used to temporarily secure the lines in their desired temporary formats. When the baited line arrives at its pre-determined depth the buoy leans at a 45% angle, the sign for the fisherman to tug on the line thereby releasing the parcel of tied bait assisted by having the boat circle the buoy to counteract the way the stone is tied – the stone sinks to the ocean floor, the sardines released with the stone work as burley & the baited hook awaits its visitors. Once a fish takes the bait the buoy turns upside down & the fishermen move in for the catch.

Anyone can win in any type of vessel as witnessed by the attached photos:





The biggest catch of this year’s competition – a 73.5kg (gutted) yellow fin tuna:



Fish of this size are too big to hang from ‘top to tail’ & so are tied length-wise before being weighed:


The fish are sold to eager spectators who line the dock at Vaitape for the weigh-in.

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