It wasn't until the new millennium that the Bonefish of New Caledonia were explored and shared with the world. Instrumental, was Australian fly fishing legend, Dean Butler, who discovered waters filled with oversize Bonefish in shallow water.
Working with local Phillip Loureux, and later Richard Bertin, they all strived to get the Bonefish of northern New Caledonia into the spotlight. This included training local Kanak guides and, most recently, support from the Secretariat of the Pacific Community Organisation, which has further assisted with implementing a locally sustainable fly fishing guiding business in the Poingam region.
The coastline of the Northern Province, stretching from Poum on the west coast to Boatpass at the northern most point and down to Phagaan on the east coast, is a plethora of mangrove-lined shallow bays, sand flats, coral reef and dozens of small islands scattered about. Looking at a topographical map of the region, it is hard to imagine that a lifetime fishing could uncover all its secrets.
The lagoons of New Caledonia display prime intact ecosystems, with healthy populations of large predators, and a great number and diversity of big fish. Huge Bonefish, big GT’s, Golden Trevally, Coral Trout, Red Bass, Yellowfin and Dogtooth Tuna are all there to be chased.
There are around ten different flats accessible within a short boat ride from Poum/Poingam, each with unique features. However, the real jewels are the flats of St Phalle, Isle of Balabio and Baaba. The reef of Balabio on the lee side of the island extends from the sand cay of St Phalle for over twenty-five kilometres and it is two kilometres wide at its narrowest point. Sand has built up on this reef to create a sandflat habitat that takes your breath away when you first approach it and look at the expanse of white that stretches to the horizon where it meets rich, red, bare mountains. This must be one of the most scenic bonefish locations in the world.
The St Phalle flats contrast markedly with the shallow mangrove-lined bays of Isle Baaba, with the slightly tea-stained water providing a colour reminiscent of that found in Ascension Bay, Mexico and which provides extensive feeding areas for the Bonefish found here.
Depending on the tides and weather conditions, your local Kanak guide will transport you from your accommodation to the fishing flats. While the English language is not readily spoken, Benjamin has received great guiding tuition over time and has an amazing ability to put you onto the fish. New Caledonia is not a destination for cricket score numbers of Bonefish, however what they lack in numbers they more than make up for in size.
Typical waded flats fished are between one and five feet deep, however, there are numerous drop-offs and strong currents at times so it pays to have a good selection of weighted flies in larger sizes to accommodate and get the interest of these big fish. When clouds are about and the wind picks up, the ability of your guide Ben to spot and put you onto cruising Bonefish maximises your chances at connecting with these beasts.
While they rarely get fished to, a stealthy approach and ensuring your fly is always on the bottom is paramount as the fish move on and off the flats with the tidal movement. Fishing times are determined the evening prior based on the tides and conditions, but with the wind generally picking up in the afternoon you will need to be out on the water fairly early most days to maximise your window of opportunity.
As per all Fly Odyssey bookings, we will provide a comprehensive and detailed pre-trip fly fishing guide, and advise of travel requirements prior to your departure.