Napoleon Wrasse Mission Accomplished

by | Dec 8, 2018 | flyfishing for Napoleon wrasse | 3 comments

Anaa AtollWe awoke to a stunner of a day.  The rain has left us and other than some heavenly clouds we had blue skies.  Now we know exactly how beautiful the remote Anaa Atoll of French Polynesia is supposed to look.


fly fishing Anaa AtollI fished with Tim again and we’re rotating guides with the rest of our group.  Today we had Rafael Jr. and William to take us.  We headed to the north end of the atoll.


bonefishing Anaa AtollYesterday Tim and I racked up the species.  Most the other guys went bonefishing for at least part of their day.  There was only one caught amongst them so despite this beautiful flat we reached at the start, Tim and I stayed clear of bonefishing for a second day.  Instead we anchored the boat here and went for a hike across the land mass for the reef.


flyfishing the reefThe other reason we didn’t bonefish the beautiful flat is because as mentioned at the start of this trip, I’m after a Napoleon wrasse.  Although you may find a Napoleon on the bonefish flat, they’re more likely to be on the reef.  My pursuit works for Tim too as he’s looking for a big bohar snapper (called red bass here on Anaa Atoll) and this callous fish is also a reef dweller.


flyfishing for triggerfishWhen you’re on land the terrain here consists of beaches, shrubbery, palm tree forests, marl and sharp as heck lava rock.  Every step of the way is a grunt because you slip, the chunks roll and you can get cut easy.  Its inhospitable when you toss in how hot it is which today was 95°.  Fortunately, you don’t walk far before you hit the water and soon its back wading.


Anaa Atoll

The reef we started on dropped to more than 50 feet deep right off the edge.  It looked like there should be a monster snapper or grouper on every cast.  I was almost shaking I was so excited.  I had on a big chartreuse and white Clouser and when it landed I allowed it to sink.  Several fish ran from the wall below me to check out my fly but none ate it.


Anaa Atoll reef fishingEach time I cast a few fish came out but wouldn’t eat.  Eventually they would lose interest and I’d move 25 feet down the edge for new water.  Remarkably this went on for the first hour – lots of curious fish but no hungry fish.  But then it happened.  A decent size Napoleon wrasse thrust out from below me and took my fly.  But sadly I missed him on the strip set!


Jeff Currier Napoleon wrasseThis Napoleon wasn’t dumb and he didn’t return.  I proceeded down the reef angry with myself.  But there were more Napoleon’s here.  Within a half hour out came another.  I actually missed him on the first cast but this one gave me a second chance.  I got him!


My first Napoleon is as good looking as they come.  But he’s also a baby.  Napoleons don’t get their nickname from being small (the real name is humphead wrasse).  These fish can reach the size of a refrigerator!


Napoleon wrasseNonetheless I caught the species I came to Anaa Atoll for early in Day 2 and there was a sigh of relief.  I’ve gone far away places before and not met my goal.  This felt good.  After a heap of photos I released the strangely colored and marked fish back to exactly where he came from.


bluefin trevallyThat Napoleon was a lucky catch.  He could’ve easily broken me off on that sharp coral but I didn’t give him the chance.  Tim and I wandered the reef most of the morning but caught nothing else.  It was surprising but I’ve seen it before where reef fish just plain and simple – aren’t active and aren’t eating.  When we returned to the boat there was a bluefin trevally near and Tim nailed him to complete our morning.


fly fishing saltwaterIt was indeed a hot one.  I rarely get affected by heat but after I crushed a delicious bowl of cold pasta and white asparagus I relaxed in the shade.  That turned into a fantastic 20 minute powernap.  It may have been longer but a coconut fell and woke me up missing my skull by only inches.


Anaa AtollWe did a death march this afternoon.  And I mean a “death march”.  Tim and I are both in reasonable condition but the trip back took more than an hour.  Consider the heat, end of the day tiredness and wearing flats boots – it was a bear!  But we cast to a bunch of triggerfish.  We each hooked up to one and landed none.  They live near coral and frequently find a way to break you off.


fly fishing for triggerfishThe area was beautiful and unique with jagged lava rocks reaching out over the flats.  And there were other fish.  Tim got smoked by a strange fish he couldn’t identify and I got broke off by a blacktip shark.  The only fish I caught was a small bluefin trevally.


flyfishing TahitiThe Napoleon is now part of my species list.  I’m super duper extremely stoked!  However, I’m quick to add new goals.  Now I’m after a bigger one.  This quest starts tomorrow when Tim and I dredge the deep for who knows what.  Tomorrow should be a blog worth waiting for. . . .


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  1. Gary Boyer

    Looking forward to seeing what the depth charge produces.

  2. Lance

    Dredge..Dredge! Congrads on Nepoleon.

  3. Jeff

    You know we all love the dredge! Wonder how big the goatfish are. . . . . .

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Contact Jeff

I started fly fishing at age 7 in the lakes and ponds of New England cutting my teeth on various sunfish, bass, crappie and stocked trout. I went to Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, where I graduated with a Naturalist Degree while I discovered new fishing opportunities for pike, muskellunge, walleyes and various salmonids found in Lake Superior and its tributaries.

From there I headed west to work a few years in the Yellowstone region to simply work as much as most people fish and fish as much as most people work. I did just that, only it lasted over 20 years working at the Jack Dennis Fly Shop in Jackson, WY where I departed in 2009. Now it’s time to work for "The Man", working for myself that is.

I pursue my love to paint fish, lecture on every aspect of fly fishing you can imagine and host a few trips to some of the most exotic places you can think of. My ultimate goal is to catch as many species of fish on fly possible from freshwater to saltwater, throughout the world. I presently have taken over 440 species from over 60 countries!