Racking up the Species at Anaa Atoll

by | Dec 7, 2018 | flyfishing Anaa Atoll | 1 comment

flyfishing Anaa AtollOn our first day we awoke to a wet one here on Anaa Atoll in French Polynesia.  There were thunderstorms most of the night and heavy rain.  Though badly overcast, fortunately it wasn’t raining when we headed out to the flats fishing.

Tim Brune flyfishingMy fishing partner was my Victor, Idaho pal, Tim Brune.  Tim and I fish together at home a lot and we’ve done some insane jungle jungle trips together.  He was on my hosted Brazil trip in 2013 and we went together to Guyana for arapaima in 2014.  Today was our first time on the flats together.

Anaa Atoll French PolynesiaOur guides were head guide Rafael, and his assistant Joseph.  Each boat has an experienced guide along with another in training.  The boats are for traveling and most fishing is done on foot.  In the morning I walked with Rafael while Tim was with Joseph.

fly fishing the flatsMy eyes for locating fish have had plenty of practice this year.  Despite the bad light for spotting fish I could see them.  There were tons of tropical fish too small for my Bauer crab fly but it didn’t take long to see a catchable one hanging near a coral head.  I got in position and made my cast.

Maori Wrasse

Rafael didn’t know me at all and gave me a puzzled look as if to say, “That’s not a bonefish”.  My fly landed near the fish and immediately caught its attention.  On the first strip the fish began to follow.  Two more strips and he was on. A new species for me, the tripletail wrasse (Cheilinus trilobatus).

blue spotted grouperI’ll be honest, I wasn’t familiar with the tripletail wrasse until today and I’m stoked to add the new species to my list.  I started casting at all shadows and my next catch was the much more familiar blue spotted grouper.  We catch these in the Seychelles and tons more in the Red Sea of Sudan.  In the Indian Ocean we call them peacock grouper.

honeycomb grouperI caught a few small grouper and another that I’ve caught before.  This one is the honeycomb.  Eventually these and the bluespots became a nuisance and I started looking for more sizeable fish to cast at.

flyfishing the reefMeanwhile, the weather was deteriorating.  We could see a storm approaching fast.  We’d waded for an hour and came to the ocean reef.  The wind was howling and waves were breaking.

fly fishing French PolynesiaNext the rain started.  I made the rookie move and didn’t put my rain jacket on quick enough.  Once I did I was already soaked and in minutes I was cold.  Its amazing that you can get cold in the tropics if you get wet.

Anaa AtollRafael didn’t have a rain jacket and sucked it up too.  We looked like a couple drown rats out there.  The wind continued to howl and the waves crashed over the reef.  We found a rip leaving the flat to the ocean.

bluefin trevallyThis rip had all the look of a big fish and the hectic storm furthered the feeling a big fish was around.  I switched from my 9-weight Winton Air crab rod to my 12-weight and a black Brush Fly.   The next two casts in a row produced another old favorite, the bluefin trevally.

After the second bluefin trevally an eye catching whitetip reef shark made an appearance.  I’ve not seen one so up close and threw my Brush Fly at him hoping he’d eat it.  Unfortunately, another bluefin beat the whitetip to it.  I went tight on the bluefin and the shark went into a furry and ran down my bluefin in less than a second.  One bite and all that was left of my bluefin was a puff of blood.  When this happens, you reel it in and leave the spot otherwise you end up feeding the shark.

Picasso triggerfish

The next fish we spotted was a Titan triggerfish (moustache trigger).  I’ve posted moustache triggers on the blog over the years from the Seychelles and Sudan.  Triggers have become one of my favorites of the flats because they’re hard as heck to catch.  This one ignored my fly but as I stripped in to recast another type of triggerfish grabbed on.  This is my second Picasso trigger of the year.  They’re small but the beauty makes them plenty worthy to catch.

yellow margined snapperThe moustache triggerfish hadn’t gone far and I began the stalk.  Rafael hung back and let me do my thing.  Rafael already understands the way I like to fish.  I got several more casts without a look and yet another bycatch took the fly.  This is was my second new species of the day, the yellow margined snapper (Lutjanus fulvus).

Jeff Currier flyfishing parrotfishThe storm continued to drench us on the flat.  I could see Tim and Joseph making their way back to the boat for lunch.  Rafael and I followed suit and headed that way too.  But I was distracted just before getting there by a tailing parrotfish.  Parrots rarely take flies but my rule is never walk by any tailing fish without a cast NO MATTER WHAT.  The cast paid off and I landed my third new species of the day.  This is the Pacific longnose parrotfish (Hipposcarus longiceps).

orange lined triggerfishAfter lunch Tim went with Rafael and I went with Joseph.  We had a storm break and there was enough sun you could see plenty of mulling triggerfish.  I went full bore for them with my crab on the 9-weight.  They were ridiculously spooky and I couldn’t get a one of the large moustache triggers to eat.  But I landed another type instead.  This is the gorgeous orange-lined triggerfish (Balistapus undulates) – another new one for the day!

flyfishing the flats of PolynesiaThe pretty little triggerfish would rap things up for us on the flats today.  Shortly after I released the last guy the storms came back and hit us hard again.  Tim had a nice shot at a GT and got to chase him around some but to no avail.  We reeled it in at 4 and headed back to the lodge.

French PolynesiaRegardless of the weather challenges today, I have no complaints.  I put four new species of fish on my list and I was really only expecting a couple this week.  And one of those I’m hoping for is still out there – the Napoleon wrasse.  The weather seems to have broken at sunset – perhaps tomorrow.

Thanks to expedited shipping there’s still time to get that Christmas gift for the angler that has everything!  If you haven’t already, be sure to visit my online store!

Be sure to keep track of my upcoming 2019 speaking schedule and catch me along the way.

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1 Comment

  1. Howie

    Dude, that place looks awesome! Congrats on 4 new species… that is so sick!!! I love the colors and could not tell you what fish I liked best. Fly rod in Wisconsin is put away until January but I am loving the ice fishing!

Welcome to the Blog of Jeff Currier!

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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!