Fly Fishing the Cook Islands (Part 1)




Cujo

FFI CCI
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#1
We had been planning this saltwater fly fishing trip for almost a year. The idea of traveling down to the Cook Islands sounded like a great idea and we were able to get six guys together for the trip. Most of guys have been fly fishing for decades and are a lot of fun so I knew that the trip was going to be a good one.

I decided to bring an 8, 9, 10, and 12 weight rod for the species that we were targeting. I also brought 8 fly reels (Mako, Hatch, Abel, and Galvan) with bulletproof drags, two spools, and eight extra fly lines. For leader material, I brought fluorocarbon ranging from 12 to 100 pounds. I wanted to make sure that I had everything with me just in case because the nearest fly shop was literally a couple thousand miles away (New Zealand or Hawaii?)!

Lately, I’m usually the one that procrastinates before a trip but I knew that I had to kick it in gear and tie flies for the bonefish and Giant Trevally that we would be targeting. Along with the larger 3/0 - 7/0 baitfish patterns, I ended up tying almost 100 bonefish flies the week prior to leaving in sizes 4-6 on Daiichi 2546’s:

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There is only one flight per week that departs from the US and it flies out of LAX. The Air New Zealand flight from LAX to Rarotonga is almost 10 hours. From there, we board a turboprop that will fly us another 165 miles to the north of Rarotonga to the volcanic/coral atoll that we’ll be fishing for the week.

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When we landed in Rarotonga, it was rainy and really windy! I don’t mind the rain at all but casting large flies in the wind can be difficult for sure. I was just thinking to myself, “of all weeks to come down here!.........”

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Fortunately for us, according to the locals, the weather pattern can be completely different to the north. Although our flight to the island was turbulent, the weather seemed to be breaking which was good news. Here is a pic from our flight in:

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I have always heard that this is one of the most beautiful places in the world. It was absolutely beautiful there. From what I understand, it’s often described as, “the most beautiful lagoon in the world.”

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Cujo

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#2
Anyhow, this is where we ate breakfast every morning. The flats in the photo would be completely submerged by the tide when we came back in the afternoon:

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The water was crystal clear!

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This is one of the flats where we were searching for bonefish:

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Their nickname is, “the Gray Ghosts of the Flats.” You can see how they almost perfectly blend into their surroundings. They are really tough to see, especially if there is any chop on the water:

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The Cook Islands are home to some of the biggest bonefish in the world. These would be considered a good size but I did manage to land one that was 12 pounds. It’s amazing how hard they pull for their size. Once hooked, they take off like a missile!

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Cujo

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#3
Here’s a few more scenery shots along with a blue, yellow, and giant trevally:

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This was the biggest fish caught on the trip. This Giant Trevally was caught on a 12 weight Sage Salt fly rod with an Abel SDS 11/12 fly reel. I had the drag cranked down all the way and was using a straight 100 lb fluorocarbon leader.

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A good time was had by all. On the flight over, there were many people that were traveling on their honeymoon and others that were there for the snorkeling/diving. Of all the places that I’ve fished, this was the most beautiful and unspoiled locale by far. It truly is a wonderful tropical setting with very laid back and friendly locals. The fishing was definitely challenging but the quality of fish was definitely there! On the flight home, I always say to myself, “I can’t wait to come back!” Sure enough, the next time I’ll be going back for two weeks. . . One week wasn’t enough!
 
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Gullwing

1911 pistolsmith
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#4
Did you attach the photos?
If you just insert photos via url you can get 20 pictures per post.

Nice trip, pretty fishes.
 

Cujo

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#7
Watch the flight specials and you can snag some good deals. Had a great time there spear fishing.
Yes, definitely. We waited for the Air New Zealand Cyber Monday sale for tickets for 2019. I think the round trip ticket from LAX to Rarotonga was $549. The round trip flight on Air Rarotonga from Rarotonga to Aitutaki is roughly $400-500 IIRC.