What to Look for When Choosing a Tonga Fishing Charter
Just itching to reel in the big ones? Tonga’s waters will certainly scratch that itch with oceans harbouring some of the South Pacific’s most-targeted game fish, from huge blue marlin to giant trevally. But before you dive onto any old fishing charter, here’s some advice for choosing the best fishing tour in Tonga.
What Fish Can You Catch in Tonga and When?
These are the popular sports fishing species that can be caught in Tonga. Although they can be caught year-round, we have listed the peak months for targeting them.
- Blue Marlin – June to December
- Black Marlin – June to September
- Pacific Sailfish – June to March
- Wahoo – August to November
- Mahimahi – June to February
- Yellowfin Tuna – August to February
- Skipjack Tuna – May to January
- Dogtooth Tuna – July to January
- Barracuda – June to September
- Giant Trevally – July to March
- Spanish Mackeral – July to October
- Kawakawa – July to March
- Coral Trout – July to October and January to April
For more information on when to fish in Tonga, take a look at The Best Time for Fishing in Tonga.
Picking a Location
The first thing you might think of when choosing a fishing tour in Tonga is: where are the best places to fish in Tonga? Well, the thing about Tonga is that there isn’t a lack of fishing destinations. Every island group has access to fishing, including big game fishing. However, Vava’u and Tongatapu certainly provide more options for fishing charters than any other island group.
Fishing in Tongatapu
Tongatapu is the main island of Tonga and the island that most travellers arrive. This makes it the most affordable island to base yourself for doing fishing charters. However, there is limited choice in charters compared to Vava’u. Tongatapu fishing charters, however, do offer variety, including trolling, reef fishing and spearfishing. Check out some of the fishing tours in The Best Fishing Charters on Tongatapu.
Fishing in Vava’u
Vava’u is Tonga’s most popular fishing destination, particularly for its Marlin fishing. There is a wide range of fishing charters available in these group of islands, which tend to cater to the avid sports fisherman. Trolling, jigging and casting are available, as well as spearfishing. Check out some of the offerings in the 10 Best Fishing Charters in Vava’u.
Fishing in ‘Eua
‘Eua is just a short flight from Tongatapu and offers limited choices of operators, but it’s where you’ll find multi-day fishing holidays with Blue Water Explorer. There are options for both multi-day spearfishing packages, as well as multi-day sports fishing packages. Other fishing trips are typically with local fishermen with tourist accommodation, such as Kiko’s Whale Tours, for a more authentic Tongan fishing experience.
Fishing in Ha’apai
Ha’apai offers a small selection of fishing experience, from half-day charters departing from the Matafonua Lodge to fishing trips with local fishermen who also have tourist accommodation, such as Captain Cook’s Hideaway.
Length of Trip and Time Spent Fishing
Choosing the right length of a trip is ideal for your enjoyment. While a full-day fishing trip might take a toll on families, a half-day trip will only feel like you’re scratching the surface for the avid angler.
In Tonga, there are typically three options when it comes to the length of fishing charters:
- Half-day: 4 hours
- Full-day: 8-10 hours
- Multi-day: 7-10 days
Be sure to choose the right tour length for optimum enjoyment.
The Commute on the Water
Depending on what type of fishing you are doing, the commute in the water can take a significant amount of time that you’d probably prefer to be spending fishing. For trolling, skippers and deckhands get rods at the ready as soon as they leave the harbour and it is safe to do so, so you’ll be trolling for fish very early into the tour. For other types of fishing, like handline fishing, spearfishing, popping and jigging, for example, you’ll need to take time to get to the fish first before you are able to, well, fish. Be sure to inquire on time spent fishing when contacting fishing charters.
Size of the Boat and Equipment
Fishing charters, especially in the fishing competition mecca of Vava’u, would be seen dead with bad fishing rods and reels. In fact, most fishing charters across The Kingdom will be proud to list the equipment that they have, should you be interested. However, if you have your own equipment, some charters in Vava’u offer “bareboat” rates, which can save you a ton.
Nevertheless, it doesn’t hurt to ask or research what fishing equipment is used, as well as technology like fish finders and GPS, so you know you stand the best chances of making the catch.
As for fishing boats, Tonga is a nation of small fishing vessels, where something to fit up to four anglers comfortably is the norm. However, there are the odd operators that have boats for up to 10, while others only fit up to two anglers, so it’s always a good idea to mention how many people will be fishing in your group.
Is there a certain type of fishing that gets you going? While most fishing charters will do trolling for standard fishing tours, almost all charters also have the equipment for casting, jigging and popping, so be sure to let them know if there is a certain method you prefer.
Spearfishing in Tonga
Spearfishing is fast becoming a popular sport in Tonga, with a couple of fantastic operators who can provide spearfishing trips and holiday packages. Tonga’s spearfishing tours usually include all of the gear, taking you to FADs and local hotspots around the islands. Check out The Complete Guide to Spearfishing in Tonga for more information on the subject.
Prices and Inclusions
To make sure you’re getting good value or if you’re on a budget, pricing is extremely important. Fishing charters are among some of the most expensive activities in Tonga. Here is the typical price range for fishing tours in Tonga:
- Half-day private charter: TOP$600-$1,500
- Full-day private charter: TOP$420-$2,800
Note that the fewer people you have on a private fishing charter, the more the charter costs per person.
What Do Fishing Charters Include?
While all fishing charters will provide the safety equipment, fishing gear (unless it’s a bareboat charter), bait and a skipper/guide, charters vary in the other inclusions offered. To see if you are getting good value, check if you’re charter also includes snacks and water, as you’re out on the water for a long time. If you’re on a full-day tour, your tour should also include lunch, drinks and snacks.