Fly Odyssey has been sending clients and hosting group trips to New Caledonia, which is on our doorstep, for many years now and we still regard it as one of the consistently memorable fly-fishing adventures in the Pacific.
Located in the heart of the South Pacific, New Caledonia, a French territory is also home to the world’s largest lagoon and is surrounded by a stunning coral reef that spans 1600 kilometres in length – the second largest after Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. These geographic features have resulted in sandflat habitats and healthy marine ecosystem where XL Bonefish and Trevally flourish, ensuring plenty of great fly fishing opportunities.
Travelling north from Noumea past stunning mountain ranges, rainforests, waterfalls, rivers, beaches and remote communities, New Caledonia is also a great destination for couples, families and small groups on self-drive itineraries with a range of sights and activities available including some of the most pristine coral reef dive and snorkelling sites found worldwide.
With bonefish averaging 8lb’s and fish landed to 13lb’s on foot, the fishery is not one where you will necessarily land big numbers of fish each day, however it is a destination for intermediate to advanced fly fishermen looking to land that trophy of a lifetime.
As family customs continue to be practised by many of the indigenous Kanak communities in the north, permission is necessary in order to enter and fish in this beautiful part of the world.
The journey to the Fly Fishing flats in the north of New Caledonia can be done in a day or over several days exploring both the west and east coasts with a number of good accommodation options that we can offer.
When in the far north, we choose to stay at the ‘Resort of Poingam’ which is a locally owned and operated bungalow setting with charming hosts, offering a relaxing French/South Seas style right on the beach.
Located four hundred and fifty kilometers from Noumea, Poingam is a little paradise located near Boat Pass and the beautiful beaches of Nennon, offering seven rustic thatched bungalows with quaint attached bathrooms.
The beautiful garden surroundings and the feeling that you are literally at the end of the earth make this a fantastic getaway from the fast-paced world that many of us are accustomed to.
With a small saltwater pool and eighty hectares of national parks and nature trails, there are plenty of options for non-anglers. Spotting wild horses and electric blue butterflies, the flora and fauna is impressive.
The food and hospitality at the Relais de Poingam is excellent. The dining, each day, is at a large communal table where you will share your evening meal and wine over three courses with travelers from all over the world. Including local seafood and a mixture of traditional and French influences, guests will typically enjoy fresh lobster and roasted suckling pig throughout their stay, while dessert may include cognac laced banana and papaya crème brûlée, washed down with French wines.
The setting makes for a great evening where you can discuss and plan fly fishing the flats the following day. WIFI is available but limited to the reception area.
Fly Odyssey also has a number of other accommodation options in the region including resort and private home stay options within close proximity to the fishing grounds in the north.
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 Boat pass 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.
The north of New Caledonia can be very windy at times due to its geographical position and confluence of weather patterns meeting from the east and west sides of the country. This can at times limit the flats that are accessible by boat, so a full week in the region for Fly Fishing is always recommended.
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 and eight weight outfits with plenty of backing are recommended.
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 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.
Travel to Noumea is convenient with direct flights to the Capital available throughout the week from Melbourne and Sydney or via Auckland, Tokyo, Nadi or Papeete in French Polynesia.
Passport with minimum six months validity. Nationals of the European Union, Australia, Canada and the USA DO NOT require a visa to enter New Caledonia.
From Noumea, the transfer to Poum is six and a half hours’ drive, direct.
Let us do the groundwork for you.
Our tailored fly fishing and accommodation itineraries are designed with you in mind to suit your preferences. They are also quoted in your local currency with very favourable exchange rates.
Fly Odyssey have access to the best guiding and lodging rates, suitable tides and updated availability to this destination which can vary throughout the season.
This includes flight bookings, transit accommodation, transfers and a host of non-angling activities and experiences.
We specialise in group, family and couples says to New Caledonia, and our long involvement with our partners on the ground in Noumea will ensure you are well looked after both on and off the water. This includes holidays and resort stays in transit through the Pacific, New Zealand, Cook Islands, Fiji and Tahiti.
Please enquire for the latest rates and availability, including information on any applicable special offers.
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Creating and sharing memorable travel experiences with our clients and friends provides us with genuine satisfaction. All of our trips are bespoke, tailored to your needs and we always love hearing all about the adventure on your return.
Our knowledge of travel logistics saves you time, and our highly experienced team is here to ensure its spent on the water and not at the desk or on a long flight connection that you didn’t require. Since 2006 we have developed a valued client-base that has travelled to all corners of the globe.
We are a fully-accredited travel agency, where all of our flights, accommodation and associated travel bookings are done in-house, which means that you pay less. We have access to a huge range of specials, deals, great volume pricing and excellent currency exchange rates which allows us to pass these benefits directly onto you.
On the fishing front, our extensive expertise and experience around prime seasons, species, moon-phases, tides and personalised customer service is centred around one principal – preparation. This includes detailed gear and equipment lists, the fly patterns, transfer details, up-to date fishing reports and some of the finer aspects that can often be overlooked.
We travel extensively and understand that your free-time is important. Just as we all understand from experience, that the key to a successful trip is pre-trip preparation.
Our highly experienced team has fly fished the world for the last 25 years, and we understand the considerations and gear needed to turn a good fly fishing trip into a great one.
Fly fishing and travel is our passion. It’s all we do.
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