Norfolk Island - Getting it Right

January 20, 2020 2 Comments

Norfolk Island - Getting it Right

Over to Norfolk Island before Christmas. Very taken with the place! Always on a budget, so $720 return for flights and $140 a day accommodation for two – including rental car – makes the trip very economical. It costs me more to tow the boat up to Hervey Bay.

Norfolk is a beautiful place with very good fishing. But there are a few traps for new players. I get so many inquiries about the place after posting pics and videos! So in this little report I’ll be covering both the good and the bad – without fear, or favour.
It’s big fish country – with qualifications. First drawback being it’s an island, way out in the South Pacific. The trade winds can blow at 20-25 knots, for weeks on end. Meaning that it’s a lucky dip as to when you arrive whether you will be able to get offshore at all. Things made even more complicated by the fact that Norfolk has no boat ramp, or marina. Boat launching is by crane, only:

Several charter fishing operators offer services on the island. And they are very well priced and professional. The downside is that your catch will be sold to Island restaurants, and that is usually the prime mission of the charter:

Red throat emperor (trumpeter) is the prime target for sale and unless you make a special arrangement, they'll be the main species you’ll fish for:

Two options if you want to target bigger fish. Firstly, go with some mates and book out a charter boat, with the understanding that you will be targeting big kings or game fish. If the weather plays ball, and the time of year is right, you'll experience fishing as good as anywhere in the world:

'But what if the weather is dirty, Andy?' I hear you say. In that case you still have some good options for shore based fishing. Being an island there is always somewhere out of the wind, no matter how hard it blows. And with a few basic precautions you can get into champagne rock fishing. Here’s Jay Barker, back in late 2018. From a rolling school of big trevally, at the unfortunately named Headstone Point:

And here’s yours truly six weeks ago, spinning up kingfish at the beautiful Crystal Pools:

The scenery is amazing:

But if anything happens when you’re rock fishing at Norfolk Island, help can be a long way away. Here’s some safety recommendations.
Study the map supplied free at the airport;
Note the obvious fishing spots – Headstone, Crystal Pools, Cascade Wharf
Search ‘rock fishing Norfolk Island’ on Youtube, for species and tactics;
Put safety first!
Wear a life jacket;
Wear rock fishing boots – not plates;
Take an extendable gaff – or a gaff head you can attach to a bamboo pole, on the island;
Never fish alone;
There are plenty of warnings. Don’t ignore them:

One thing to mention. Like a lot of healthy habitat, Norfolk swarms with sharks. Mostly fast and aggressive Galapagos whalers. Lord Howe has the same problem. There is no easy answers! But if you’re like me, and don’t care what you’re hooked up to – as long as you’re hooked up – there’s one obvious option which personally I can’t recommend too highly. Check this out. Josh from blacktipH popping whaler sharks off the beach, in Florida:

This video hit me like the hammer of Thor. Instead of treating sharks as pests, why not treat them as sport fish? After all, there are very few fish that go as hard as a whaler shark in shallow water. And if they hit poppers, that’s going to double the excitement. Before leaving Sydney I grabbed some of our heavy poppers: 

And painted them black. Have found over the years that black poppers increase the hook up rate on everything from bass to GTs. I’m guessing that, when the fish are wanting to strike something passing overhead, with maximum light as a backdrop, you can’t have too much contrast. Black is the answer:

Down to Cascade Wharf with our heavy popping combo:


And our heavy black poppers:


Here’s the first session. Note that the battle attracted quite a crowd? With the usual mixed advice – ‘tighten the drag!’ … ‘back off the drag!’ Which I didn’t mind at all:

And here’s round 2. I defy any GT to make a splash as big as the one in the video:


I tried casting to a small, manageable shark. But there were so many around! A bigger model smashed the popper and hit the afterburners. Ended up getting spooled and pinged – on max drag. Heaps of fun. No probs! I’d taken a backup 1000m spool of 50-pound colour change braid – just in case this happened:


So much fun. We had some good weather later in the week, and I got out on a charter too. Had a lot of fun popping kingfish with the same gear – but didn’t find any big ones:

If you’re thinking about Norfolk Island as a destination, call or send an email if you want to know more? The place has some fantastic fishing, but you need to plan well and make the right calls to get the best out of it. Thanks for reading,

Andrew Hestelow
Managing Director
Tel. 0402075000

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November 15, 2020



November 15, 2020


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