I first heard about Ascension Island back in 2002/03 when the first big game boats where allowed to fish the untouched waters. I remember seeing photographs of monster Blue Marlin, Six Gill Sharks and Yellow Fin Tuna. I was determined to go there one day but back then I could not afford a fishing holiday on that scale.
Twelve years later, on my old charter boat Brigand, I had Phil Willams onboard, to do an article on fishing the river Mersey and Liverpool bay. We were just chatting about fishing around the world and I mentioned I would like to catch a big Six Gill Shark. He said I know just the place to go to guarantee a Six Gill Shark and I am going in October to Ascension Island. So I hedged my bets and asked if I could come on the trip with him, and his two friends Dave and Greame. Bearing in mind I had never met any of them before, but being a cheeky scouse lad if you don’t ask you don’t get. Phil said yes no problem, I will send you all the information on booking your flight and hotel.
Now all the fun begins, you can only fly to Ascension Island from Brize Norton RAF base. After lots of emails and paper work my flight and hotel was booked but not guaranteed until 30 days before the flight. Just incase the military need the flight for an emergency. So bare this in mind before booking a fishing holiday to Ascension Island, you have to get a full security check and visitor permit. All this can take a few months to arrange, my advice is to book about one year before you want to go.
Ascension Island is just a rocky island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, with two Air Force bases on. One is the RAF and the other is a US Air Force base, there are a few nice beaches and the people are very friendly. There is only one hotel on the island and it’s very basic, the hotel also does car hire this is essential if you want to go shore fishing. The only down side on the island is the mosquitos are very bad, the worst I have ever know and I have been lucky enough to fish all over the world. Also getting meals on the island can be a pain because the best fishing times are mornings and evenings. Breakfast is served 7.30am to 10am and evening meals are served 7pm to 8pm. Most of the time we would just buy food from the supermarket and eat that, but it’s very limited what you can buy.
Now for the fishing, both the shore and boat fishing is the best I have seen anywhere in the world it’s like fishing in a well stocked sea life centre. It’s probably the last place on the planet untouched by commercial fishing but that’s all about to change, because the so called conservation group on the island have opened up parts of the surrounding ocean to long liners, just pure greed and so sad because at the end of the day you cannot eat money.
These ships are on a very big scale, 100+ meter long Spanish and Japanese boats. My advice would be go there sooner rather than later, before it is just like most foreign fishing holiday destinations.
Boat fishing, I don’t even know where to start ha ha. From the boat we caught lots of Tuna to 310lb, Six Gill Sharks to 800lb, Galapagos Whaler Sharks to 500lb, Oil Fish to 100lb, Wahoo to 90lb, Amber Jack to 40lb, Dorado to 30lb and Black Jacks to 25lb.
There are three options to choose from.
Option 1: Hire a big game boat for up to five people for £1000 a day to chase monster Marlin, Yellow Fin Tuna, Wahoo and Sharks.
Option 2: Hire a 21ft boat with skipper for the day, ideal for two anglers for about £600 a day. To chase big Yellow Fin Tuna using big poppers or chunking for them. You can also jig with speed jigs for big Amber Jack and Black Jacks. If you prefer trolling you can fish for big Wahoo and Yellow Fin Tuna.
Option 3: Hire a local with is own 21ft boat, ideal for two anglers for £100 for four hours. But he can only fish 5pm to 9pm because he works during the day, this can be the best time to fish. This one is ideal for trolling in the twilight hours then anchoring up and chunking for Tuna, Oil fish and Big Sharks. Be warned on this boat you get very wet and knocked about.
The shore fishing is unreal, but it took a lot of time and leg work finding the best places to fish and only by chance we followed an English guy to a secret spot. He was gutted when we turned up, as we got talking to him he relaxed and started to give us some tips and about what he had been catching. Just the kit he had with him could tell you he was after monster fish from the shore, he was the first person to catch and land a 200lb Tuna from the shore!! The day before he had landed a Tuna of 160lb and 70lb in the same day along with Amber Jack to 45lb and Black Jacks to 25lb on big Poppers 5oz to 6oz!!
From the shore we caught, Yellow Fin Tuna to 45lb, Amber Jack to 30lb, Black Jacks to 25lb and Grouper to 10lb. We lost lots of big Amber Jack as they dived under the rock ledges we where fishing from. The best tip for shore fishing is if the birds are feeding on the beaches go there, because the big shoals of Tuna and Jacks push the bait fish up the beach and that’s a sight in itself, let alone fishing in it! Now don’t ask me to tell you the exact places we where fishing, you will have to find out that for yourself just like we did.
A word of warning when shore fishing from the rocks be very careful as the rocks are razor sharp and we got cut a few times. It can be very difficult to try and land big fish from the rocks so never fish alone or take a big risk for a fish. I would only recommend going to Ascension Island if you are fit and able because the fish fight so hard. For example I hooked and landed a 200lb tuna on a 50lb class popping rod and reel. With only a butt pad to help me, it took me 2 hours and 45 minutes to land!!! My arms got pulled out the sockets, the next day I went fishing and hooked a 50lb Wahoo and I could hardly reel it in because my arms where still killing from the day before.
Now if you fancy a go at the sharks it’s not for the faint hearted, one day we where feeding 5 sharks at the back of the boat ranging from 250lb to 500lb+. The mistake I made was not taking a full harness, at one point I was hooked into a very big Shark with only a butt pad on. I was using a 50lb class power stick Tuna rod and reel to match loaded with 80lb braid. After over an hour I was not making any head way, so I put the drag on max and used my whole body weight to try and turn its head. This resulted in me using up all my energy and after another 20 minutes the braid snapped. I have landed Sharks to 1700lb in the past but always used a fighting chair, that helps a lot.
Tackle to take with you: Shore fishing, you want a very strong popping rod about 11ft that can cast 6oz poppers over 80 yards. A beach caster with the butt cut down would be ideal for this. Reel you want a fixed spool reel, with a very strong drag and can hold at least 500 yards of 80lb braid. Lures, Poppers in different colours 5oz and 6oz with very strong split rings and hooks to match. Also small pirks around 6oz and retrieve them fast.
Boat fishing: you want a good 80lb class boat rod, boat reel to match loaded with 80lb braid or mono. 50lb class boat rod with reel to match. If you are interested in a trip to Ascension Island, I will be there for 4 weeks in March 2018 working on the big game boat. If you would like any information on a holiday while I am there, just give me a call on 07999628511.
Skipper of Size Matters