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The Catfish of Guam

When big catfish are involved, every rumour has to be checked out, no matter how unusual they sound.

Guam is the biggest island in the Mariana group and is positioned right on the edge of the deepest trench in the world, the Mariana Trench which drops away to 35,797 feet deep.
This doesn’t really sound like the typical location for monster catfish but with photos surfacing from the local fish market showing 50 pound fish, this would definitely require some research.

Plans were hatched, and Karen, Nathan and I flew across the Pacific Ocean to Guam. Here, we were to collected by Steve and Karen, my close family who moved to the island over 10 years ago. Since their move, we haven’t had a lot of time to hang out, so having a couple of weeks to chill out and explore the island together was a treat.

After arrival, conversations soon turned into fishing, and after learning a little about the island I realised that fishing the rivers wasn’t going to be the easiest. Most rivers are located in “No Go Zones”, meaning that the areas are either owned by the US Government or only accessible by some serious 4x4s.

This is where Steve’s 10 years of local knowledge came into play. With fishing and hunting well embedded into his blood, Steve had managed over the years to gain access to much of the island that wasn’t very accessible.
During our stay, I tried to get access to as much of the island as I could. This didn’t allow for a lot of revisiting of the different areas but I knew our trip to Guam was going to be a reconnaissance trip, right from the get go.
Apart from the hard accessible areas, another thing that wasn’t in our favour was the weather. The day we landed, the wind decided to blow 30knots and it didn’t stop blowing till the day we stepped back on the plane.

Our first adventure was in a little village called Telefofo. Here we meet up with a couple of local Chamorro boys, Mike and Jess who had built a 4x4 from a Toyota Hilux body and attached tractor tyres. It wasn’t the most comfortable ride on the open road but once we hit the rough dirt roads, it became just a pleasure.

The boys took us right up into the back of the island, and along the way they showed us the ancient Chamorro villages that date back over 4000 years; a Japanese war plane that got shot down during the second world war in the 1940’s; we managed to miss a couple of deer before finally ending up with a beautiful wild pig with the coolest facial features.
From here we started the run down to the Catfish Rivers. The rivers were well overgrown with jungle and didn’t look at all possible to get to, but we had to try as we had already spotted and spooked some catfish when we turned up at one of their holes.
But as fishing goes, that day wasn’t our day and with light fading, it was time to start heading back as we still had an hour of running along roads with ruts over a meter deep.

During our stay we managed to fish a lot of freshwater but with no overwhelming success.
I haven’t given up on the Catfish of Guam but they would have to wait for the next trip as we just ran out of time as the island may be small but it has a lot to offer the outdoorsmen.

Next on the list was to get out on the saltwater. This was going to be interesting as the wind blew constantly 30knots with a good 4-6m swell every day.
Steve introduced me to Dennis, one of the local sport fishermen who had spent years learning the waters off Guam. Most people on Guam don’t sport fish as it’s all about food for the table and with no limits and the ability to sell your catch at the local fish market, everything is kept to feed the families and friends on the island.

Every time we headed out on the water Dennis declared it was a flat day, as the wind had receded by 5knots and was now only blowing 25knots with a solid 4m swell. I’m not the best in rough water so I was in for a shock as the seas were huge and it was more like a washing machine than an ocean.
Some good NZ drugs and good concentration made me able to keep it together and fish these most interesting of waters: We fished the Western flat side of the island and the Eastern side which is regarded to be some of the best fishing you can find anywhere in the world, -if the weather conditions allow you out on that side of the island…
We still managed to catch good numbers of fish on the west side though. At the points with the roughest waters, there were heaps of mahimahi, small dogtooth tuna and wahoo smashing the lures. We may not have caught a lot of monster fish but I will have to return to this spot as when it’s flat, this place apparently just goes off.

When the weather was way to windy to get out on the water, Karen and I kayaked most of the freshwater rivers; Nathan and I did a lot of walking into private land to check out the landbase ledges on the East side of the island. We caught a lot of very cool reptiles such as monitor lizards and the local brown tree snake. The place had some amazing bugs and everything was big.

I would like to thank Steve and Karen for making our stay on Guam one of the most memorable holidays. We might not have caught the monster fish but the hospitality and location made up for that tenfold, and I can only imagine the return visit will produce the monsters we were after.
Goes to show that the world still has lots of places to be explored.

Milan Radonich.

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Comments   

#2 Tranner Dee 2015-03-31 21:38
Milan i watched Nathan segment on riging up to catch a snapper seems like the slower the bait drops better chance the snapper sees the bait as it wavers down.You learn a lot of idea on BigAngryFish.
#1 Tranner Dee 2015-03-31 21:27
The main thing milin you enjoyed the stay on guam ,i have heard stories of large fish been caught there and UFOs have been sighted there .Tarpon i would love to catch, maybe one day i would have a turn catching a Tarpon.

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