When the trout season finishes here in New Zealand’s South Island and we close our lodge for the winter, one of my favourite places to go for a holiday and a spot of fishing is Aitutaki in the Cook Islands – in fact I just got back from another great trip there. Aitutaki is a classically beautiful South Pacific atoll some 45 minutes (by twin turbo prop) from the main island of Rarotonga. Getting there is easy from both New Zealand and Australia, with Air New Zealand running daily flights to Rarotonga.
The sun, scenery and winter warmth at Aitutaki are great, but I admit that a big part of the attraction is the flyfishing! The lagoon offers fishing for bonefish and giant trevally. Aitutaki may not have Christmas Island-like catch rates of 30 or 40 bonefish a day, but there is a strong likelihood of catching 3 or 4 very good-sized bonefish a day – and maybe, just maybe, landing the bonefish of a lifetime.
The guide I recommend is Itu Davey (or one of his brothers). Itu comes from a family of bonefish netters. A few years ago they decided to give up on netting bonefish and focus on guided fishing. It’s a wonderful story of a family that moved from subsistence fishing to creating a truly sustainable guided fishing operation. Itu now employs his two brothers and two cousins in his business. They operate well maintained boats, equipped with new outboard motors and safety equipment.
Gear-wise, for Aitutaki bonefish you’ll need an 8 or 9 weight rod, coupled with a saltwater reel with a really good drag system, 250 metres of backing and a warm water slow sinking line. For the giant trevally, you’ll need to bump the gear up a few sizes! Overall this a great destination for some serious saltwater flyfishing in a first-class location.