The crews arrived at the wharf not too long after 5am – just in time to see the small Stabicraft boats being lowered into Niue’s clear waters by crane. At 5:30am, the annual fishing competition began, and with only five hours to fish on day one, the four local captains wasted no time shooting off to the nearest Fish Aggregating Device (FAD).

Every year, Rheem and Plumbing World team up to offer a few plumbers the chance to compete in a fishing tournament in Niue, and 2023 was no different. Last month, hosted by Chris Cross from Plumbing World and Rheem’s own Helen O’Leary, five lucky plumbers spent a week enjoying one of the Pacific’s most untouched paradises, and catching no shortage of fish across the four-day competition.

According to Helen, the first morning was eventful. Wahoo, yellowfin and skipjack tuna were all caught, but no fish was better than a very solid 19kg wahoo landed by Graham, one of the fortunate plumbers chosen to compete in the 2023 comp. Helen’s own boat, however, was a little less lucky.

“We had so many bites, but most of them got eaten by sharks. One of us pulled in a head and I pulled in half a yellowfin. And we even got a shark right up to the boat, and just as we were about to cut it free, it broke so we lost a few lures.”

With the boats picked up again by crane at 10:30am, the crews shared the stories of their fish on their way back to Scenic Matavai Resort. Graham’s fish was the clear winner of the day, which was confirmed at that evening’s prizegiving.

“We ate at a different restaurant each night and Shontell from Niue tourism came through to do the prizegiving and hand out the prizes each night,” Helen explained.

Day two started just as early, with the crews arriving at the wharf just after 5am. Unfortunately, they also arrived to news of the Tongan earthquake, and with the uncertainty around the impact it would have on the conditions, the skippers decided to postpone the competition until the following day.

Thankfully, this trip was not just about the fishing, and the crews spent the rest of the day – as well as every other afternoon – enjoying the island’s other sights and sounds, and there are few better places in the Pacific to explore. Despite its growing reputation, Niue remains an almost untouched Pacific haven. The coral atoll is filled with pristine white sand beaches, endless hidden coves and rugged limestone cliffs (these are why the boats have to be craned into the water!).

“We spent lots of time walking through what they call chasms – there are lots of pathways to little bays,” Helen explained. “There’s no rivers or creeks on Niue. It’s all just rock and all the freshwater goes down through the rock and comes out in springs, sort of like bays, and you can snorkel there. The water is incredibly warm and the snorkelling was amazing!

“We also went out with Niue Blue, who run a swimming with the dolphins and whale watching cruise, but unfortunately we didn’t see them that day – but we did see them the other days while fishing. There are spinner dolphins that jump out of the water and spin around – they can spin about seven times. We even saw dolphins from the deck of the Scenic Matavai Resort, which looks right out over the water.”

Despite the almost endless beauty around the island, there was one clear standout. According to Helen, the Limu pools were everyone’s favourite place to explore. The pools are protected by limestone rock formations, which create a sheltered place to swim and snorkel, and to access them you need to climb over a hill and down a ladder, making them a crowd favourite.

The final three days fishing were just as fun, with plenty more pelagics coming on board all of the team’s boats. The trip ended with the grand prizegiving, and it turned out that

Graham’s day one wahoo couldn’t be matched. The youngest of the crew, Jarrod, took out heaviest total weight with a total of 50.1kg – not a bad effort for the week! But it wasn’t just the plumbers receiving prizes – the local fishermen were also competing in their own competition, and they didn’t need the fancy gear to catch winning fish.

“The local fishermen go out on the canoes and they often catch bigger fish than we do, and they pull them in on handlines!” Helen explained. “We went to Marine Deals and bought a whole bunch of lures and handlines for prizes for the local competition… and they also have other prizes which Niue tourism organise.”

For everyone who attended, it was a trip to remember. In fact, it was enjoyed so much by one of the plumbers that he’s already booked to go back with his wife later this year!