Fishing

Being an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, there’s a lot of good fishing to be had around Nias. If in doubt visit the local market and you will see scores of big game fish lined up every day. A short boat ride from the coast the sea reaches depths of hundreds of meters and the fishing here is world class. Locals using handlines regularly reel in pelagic game fish such as Marlin, Spanish mackerel, Tuna, Mahi-Mahi (Dolphin fish), Wahoo, Giant Trevally and Sailfish.  Surf charter boats visiting North Nias also report similarly impressive results.

Sport fishing here is done from local fishing boats, which are available for hire in every port and fishing village along the coast. Sizes vary, from small Perahu boats that takes only 2-3 people, to larger boats which can take up to 8-12 passengers. Prices vary according to size and comfort. Be prepared to bargain, but be polite and respectful about it. Remember that most fishermen are struggling to feed their families.

A lot of fishing is also done from the shore, and you will see many local people fishing from piers and exposed rocks along the coastline. Fishing is probably the most popular pastime for men on Nias Island.

If you take your sport fishing seriously, you should probably bring your own gear, including your own saltwater fishing lines. Otherwise there is a shop in Gunung Sitoli town where sport fishing gear is sold (Usaha Timur on Jalan Diponegoro no 138). If you just want to try fishing local style, you can use a handline, which is available in every boat and for sale in every coastal village.

Where to find a boat and where to fish

mancing mania 01Judging by the amount of fishing boats around the coast of North Nias, there is fish in abundance pretty much anywhere. But both locals and visiting fishermen agree that the deep, open waters off the west and north coast are the most promising area for big game fish. Wunga Island is the most western point of North Nias, and on the other side of it the Indian Ocean starts and its open sea all the way to Africa. This is where large pelagics like Sail fish and Marlin have been caught.

Most local fishermen are actually based on the east coast, but this has more to do with safe anchorage than fish abundance. The west coast is pounded by large waves for much of the year, and there are only a few locations where boats can launch safely.

Below is a list of places where you can charter a boat. All of these locations are easy to reach by car and are between 1-2.5 hours from the airport.

West coast

Afulu is a large protected lagoon on the west coast of North Nias. It offers one of the few safe anchorages in this area, and is very popular with visiting surf charter boats and long-distance sailors. There are a number of different sized boats available for hire here. Afulu also has some basic accommodation, making it a good place to base yourself for a few days. Once you hired a boat, head for Wunga Island; locals report that most of the larger fish found in this area have been caught in the waters outside and around this island. It takes about 1.5 hours to get here from Afulu.  The lagoon inside Wunga Island is very beautiful and is a good place for a mid-day break.

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North coast

Lahewa is the largest (small) town in North Nias. It has a proper harbour protected by a large lagoon. Several commercial fishing vessels are based here and long-distance sailors often come to Lahewa to stock up on fuel and supplies. There are many choices of boats available for hire here, and there are also a couple of guest houses and simple restaurants in town. From Lahewa you have many choices of places to fish; you can go west around the corner of the northwest point of Nias, towards Maose Island. You can go north, towards the deeper waters outside Goso Uma Island or you can go east and circumnavigate Makora and Panjang Islands.

Giant Trevally caught of the coast of Nias. Photo by Dino Martinus.

Lafau is a small village just inside Lafau, Makora and Panjang Islands. There are several smaller, open boats available here. This is a good base if you want to explore the waters around the northern Islands.

Sawo is a large village at north eastern tip of Nias Island. A river runs through the village and a number of fishing boats are moored here. This is a good place to explore the north eastern corner of Nias as well as the deep waters surrounding Sarangbaung Island.

East coast

Asi Walo is a beautiful lagoon that was used as port before the coastal road around North Nias was built. Today Asi Walo is a popular location for Sunday outings and is still used by local fishermen. This is a good place from which to explore the north eastern corner of Nias as well as the deep waters surrounding Sarangbaung Island.

Tuhemberua is the name of a sub-district (kecamatan) on the east coast of North Nias. It has some amazing beaches and many local people here make their living from fishing. There are not many commercial fishing vessels around, and most locals use smaller perahu-style boats. The east coast is sheltered from large waves, and boats can safely launch from any beach. For this reason there are many boats all along the coast. Finding a boat for hire to explore the waters on the east coast should not be a problem. Ladara or Botolakha villages have a number of different sized boats available, and are probably the best places to find a boat.

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