n the mid-1990s, I was a new arrival to the wonders of billfishing in the remote South Pacific. I outfitted a 41-foot aluminum-hulled sloop named Elan with outriggers and tackle, put my Florida Keys-based charter business on hold and sailed through the Panama Canal to see what I could discover in the wide Pacific Ocean. One cluster of idyllic, verdant islands in the middle of the South Pacific called the Vava‘u group particularly captured my imagination. It belongs to the last Pacific monarchy, the Kingdom of Tonga, and I felt going there might be similar in many ways to visiting Hawaii 100 years or so ago. During my second visit there in 1998, I met a Kiwi captain named Steve Campbell, who’d stopped en route from a season in Samoa with his 46-foot custom Alan Wright sport-fishing catamaran to fish the Tonga International Billfish Tournament. I guess Vava‘u had a similar effect on Campbell because by the year 2000 he was chartering there with better-adapted boats, and catching the heck out of blue marlin in the islands. He remains there to this day.