A few months ago I had the pleasure of meeting two young guys from French Polynesia. They were here on the Big Island adventuring and enjoying every day around the ocean. Teariiroa Chapman and Thomas Lefebvre. We went on a fishing charter together and although we didn't catch much, it was still amazing (as fishing charters are) and we shared some epic stories. We had a BBQ with friends, they made some connections with local lure makers and we made some plans to visit them in Raiatea in 2019.
Touring around the Big Island with Teariiroa and Thomas, Hilo
Teariiroa Chapman is a guy full of the Tahitian Aloha Spirit and we couldn't be happier that he is a part of our Sundot Ohana. We hope you enjoy learning a little more about a guy who is sure to bring big things to the fishing industry throughout Hawaii, Tahiti and around the world.
Teariiroa hiking the Big Island of Hawaii
Tell us a little about your name.
My full name is Teariiroa Richard Benjamin Chapman (Richard is my grandfather and Benjamin my great grand father. He’s the son of the first CHAPMAN who arrived in Tahiti. He was hunting whales back in the days and his brother went to Hawaii, that’s why I have family in Hawaii too)
How old are you?
Where are you currently?
I’m currently in Maupiti which is an island 3 hours away by boat from my island Home, Raiatea.
You recently came to Hawaii for a visit and we had a blast hanging out with you guys. Tell us about some of the highlights of your trip.
My first trip in Kona was magic! I really loved diving with manta’s at night staring at their majestic beauty. But the moment I keep in my heart is my last day in Kona when I went hiking in Waipio. This place has magic. I felt the mana as soon as I arrived at the scenic point. During the hike it was kind of stunning since every step I made was taking me closer to Hi’ilawe. It was a very emotional and personal hike for me as it was taking me away from the civilized world and closer to Mother Nature. As I arrived at the bottom I was speechless, and I was able to feel her presence. Wow, writing this and thinking about what I felt there revive all the emotions! Best day ever!
We also had the chance to go out trolling out of Honokohau Harbor. Although we didn't catch anything worth flying flags, we had a great time and were blessed with a Hawaiian Monk Seal, and a great adventure on one of Kona's Classic Charter Boats, the Humdinger.
Early morning fishing trip by moonlight, Honokohau Harbor
During our fishing trip on the Humdinger, we had immediate engine failure. The beautiful moon setting over the ocean and sun coming up over Hualalai Mountain was a beautiful start to the morning, so you can imagine what a bummer it was when the boat engine started to overheat and we had to turn around and head back in.
Captain Brett Fay, spent two, hot and sweaty hours in the tiniest, cramped space and was successful in fixing the engine pump so we could head back out. It gave me another perspective of how much hard work it is to run a charter boat.
Christa on board the Humdinger while back in the harbor
Being only 26, Captain Brett is one of the youngest captains running his own boat out of Honokohau Harbor. The Humdinger was previously owned and operated by his dad. His dad taught him so well we were back out on the water that same morning, before many of the boats had even left Honokohau Harbor!
We headed out to catch live bait and not long after dropping our lines, we were greeted by a Hawaiian Monk Seal. She kept swimming towards our boat so fast each time we started bringing up the lines of Opelu. She bobbed along nearby for awhile and I'm pretty sure she was stoked on the couple of fish we threw her way, before we headed further out to sea.
This beautiful Hawaiian Monk Seal blessed us by visiting
We got to share some stories and the boys got to become more familiar with some different types of Hawaiian Lures before heading back into the harbor. It was another great day out fishing.
The crew and companions of the Humdinger, Honokohau Harbor
What is your favorite Fish Flag?
I’d say my favorite flag is the Pirate one cause I’m kind of a Pirate. Since we are part of the Tahitian Pirate crew and, me and my uncless try our best to protect and preserve our country from foreigners, fishermen, and people who doesn’t respect our land and our culture. For the other flags, the Ahi is a favorite too. Since it’s to me, one of the most powerful fish pound for pound and makes my rod bend and my reel sing all the time!!!
What is your favorite lure?
My favorite lure is by far the Tsutomu Pauhana Blue Bullet 7. It’s a very small lure to troll but trust me elephants love peanuts ;)
What is your favorite fish?
It depends on the kind of fishing I’m doing. The most beautiful fish is the big Yellowfin Tuna we call em the « AVE » but since I grew up fishing Omilu and Ulua they might be my favorites too.
Teariiroa enjoys fishing off his jetski, French Polynesia
My most amazing fishing adventure was insane. Seven hours west of Raiatea there is a very tiny island with white sand and coconut trees only. This island is called Maupiha or Mopelia in French. There are less than 20 people living there and the fishing is next level - 500 pound Black Marlin are babies out there! We call this island Jurrasic Park. You have to be invited to go on this island and when I was 21, my uncle took me there to hunt some Ahi on the handline.
Teariiroa's fishing essentials
Who is your biggest fishing influence?
My biggest fishing influence was My Grandpa. He taught me everything I know about the ocean, navigation with the stars, bird behavior, reading maps, reading weather and to know what moon is best for what fish. But most of all, he offered me his love for fishing and for the ocean. I really became a fisherman because of his love for fishing and since he passed away this June, going out fishing is like going back to him everyday.
“The journey is what brings us happiness not the destination."
Actually, I have an Aircraft Engineer Degree. But since I wanted to live a life connected with nature I left my work to be a fisherman. It’s not an easy job at all in French Polynesia. We don’t really do fishing tours and stuff so we have to catch many fish to make a living.
With that platform I signed many sponsoring contracts especially with my biggest one Salty Crew Europe. This allows me to fish mostly to eat and not turning it into a real business. I'm the main rep in Tahiti for Salty Crew and you can check out our Facebook page: Salty Crew Tahiti.
Tea started Salty Crew Tahiti, check it out! Photo credit: Salty Crew Facebook
Besides fishing, I grow my own vegetables and fruits, have some bee hives, and try to live a life close to nature. To me it’s the most sustainable way of living. This way, you know the worth of the things you eat. You know where it came from. You are connected.
I also work with my Friend Coral Gardener, he’s doing awesome work to protect the corals by replanting them and raising awareness worldwide to save the reef. Go check em out.
Restoration projects with Coral Gardeners is one for your bucket list. Image: Coral Gardeners
What is your dream fishing destination?
FIJI for the Dogtooth
Quote or saying you live by?
Living fully, hiking and exploring on the daily, Big Island
What are the fishing regulations like where you live (if any?) What needs to change?
We don’t really have fishing regulation here since French Polynesia is a French Territory and we are 18000km away from France. We don’t have the resources to protect our ocean. We really need to change the way we trade with countries like China and Korea as they come freely in our water to fish. And we have to check all the commercial fishing boats because most of the time they also kill sharks, turtles and other endangered species...
Why do you love fishing?
What does Kailua-Kona mean to you?
My second home.