The best fishing holiday I ever had cost $450. Could have been a lot less. Trouble was, I couldn't really believe that I had collared a luxury 10-berth boat to cruise through the Maldives for two weeks so cheaply. Everyone said: "There's got to be something wrong at that price."
So I thought: "Who will laugh if it all goes pear-shaped aftertravelling halfway across the world?" I could only think of my sister and her husband, a wonderfully phlegmatic couple. But it proved genuine. Even better, we had a chef who cooked exotic meals every day while we fished, or swam, or watched turtles, manta rays and whales.
It's therefore with some trepidation that I steer people towards the website where I snaffled this extraordinary bargain. There could be another Maldives-like trip that I may miss out on because a reader has outbid me.
Every year, the International Game Fish Association hold an annual banquet and online auction to raise funds for their conservation work. Many of their members are rich beyond dreams of avarice. Don Tyson, an Igfa trustee, is the boss of Tyson Foods, the world's largest meat producer and one of the 100 largest companies in the US.
One of the lots is five days at his home in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, with five days' fishing on his 48ft big-game boat, and other wonderful trips all over the world are on offer, from Costa Rica to the Bahamas, from mahseer fishing in the Himalayas to trying for marlin off Ascension Island.
Personally, I'd love to go back to the Great Barrier Reef and there's the chance to do so. You spend eight days on a luxury 62ft catamaran, fishing all day along the Great Barrier Reefand eating gourmet food at night. I got invited on a similar trip some years ago. My great memory from it: feeding sharks with bread.
Or how about staying on an 85ft, three-storey "floating hotel" in the heart of the Brazilian rainforest and catching one of the loveliest of fish, the peacock bass? You even get a daily laundry service thrown in.
For serious fishers, the place to go is Tropic Star Lodge in Panama. The Pinas Bar area is renowned for marlin, sailfish and tuna, and you can spend seven nights there with a friend, fishing every day. More than 200 world records have been recorded by anglers staying at the lodge.
There's even a week for four at Angler's Paradise in Devon, though I'd advise anyone winning this lot to avoid the conducted tour round the owner's "wine cellar". Zyg Gregorek, a charming man, claims to have over 2,000 gallons for sampling; however, the stuff he offered me was creative but largely undrinkable, with oddities such as celery and blackcurrant.
I went to the Igfa banquet one year and was mystified why nobody seemed interested in such wonderful holidays, jewellery, pictures and fishing tackle. But after a while, I realised that the people there owned the companies. Why buy your own stuff? On my table, I was the only person who didn't have a boat (and we're not talking dinghies here, either).
So take a look at igfa.org. But leave that Great Barrier Reeftrip for me.Reuse content