The 2004/05 season was another very successful season for Kamara II who continues to lead the way on marlin catches. Kamara II has been #1 for 3 consecutive seasons with Simon and his crew 5 consecutive seasons having been top with Kamara before the new boat’s arrival. The season saw an upsurge in business after November 2004 for the tourism sector and we hope that it will just grow from here. There was good yellowfin tuna fishing in the early part of the season, many more sailfish than usual but marlin numbers were down on the previous year. Below is a brief summary of the season.
We began the season with charters in early July with Colby Durnin from Hawaii and encountered lots of decent sized-yellowfin tuna off Kitugamwe Reef feeding on millions of mantis shrimps. Then throughout August we were catching yellowfin mostly in the 20-30 kg range with a few pushing 40-kg. There were also two striped marlin caught from Broadbill during late August on consecutive days one of which took a CD14 rapala. All the early charters were carried out using either Broadbill or Kamara since Kamara II was out of the water until end of August.
September was much quieter both in charters and fish but the sailfish were starting to show off Funzi just to the north of Shimoni. It is incredible how patterns have changed over the past decade since September was at one time very much high season in Shimoni on a par with February with lots of big tunas and big marlin. Of course we must remember that during the 1980â€™s the skippers further north did not believe you could catch big tunas in their areas. It is only in recent years with more high-tech boats and more dynamic skippers that they have looked further a field and found excellent tuna fishing.
In October we had some wonderful fishing mostly for yellowfin tuna with some fish pushing close to 40-kg. There were large numbers of these tunas together with far more birds than we normally expect to see in this area with most of the action on the southern reefs. In mid-October we welcomed two groups of Japanese anglers some on their second visit with their heavy duty spinning rods to cast poppers and deep jig to the tuna with great success. It is quite spectacular to watch a big tuna strike at a popper close to the boat and Sea Adventures have invested in some of these rods and poppers. When the fish are boat-shy one can drift up to them and cast in to the school with almost instant success. The deep jigging is another very successful technique when the fish are not showing on the surface and this resulted in some good catches of not only yellowfin but also amberjack and trevallies. Jigging in 70-100m of water is hard work but exciting when the strikes come. There were also quite a few sailfish off Funzi, more than one normally sees and one of the Japanese anglers caught one on a popper fishing from Broadbill. There was just 1 striped marlin taken in October by Tom Kenyatta, the grandson of Kenyaâ€™s first President, Jomo Kenyatta fishing aboard Kamara II.
In late October and November attention switched to sailfish off Funzi since the tunas appeared to have moved on with the mantis shrimps apparently no longer about. I have seldom seen so many sailfish in this area and in a very short time onew could easily see 50 fish. Unfortunately we had very few charters but there was some good fishing for those that did come. Towards the latter half of November Broadbill and Kamara II made the long trek up to Malindi for the annual CADSAS tournament, this time 47 anglers and 15 teams from Zimbabwe and South Africa. The fishing was hard, plenty of sail free jumping all over the place but hard to raise and strangely very few other species compared to 2003. We had a very good week and Kamara II was placed 4th out of the 15 boats. At the same time Kamara was fishing in the Pemba Channel with some French anglers staying at the Manta Reef Lodge on Pemba Island. In the 4 days they had 2 striped marlin and 2 sailfish.
In December there were a lot of school yellowfin tuna in the Pemba area bringing with them some big black marlin. Hugo Buff fishing on Broadbill was unlucky to lose two big black marlin on live baits, the first about 180-kg threw the bait soon after striking and the other the 300-lb Sampo swivel bust on a bigger fish. That was really bad luck and something that you really don’t expect to happen. But, Hugo did catch a 90-kg blue marlin on 30-lb line plus a striped marlin and a sailfish so not all bad. But Mr. Fabrice Chassaing had better luck fishing on Kamara when he tagged a nice black marlin estimated at 180-kg on a lure on 80-lb line after losing one on 50-lb line estimated at 115-kg a few days earlier.
Tanga â€“ Broadbill fished by Chris, Di and Denise Bannister and Ernst Scholz took part in the annual Tanga Fishing Tournament during early December, Tanga being the first port to the south in Tanzania. The fishing was very slow and hard work but for the 2nd year running Broadbill came out victorius with a 40.5-kg yellowfin tuna on 30-lb line and an 18.2-kg wahoo on 20-lb line plus a mixed bag. There were no billfish taken during the tournament although Broadbill had a sailfish both the day before and after. Actually I think that Pat has won that tournament virtually every time that he has entered it!
Mafia safari â€“ at the same time Kamara II had made the very long journey to Dar es Salaam departing Shimoni on 11th December to meet up with Koos Pretorius, Deon de Klerk and Nick Smith from Cape Town for an epic safari to Mafia Island further to the south opposite the Rufijee River delta. On the way to Mafia we stopped off at Latham Island 42 nautical miles offshore from Dar es Salaam where the boys caught rainbow runner on very light fly tackle. We spent 8 wonderful days fishing the east coast of Mafia where perhaps the highlight of the trip was a 65-kg dogtooth tuna caught by Nick on a Halco on 50-lb line. There were a lot of sailfish along the NE coast and we raised about 20 a day plus 3 small black marlin. We were made very welcome by the Mafia Island Lodge and by the Mafia Marine Park and the good fishing, the wonderful scenery and the great company made it a fantastic experience not to be forgotten by any of us. On the way back we anchored for the night off Latham Island where the boys had some incredible fly fishing for giant trevally off the island although the 9-wt rods were simply not up to the task. The sight and noise of the millions of birds nesting on the island was awesome as was watching the sun setting behind my boat whilst we sat on a tiny island right in the middle of the ocean.
Tsunami – the tragic news of the massive earthquake and resultant tsunami on Boxing Day has demonstrated yet again the unbelievable power of nature and the fragility of man. Once the news broke everyone who lived on the coast or owned a boat worried about the great unknown, would it reach us, how big is a tsunami? We added extra anchors to the boats and watched the news and the sea with trepidation and awe. The tidal surges were eerie but luckily for us there was no tidal wave, but we cannot but feel for all those communities who have suffered so, so much.
The day following the tsunami Pieter and Elizabeth Harris from South Africa joined me on Kamara II for a safari to Pemba Is. The sea was very rough with a huge swell, which persisted in to early January. There were quite a few marlin seen but the majority were not going to look at anything. In my experience fish like stable conditions and whilst conditions are not they sort of shut down and this might happen a day a two before a storm actually breaks. The opposite might occur just before conditions stabilize when the fish start feeding actively again. Pieter did catch a nice striped marlin estimated at 180-lb on 50-lb line. On New Years Eve we fished a combo (day/night) with two strikes from marlin in the day time and one from a broadbill in the night, a rather rough night I might add. Broadbill was fishing day trips at this time and on the 29th picked up a 150-lb striped marlin on 30-lb line and a sailfish.
In early January the water was still stirred up from the tsunami, rather greenish and with a big swell although there were quite a lot of marlin around. On 5th Rory Heron from the UK caught Kamara II’s 100th marlin, a stripey of 120-lb on 30-lb. We were raising about 6 marlin a day plus a few sailfish out in the deep water togther with quite a few dorado and small yellowfin tuna. The striped marlin were mostly 150-200 lb and yet agaiun we see that January is one of the hottest fishing months on the calendar. Roberto Gambi from Italy had some good fishing with striped marlin of 180 and 170-lb on 50-lb, 130-lb on 30-lb and a 260-lb black marlin on 50-lb all from Kamara II. By the middle of the month there were plenty of marlin seen every day and considerable quantities of dead squid on the surface yet again. On 15th January Broadbill tagged a stripey and 2 sailfish for some guests staying at Funzi Keys, whilst Kamara II tagged a stripey each for Marcel Dekkers and Dinand Rouwenhorst plus a sail for Marcel. The following day they repeated this feat and then added another marlin and a sail on the 18th. On 20th the Grandin party from France fishing on Broadbill had 2 stripies and 2 sail. The 21st and 22nd were very rough and the fish rather confused but Alex Grinling tagged a stripey on 22nd and Raymond and Gitau Matiba tagged a 2 marlin and a sail on 23rd all from Kamara II. The following week saw a change in the weather and the fishing went off but on 30th Simon and Tara Collins on Kamara II took 2 striped marlin each. Overall in January Kamara II scored 17 marlin and 5 sailfish in 16 days fishing.
The good fishing continued until 12th February with 3 marlin being recorded by one boat no less than three times. On 5th Stefan Wagnelius and Jimmy Johansson tagged 3 striped marlin on Kamara II, a feat repeated on 7th by Francois Jooste (2 marlin) and kobie Krjtzinger (1 marlin – 160-lb on 30) from Broadbill, and 10th Francois yet again catching 2 marlin and John Carr-Hartley one on Kamara II. In the 12 days of February Broadbill had 9 striped marlin in 11 days and Kamara II 12 striped marlin and 1 sailfish in 12 days. This season the best week was that from 5th to 11th with 16 marlin and 1 sail between the 2 boats and it was great to see regulars like John Carr-Hartley from Botswana strike it right this year. Unfortunately the following week the weather changed for the worse and the fishing went right off. From 14th to 19th there were only 3 marlin, 12 sail and 1 broadbill recorded for Markus Meyer from Switzerland from Kamara II. It is impossible to predict how 2006 will be but we should just look at historical records, which will demonstrate that February is still the best marlin month overall. I often tell people that if you visit any of the top fishing hot spots often enough at the best time of year you are likely to get fantastic fishing as well as piss poor fishing.
In early March Daz Baynton and Diane Collins fished aboard Kamara II south to the very attractive Fundu Lagoon Resort on the SW of Pemba Is. The fishing was rather disappointing and the rains were threatening but we did catch the very first blue marlin for Kamara II. That completes the full set of all Six species of billfish available in the Pemba Channel, something that has not been done by all that many boats. Otherwise there were a few striped marlin in the Pemba Channel in March and a lot of sailfish about as well as dorado.
Broadbill was taken out of service in late March in preparation for the big job of changing her motors. Kamara II continued fishing but fished just one day in April on 2nd with some guests from Funzi Keys. We tagged another small blue marlin and lost a very big yellowfin tuna on 30-lb line, dropped a sailie and had lots of dorado.
Top marlin boat 5th year â€“ Kamara II has continued her winning ways by being the top marlin boat in Kenya for the third season and Simon now the top skipper for five consecutive years. Kamara II finished the season on 36 marlin with Eclare from Malindi placed 2nd with 23 and Broadbill 3rd on 22. In her first three seasons she has caught nearly 2.5 X more marlin than her nearerst rival.
Guest house â€“ Due to some new Kenya Government licensing regulations I have decided to discontinue the guest house. The new licences are very expensive and coupled with this is a requirement that we register for catering levy and possibly VAT along with getting an environmental audit carried out. Please check out our accommodation page to see the many options that are available in the vicinity. The nearest one is Betty’s Tented Camp with which we have very close ties and thus far all of our guests that have stayed there have been very happy. The rooms are nice, it is clean very comfortable, the food is excellent, the service very good and there is a nice bar, restaurant and swimming pool.
Broadbillâ€™s engines â€“ Pat has completed changing over Broadbillâ€™s engines, removing the 33-yr old Ford Sabres and installing brand new 235-hp New Holland diesels. Initial trials are very encouraging with 17.7 knots at just 1800 rpm so there is still more power there. This should put an end to Pat and Usama’s frustrations of always being left behind by Kamara II. Now both boats will be able to get out to the fishing grounds together. These new engines are very smooth, much quieter and produce no smoke at all even when cold.
Red sea fishing â€“ this company has been acting as our exclusive agents in Belgium and Holland for a few years and we have received a great deal of business from them. The company is owned and run by Johan ter Wisscha with great enthusiasm and efficiency and Sea Adventures has enjoyed a very good relationship with Johan and Red Sea Fishing. However due to illness Johan has decided to close Red Sea Fishing down. We are very sad to hear of this but wish to thank Johan and his team for the years that we have been associated with red sea fishing.
Kamara 1 â€“ We finally sold Kamara 1 towards the end of 2004 and she is now at her new home in Mtwapa with new owner David Williamson. I have to admit that I was rather sad to see her go but since the new boat arrived she has not had sufficient use. She was my first boat and I had so many wonderful experiences with her including safaris to Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar, Pemba and Malindi. Kamara, like Kamara II is one of the few Kenya boats to have caught all six billfish species and is only one of two boats to have caught in excess of 100 marlin in a season. She caught 5 marlin in one day on 2 occasions and was the #1 marlin boat in 2000/01 and 2001/02. I am sure that she will give David many years of pleasure and I wish him tight lines. So now Sea Adventures is operating just the two boats, Broadbill and Kamara II.
Ownership of fish â€“ Sea Adventures Ltd is perhaps the only company for which the fish caught are the property of the anglers. Until now all those fish boated unless required for bait were sold and the proceeds credited to the client’s account. We have decided to adopt a new approach for the 2005/06 season whereby instead of being credited to the client’s account the monies will instead be put towards the Shimoni Development Fund. We felt this to be an ideal way for sport fishers to put something in to the local community to assist with the development project of the moment. All monies will be very carefully monitored and reported back on through future newsletters. An urgent requirement for Shimoni and surrounding villages is to provide for a source of clean piped water. Obviously if anglers wish to take a fish home with them for their own consumption they can certainly do so.
Tagging â€“ In our 2004 newsletter I declared Sea Adventures to be adopting a fully tag & release policy for billfish and sharks and I am glad to report that the release rate was very good with just over 95% of all marlin and over 97% of sailfish released. There are always a few fish that are not likely to survive and these are taken, and of course there is no wastage in Africa of good protein. I am sure that you will be interested to learn that now about 25,000 billfish have been tagged off Kenya with an ever increasing number of other species including sharks, trevallies and tunas. This has resulted in a huge amount of data and recently the entire data base was handed over to scientists at the Kenya Marine & Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI) for analysis. I have also handed over all my data, which dates back to 1963 and since I do not have the time to do a proper job on it thought that these guys could. The institute is a parastatal run by a board of management appointed by the Minister for Livestock Development and Fisheries and I have been on the board for 4 years now. I believe that the results will be very interesting and should be helpful in providing some answers for fisheries managers.
Scientific Information – As many of you are aware my training is in fisheries ecology and management and I wrote my PhD on yellowfin tuna ecology and fisheries in the Indian Ocean. In recent years I have developed very close ties senior government fishery personnel and I thought that you might be interested to learn what I am up to on the scientific front. You see its not all fishing and fun!
A major problem off East Africa over the last decade has been a drop in the frequency of both skipjack and juvenile yellowfin tuna schools. Skipjack in particular, which were once perhaps the most common of the pelagics off our shores such that they were often a bit of a nuisance are now one of the rarest. I blame this decline solely on the intense purse seine tuna fishery in the Indian Ocean, which are almost entirely from European Union countries, France and Spain in particular. I put this case along with other concerns to Kenyaâ€™s Director of Fisheries, Mrs. Nancy Gitonga in a letter that I really did not expect to get an answer to despite the very good relationship that I have with the department. However, she rang me shortly after 7am one morning to thank me for my letter and to request a one-on-one meeting. She also told me that Kenya was now a full member of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) and that since the next meeting was to happen at the end of May, in about 10 days we needed to meet urgently. She asked me to visit the IOTC web site and download the agenda for the meeting along with other documentation. Some years had passed since last I had access to such scientific documentation and it was wonderful to get back in to it. I met with Mrs. Gitonga and we discussed in detail all the agenda items and basically she wanted me to teach her all about tunas and billfish in two hours! The documents that I had downloaded were covered in red ink with my comments and she took copies of them away with her. I find it very encouraging that our director is seriously interested in what is really happening but as she quite rightly pointed out Kenya can not manage these species on her own but at least she would be able to put Kenyaâ€™s point of view forward to the IOTC. From one the IOTC documents on billfish it was clear that there is very little information available on stocks of marlins and sailfish, with more on broadbill swordfish, which are important economically. I believe that the data that we have submitted to KMFRI will produce some very interesting results and should be very useful as a management tool. The IOTC had not detected any crisis over the marlins or sailfish stocks and initial statistical analyses of our sport caught billfish do not suggest any problems either. The report did express concerns as to the status of the swordfish stocks particularly in the SW Indian Ocean but also in our region and in the south central Indian Ocean. Prior to the 1990â€™s this species was only caught incidentally by long liners but since then part of the Taiwanese fleet have begun to target them. But there has been an increase in effort recently with French and Spanish long liners targeting swordfish based out of Mauritius and Reunion. The IOTC scientific committee has recommended that there be no further increase in effort and a reduction should be looked at. They have also made recommendations to reduce the number of purse seine sets made on fish aggregating devices (FADâ€™s) and large trees since most of the fish caught on these are juvenile bigeye and yellowfin tunas as well as skipjack tunas. The bigeye stock is definitely being over fished and the yellowfin tuna on the limit but I cannot see any sustainability in targeting juvenile fishes. Interestingly they did not see any problem with the skipjack tuna stocks, although I put a strong case to Mrs. Gitonga that our catch figures and observations did not support their suppositions. I look forward to my next meeting with the director but be assured that I shall remain in close contact with the department and with KMFRI. The IOTC has initiated a tuna tagging program in the Indian Ocean and have chartered two Spanish bait boats for the purpose. They will be travelling around the Western Indian Ocean tagging thousands of tunas.
You might like to consider for a moment that almost all of the canned tuna that you purchase in your supermarkets comes from juvenile yellowfin or skipjack tunas, much of it from the Indian Ocean.
Another case that I put to the director was that concerning certain shark species, which are in a very serious state. In particular the greater hammerhead and the oceanic white tip sharks both of which are almost entirely gone from our region. Both of these sharks are aggressive and very susceptible to long lining, and the former in high demand in the Far East for its large dorsal fin. But, this is not a problem limited to this part of the world but a global condition nor is it limited to just these two species. This is why Sea Adventures Ltd has adopted a release policy for sharks and we urge you wherever you fish to do the same. There can be no excuse for killing a shark simply for the trophy of a few teeth and in this day and age it is not acceptable to wear animal parts, let us put them back where they rightly belong.
Tight lines !