I think I must be the oldest, still active, skipper on this Coast, with around 46 years of professional charter work behind me.
As a kid, I was always interested in all kinds of fishing, particularly fly fishing for trout, in the small river not far from the farm where I was born, at a place called Londiani, in the Kenya highlands.
The river ran through virgin forest, and was stocked with rainbow trout. It was a lovely peaceful place full of wildlife, birds and butterflies. Often, while fishing, one could see a bushbuck or duiker come down to the river to drink, or a troop of the mountain colobus swing through the treetops.
The trout were small, but occasionally, if one was lucky, a good two or three pounder would come to the fly. It was the perfect way to spend an evening.
Later, when I was sent to a school in England, I would often spend the holidays with my Aunt in Northern Ireland, as air travel to Kenya was too expensive for me to be able to come back home more than once a year.
My Aunt’s husband, a Doctor, had died, and up in the attic, I was told to help myself to his fishing tackle, which of course I did, and in the shed was his old bicycle. I would spend my days up in the hills, where the lochs were full of wild brown trout, or up the river, where there were rainbows, and if one were very lucky, sea trout as well as the odd salmon.
I would seldom come home empty handed, and my Aunt would cook up a delicious fish supper, after which, I’d be coerced into playing Mah Jong, with the old lady.
I had done a bit of sea fishing whenever I came to the Coast on holidays, and had really caught the ‘bug’. (once it catches you, you’ll never lose it !!)
My first sailfish was caught from a small dinghy off Diani, fishing with my good friend Dan Trench, owner of the Jadini Beach Hotel. This proved to be a Kenya record at the time, on 20 lbs line. The boat was powered by a small Seagull engine, and Dan got so excited that he stalled the motor, and it stubbornly reffused to start again. The boat was now drifting in on the reef, and the fish had all but emptied the reel and was somewhere out towards India. The third member of our party, Gerry, a brilliant mechanic, said he could easily get the thing going, but Dan refused to change places to allow Gerry to get to the engine, and told him to get the oars out and row away from the reef !
This went on for some time, and still the motor refused to start. Eventually, Dan gave in and changed places with Gerry. After drying out the spark plug, the engine sprang to life and we were now able to go after my fish, which we finally managed to boat.
I took up fishing professionally at age 33, in 1963, but that’s another story.