This week was dominated by very changeable weather associated with a tropical storm over Madagascar. There are still plenty of fish around but they do not seem to appreciate the daily changes in the weather. Fish typically do not like change and also do not appear to like it when it is overcast.Â Fussy devils!! But, there were some good catches as well as more big fish hit. The sailfish numbers this year have been incredible and I don’t think that I have ever seen so many as this year. What’s more there are more of them out in the deep water where we fish for marlin than close to shore where sails are more traditionally found. The wahoo have also started to come in and I am sure soon the dorado will start to appear. There have been very few thus far with many really small ones.
Friday 24th February – today there was quite a bit more wind and it was quite rough during the middle of the day. Jean-Pierre Ziegler was fishing on Kamara II targeting billfish on fly and the strong wind was causing significant problems with the cast. This made it virtually impossible to be able to present the fly to a billfish teased in to the transom. We raised more fish than anyone else today with 2 striped marlin and around 7 or so sails but none of them took the fly. Broadbill fished by Marika and Tiziano caught a striped marlin and a sail. White Otter caught a nice blue marlin of around 300-lb and 2 sailfish.
Saturday 25th February - less rough than yesterday but still enough to cause problems for the fly. The wind started off quite strong off the land then varied from NE to E and surprisingly that small change does make a difference to the fish. This was the first day for many weeks that all three boats returned to Shimoni without a single flag flying. Kamara II was again fishing with fly and we raised two marlin and about a dozen sails but nothing would take the fly. Many of them were coming in really hot to the back of the boat but would not commit to taking the fly. Broadbill lost a stripey that took the lure and immediately began jumping towards the boat and I don’t think that White Otter saw anything.
Sunday 26th February – the weather today was pretty lousy with heavy cloud and a brisk SW wind early in the morning. The SW is the worst direction for fishing here so none of us went out with much enthusiasm. By 8am the wind had moved round to the SE and a rather confused sea had developed with a big swell out of the NE overlapped with SE wind waves. The importance of the northerly wind was demonstrated when around midday the wind came around in to the NE and immediately fish were seen. Kamara II on sub-charter to Pemba Channel Fishing Club with 3 Russian anglers rose a big marlin on a big konahead close in the wake. It had a look at everything but never took. We had a striped marlin on for a short while then it came off and saw another finning that kept turning away from the boat. Other than that there was only 1 sail seen by Broadbill. For the second day running no flags on any of the three boats!
Monday 27th February – Broadbill, fished by Mark Gouws and his 13yr old daughter, Artega from South Africa decided to try in close towards Funzi and Msambweni. They were rewarded when they had a pack attack from sailies hooking up and tagging 3 and all really good sized ones. They estimated the biggest at around 40-kg and the other 2 at about 36-kg. Artega caught one of the 36-kg sailies on a 20-lb outfit. White Otter had followed suit and despite raising quite a few sail were unable to hook up with any. The wind was very light and after swinging around from NW to SW to NW it settled in the NE late morning. Quite a few marlin were seen but only one was caught by Alexander Poliakov on Kamara II.
Tuesday 28th February – there was a very unpleasant storm that came up the Wasin Channel from the west early in the morning that delayed our departure. The wind was swinging all over the place throughout the day never in one direction for very long. It did go in to the NE around 9am and then again at 11am but after that was in the SE. White Otter actually had 3 strikes from marlin one of which they tagged along with a sail. Broadbill tagged a sail for one of his Russian anglers and Kamara II fished by Mark and Artega saw 3 marlin and a couple of sail but did not catch any of them.
Wednesday 29th February - much better conditions today sunny with fairly strong ENE wind. There were a lot of sailfish seen as well as quite a few marlin with White Otter losing quite a nice blue marlin that outwitted them and they ran over the line. They saw three other marlin and Kamara II saw about 4 marlin as well. The fish were really tailing today and my two crew with their eagle eyes saw so many throughout the day. The sails were in big packs often tailing and one such pack could easily have had 100 fish in it, there were just fins everywhere. Kamara II fished by Mark and Artega Gouws caught 5 sails, Broadbill 1 and Otter nothing.
Thursday 1st March - Nice weather again although the sea was not so lively. Yesterday the water had been that really dark blue whereas today it was largely sort of blue-green. The rips were quite hard to find and it was rather calm. Kamara II on sub-charter to Pemba Channel tagged a striped marlin and 2 sails for the Russian anglers. We saw one other marlin and a few sails but overall there were far fewer fish about today. White Otter tagged a striped marlin then soon after hooked in to a big black marlin that they fought for 2.5 hours before the line broke. The fish was apparently wrapped up in the leader, which blacks with their rigid pectoral fins have a tendency to do. It is all too easy for them to pop the pectoral over the leader as they are jumping so that now the pull is from the side of the fish. They were still putting lines out after losing that fish and another good marlin took a lure but came off after a few jumps. Albatros, a 33-ft Blackfin Express based in Shimoni for the time being got 2 sail today.
Friday 2nd March - there was a very noisy thunderstorm that came across Shimoni from the west late last night with lightning and rolling thunder. This morning it was clear again and the conditions were apparently very similar to yesterday although I was not out. Broadbill fished by Antonio Moraglia and his wife from Nairobi tagged 2 sails and rose a big black marlin in the afternoon on their way home just outside the 1,000-ft drop. It came in fast hammered a lure down then swam right across the wake with a line trailing behind it. It was not attached to Pat’s line and none had broken so this fish must have had a previous encounter with another boat. Perhaps it was the same fish that White Otter lost yesterday. They did manage to get a stripey and Albatros on a short day a sail but very few marlin were seen.
According to the weather forecasts the northerly winds are expected to persist for a while longer, which is good news for us. Let us hope that a few more of the big fish connect as this is certainly the best time of year for the big ones.