For much of the early part of this month the fishing was very disappointing at best. The water was spectacular but there appeared to be little life in it hence few predators. The weather was very changeable and there were not that many flying fish around, always a bad sign in my book.
However, it has all changed and we have ended this period with some incredible fishing. Its just unfortunate that we are not fishing enough days to be able to make the most of it.
I will always try to give you an honest report about the fishing so that if the fishing is bad I will say so. When you read fishing reports from around the world with the great fishing exploits of various skippers you need to ask yourself, are you being told how many days were fished without catching? Or, how many boats are working that piece of water so that in other words what is the catch rate of fish per boat fishing day? The Pemba Channel is a large area of water with only 3 boats working it regularly and in this season none of these boats have done anywhere near 100 days even.
Saturday 3rd March - White Otter was the only boat out today and they found quite a few sailfish out in the deep. They ended up with 5 for the day and I gather they also had a strike from a marlin.
Sunday 4th March – We welcomed back Albertus van Brakel, Leonard Wood and Jonathan Goetsch from South Africa for a week’s fishing on Kamara II. Broadbill was fishing some guys from the Ukraine booked through Pemba Channel Fishing Club. It was very calm all day, rather overcast in the morning but worse still the wind was in the SE during the afternoon. When the wind starts to swing to the south one is always wondering if this spells the end of the season or not or will it turn back to the north? However, Vitaliy Loginov managed to catch a striped marlin on Broadbill and Albertus and Jon took a sail each aboard Kamara II. White Otter lost a marlin and missed another so fish were there despite the wind.
Monday 5th March - although the conditions looked a lot better from the outset with nice ENE breeze that became quite strong in the afternoon the fishing was poor. Typically fish do not like change and prefer nice stable conditions and over the past month or so the weather has not been stable for long. Kamara II lost a couple of sail that just fell off – it was one of those days! No marlin were seen and out of the 4 boats only Albatros was to catch a sailfish right at the end of the day.
Tuesday 6th March – Isn’t it always true how the fish can see what is coming weather-wise? There was a huge thunderstorm with plenty of lightning last night down to the SW over Tanzania but by morning it had all passed on and there was a light NW breeze blowing. Although it was a bit overcast late morning the afternoon was nice and sunny with a pleasant ENE blowing. The sea colour was that wonderful dark blue that the Pemba Channel is so well known for but there were very few flying fish. There were no marlin seen by either boat with only White Otter picking up a sailfish.
Wednesday 7th March - It was very overcast most of the day and the offshore breeze blew all morning. Normally once the land warms up, usually around 9am, the wind should swing round to the ENE and intensify through the day. The only marlin seen was a very big fish that White Otter had on for a while quite close in at 3pm. After it took the lure the marlin appeared not to have realized that it was hooked and they were able to bring the fish very close to the boat whereupon it suddenly realized things were not quite right and erupted out of the water almost in to the cockpit. It then proceeded to go completely berserk and nearly spooled them before popping the line. Broadbill who was on a short day tagged the only billfish, a sail caught by Denis de Bruin from South Africa and Kamara II saw a few sail but failed to hook any.
Thursday 8th March – The wind was more due N in the morning but went round in to the ENE in the afternoon and it was quite choppy. Broadbill was out on another short day with the same guys, managed a couple of wahoo but no billfish. Kamara II tried a different area and it paid off when Albertus caught his first blue marlin of about 150-lb, hopefully the first of many. We also saw a stripey finning but it would not come in to the spread. White Otter rose another big marlin on the way home, not as big as yesterday’s but still a big fish. There appear to be quite a few wahoo around and although there are still not as many dorado as usual for March they are seemingly becoming a little bigger.
Friday 9th March – Nice and sunny today but the land breeze still delayed before finally swinging in to ENE around 1pm. Very few fish were seen, marlin or sail and despite having a striped marlin on for a short stint no flags were flown by either Kamara II or White Otter. Broadbill was not out.
Saturday 10th March – only Kamara II was out and unfortunately we only saw one marlin that would not take. We did get a 10-kg wahoo and a nice 11-kg bull dorado but disappointing especially as today was Albertus and party’s last full day and I had hoped to be able to get them something with a spike for a nose.
Sunday 11th March – very calm with only a light NW breeze in the morning and hence very hot. This was the last throw of the dice for Albertus, Jon and Leonard as they would have to be back in by midday so as to get to Mombasa airport for the evening flight. We decided to concentrate on the drop-off near Funzi and try a bit of deep jigging. We had been seeing a lot of fish on the depth sounder all along the drop off so it would be well worth a try. We saw a lot of small bonito and quite a few sailfish jumping but none of them would rise to the spread. Then we tried jigging and Albertus caught a very nice red snapper of 7.5 kg and Leonard a 4.5 kg rock cod. That snapper was really good eating I can tell you! White Otter was also out but did not get anything much.
Monday 12th March - Only White Otter out on a short day but no flags.
Tuesday 13th March – Only White Otter out full day but no flags.
14th & 15th March - No boats out but there appears to be a change in the weather with more of an ENE blowing every afternoon with no cloud around. They are hitting lots of big blue marlin further north so one wondersÂ if they might not have made it down this way yet.
Friday 16th March – Broadbill was out with Tyler Hicks, a journalist who works with the New York Times in Nairobi together with his girlfriend Nichole Sobecki. Kamara II was out with Pete and Catherine Smith from the UK together with Alex and Petra Rostocil from “Beach to Bush” down the road in Diani. It was very calm but the wind was mostly in the ENEÂ and the sea looked really good. Both boats began off Funzi along the drop-off and there was plenty of bait mostly tiny bonitos with quite a few sail. We were unable to raise the sails and surprisingly we didn’t get any wahoo strikes either so we both headed out around 9am. There was a massive change since last week with loads of bait around even 10-12 nm offshore and there were some nice rips showing. We hooked up with a lovely blue marlin 400+ lb on a 50 that started to get up and go but sadly the line parted early on but not before Petra had captured the fish on film in mid-leap. Almost at the same time Broadbill rose a nice blue marlin that just knocked a lure down and then did not take again but we were now all on edge, waiting, the fish were here after all!
Tyler then caught a 200-lb blue marlin from Broadbill and Pete a sailfish on Kamara II. We rose quite a few more sail with one of them popping a 30 when the line must have got around the rod tip – very annoying! I took over the helm at lunch time and soon after we had a triple strike from striped marlin hooking up with two of them. Naturally both went in opposite directions and strangely neither jumped until near the boat but anyway Pete’s was a big fish of about 170-lb on 80 and Alex’s about 140-lb on 30. Then as we were heading for home Pete added another stripey about 120 lb on 50 so a really good day.
Saturday 17th March – only White Otter was out and she got a striped marlin but am not sure what else she saw since I was not near the radio. Actually I had gone up to Diani Beach to meet Seth Horne of Full Throttle Media who is making a series of fishing films with one episode on Kenya. Seth takes a different tacks to most in that he looks in to the science behind the fishery as well as to what else the destination offers visitors. Should be interesting when it is complete and ready for airing.
Hopefully we shall get out a few more times before the wind finally changes and we are looking to give it a shot at catching swordfish in daylight as well. I’ll let you know how that goes.