By Lothar Sobeck
The best time to fish off Mozambique is between September and October (African winter). Then, black marlin can be caught in record sizes. Together with my wife Veronika, I wanted to do some big game fishing in early February 2014 for a few days. The destination was not fixed at the beginning, because the possibilities in this season are quite limited: Australia, Maldives or East Africa. After some research we decided on Mozambique: About 40 km away from the mainland lies the Bazaruto Archipelago, where we fished for black marlin and other game fish in front of the main island of the same name.
From Germany one flies from Munich or Frankfurt to Johannesburg/South Africa and from there to Vilanculos in Mozambique. From Vilanculos we continue with a small single-engine plane to the island of Bazaruto.
The entire archipelago was designated a natural reserve by Mozambique’s government a long time ago, and the coast guard consistently ensures compliance with any restrictions imposed. The lack of commercial fishing therefore has a very positive effect on fish stocks: The black marlin can be caught here in record sizes. Grander occur again and again.
We had contacted Duarte Rato following information from Jürgen Oeder. Duarte is a Portuguese who has been living in Mozambique for a long time. He belongs to the best captains of East Africa and also fishes off Bom Bom and Cape Verde.
Duarte’s boat is a 32 foot long Gulf Craft. It is equipped with Tiagra rods and 80W reels filled with 130lb line. The tackle is in good condition and the deckhands Alex and Americo are very friendly, helpful and very professional.
We had booked 4 days full charter, which included 10 hours of fishing per day. Since fishing on the east side of the island takes place in water depths of only 100 – 200 meters and mostly within sight of the island, there are 9 hours of the booked 10 hours left for effective fishing. That is enough in any case.
Duarte likes to fish the black Marlin from a floating boat with live bait fish (tuna at 6-8 pounds). However, the boat is sufficiently equipped with good lures and with 2 x 175 hp engines, not too lavish, but nevertheless sufficiently motorized for the trolling. Everything is well maintained and clean. The provisions on the boat (sandwiches, fruit and drinks) leave nothing to be desired. We booked the “Indigo Bay Lodge” for 8 days in addition to the boat. It is one of the best in the world and belongs as “Anantara Bazaruto Island Resort” to the luxurious Anantara group. You will be spoiled at the highest level, which is not necessary for the angler, but still very pleasant.
The luxurious bungalows are situated directly on the beach and the cuisine offers gourmets with no reason for criticism. There is no time for boredom, because besides fishing there are many possibilities for sporting or just relaxing activities.
But we came here to catch black marlin. Maybe even an big old mama with more than 1,000 pounds? To anticipate it: Marlin caught, but no grander.
We were able to release two medium sized marlin. Two more were lost in the drill. One of them was big (600 to 700 pounds)… We also hooked a beautiful hammerhead shark in front of the dorsal fin. To untwist this fish was therefore also “great sport”, because such a hooked fish is such a strong opponent, who gives nothing to the angler and quickly shows him his own limits.
Then we could catch some beautiful Dorado and different tunas: mainly yellowfin and skipjack tuna. With light tackle it is also a good sport.
These fish are taken by the deckhands to feed their families. If you like, you can have a smaller skip jack brought to the hotel kitchen for Sashimi. We have done this and have not regretted it, because the quality is completely different from what one knows from Sushi Restaurants in Germany.
The water in front of Bazaruto is full of life and we could still see dolphins, turtles and puffer fish, as well as shoals of small fish, which were attacked by tunas in the feeding frenzy and seagulls. Whales and whale sharks, which also occur here, remained unfortunately hidden to us. However, it must be said that February, the highlight of the African summer with water temperatures around 28°C, is one of the worst months of the whole year for fishing (which we already knew before). The warm water temperatures make the fish sluggish and their biting mood sinks. The best time for marlin is August to October. Then you can also catch sailfish very well. The temperatures are then more bearable for fish and humans.
The sun in Mozambique should not be underestimated in summer, especially if you come from the European winter. The temperature difference is then more than 30°C. The body has to cope with this and the skin has to survive
We will return to Bazaruto in the coming September and then go again on the search for the “Big Mama”. We would love to go marlin hunting again with Duarte, his crew and his boat: Duarte is not only a competent captain. He is also a well-read, polite, reliable and very funny companion on the boat and at dinner together.
Finally a little thank-you to Jürgen Oeder: Dear Jürgen, without your book and your other help we would not have landed on Bazaruto with Veronika! That would be a pity and we would be poorer around some mad experiences. Therefore again: Thank you Jürgen.