Having fished the World Cup since 2006 this was a special time seeing it was the first time ever I would fish it in my home waters in Bazaruto – it was actually the first time a boat entered from Mozambique.
This is not surprising seeing July is peak of our winter and not our best time to target Marlin @ Bazaruto. However you never know your luck in these waters and we have released a grander Black in May and the biggest blue ever weighted on the archipelago (850+) was caught in winter. More importantly two years ago we come back from Cape Verde early and fished out wide off Bazaruto in July and August with startlingly good results. This included a few nice Blue Marlin (and loosing an estimated 800 pounder), some Blacks to 400 pounds and gamefish, especially dorado and Yellowfin Tuna to 160 pounds.
Almost a year ago, Lothar Sobek, a good friend from Germany booked me for 6 days fishing at the end of June including fishing the 4th of July Blue Marlin World Cup on Bazaruto. Seeing I had a few potential charters before and right after I declined some Captain and guiding work in Cuba and Madagascar and stayed behind. So, it was a big blow and hugely disappointing when Lothar, for some serious personal issues, had to cancel fishing the World Cup with us a couple of weeks before the date.
I quickly sent a few mails about our availability and luckily got two different parties interested in taking the spot the same week. We made arrangements to fish with Charles Holsted, the owner of Game Changer, the 38ft Super Cat we where initially fishing on.
The week prior to the 4th we did a couple days out wide and despite only having one bite from a Blue lady, there where lots of dorado and conditions looked OK. And we had a great time as always aboard the 38ft Game Changer and it´s barbecue & excellent bar!
But then, the weather changed for the worst with lots of southerly winds forecasted for the 3rd and the 4th! This was really bad luck as our winter is know for it´s calm placid weather, which has certainly been the norm the past few weeks. By Friday afternoon the forecast got worst with winds in excess of 20 knots so we made the call not to fish the BMWC out of Vilankulos – Bazaruto!
The next day I got a call from a bunch of good mates down in Maputo area who told me they had decided to fish the World Cup and when I told them we had decided not to fish they invited me to come down and fish with them. It was an easy decision and the next day, Saturday the 2nd July I was taking the quick plane ride from Vilankulos to Maputo. When I stepped of the plane in Maputo it was quiet a shock to feel the cold wind seeing the low pressure system that was predicted for bazaruto on the day was making it´s way across the area. But the prediction for Monday the 4th was relatively good and on Sunday afternoon we made our way to Santa Maria, on the south point of Inhaca Island. Even going into a head wind it was a pleasure to be aboard Phoenix, the 35ft Cabo we where to fish on….what a ride and what a special place…
Monday the 4th dawned overcast and with a stiff 15-18 knot wind from the south, worst conditions than predicted and unfortunately it never really eased down until after noon. After a hearty breakfast we slowly went out through Hell´s Gate (that divides Inhaca Island South point and Santa Maria Peninsula on the mainland) and slowly made our way to the 350-meter mark where we would start fishing at 8h30am, the tournament kick off in our time zone. It was disappointing to see the low pressure had pushed the water temperature to a staggering 21-22c. Over the last few years Inhaca´s Blue Marlin fishery has erupted into what can only be described as World class fishing…the season extends from October to May with December to April being the peak, so this was a far fetched exercise but everyone was in high spirits and it was a special feeling being aboard what we knew was the first ever Mozambique entry boat on the Blue Marlin World Cup.
We never had a bite from a Blue the all day, we did however get a Marlin, a 160-pound striped released by Dino Ramos. A feisty little fish that put on a nice show by the boat.
Elsewhere in the World Fiji and the few other teams on the time zone reported no hook-up has well. The first hook up and boated fish we heard off was on Olaf´s Andromeda in Cape Verde for angler Anthony Johnson. Their fish was a 101″ by 60 ” which put it very close if not under the 500 pound minimum weight so they continued fishing. They later reported another hook-up and released a small fish and their initial fish did not make the 500 mark. In the meantime Dreamin On, also in the Cape Verdes also reported boating a fish but at 467 pounds it was a non-qualifier!
Meanwhile we spoke to our good friends Joao, Marcelo and Juninho fishing out of Madeira on the Margarita with Capt. Januario. They had just lost a 650 plus pound Blue while on the leader. We where heartbroken for them! Not much later another report come in from Madeira. Blue Makaira had boated a fish they estimated at 600 pounds. The first pictures we received where not very conclusive. But when a picture come through a few minutes later with the fish coming out the boat one could see an immense girth…my gut feeling was over 800 (but pictures can be so deceiving!!!).
Well the measurements went 144 inches short length and 66 inch girth so it was clear they had well under estimated the fish. On the scales it went a hooping 983 pounds (445.5kg). This set a new benchmark for the remaining fleet, especially Bermuda and Hawaii (who had a record 55 boats fishing). This would be the fourth biggest fish to ever win the BMWC, so a hard one to beat but there where still a lot of boats to fish. On top, the guys on Blue Makaira had not entered the Big Blue Challenge so that was also still up for grabs!
Later on it was reported that Stephanie Choate aboard the “Real Addiction” in Bermuda was on the way to the scales with a fish of 117 by 64. At 625 pounds This fish was to win the Big Blue Challenge, as the record 55 entry´s from Hawaii could not better this.
A big congrats to them and for tournament director Roberto Fly Navarro, who did a brilliant job keeping us all informed in real time on this World Cup that had a record entry of 162 teams from around the World.
Next year we will try again!
Cheers & tight lines,