2017 BAZARUTO MARLIN HEAVY TACKLE SEASON WRAP-UP
2017 was an absolute gem of a fishing year…
It started with some light tackle game fishing and GT popper charters from Vilankulos from Feb to March, followed by a short Blue Marlin stint off Inhaca Island. In April and early May we where back for some decent Bazaruto Marlin fishing, both on Black´s & Blue´s, along with excellent game fish aboard Game Changer. We then headed to Cape Verde for two awesome months of B&S for Blue Marlin aboard the Smoker, followed by a short but very sweet trip to Madeira on the Katherine B. Back home, we enjoyed some great light tackle fishing in August and then had an epic Bazaruto Marlin Heavy Tackle season aboard Vamizi from mid-September to early December.
All in all, we got 86 Marlin for the year (41 Black´s & 45 Blues) with almost 30% (26) fish of 500 pounds or more, with 12 of them being over 700. Our biggest Blue went 850 and the biggest Black a 1000 pound plus fish.
We also caught a few Striped Marlin, a couple White Marlin and a bunch of Sailfish….and then some nice GT´s, many Yellowfin tuna, wahoo, cuda, dorado, barracuda and a kaleidoscope of to many other species to mention!
But, we have previously reported on the blog about all the year so here´s a short wrap up of the 2017 Heavy-Tackle Black Marlin Season of Bazaruto, Mozambique.
Although, the Heavy-Tackle only come out in mid-September, it all really started in early August when we got back from overseas and where surprised to see beautiful deep blue water at a very high temperature (for the time) around 25c. The game fishing we were targeting was wild but the best was that, there where loads of little Black Marlin around. We kept getting stuck to them as a by-catch on the light gear we were using for game fish. Like the previous two years the wahoo run in August was phenomenal both on quantity (with 20 plus fish day´s) and quality (many fish over 25 and even 30 kilos). There were also Yellowfin tuna up to 40 kilos, queen and king mackerel, dorado, some sailfish, the usual bonnies and skipjack and some other species around…
It turned out to be an exceptional good fishing year for all species at Bazaruto but, and maybe that´s why, real odd as far as the water temperature is concerned. When it was supposed to be at its lowest in late July the water was exceptional high around 25c. Then, at a time when it was supposed to do the exact opposite, it started going down, reaching the low´s 24c in mid-September. Throughout October to mid-November, when we had the best fishing time and lots of big girls, the water was again exceptionally low between 24.4 & 24.9c. And, when an amazing body of water in the, normally ideal 26c, finally made it to the archipelago (a month and a half late) in mid-November, when conditions really looked good, it sort of started thinning out….go figure!
Anyway, we eventually brought out the heavy tackle in mid-September and although it was not on fire there were enough Blacks in the 150 to 350 pound range to keep it interesting, with the added bonus of finding one or two blues every time one ventured out wide.
As was the case in August, all the way to late September the vast majority of game fish and Marlin where to be found down south between the Canyon and Linene. We also got a few fish around Sailfish Bay and had an exceptional by-catch on the lures during this time, mainly on big wahoo (up to 32 kg´s), dorado and some good yellowfin tuna to 43 kilos.
Then, right at the end of the month and into early October the numbers, and most importantly, the size of the fish, started to improve.
We started October going 4 for 5 in the first four days, unfortunately missing the only real nice fish we saw for the charter at around 650 pounds. From then on, we saw big fish on an almost daily basis for the next five week´s.
The first big fish of the season was on the 8th of October on a live skipjack out of sailfish bay. This was Mike Gooch first ever Marlin at 700 pounds. The quality of the fishing just improved, and by now we were finding them really good up north, mostly at lighthouse and Nhangoose. On the 10th we had 6 fish up (with four bites before 10am) and released a 600 out of a double on live bait along with a mid-ranger, and where unlucky, to pull the hooks on a 700 right by the boat.
By the second week of October there were a couple other boats fishing and everyone was getting into them on a daily basis and it just kept getting better!
The next week we saw 17 and released 8 and where, once again, unlucky to miss a lot of fish and pull on two nice one´s right by the boat, that had taken big YFT tuna live baits. We had Nick Chalk and his mates from the UK with us for 4 days right after and he caught his first ever Marlin (a small one) on the first day. We then went on to release another 4 in the next three days including an 800, a 700 and a 400.
October´s weather was a mix between a few calm days, lots of challenging days, some pretty hairy days and even a few blowouts’ due to some pretty heavy low pressure system´s. This was the case around the third week of October but with the fishing we were experiencing no one was minding the sporty conditions and when we got out there after the big blow it was flat calm and the fish was still red hot.
On the 24th we started with Carl, Andrew and Ryan and within 20 minutes of setting the spread, at the end of the incoming on the northern edge of the throat at the canyon, hooked up to a really good fish and Andrew was in the chair to fight his first ever Marlin. Just under the two-hour mark, and with the drag on the corner for the last half of the fight, we got her by boat side, tagged and let her go at about 1 100 lbs.
Two days later and again on the first tack of the morning we once again hooked up to a good fish, this time up north at lighthouse. Unfortunately, this one got tail wrapped and although Ryan did a great job in the chair she was dead when we finally got her up and had to boat her at 814 pounds. We finished the charter with a 350 pounder for Carl the next day. 3 for 3 with two big fish including the best of the season and we spent a lot of time jigging and plugging, catching a few decent GT´s and other critters.
There were some other Bazaruto marlin caught around this time by Big Bob up to 350, Sailfish up to 550 and Marlin up to 650.
Then, during the first two days of November we had the first real slow lull of the season. But, can´t real complain of having two slow days after a month of insanity and by early morning of the 3rd they were on the bite again.
We started the day up north and hooked up to an 800 on a lure that pulled the hooks close to the boat. Put the spread out and fifteen minutes later hooked up again on the same lure and this time brought in a 700 for the release. While we were fighting, Marlin hooked up next to us on a live bait and got a 600. Further down south Fish Theraphy also released a 600. We raised another two mid rangers that would not commit for the day.
We had now averaged a fish a day for the last month and this included 8 fish over 500 and up to 1000 plus. Although these where great numbers and we had an absolute amazing hookup ratio on the lures we had pulled on at least another five fish over 600. Most of these took big YFT live baits, the only baits which we could find, which are `tasty´ but do not provide the best conversions. Think these fish just contract their stomachs when those big baits are turning around on the drop and just hold on to them and never really get hooked up! We had a fair number which we fought to the boat just to have them spit the bait, sometimes after 20 minutes or more.
The bite had mostly been either down south at the canyon or up north at lighthouse but most interestingly was that for the last 5 weeks the bite, regardless of tides, had, for the most part been in the very early morning. We actually started going out at 5h30, half an hour after we normally do, and even had an 8-day stretch that we hooked a fish every day within an hour of fishing.
We then had a couple of slower, unlucky days where we raised 2 each day but either missed or pulled the hooks on small to mid-ranger´s. This was the time of the season there where most boats around (and even then, it was less than 10). There was some fish caught by other boats. Sailfish did really well over this two days releasing 3 up to 450.
Then, once again there was big southeasterly predicted to arrive on the afternoon of the 8th.
We had caught a bunch of game fish in the morning, then our live baits got sharked and we set the lures but the water was off color at Giant´s. I was starting to lose faith in our beloved area we call our “garden“, with only one fish caught there so far, the all season. This was startling, seeing this area, between the bottom end of V mile reef and top end of II mile reef, is by far and wide, where we catch the most fish, season after season.
Anyway, just then BIG BOB called me to report they just released a mid-ranger down by the Big-C place, north of the canyon. I needed no more persuasion and anyway we would be downwind when the big blow came. We set the lures, a straight tack south and got there around noon and on our second turn hooked up on the short corner and released a small fish for Brian. The wind slowly started to come up and we started tacking north. Both, Big Bob and Sailfish, came on the radio and said they were picking up to go as the wind was now starting to tear up really good. I was about to do the same when a fish appeared on the long right and hooked up. Luckily, the 600-pound fish was a jumper and stayed on top, after some rodeo stuff in very rough conditions we tagged and let her go for Ian Steed.
On the same day and around the same time, but much further north, Alladin´s hooked up to a much larger fish on a live skipjack fished on a downrigger. They fought the fish for a few good hours and boated it. After a very rough ride home in 30 knot plus winds they weighted her at 945 pounds.
We had a couple days’ blowout and against all predictions, when we got out there, the water had gone real green with lots of jellyfish and dead plankton on the top. It looked real bad, however, quiet amazingly those who persisted on this tough conditions where surprisingly rewarded.
We all know Blacks can and do eat in green water, but its just not the same! But, it was more of a mental challenge than anything seeing the fish, although lethargic and not real red hot, where nevertheless bitting during that pea soup week. We, on Vamizi caught 4 out of 7 up to 500, the visiting boat from Zambia Squimfemfe did really well with a good number of fish to 600, and ´Tamos Juntos, Game Changer and Sailfish all got fish. Big Bob also got a few, including two nice one´s which they put at 700 and 900 plus.
Finally, on the 16th of November a real nice body of water pushed in. At an ideal 26c, it was the best-looking water we saw the all season. Amazingly, from here after the bait, slowly but consistently started to disappear. When this happens at Bazaruto the fish, disperse and start being real sluggish on the lures and it´s the time to live bait or dead bait, if one can find the bait, that is. Interestingly, this new body of water also brought an amazing number of real small Black Marlin in the 10 to 30 kilo range which were being caught daily on light tackle by the boats in the shallow reefs while looking for bait. It also brought, for a week or so, good numbers of sailfish which had been scarce up to now (their peak season on the archipelago is May-Sep).
But, despite the slower fishing, everyone was still seeing fish on a daily basis and some good one´s at that.
On the 17th, the boat Quatro hooked a very big Bazaruto Marlin, early morning out of sailfish bay. They fought the lure hooked fish on #130 tackle for an astonishing 9h30 hours before the line got caught and cut on the propeller in the dark. They estimated the fish to be in excess of 1 400 lbs.
Diversity rather than quality seemed to be order of the week with many Sailfish, many little blacks along with a few good ones, and some Striped and Blue Marlin released out wide.
We did not find any big fish for the week although we missed one around 700 but did have some fun days, almost getting a grand slam on two of them. The first day we caught a Black and a sailfish but could not find a Blue out wide and another day we got 2 sailfish, a striped Marlin and where unlucky to miss two Black´s.
Most boats had left by the last week of November and besides us there was only one to two other vessels fishing on a daily basis out there.
Bazaruto Explorer did really well on their week and a half of fishing Bazaruto, catching a few good fish including one late afternoon on the 26th. It had been raining the all day and after enduring this by ourselves all day we come in at noon. Baz Explorer braved it out there late afternoon in the pouring rain and hooked a nice one on a live bait they fought into the dark which they boated and weighted at 912 lbs.
It was interesting to see that as mentioned before, we had five weeks straight when the bite was mostly in the early morning. Then, from mid-November, it was pretty much anytime, but mostly around the tides and for the last two weeks we fished it seemed to be real late.
Sailfish also released a few up to 350 and reported seeing and missing a couple of bigger fish.
With their dead bait program, Big Bob had the best week of everyone getting the most numbers and also a couple good fish including a 550 and a 700.
Our last week aboard Vamizi was pretty slow, think we had now used all the good luck we had for the season 🙂 and suffered an acute rubber hook syndrome, missing a few good one´s up to 800. We did however release a couple mid ranger´s and two small ones. We finished up on the 6th of December, although the boys will carry on with guests all the way to early January. For me and after back to back charters for 3 straight months it´s family & rest time…
That´s pretty much it and although there are still some fish out there very few boats, are targeting them, seeing mostly are plugging for GT´s and other trevally species on the jig (which as both been excellent) or light tackle game fishing. There is a Marlin caugh here and there and last week Christian reported going 2 for 2 on fish up to 300 and just today (22nd December) Alex told me he pulled on a 700-pound fish. There will be fish all the way now but, if it is anything like last year, they should start showing pretty good from March to early May when the water comes down to a good temperature again. At that time we can both expect both, Blacks and also Blues out wide which actually stretch into the winter months…
This was my 17th season on the Archipelago and a really good one, but they all awesome and this place with all its beauty, close fishing grounds, very few boats and unique idiosyncrasies (which make it so difficult and exciting to fish) is just absolutely surreal.
Every season, year after year I learn so much more about this place and that just keeps it so interesting and unique!!!
I just hope I am here for many years to come to enjoy this place with all you guys that make it here, season after season.
First and foremost a BIG THANK you to all of you who made it here to fish with us on VAMIZI, without you none of this would be possible so, cheers!!!!!
Also, a big thank you to;
The boys, Alex, Alberto, Americo and Lourenco for their superb hard work, never ending smiles and most of all passion for it…
Roy & all the team at Anantara Bazaruto Island Resort, a very special place, which as you know, after 17 years I call home…..
Ryan and the team at Pulsator lures for their lures….our most successful lures this season where the Marlin Magnet, Wriggler, Predator and Tube.
Grant and the guys at Tatlow & Pledger
Suli & Omar at Fourways Solly´s Angler´s Corner…
Brad Kidd for the amazing custom made Calstar rods…
And of course to Gretha and the kids, it’s not easy to be away & it was good to have you on the island…..thanks for knowing and understanding love xxxx
To all of you, a Merry Christmas and great 2018…
Post prepared by The Sardine News
Read more of Duarte’s reports right here…