The GT’s of Bazaruto
Although we have decided to take most of this time off for Admin work we have had a number of charters which the guys have been running. The last couple weeks of January we had a number of guest’s light tackle game fishing from the Island and they run into some good action up north by lighthouse. There were some smaller model YFT and cuda around but it was the Bludger kingfish that run the show, with huge schools showing shallow between lighthouse and Nhangosse. The boys reported wild action on the troll, spinning and popping although it was hard going with the taxmen right in the action.
Over that last week in January the boys also reported some BIG Marlin encounters in the limited time they trolled the big stuff along with a few smaller Blacks caught in shallow on the bait rods. Interestingly there where two real nice fish lost, both at Sailfish Bay, with VAMIZI missing one of about 600 and IBO pulling the hooks on a fish they called 800 plus, which had the novice client, asked in all seriousness, while the fish was jumping; Is that a Marlin or a Whale! The best Marlin caught over this time was a 400-pound black aboard MALINDI.
Talking of Marlin, although not many boats out it´s been pretty good down south at Inhaca with daily action on good numbers of Striped and Blue Marlin…can´t wait to get there in March!
Our good friend and loyal client, Louwtjie Nel, had called and asked if I could guide them on a three-day, light tackle, jigging and popping family fishing trip. I booked them to stay at VDP and fish on the 38ft Game Changer. Heavy rain and northerly wind prior to their arrival turned the extremely warm water, which at 28c is actually below normal for this time of year, utterly green. Reports where not good and a day before they arrived on the 2nd of February the forecasted predicted heavy rain for the next few days.
We did not have to worry, neither with the weather or the fishing…
The next three days where absolutely gorgeous and we enjoyed some brilliant action…
The day they arrived we decided to do a short trip to Magaruque to get the end of the incoming tide. It was slow as we started with the poppers at around 4pm. I had told the guys it was still early and if they were to bite it would be around 5 just before the turn. At the end of the fourth drift, right after 5pm Warren got a bite on his purple skywalker stickbait and released the first GT of the trip.
The next drift was insane and we had at least 5 GT ´s come up. GT ‘s everywhere! Three just boiled on the lures, a good fish took a GT ice cream on a light stick meant for much smaller fish and reefed us and we pulled hooks on another fish about 12 kg. As fast as the GT’s had come on the bite they disappeared. But, it was an auspicious start to the trip nevertheless.
The plan for the next morning was to leave early to catch the tide once again at Magaruque. But, we were late and with outgoing tide as we passed through, decided to carry on out further south, straight away. We did a short first day only fishing to 10am and then went into one of the sand banks to have a barbecue. But, it was a sobering first day, full of action, but not very successful and at the end of it everyone was looking at their tackle, knots, leaders and scratching their heads. The boys had been badly smashed, broken, refeed, and literally shattered by the amount of fish they could not stop! At the end of the short morning they had released a couple GT ´s, some Yellowfin tuna, bludger and some good yellowspotted trevally but, had been broken by some serious size GT ´s (mostly on the jig and one on the popper), 29 to 5!!! Heartbreaking and later talking to Louwtjie, we understood why all the fluorocarbon leader and assist hooks where breaking. It had been 5 years since he had last used these, and of course in the meantime the fluro had gone brittle and the cord on the assist hooks rusted away. Back to the drawing board. But, great fun nevertheless…
We started outside best on the second day and we had an amazing session on yellowfin and skipjack tuna, both on the troll and light tackle spinning rods. There where skipjack schools everywhere, some of them with Yellowfin tuna mixed in. One just had to drive around until we found the one´s with both species and the fun begun. We caught / released 14 yelllowfin tuna and a few more skipjack in that three-hour session. The biggest yellowfin where between 12 and 14 kilos but we had a double of much bigger fish that ended in tears as they were both sharked. After a gruesome fight, first with the Yellowfin and then the shark Paulo ended in tears only getting a YFT tuna head back. Meanwhile, Andreas was still holding strong to his YFT and could finally chase his fish. After about 20 minutes Andreas felt two heavy thugs on his rod and we all knew what that meant. He did not give up and eventually after about an hour brought in a big bronzie for a release, quite a feat on a small bait rod with a TLD 25 reel.
After a barbecue lunch of what everyone agreed was some of the best meat any of us had had in a long time it was back to business. We finished the day jigging and released another GT, some bludger and yellowspotted trevally´s and a few other species. We also had a number of cuda chop us off on the jigs and Louwtjie hooked, by far the biggest fish of the day, a big GT which we held one for a long time and when we tough we had him beaten fair and square the #100 leader broke on the knot – later I found out they had tied it on the split ring! Learning curve for the guys and everyone was as humble as one can be with the sheer power of these fish.
As we got on the third and last day, we were greeted with even more schools of skipjack. This time there were no yellowfin in the mix, but the sheer number of schools was amazing, everywhere we looked we saw birds signaling schools, all of which moving south, at an appalling speed, as only skipjack can do. We spent the first few hours of the morning chasing them and releasing skipjack on the very light spinning sticks. It was great fun and they were smashing the small GT ice creams and onda onda´s the boys where casting. If a school went down or stopped feeding it was matter of scanning around and moving into the next one. Eventually, we had moved way further south than I had initially intended so there was a change of plans and we decide to go jigging down south.
First I went to a deeper reef starting the drift at around 46 meters and going pass the pinnacle at 31 meters before it plunged again. On the very first drift and as the wall started to climb I saw some good markings on the sounder, and immediately both, Lowitjie and his son Warren hooked up in their jigs. As I climbed down from the bridge to get my camera someone shouted Shark! Quickly followed by Marlinnnnnnn! As I turned around a good 400-pound Black was, bill out the water and a mere three meters from the transom, grabbing on to the big bonito at the end of the line. As I screamed open, open and run to Lowtjie to make sure he either open his bail or the drag, the fish just run and broke the braid. No one´s fault, everything just happens to quickly for any reaction, but what a sight for the guys to witness.
I´ll stop here and just tell you the short version of Louwtjie´s first ever Marlin (he as now a number of fish of Bazaruto and a trip we did to the great barrier reef).
This was back in October 2014. Louwtjie had chartered us for a few days of popping and jigging, which obviously, being the peak of the Big Black Marlin Season, was nothing short of exasperating! Even though we had some great days with one very special session at III trees reef that none of us will ever forget. On the first day Louwtjie had also released his first ever Sailfish. On one of the days we had gone way north to 25-mile reef. After a rather slow session there in the morning I suggested we put the Marlin lures (anything to get some Marlin time) and troll south for an afternoon plugging session at lighthouse with the incoming tide. We had the four Marlin rods out and a couple bait rods. As we got just outside lighthouse we picked up a skipjack on one of the small rods. I asked (or most probably begged) if we could put this thing out as live bait just for a while. We rigged the bait and was still holding on to the leader, waiting for the boys to clear the lines and deck, when a mammoth Black showed up, almost eating the transom´s paint. I literally hand fed the fish and when I started to come up on the drag, hoping with all almighty that the circle would find the corner, this massive fish clears completely out the water and we all see the bait go flying. I am cursing beyond imagination when I just hear Louwtjie, dumbstruck in the chair, right behind me…
“Thank GOD that think got off, it was a monster, we would have never caught it“
I still find this absolutely hysterical, here is a fish, the size of which, many men and woman pursuit their all life, most, never even to see one, but Louwtjie, mesmerized by his first ever sight of a truly GIANT Marlin was happy to see it miss the hook!
Well, the story does have a happy ending, at least for me. As I slowly reeled in the now dead skipjack, a massive swirl appeared behind it. Knowing the fish was, amazingly, still there, I told Alberto to put the boat in gear and as soon as the bait started skipping, this fish pounded on it and this time we hooked up. Louwtjie got in the chair and 2 hours later released a fish we conservatively called 950 plus pounds!
Anyway, back to our last day and after that short Marlin encounter we got a nice yellowspotted on the next drift, followed by a couple smaller bludgers on the next. We then had another good yellowspotted sharked. The next fish bit the jig fairly close to the surface and took off at enormous speed. Most likely a wahoo it spooled us before we could do anything.
We moved to pinnacle number 1 off linene and caught a number of species, mostly small trevally´s on the dropshoot, some rainbow runner´s, groupers and lost a really nice cuda by the boat on a live torpedo scad we had caught on a spoon. On the rare occasion, I through a popper had the only GT we had on the surface that day but the hooks never set. Warren did one better and caught a really got GT on the drop shot, for the very light gear he was using. We then caught a cuda which we kept for dinner!
By midday we decided to have a break and this time we barbecued some fish, calamari and prawns, with some potato salad and bread rolls on the side and washed down with some ice cold 2M´s. Like Louwtjie said, I have never, ever, eaten like this one a boat!
The plan was to finish the day with a jigging session up north where we had found all the monster fish the previous two days. As we got there a massive skipjack school was busting with a few dorado mixed in. We had some fun on the light spinning outfits but the school was moving fast north and the guys had to make a decision. We decided to stay put and go jigging.
Again, the last session was epic but again very humbling. We got a couple smaller fish but got smashed by five huge GT ´s. They were biting very close to the reef and it was just impossible to stop them. Eventually I decided to put a heavy jig on the biggest (plugging) outfit we had and go down with it. On the third down I hooked up, had this reel tighten max and still this fish just teared me apart and in less than 15 seconds I was reefed. The same happen to Louwtjie twice and Warren. On our last drift, Warren got stuck into another huge fish and after 30 seconds he had survived the initial chaos. After 2 minutes, we thought we could land this thing. Now, Warren is a big, fit, young man, but after 7 minutes with the extreme drag he was using he said he could hold on no longer as his back was killing him. The fish was still deep, with the head shakes that only GT ´s do. Louwtjie took over and all of a sudden, the fish started to give way. The Gopro showed only 8 minutes of extreme fight and the fish was right under the boat when all of a sudden all went limp. The leader had simply given up, the #100 pound the guys had brought was just not strong enough. What a way to finish it off, humble but happy we returned for a few drinks by the pool, where we discussed tactics and tackle for the next trip to Bazaruto.
Great few days with a great bunch of guys…..thanks & and until next time.
We pretty much booked out until late June but have our second boat optional and still availability in July and August for our crazy winter wahoo run, sailfish, juvenile Black Marlin and many other ideal light tackle game fish species along with popping, jigging and fly-fishing. GT ‘s!
We also still have two slots available for the Giant Black Marlin Season (Sep-December 2018)
Duarte A. M. Rato
Sportfishing Charters @ Vilankulos & Bazaruto Archipelago
FB: MarlinMoz Sportfishing & fishbazaruto.com
Phone: 00 258 82 805 7160 / 00 258 84 639 0466