History

A BRIEF SPORTFISHING HISTORY

BAZARUTO ARCHIPELAGO – MOZAMBIQUE

While the once exceptional fishery for giant Black Marlin off Cabo Blanco in Peru was at its peak, and Australia’s ‘grander’ black marlin grounds off Cairns were but a distant dream, a group of pioneering anglers were turning their attention to the offshore waters on the eastern coastline of the dark continent, specifically to a small group of islands off the Mozambique coast, just north of the tropic of Capricorn.

It was men like Alfredo Esteves de Sousa, Jorge Brum do Canto, Vitorino Martins and Joao Sacadura Botte from Mozambique; Albert van der Riet, Mike Youngleson and Ralph Hulett from South Africa; and Basil Hill, Doug Dryden and Jim Mortleman from Rhodesia, to name a few, who first plied these waters and ultimately discovered and established what has become Africa’s and of the World´s Big-Game fishing mecca for Giant Black Marlin.

The area’s game fishing history seriously started when local Portuguese entrepreneur Joaquim Alves built a hotel on St Carolina Island (better known as Paradise Island) in 1955. Fishing from the hotel’s small and basic fleet of single-screw wooden boats with rudimentary fighting chairs and tackle, pioneer big-game anglers from colonial Mozambique, Rhodesia and South Africa soon started catching very big marlin.

On 28 October 1960, after an epic eight-hour battle, Ralph Hullet boated a 454.5kg (1002lb) black marlin, Africa’s first ‘grander’. Over the following 15 years, leading up to Mozambique’s independence from Portugal in 1974, many other giants were caught. Sandy Sanderson reset the African record at 516.6kg (1139lb) in October 1970.

The Mozambican civil war that erupted soon after literally put these fertile waters out of bounds for two decades. But despite the lack of infrastructure, by the mid- to late 1990s the area lured a few adventurous anglers back. They soon discovered that the war years had left the resources virtually untouched. In November 1998, while fishing from his 25ft trailer boat, the late Johnny Harrel broke the African all-tackle black marlin record with a mammoth fish of 588.76kg (1298lb).

Jonhy Harrel with the All African Black Marlin off 1289 lbs caught in November 1998
Jonhy Harrel with the All African Black Marlin off 1289 lbs caught in November 1998. Above pic, and below.

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Presently, the few operators in the area still mainly focus on the excellent light tackle game fishing the Archipelago offers year round, but in recent years an increasing number of charter and private boats have shifted their focus to the outstanding heavy tackle opportunities. The results have been outstanding, especially when one considers the minute number of experienced boats and crews actually fishing these waters.

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The number of Giant Black Marlin and very decent size Blues released each year has grown exponentially, with a good number of Blacks over the magical 1000-pound mark. Over the last eight years the charter boat Vamizi, Captained by Duarte Rato, alone released 6 estimated at over a 1000 pounds and weighted another two of 1107 lbs and 1098 lbs.

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It is definitely the caliber of it´s heavy tackle Marlin fishing that allures an ever-increasing number of International anglers to these waters. But, besides that, there is the outstanding game fishing and by-catch possibilities when targeting Marlin and there is definitely something magical to be said about plying such bountiful waters in an exquisite, untouched and breathtaking scenery and for most times without another single boat in sight. Something of a rarity and privilege in these time and age.

 

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