Captains Log

105 Sailfish in 10 days – Madagascar ´19 – Part II

105 Sailfish in 10 days – Madagascar ´19 – Part II


In early July, we went back to the Castor Banks in Madagascar for a 2-week trip, mostly targeting sailfish. Our first week started with some green water and lazy fish. Progressively it got better and we ended releasing 42 Sailfish in 5 days plus a number of other species.

On the first report, we covered the techniques and spread we used, rigging, bait, etc, introducing the boats and crew as well as the day to day action and pictures.

You can see the 1st week report here;


On Saturday, the 5th July, we released 12 on a half day before getting on ADIVA for a relaxing sail back to land to drop off Gareth, pick up Neil and refuel, re-stock and get back out there early on Monday, the 7th.

Fortunately, Neil was able bring us some more gear from SA seeing we were running out. An extra 600 meters of leader, 100 chin weights (that never made the end of the second week), an extra 100 hooks and 50 skirts, that also never saw the end of the trip.















Sunday morning was a proper adventure for myself and Ian.

Jacques, who runs the land operation told us he had not found any bait.


So, after a hearty breakfast at Le Blue, we got on the car and went on a mission to find some. We drove to town where Nono was already sourcing them out. I could not have been happier when I saw a bag with 320, freshly caught halfbeaks. It was not only that at last we had enough bait. It was that for the first time ever, we had some fresh-looking bait! Not those mini, dried out scruffy looking halfbeaks. This one´s actually looked like they were real, glittering by the eyes and some even too big for sailfish baits!




We went shopping for groceries on a new, superbly stocked supermarket and then went to look for proper Whisky which was nowhere to be found at the store. That proved the most difficult. We went to the real back streets, the shanty town of HellsVille and, eventually found a few Johnny Black´s on some dodgy, street corner, Chinese bottle store.

By now we had delayed everything and, Gareth should have left to the airport so, Jacques dropped us off in a petrol station. Well, myself, Ian and Nano, 320 halfbeaks, 30 liters of fuel, and some whisky and grocery shopping squeezed into a Tuk-Tuk to get back to Le Blue!

Hilarious stuff…one had to see it to believe…the mind still wonders how we all fitted in.

But with that category bait I would have walked back or climb on top of the bloody tuk-tuk!!! Was I happy to have this much fresh bait!!!!


Chilling at “le Blue“& Football night…

After making sure the bait was packed properly and welcoming senor Neil, the rest of the day was spent chilling at Le Blue. An appropriate Sunday lunch of roasted lamb chops and Pork ribs watered down by many Black´s Label´s. We went back to the boat and moved to Krater for, what we thought, was going to be an early and relaxing night.

But no, Madagascar, who this year made it to the CAF finals for the first time ever, where playing the DRC Congo. They had gone through to the quarter finals and where the big surprise of the event. We set up some Wi-Fi and watched the game with the crew. Madagascar won on penalty’s and the celebrations could be heard on land from afar!


(L)Leaving Krater Bay aboard Joz-Joz at sunrise once again, with a dhow and ADIVA on the background. (R)Zebbo cooling off the Nosy Be beach…
….and the resort & restaurant Le Blue, where we spent most of our Sunday chilling while the boys stocked up and refueled.



















08/07  – Half Day                   36-21-16-12

We had a nice breakfast and boarded Joz-Joz for the long ride back to the bank.

The water was an amazing color and flat calm in the morning with a breeze picking up in the afternoon. We raised many fish for the half day but they were lazy and did not even get a decent bite on more than a third of the fish we raised!

About 15 minute after setting lines we hooked up on two sailies, one come off after a series of jumps and we released the other.

We had a 20-minute lull and then it went absolutely ballistic….no time to have lunch which was already out!!! Did not have 15 minutes of continuously trolling for the next hour and a half…

Raised one on the flippy teaser that would not switch.

5 minutes later get another 2 up and one bite and release.

Put lines back and 8 minutes later raised a really hot one which come all the way to the boat and switched to Ian´s bait right by the boat, awesome bite. While fighting it we raised another that would not bite. Released the first fish.

12 minutes later we raise three but only get one bite which we missed.

6 minutes later again only one bite out of two that hooks up but comes undone.

10 minutes later get a bite which we convert and release.

5 mins after setting them out raised one that would not switch

12 minutes and another bite on the long which we hooked and released.

10 minutes of lines in the water hook one on the long and then another two show up on the teasers. We get one bite and hook up but by this time Gideon forgot to let us know his running out of line and when I check it’s too late and we actually got spooled…not nice!!! Released the other!

Then it went slower giving us some time to re-spool and eat a very late lunch.

The first one we raised after this did not switch and then, 15 minutes later bite on the short skip bait and release. Put the lines in and in less than 5 minutes we raised two had one bite which we missed.

Then late afternoon we raised enough of them, but again real lazy…

First raised one that did not switch and then had four up, but only two bites and released one. Not five minutes later again had 4 up, again two bites and one release.

20 minutes and raised 3, two bites and again only released one.

Raised one more that would not switch and that was it for a half day we had 36 up, but only 21 bites of which we released 12!


(L)Getting Go Pro and photographs of a jumping Sailfish.
(R) Doc before letting go a sailfish caught on the first half day of the second week.
Beautiful Sailfish Jump in flat calm water at noon on the way to the Castor Banks…

















09/07                          –                       33-22-14-14

Started the day with a +-45-minute popping session, something we would do every morning for the week. But it was slow going, I guess mostly because the water visibility was just ridiculous clean by now.

We set them up and, shortly after, around 8am, get a fish on the teaser. Beauty switch and released the first for the day. About 20 minutes later we raised at least 5, with four bites and three hookups’, all of which we released. Then at 9am raised a lazy one that did not switch and get another bite on the long that does not connect. Then another lazy one on the teasers that does not switch.

It was an eventful morning and between all the sailfish, the razor gang was out in full force and we went through almost 40 baits by 10am, releasing a few barracudas and a doggie.

We raised another two around 11 that would not switch but then, and as the current start to push they come on with a tad more appetite! Within the next hour and a half, we raised 19 and released 6…when you take into consideration the time you actually reeling them in, its mind boggling!

11h55 – Nice 45 kilo plus fish eats the short swim bait and release.

12h14 – Amazing bite on the short strip bait & release. Raised another two while fighting it but no bite.

12h35 – 3, 2 and 1 release.

12h54 – 3, 2 and 1 release. Raise another while fighting, no bite.

13h16 – AGAIN…..3, 2 and 1 release

13h34 – Pack Attack…at least 5 fish up, we get three bites and release 2 fish!

Then we have a lull around the tide change, but despite not as fast, we have some action late afternoon!

First, we raise 2 lazy fish on the teaser that would not switch and as they faded one takes the long and we hookup and release.

Get a blind take on the left long and also released.

As we are about to bring in the lines we get a fish come on the short strip bait, no take, goes on to the swim bait on the opposite side and we hook up. By far the most acrobatic and strongest fish of the 14 we got on the day. A real fighter that gave Neil a good tussle to end a great day.

Some epic action and going through over 80 baits for the day!

No one mentions it, still plenty to go but, in our optimism, we now thinking that maybe, just maybe, we can get up to 100 releases for the trip!



The second day, especially around noon, provided some insane Sailfish action, including a few multiple hookups’. Our morning´s invariably started with a 45-minute popping session at sunrise…


















10/07                          –                       12-7-5-4

Well, mother earth had different plans and at around 1 pm that morning the wind come up and shifted to the E. It was messy to say the least when we left in the morning.

Getting on the dingy and on the game boat was a story on its own.

And that change in weather certainly changed the bite…

After our usual popping session, we set them up, but, the wind, swell and chop was way too much to fish our usual spread. We took the long baits out (as they would just mess up with the teasers on a bite) and decided to only pitch.

It was slow going and only mid-way through it did we release one that come on the flippy floppy right teaser and had a great switch. We missed another one and before noon put the long´s out once again. The sail fishing was slow but the razor gang was in full force.

Had another miss the long and just after midday finally had a bit of short lived action.

Raised a double and one come hot on the teaser right to the boat, turned and took the pitch right there a few meters from the transom but did not connect. The other faded.

10 minutes later get a bite on the long swim bait and released that one.

Caught a nice dorado for dinner and then have three come up, 2 bites, missed one and hooked the other which we released. We then had a fish come hot on the teaser right to the boat, turned, ignored two baits right next to it and faded away.

The guys do 15 minutes’ beat´s and incredibly all three fish we released had come on Neil´s beat. Amazingly the next fish come once again on Neil’s beat, on the short-left swim bait and he released his fourth fish for the day. We still had one other fish come in on the teaser then take a swipe at a bait and just swim away from it.

It was slow going, everyone was pretty beat up and we decided to have an early end to the day and just relax in the afternoon aboard ADIVA. Early drinks and delicious dorado dinner…


Slow fishing and very rough weather where the order on a day when every single of the four Sailfish we caught where on Neil Bartie´s beat.
The rubber duck transfers from the Yacht to the fishing boat are normally quite chilled, but when the swell gets up, which was not the case on our third day, it can get hairy to say the least…





11/07                          –                       44-34-28-21

It was once again windy and messy in the early morning.

We have a slow popping session and spirits where not high as we set the spread out under some rainy weather.

We picked up a doggie and then a wahoo, both right in the corner and amazingly none cut the leader.

Wahoo carpaccio for dinner….things where looking up!

Out first saily bite comes on the short swim bait. While we fighting it there´s loads of frigate birds circling the area above us. We release the fish.

As we putting the two longs on the rigger, simultaneously, they ripped out of our hands and we hook up to two freight away trains.

Doc brings in a 15kg YFT, but Neil´s is a much bigger, stubborn fish. Eventually after a dodgy, back breaking 45-minute fight, we see color and gaff a 30 kg YFT. A great catch on the light tackle sailfish rigs.


The 4th day started with a Bang including a dogtooth and a wahoo, an early morning Sailfish followed by a double on nice YFT, the biggest a 30 kilo back breaking fish, that gave Neil punishment for 45 minutes.

















We set the lines and in 10 minutes have 3 sailfish up, two bites and hookup´s.

One pulls next to the boat and we release the other.

As we putting the teasers out and literally as the flippy floppy touches the water there´s a saily right behind it. Pitch a bait, amazing bite meters from the transom, hookup and release that one.

Ten minutes later another on the short which we release.

All of this before 10h30, released 4 in less than an hour of actual fishing….but, only then does it go

10h44 – Fish on teaser, nice switch and release.

11h08 – get bitten by wahoo, as we putting that bait out it gets taken by a saily but miss it.

11h20 – hook one and while fighting raise another that we miss, release the first one´

11h50 – hook one on the long, and while fighting it the swivel breaks!!!!

12h10 – PACK ATTACK, probably 5 fish and we get 3 bites and hook all three. One comes off by the boat, we have another swivel break and release the other!

12h24 – raised 4, get two bites and hook two, one comes off and the other chafes the leader.

12h34 – 4 up, two bites and release one

12h48 – As we put the lines out raise one on the long which we hook and release.

13h02 – Putting them out again and one on the teaser, switch and hook and release.

Then we have a lull of about an hour which gives us time to have a bite and rig more bait.

14h14 – Two bites and hookup´s. AGAIN we have a swivel bend, which is the third time it happens on the day and since the Centro´s finished and we switched to the AFW ball bearing swivels. Very frustrating! Release the other, a good fish of about 40 kilos.

14h28 – As we putting them out raise 2 and get one bite. As we fighting it we raise another two swimming around the boat. They come on the baits but no take. I even through a popper at them with no joy. Release the fish and set them up.

We now very low on bait, pull in the lines set the teasers and start only pitch baiting, using crappy strips from the big wahoo and tuna on the boat. We have now used all the 85 baits we had packed in the morning. Besides the fast sailfish action the razor gang is giving us no spare time with cut offs after cut offs in the little time that we actually trolling. We have a lull that gives us some time to reinvent some baits out of the fish we having for dinner. Not belly strips (those are finished) but from all over…then they start coming on the teasers.

15h24 – Hook one and raise another while fighting it but no bite, release the first fish

15h58 – Massive pack attack, raised at least 6 fish and everyone is throwing pitch baits over the side. We get 4 bites, miss one but hook and release the other three.

16h14 – Again a massive pack attack with at least 5 fish in there and again 4 bites and we hook three fish. One chafes though the leader but we release the other two.

We out of bait but smiling from hear to hear with the full pack action day where we saw over 40 and released 21 sailfish and a lot of good quality game fish.

Drinks where flowing, dinner of wahoo carpaccio and seared Yellowfin tuna was delicious and life was, as Ian puts it…
as good as it gets!


Our fourth day of the second week was by far the most action-packed day and helped a long way to getting released 105 Sailfish in 10 days. We were almost out of bait by 2pm and by the last released fish where completely out, we got some really nice gamefish and got cut offs countless times by the Razor Gang. Ended raising 44 for the day, with 34 bites, 28 hookups´s and 21 Sailfish releases!!!


















12/07                          –                       32-24-19-08

Once again started with a popping session for about 45 mins but where only rewarded with a nice boil on Doc´s popper that never stuck.

We had a sailfish bite right after we set them up but broke on the leader by the boat. A sort of things to come for a day when a lot went wrong but when, we at least achieved the 100th sailfish release for the trip.

Just before 8 we get three up and hooked one up on the small daisy chain that opens the little 4/0 hook. We release the other.

A while later we slowed down to pull in a barracuda we hooked on a long. As we bringing in the left teaser three fish show up behind it. We get two bites and hook both. It was chaos as we still the other lines and teaser out, along with a hooked barracuda. The two sailies jump in tandem next to each other and over the spread. One line pops and we release the other.

Twenty minutes later we have another 3 show up and hook two fish. Our fourth swivel breaks in two days and we obviously loose that fish. Release the other.

Meanwhile, we have a slower hour where we losing baits to the razor gang like there´s no tomorrow and we pick up a nice dorado. Raise one fish that does not switch and another two bites with one solid hookup and release.

Then, just before 10am we get, at least, 4 fish up and three bites.

Nono, missed one again. The local deckie can´t rid his instinct to strike on the bite, which obviously does not work with the circles. One comes out after a while, something that happens way to often throughout the day. We release the third fish.

Besides the usual game fish cut offs we do not see a sailfish for nearly 2h30 hours.

The biggest lull we have ever had on the banks.

When they finally arrive after noon we have 5 fish lazily on the spread. Get three lazy bites but only hook to one. This one breaks the leader almost immediately. No chafing so we probably had an unseen Barra bite that just about cut the leader before it.

Big disappointment and it did not help that 10 minutes later we raise two which do not switch and just fade off.

Just before 2 we again have some tough luck. We hookup on the long and Neil fights this fish for nearly half an hour, by far the longest we have fought one during the trip. It runs and jumps like a mad fish and then it goes down deep. I am quite certain its foul hooked and inch by inch we get it up. I have the hand within 30cm from the leader and it comes undone.

Another lull but a few minutes to 3pm all hell breaks loose.

We certainly taken by surprise when 6 fish show up, all ready to eat the paint of the transom. The boys get four bites and hook all of them. I grab a pitch rod and get bitten as soon as it hits the water. All five hooked up simultaneously. Its pandemonium as they all jump right next to each other and very close to the boat. Lines are jumping all over each other and the guys do a great job to get it all sorted. I see one fish jumping by the boat is foul hooked in the back and shortly it pulls. We have another pull close to the boat but do release all other three to make it 99 for the trip!

We putting the first line out when we raise another but get no bite out of it. Five minutes later we hook up on the long. About 3 minutes later it pulls the hook.

16h30 on the clock and we hook one on the long, as we pulling them in we raised another two but have no bite. After a while Gideon releases the 100th fish for the trip!

Just minutes later and already on the way back to the Yacht we hook another two fish. We release the first and as we do lose the starboard engine (once again), the other fish dives down under the hull and breaks off.


We finally achieved what we had all silently wished for, the 100th Sailfish release for the trip- Gideon doing the trick!
This was one special day, we first had the biggest Lull we have ever had at the banks, going almost 2h30 without seeing a sailfish and then had a crazy pack attack where we hooked up to 5 fish simultaneously!!!!


















13/07  – Half Day                   –                       25-13-9-4

This was to be our last morning on the banks and we wanted to make the most of it.

But, even more than yesterday the fish where there but pretty lazy and with some odd bites and pick up´s. We had so many fish right by the baits, sniffing them and just ignoring it, or billing them and simply fading away without a further nibble.

We had an early start and so did the fish.

We get four up, the first hook´s up on the small daisy chain and once again opens the little hooks for the bonnies. We hook on the other two bites, release the first and the line pops on the second. That short right pitch rod as caught us 40% of the fish and it’s probably done. We take it out and re-spool the top shot.

Within the next 10 minutes twice have a single fish come up, take a lazy bite, pull some string and not find steel.

By now, the morning breeze had turned into a proper Kak strong wind and the sea come on its head. Difficult going and we put some lures with J´s on the longs.

At 9 raised 3, two bites and one hookup and release.

A short while later have one tapping behind the right long lure but no take.

9h20 –  Raised 3 but amazingly the only bite we get is on one of the long lures. We hookup and this fish gave us a real show. It turned out to be the only fish we caught for the entire trip on a lure and on a J-Hook!!!

Then we had a Royal flush of remarkably lazy fish…

10h28 – Raised one on the flippy Floppy teaser, come on a bait but no bite

10h36 – Raised one on the green teaser and again no switch.

10h42 – Have one take the daisy chain on the bait rod again, it broke the light leader intended for bonnies.

10h51 – Raised one that sniffed two baits twice and would not commit…just lazily swam around the spread.

11h15 – Raise two and get a very lazy bite out of one that drops the bait and no pick up.

11h38 – Another one billing the bait, still took some line but basically a on / off.

11h44 – two up and Gideon gets a bite which he drops for about 1 ½ seconds….we about to shout at him, but miraculously he hook´s up to a fish (that we later found out was foul hooked on the tail) that we released.

It goes real quiet for about 45 mins as we start leaving the hot spot and start heading to land. We end up raising two and get a bite out of one that as comes tight jumps over and gets tangled on the left teaser. We take off pressure and it does not break but simply comes off.

We pick up and run for Nosy be.


After a calm early morning, we had some crap weather and lazy fish on our last morning. But, we still managed to release 4 fish to bring the tally to 105 releases before running back to Nosy Be.




And, that was the end of it…an amazing two weeks with incredible 10 fishing days (8 full and 4 half days) with great stories, food, drinks, laughs and fun. It’s just a blessing to be out there, far away from land with only the Blue of sea and sky around you.

The implausible starry nights…

On the fishing side, we caught more species than I can remember but sure enough loads of barracudas, dogtooth tuna, dorado, bonnies, skipjack, green jobfish, rainbow runner, wahoo, YFT, GT´s, bigeye trevally´s and then the night fishing on the boat with many different snappers, some of which I don’t even know the names!

But we had a specific target species and we released a 105 Sailfish in 10 days.

Our numbers for the last week being 182 – 121 – 91 – 63

Our worst day we only released one and had another three days with 4, so when it was good, it was fast. We released 21 on our best day.

The total numbers on sailfish for the trip where as follows;

Raised:                        289

Strikes:                        200

Hookup´s:                    151

Released:                    105






Last Night

Back on land that night Mamadou convinces us to go out to town and see what Nosy Be´s “red light“ district is all about.

We end up in some sleazy bars but with a great vibe. There´s girls with Afro´s everywhere, 20-year-old Tina Turner is welcoming us, some other girls are offering massages and other indecent proposals, all in good fun! We have a couple of drinks and head off to the ZE-Burger joint where we devour some delicious burgers and have a few more drinks. Mamadou is telling us that everything only really kicks off in about an hour, but we done, tired from two weeks of intense fishing at sea.

















The morning is spent organizing all the gear that is staying and the one that is coming back to SA. Nesta makes us some pizza´s and Jacques takes us to the airport for our 2pm flight. Great direct flight that no longer stops at Beira for refueling. Early evening, we back at Ian´s place in Pretoria enjoying a 25-year-old and a warm welcoming delicious curry Deanne prepared for us.

Absolutely amazing trip and certainly already looking forward to next year…

Here´s a couple more pics…







All good things come to an end….but Marlin Season is around the corner!!!

Tight Lines…













Duarte A. M. Rato

Sportfishing Charters @ Vilankulos & Bazaruto Archipelago


FB:                   MarlinMoz Sportfishing          &

Skype:              duarteamrato

Phone: 00 258 84 639 0466 or 00 258 82 805 7160






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