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Shortbill spearfish by recently May 2023

Rare Shortbill Spearfish catch out of Bazaruto Island recently

Shortbill Spearfish at the Bazaruto Archipelago – Mozambique

Rare Shortbill Spearfish catch out of Bazaruto Island recently: Although there are a few places where one can target them with some sort of consistency such as Hawaii and certain areas of the Mediterranean, spearfish are ­probably the rarest of the billfish and the one species which, generally speaking, very few blue water anglers have caught.

It’s probably also the least studied billfish and worldwide. There are four species of spearfish: Mediterranean (Tetrapturus belone), shortbill (Tetrapturus angustirostris), roundscale (Tetrapturus georgii) and longbill (Tetrapturus pfleugeri).

We have been lucky to have caught longbill and roundscale in Madeira, the Azores and Cape Verde and shortbill in Mozambique.

But this is certainly the rarest to be caught off the Mozambican coastline. And although we are sure more have been caught, in all the decades fishing these waters we only know of six. Three of the Bazaruto Archipelago. One of the coast of Inhaca. And another off Guinjata.

Shortbill Spearfish released wide of Guinjata Bay in 2022

Longbill Spearfish we caught in the Azores in 2005

They tend to swim out wide in deep waters and all the fish we have caught was a by-catch on lures while targeting Blue Marlin.

Well just last week, on the 28th of May we were lucky enough to release another Shortbill Spearfish at the Bazaruto Archipelago – Mozambique.

We had brothers Angus and Mick Selby and Connie V. D. Hayden on their first day aboard VAMIZI.

Like last year, this was to mostly be a fly-fishing trip, but after Angus experienced some phenomenal Blue Marlin fishing the same time last year, he decided that we should also give the Blues a chance and see what we could find out there.

Here´s a report from this time last year;

We had a light to moderate wind from the NE on our first day and it was disappointing to see the water was a tad green. We started the day with a fly-fishing session for a couple hours and released some scads, rainbow runners, some trevally´s and a few good green jobfish.

We then decided to put the lures out and start going wide.

The closest area we normally fish is in between 220m to 290m straight of the lighthouse and with the right conditions normally the most productive. But with the water not being great and a counter current we pushed on further.

This sits between 360m to 380m, where we have a bunch of marks but again, we found the same conditions and kept pressing further out.

Another 5 miles and we got to the area which is known as `the Blue Spot’ which starts from about 420m outside Sailfish Bay.

About a mile outside of it, the water changed color, the water temperature came up from 26.2c to 26.5c and the current changed with about a knot coming from the N. There were also an incredible number of frigate birds hovering around, so we started working the area where we have a bunch of marks in the 480 – 500-meter mark.

It did not take long and within 20 minutes we had a Blue come on our long-left Xpress. It peeled about 50 yards but unfortunately the hook did not set.

We worked the area for another hour but unfortunately had to move as it was a long way home so we tacked south along the same counter line.

Just as we got outside 6 mile I decided to turn in and start working shallower.

As we got to 440 meters, we had a very subtle bite on the long right Marlin Magnet from Pulsator lures and hooked up.

Connie got in the chair on his first ever Billfish, but what followed was not the blistering insanely crazy run of a Blue Marlin. The fish was on the surface and we slowly backed up.

Alex got the leader and the next thing he perplexed looked at me and asked -What the hell is this!

23 years on Vamizi´s deck and neither him nor our second mate Lourenço had ever seen one! Actually, no one on board except me had ever seen one for that matter!

Apparently, they are delicious eating and I had told myself that the next one we get we would boat – but everyone was just gasping at how beautiful this fish was and of course, we did not have the heart to do it!

Pretty cool to release one as your first billfish – well done Connie!

Shortbill Spearfish at the Bazaruto Archipelago – Mozambique – In late May 2023 Connie released his first billfish, a rare Shortbill spearfish aboard VAMIZI of Bazaruto Island.
Shortbill Spearfish at the Bazaruto Archipelago – Mozambique – In late May 2023 Connie released his first billfish, a rare Shortbill spearfish aboard VAMIZI of Bazaruto Island.

We put the lures back in the water and soon after had a big Bull dorado on the same lure.

Just before finishing and again on the same lure in 140 meters of water we had a very decent Black Marlin upwards of #500 knock the lure out the rigger. But it did not come up for seconds and that was pretty much it.

With a bit of luck, it could have been a Grand Slam day with an elusive Spearfish…

…but any day you catch such a rare fish in our water is a great day!!!

Here´s a few pics of other Billfish, mostly Blue Marlin, Black Marlin and Sailfish of the Bazaruto Archipelago in Mozambique.

Story and Photos by Captain Duarte A. M. Rato

Sportfishing Charters @ Vilankulos & Bazaruto Archipelago


Post prepped and published by The Sardine News.


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