Bazaruto Seasons and Species
When is the best time to fish the Bazaruto Archipelago?
Bazaruto seasons…This is pretty much a year-round fishery. Big game and heavy tackle fishing is at its best in the summer months between September to April, but sailfish peak in winter between May and September and plugging, spinning, jigging, conventional light tackle game fishing and fly fishing for an array of species is excellent all year round.
To study a visual representation of what fish to target when, check out this table…
BLACK MARLIN Makaira Indica
Bazaruto is amongst the three best places in the world to catch Giant Black Marlin. The season runs between late August to April, with the peak for the big fish being mid September to late December. This does not mean you won ́t catch them at other times, and we have caught them in all calendar months including fish of 700 and 1000+ lbs between March and June. They are caught relatively close to the Islands on live, skip / swim baits and artificial lures. Sizes range from small 100-pound rats (which make ideal light tackle & fly-fishing quarry ́s) to fish well over the magical 1000-pound barrier.
Our two biggest weighted Black ́s so far was a 1098 lbs that got tail wrapped and another that was sharked by the boat after 5 hours, which remains weighted at 1107 lbs (It went a whopping 1418 lbs on the formula). Bazaruto is still the only place in Africa to have produced Blacks over a 1000 pounds and the All African record caught in these waters weighed 1298 lbs.
BLUE MARLIN Makaira Nigricans
The best season for Blue Marlin is from October all the way to May, although in last couple years we have had good Blue Marlin fishing even in the winter months of June and July with fish up to 700 lbs.
This new fisheries is taken the archipelago by storm with awesome results in the past recent seasons.
We still learning their best times and discovering more and more grounds out deep, but they seem to peak anytime between October to April. They are mostly caught when boats venture out wide into deeper water using fast trolled artificial lures. Although Blues estimated at over a 1000 pounds have been hooked, the biggest caught on the archipelago weighted 850 + pounds.
STRIPED MARLIN Tetrapturus Audax
As with the other Marlin species they seem to arrive in September and hang around until the end of summer around late April. Their numbers can vary quiet a lot from season to season but when they are schooling they produce great fun, especially when one pitches bait on the right size tackle.
They can show in numbers almost anytime during the warm water summer months, but definitely seem to peak between October and December. They are mostly caught out wide in Blue Marlin territory, but it is not uncommon to find them in shallow mixing in with the Blacks and sailfish. Fish tend to average around 120 to 140 pounds but have been caught up to 200 pounds on the archipelago.
SAILFISH Istiophorus Platypterus
Sailfish can provide huge fun and they attract a growing number of anglers to the archipelago every year that want to experience the grace and beauty of this fish. Mostly targeted with light trolling conventional outfits or on the fly, it is not unusual to have pack attacks with all the baits or teasers being attacked simultaneously. Although they are regularly caught in the summer months, this is mostly as a marlin by catch and they certainly peak in the winter months between May and August.
However during certain season they can arrive as early as April and stay in good numbers until early October. When they are running one can expect to raise double-digit numbers of fish weighing an average of 70 lbs, but up to 130 pounds.
YELLOWFIN TUNA Thunnus Albacares
The most predominant offshore species, in recent years YFT have been present on an almost year round basis. More prolific from August to May, they are caught as a by-catch on Marlin lures, light trolling gear, spinning, jigging and plugging tackle. The common shoaling fish (7 to 15 pounds) can make for great Marlin baits, but fish around 60 pounds are regularly caught and our (and the area ́s) record is a fish of 159 lbs caught in July 2014.
There are other tuna species regularly caught of Bazaruto and again they all make for great Marlin baits and are superb fun to catch on light spinning tackle; easten little tuna, Kawa-Kawa, skipjack and more rarely the mean dogtooth tuna.
WAHOO Acanthocybium Solandri
This speedster can also be caught year round but more frequently from late August to December with a second run between May and June. However late August to early November normally sees the most numbers and the bigger fish that are frequently caught on fast trolled Marlin lures and light conventional tackle. Their weight varies a lot but the average is probably between 30 to 50 pounds although fish of 70 pounds are not uncommon. The biggest two wahoo we have caught on the archipelago went just over 80 pounds, one caught in July and the other in September.
DORADO Coryphaena Hippurus
This breathtakingly beautiful jumping fish likes warm water and is more abundant between mid Septembers to April, although they peak between October to February. Small to medium cows can be caught in huge numbers on the troll and light spinning tackle, especially when one finds flotsam or current / weed lines.
The big bulls that can attain anywhere between 25 to 60 pounds are more frequently caught out wide on fast trolled Marlin lures and light conventional tackle.
Bazaruto offers exceptional year round fishing for a wide array of sharks either from the boat or beach. Anglers coming to the archipelago specifically to fish for them from the boat normally want to target the Zambezi (bull) shark that attain world record size and the great hammerhead that are more common between mid September to February. But there is a staggering abundance of other species which are regularly caught such as the Java, Silvertip, Black fin, Dusky, tigers, scalloped hammerhead , Black tip, spinner, short nose and others.
The most prized inshore & offshore specimens caught on various different techniques off the Archipelago. We offer various different methods of inshore fishing such as; light tackle trolling & spinning, plugging, drop-shoot, vertical jigging, fly-fishing & beach fishing.
GIANT KINGFISH Caranx Ignobilis
Locally known as GT ́s or Ignobilis, it ́s fishing is almost a religion on the Archipelago and their sheer power and size test anglers and tackle to the extreme. The most popular way to target them is working poppers and stick-baits on heavy tackle plugging gear around shallow and breaking reefs and over bait balls, especially fusiliers, queen fish and other small bait. They are also commonly caught using live bait and jigging over deeper reefs. Fish of 40 to 70 pounds are regularly released & the area ́s record is way past the incredible 100-pound mark.
KINGFISH FAMILY (Jacks) Caranx & Carangiodes family
Apart from the Giant Kingfish the archipelago is blessed with another 9 Kingfish species of the caranx and carangiodes family which provide endless opportunity for all kinds of fishing, be it on the fly, light tackle spinning, jigging, drop shot, you name it!!! Kingfish species present on the archipelago are; Bluefin, yellowtail, longfin, big eye, brassy, yellow spotted, bludger, shortfin and ferdy…and the exquisite Indian mirror fish!
KING MACKEREL (AKA: ́CUDA) Scomberomorus Commerson
Known around Southern Africa as ́cuda, it is one of the most sought after and abundant shallow water species on the archipelago. The smaller fish called ́darts provide excellent fun on light tackle and fly, and the bigger one ́s (and Bazaruto offers world record size fish) can be caught on various techniques, especially using deep trolled live baits and attain sizes exceeding 80 + pounds.
QUEEN MACKEREL Scomberomorus plurilineatus
Also know as natal snoek, this species is more prolific in the late summer months of April and May and through out the winter can provide great fun on ultra light spinning tackle as they are suckers for small spoons and can congregate in huge schools. They average at around 7 to 15 pounds and are great fighters on appropriate tackle. They can be found on the windward of the Islands but tend to congregate in the gaps and shallow sandbanks on the inside, where they feast on anchovies, sardine, squid, carapau and other small bait.
GREAT BARRACUDA Sphyraena Barracuda
There are three types of Barracuda on the archipelago. The great barracuda is well know to attain massive sizes and the biggest ones we have caught on the archipelago were close to 70 pounds.
They are present year and can be caught out deep as well as in rocky banks inshore. They are not the most magnificent fighter, but usually jump out the water and their fearsome look always impresses anglers. They are sometimes caught on Marlin lures and also on plugs and poppers around reef area ́s.
The sea pike or pickhandle Barracuda (Sphyraena Jello) can grow to about 30 pounds but most fish average between 7 to 16 pounds and they can be very common on most of the inshore reefs.
Growing smaller in size, the Yellowtail barracuda (Sphyraena Flavicauda) is not as common but can be caught, normally on small spinning tackle in shallow coral reefs.
TALANG QUEENFISH Scomberoides Commersonnianus
The talang or large mouth queenfish is a common and very sporty species that attain massive size on the archipelago. Our biggest was a 31 lbs which at a stage was a line class World Record.
They are really fun fish to catch which continuously leap out the water and can be caught on basically anything; Poppers, plugs, flies, jigs, bucktails, bait and feathers are all a favourite.
The needlescale Queenfish (Scomberiodes Tol) are much smaller but as common and can provide great fun on ultra light tackle…and we love them as they make a great Marlin swim bait!
PRODIGAL SON Rachycentron Canadum
Better know has Cobia in other parts of the World and Jingika (locally) this great table fair fish that resembles a shark is present on the inner and outer reefs and sandbanks. They are fierce fighters that test tackle to the extreme and the big boys can attain up to 80 pounds, although most fish average between 15 to 40 pounds.
SNAPPERS & JOBFISH
There are too many varieties of snappers to mention, but the most commonly caught and sought after are the bohar, mangrove, emperor, red and the yellow speckled snapper. They are aggressive fish that are most commonly caught on plugs, jigs, fly, dropshoot and bucktails (no bottom fishing with bait allowed on the Archipelago).
The green job fish is a very common species on the archipelago and very tough after. They are extremely aggressive fish that take everything given to them and our best fish took a bonito live bait meant for Marlin. This beast weighted at 32 pounds, which is as big as they get. The beautiful rosy job fish is rarer and mostly caught on deep jigs.
Other common inshore species
• Tropical Yellowtail
• African Pompano and Mirror fish
• Lady fish
• Rainbow runner
• Garfish & Needle fish
• Various species of Groupers (rockcod)
• And many more….