Kenya fishing and the Fly540 East Africa Tournament win
Every year I am lucky enough to travel to a number of locations around the world to fish for billfish and every January or February for the last three or four years have been aimed at the tournaments on the East coast of Africa and more specifically the Kenyan Coast.
This year I wanted to fish further north than previously and the obvious choice was to head round to Watamu and Malindi which is located in the northern reaches of the country with sugar white sand beaches and azure blue seas.
For those who have n't fished in Africa, the boats and tackle on the whole are somewhat older and more beat up than you find on your average boat in the US but the fishing is unparalleled with blue, striped, black, broadbill and sail in abundance. Although the average size is not that of other locations with many fish around the 150-300lb class.
I had an early plan in mind last year after a 2nd place in another tournament further down the coast and that was to commission a top class 50lb class stand-up rod to take with me along with my usual selection of rods, reels, lures etc
I contacted Flatliner who in April 2010 produced me a stunning rod which has been waiting for the right outing!
February 2011 finally came around and the plan was to fish several days practice around different areas to catch sails and hopefully a Black marlin which I need to further my Royal Slam...
well the plan was in place but the 2011 season in Kenya has been anything but predictable and this was only too true for my stay, with fish very few and far between marlin were in scarce supply and sailfish equally so. After five days fishing we had very little to show for our efforts with a few dorado and the odd sail making up the results.
Well after another relatively unproductive days fishing over a cold beer I was talking to Adrian Paul who owns Kingfisher boats and we hatched a plan to fish together on one of his boats SNARK for the upcoming Fly540 East Africa Tournament. The thing with Adrian is that he is an exceptionally modest man as well as being an exceptionally good captain and truly a great guy to fish with. The plan hatched IGFA rules all confirmed and everyone briefed ...
Day 1 of the tournament allowed you to fish from any port but weigh in at Watamu Hemmingways which is a truly 5 star fishing based hotel. Unlike the rest of the fleet we decided we would start up in Malindi and travel down looking for fish along the way before fishing an area known as "The Rips". Well the trip down was slow (its not the quickest of boats in the fleet) with the fishing equally so! At around 1100 all hell broke lose when a stripey rose to the right rigger and after numerous different ideas in both Swaheli and English ending up with it hooking up before throwing the hook a few seconds later.
Fortunately for us the fish was n't finished there and moved over on to the top rigger and smashed the bait (fortunately this time on my Anglers Envy rod!) a good hook up and chaos commenced for the next 40 minutes or so before we managed to get a very energetic stripey to the boat and tagged. Estimated at 60kg (130lb) it was a good fish for the area and scored well (750 points for marlin, 80 points for sails, 1pt per kg for fish over 5kg).
Day one continued slowly until once again chaos reigned as a pack of sails came through our lures with four fish in the spread, three hooking up with two throwing the hooks in the first few seconds. Adrian managed to get his in and tagged and as we cruised in for the end of day one we were tied second with two other teams who also had a sail and a marlin, only a few points behind the leading time who had also managed to get a couple of wahoo. A few beers and fishing stories were shared before an early start for the next day.
Day 2 and conditions looked perfect for fish....the fish didn't feel that way though and stayed well away from both us and the other 20 teams fishing!
by 11am no one had any billfish reported and it was clearly going to be a very slow day with the bits and pieces making up the difference. After all manner of lure changes and baiting options it looked like we were on for being Skunked, midday arrived and only a couple of marlin had been reported with a stripey for a team who had nothing the day before and a blue for a team with a sail, tying them for second place.
The earlier finish for day 2 meant we needed fish and fast...no sooner said than done with a pack of dorado coming into the spread with us hitting all three, not big fish but as it turned out all around the 5-6kg qualifying mark and points in the bag.
Well the finish time was coming ever closer whilst I was sitting on the flying bridge talking to Adrian I saw a shape come up behind the right rigger before dropping away. Thinking the African sun had perhaps been cooking my brain I watched again to see the shape reappear and before I could shout the call it was all over the little BlackBart Pelagic Breakfast out on the right rigger. Now we all knew this fish would be the one that would win it for us. Five minutes later, tagged and released a fighting fit sail of 30kg was released and we knew we had enough!
As we pulled into port it was clear that the sail was going to be the decider for us and as we landed on the shore and went to get a cold beer and receive the plaudits it was clear we had done it!
The next couple of hours were a bit of a blur with speeches, prize givings and well a lot more beer to be honest!
All in all another amazing trip with some fabulous people and confirming for me that fishing in Africa really still maintains the core values of trust, friendship and camaraderie and shows what a wonderful bunch anglers are!
A huge thank you has to go to Flatliner for the awesome rod which got the exercise it deserved and made it my number one rod, Adrian Paul who as an understated captain and allround fabulous guy and the people of Fly 540 who put together a very professional and well funded tournament!
If I can work out how to get photos small enough I will include them in due course!
Last edited by andyatkins_1; 03-16-11 at 12:32 PM.