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Destination Angler written by Dave Lewis is a must read for any Travelling Angler.

Malindi Kenya October 2011

It was during my fifth trip to Kenya in Feb 2011 whilst fishing with a group of my regular travelling companions that I once again got the chance to fish with the fabulous skippers and crews that make up Kingfisher Sportfishing who are based around the Malindi area. As is customary we experienced some great days fishing, primarily trolling as this time of year can be a productive time for Marlin as well as Sailfish, Wahoo and many other species that charge the large lures and Strip Baits we were using.

At the end of this trip I was at the Hotel Bar presiding over a cool beer with fishing journalist Dave Lewis and we asked Adrian and Angus Paul who own and run the Kingfisher outfit just how they coped with the relatively sh ort Billfish season and what happens for the rest of the year. The unfortunate truth is that despite the Boats and Crews being armed ready to go fishing and the fact that there are still many fish around to be caught, the scene behind the Malindi Fishing Club is one of many boats at anchor. I then enquired about the areas potential for Jigging and popping and found that only a few people had really given this a serious try, what was encouraging for us though was the fact they had caught some nice fish. One thing led to another and by the time we had left to head home Dave and I had already made arrangements to return later in the year and give the Popping and Jigging a try for ourselves.  

Come October 2011, preparation and planning complete, Dave and I returned to Kenya kitted out with both Light and heavy Jigging outfits as well as Popping and light spinning gear. Angus had planned for us to firstly fish the inshore reefs just north of Malindi where he knew fish were in abundance as they regularly showed on the Boats Sounder but the weather had other ideas. This is normally the time of year to find the best weather and favourable seas but unseasonably it decided to blow and rain and rain and rain, eleven inches fell in under a week most of it onto us. With our spirits somewhat dampened we needed a boost so we boarded Neptune, a 35ft Bertram with Angus at the helm and set off to try some Jigging. Conditions dictated that we go south to some inshore reefs that were likely to be a bit more sheltered and after 30 mins or so we were making our first drift.

If we wanted perfect conditions for Jigging we were out of luck but once we had found a reasonable footing our Jigs were over the side heading for the reef. As our Jigs hit bottom we quickly started to work them and after just a few winds, Bang! both jigs were taken violently, a few minutes later two pristine Yellow Spot Trevallies both around the 8/9kg mark were safely onboard. Just the boost we needed. We continued to drift the many inshore reefs and caught a number of species throughout the session including many different Trevally, Grouper and King mackerel also tagging and releasing five reasonable GT.

 The wind and rain persisted so after a unanimous vote we heading home and Angus asked the crew to run a spread of lures for the journey . Ten minutes later with line streaming off one of the reels I leapt from the relative comfort of my seat and took the rod. As line still departed from the spool at some rate I tightened down and enjoyed the battle from what turned out to be a Wahoo of approx 50lb. A rewarding end to a productive albeit uncomfortable day. A typical day fishing off Malindi inevitably ends at the Bar in the Fishing Club where everyone has their own story to tell about the days events and this day we certainly felt we had earned some kind of reward so it was to be no different. The Fishing Club is conveniently situated to enable you to see the other boats returning with the different Kenya Fish Flags flying as a boast to the days catch, this always gets the conversation going as to which Skipper is Top Dog for the Day. I find that there is a really good atmosphere and vibe in the Club once a few anglers get together and debate their days experiences, it’s a fine way to end the day.

During our stay we once again enjoyed the hospitality at the Driftwood Beach Club where I have stayed many times as its my favourite place to stay in Malindi, there are comfortable villas all en-suite with a Pool, large Bar area and some very good Food to be had. These guys are also geared up for Anglers and will supply a packed lunch of your choice as long as you remember to order it the night before. Its often a good idea to take some of your catch back for the chef to work his magic as there is something quite rewarding about eating your own catch.

The next morning I was woken by the now far too familiar sound of wind beaten rain pounding the thatched roof of my Villa, I peered outside and looked across at Dave’s Villa to see that he had also been woken and our expressions were priceless. The night before we had made the call to plan our day once we had checked the conditions in the morning and it was clear that we were not going to be moving all too soon. Normally we are biting at the bit to get fishing but there was no rush, we had the whole week to hopefully see an improvement in the weather so after a leisurely breakfast and numerous cups of coffee we made the call to Angus. An hour later saw us boarding the Mini Bus to see what this day had in store for us.


We still wanted to try and Jig the inshore reefs to the North but once again this was not a viable option so it was South again to work a similar area to the previous day. The trolling lines were set and we ran a spread of seven to nine lures on the way to the reef, Angus doesn’t like to waste valuable fishing time so baits are in the water whenever possible. It didn’t take long before we had raised, tagged and released a sizeable Sailfish, a pleasing catch but we were focused on jigging and Popping for this trip so the trolling lines were retrieved and we were once again nicely positioned to drift the reef. With some tide now running we had increased lure weight to maintain a vertical line, vital for the lure to be most effective but this didn’t deter the fish, it seemed that every time Angus successfully manoeuvred Neptune in the swirling wind for a perfect drift we were into fish, it wasn’t a case of “our we going to catch“, more like “what are we going to catch next“. The species count was rising. We had soon totalled no less than seven different species of Trevally including GT, numerous groupers and Snappers as well as King mackerel, Barracuda and the Sailfish and Wahoo whist trolling. All this in far from perfect conditions.

We had experienced excellent Jigging by any standard and even the weather seemed to be improving so it was time to call it a day and return to the Fishing Club. On the way back we could see in the distance that sea birds were working the water close to shore so Angus steered us towards the commotion and Dave and I changed over to our Light Spinning Rods. I’d previously been successful fishing in Mozambique working my 35g Bite Me Lures through shoals of feeding Bonito so we both tied these to our 40lb short leaders and cast them towards the mayhem. Before I had time to wonder about the lures effectiveness I was into a fish and seconds later, so was Dave. Rods bent close to maximum and correctly set drags allowed for some fantastic sport as we were connected to Bludger Trevally around the 5/7kg size and these guys don’t give in easily. As soon as these fish were safely netted and returned Angus again had us in position for another cast, this time the fish were not showing on the surface but were visible on t he Boats Sounder so it called for a blind cast allowing the lure to sink a little before retrieving. I cast, counted to ten then retrieved like fury, you cant wind too quick for these fish in fact the faster the retrieve the quicker the action and I was soon connected to another fish. This time after a brief fight the fish came free, a bit disheartened I began to quickly retrieve the lure to re cast only to find it hit immediately by another fish, it seems that a hooked fish will often be followed by others so its not long after you loose one fish that another grabs your lure, this happened on numerous occasions. Among the Bludger were Yellow Spot and Black Tip Trevally that all succumbed to our Bite Me Jigs and we had soon boated a number of fish all between 5 and 8kg, what a perfect end to the day and plenty to talk about at the Club.

Day three saw the return of the rain and the squalling wind had increased so we decided to hold fast and wait to see if the weather improved, by lunchtime with the sky clearing and our lunch boxes now empty we were off again to fish over the reefs that had been so productive the first two days. The fishing was once again as good as before with every successful drift producing fish but Angus was keen to try different reefs so the trolling lures were set and we started to make our move slowly towards them. Before the spread was complete there was sudden pandemonium, we had a multiple strike of Sailfish that saw the crew jump into action as we now had no less than four rods into fish and Dave and I were already trying to control two of them. After a bit of rod juggling we soon had the situation under some control but one fish had shaken free of the lure, My fish was first to the boat so I took the third rod as Dave’s fish was also being tagged for release. Within less than ten minutes of trolling we had successfully raised four and released three nice sized Sailfish which is sometimes how it goes in Kenya.

The next Reef area although not quite as productive, still saw a few more fish to the boat with the species total rising again but as this was a shorter session we decided to return to see if the shoaling Trevally were again present, they duly obliged and we finished the day with some more Light Spinning Action.

The penultimate day saw us jigging over a number of the inshore reefs again with just as much success and as the weather eased in the afternoon/early evening the Spinning action once again rounded off the day. So far the conditions had made it far too difficult for Popping but at last on our final day with a relatively calm sea and brilliant sunshine we took our chance. Angus guided Neptune further south this time towards the Watamu banks where we were greeted with the sight of hundreds of Sea Birds swooping down to feed on the vast shoals of baitfish that were being chased to the surface in their bid to escape the larger fish below. We witnessed shoals of School size Yellowfin Tuna and Bonito as well as the smaller Kawa Kawa Mackerel crashing through the baitfish, though it can be great fun catching these on light tackle it is also an ideal opportunity to try for the larger pelagic species that are the next ones in the food chain likely to be predating on these fish so it was out with the Popping Gear. There were two other boats that had been trolling this same area all day and the unpromising news for us was the fact that between them they had only managed to raise one fish so the fishing had been very slow. Undeterred Dave and I launched our large Poppers towards the surface activity and started to work them creating as much disturbance as their design would allow. A short time later we both started to raise and hook into fish, initially some Bluefin Trevally that were a very good size for this area, then one or two GT took an interest. The afternoon saw us gain even more interest from Wahoo, Dorado and King Mackerel while the two boats trolling had not raised another fish, Angus and the crew were suitably impressed with the ability to raise so many fish on Poppers. Although the GT were not big by Kenya standard they were still up to around 25lb and more than capable of giving us a hard time, then suddenly a much larger fish engulfed Dave’s Popper and headed for the reef, this was a monster GT. Dave battled with plenty of set drag in an attempt to stop the fish screaming off and breaking him on the jagged reef below but as soon as it seemed he was gaining an advantage everything stopped, the GT had been taken by a large Shark. A short time earlier we had observed a large Hammerhead swimming near the boat so our guess is this was the culprit.

The last day Popping was a fitting end to our week and we could rightly say “Mission Accomplished”, we came to catch fish by Jigging and Popping and this is exactly what we achieved, despite the conditions. The final species count stood at Twenty One and we had Tagged and Released over twenty GT, not bad for a few short sessions.

Needless to say I am returning to Malindi at the same time October 2012 taking a group of Anglers along for the experience and I’m hoping that the weather is more seasonal as it should be this time of year, so that we can actually get to Jig the inshore Reefs that lie slightly to the North that Angus was so keen for us to try as well as some of the offshore ones that have the reputation for holding some very large Fish. I can’t wait!!

Product References
Casting Jigs:  35g  45g
Vertical Jigs: 160g  190g  200g



Kenyan Amberjack on a 400g Glow Mackerel

Maldives Blue Fin Trevally on a 150g Red Head

Kenyan Black Tip Trevally on a 35g Blue Sardine

Mozambique Jobfish on a 160g Red Head

Mozambique Tuna on a 140g Blue Mackerel

Norway Haddock on a 350g Red Head

Norway Halibut on a 350g Glow Mackerel

Shetland Isles Coalfish on a 400g Pink Mackerel

Shetland Isles Cod on a 350g Glow Mackerel



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