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Destination Angler written by Dave Lewis is a must read for any Travelling Angler.
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Malindi Kenya October 2012

Some twelve months had passed since my last visit to Malindi in Kenya where I’d experienced quite exceptional Jigging and Spinning on the inshore reefs, so it was time to meet some of my fellow Travelling Anglers at Heathrow for a Group Trip that I had put together.

There were nine of us on this trip fishing three anglers per boat and our objectives were to once again fish the inshore marks and hopefully, weather permitting, venture out to the North Kenya Banks which start about forty-five miles offshore north of Malindi where the jigging can be pretty spectacular.

We were geared up with Jigs from 150g right up to 500g for the deeper waters on the NKB`s as well as spinning outfits and a couple of Popping set-ups so prepared for all eventualities.

The week prior to our trip I had kept an eye on the weather situation around Malindi and it was not too encouraging, there was a lot of rain with high winds that had kept the boats at anchor for some of the time. The only hope was for the conditions to improve quickly as the forecast for us was predicting, so it was fingers crossed?

We flew via Nairobi to Mombassa where we were met by our drivers for the road journey north to Malindi and although still windy, the rain had eased, at least it had until the final ten miles short of our destination when the skies opened up and it was torrential as we arrived at the flooded car park of the Driftwood Hotel.

As we were greeted at reception by Roger, the manager of the Driftwood, one of our guys was quick to point out that “this wasn’t how it was in the brochure?”

That afternoon I had planned to visit the Malindi Fishing Club to see what the boats had caught that day so as soon as the rain had stopped that’s where we all headed. It wasn’t long before the days catch was brought to the club to be weighed before going to market. Two of the Kingfisher Sportfishing boats had returned from the NKB`s with a haul of Yellowfin Tuna, one boat “Neptune” had caught fourteen between 30 and 40kgs so I couldn’t wait to get one of those on a jig.

The following morning saw clear skies with brilliant sunshine which was to be the pattern for the rest of our stay with conditions improving each day but unfortunately the damage was already done. Adrian Paul from Kingfisher came to meet me at the Driftwood as arranged and he broke the news that the previous weeks heavy rain had coloured the inshore water and fishing was hard, this called for an immediate change of plans. We decided that two boats would visit the NKB`s while the third stayed inshore in the hope that things would improve. Despite months of planning and organising, the weather dictated our options as if often the way with fishing anywhere in the world.

“Neptune” and “Eclare” were the two boats taking us to the NKB`s and because of this vast travelling distance they were moored some 45mins drive by road to the north at Ngomeini so it was up to me to break the news that it required a 2am pick up from the hotel, ouch!

No sooner had my head hit my pillow my alarm was sounding to get up and go, so a quick breakfast and coffee then into the minibus. The good news was that the three hour steam to the Banks would be at a steady pace and beds were made up on board for us to try and catch some shut eye. After seemingly no time at all the crew were setting out a spread of lures to troll the final stage and we were ready to go.

Within a few minutes Andy Matthews sharing Neptune with John “Chalkie” White and myself was into a fish that turned out to be a Wahoo, this was followed by strikes from Yellowfin Tuna, smaller than the ones we had witnessed at the fishing club but still around the 5 to 8kgs size, one exception was a fish of 24kgs. Angus Paul, skipper of Neptune steered us towards the shoals of Tuna that were breaking surface all around and there was some steady trolling action however we wanted to catch them on Jigs so it was time to devise a cunning plan. We decided that once we were among the fish, the crew would take over and reel in any trolled fish so we could start jigging, simple! As simple as it was it worked and resulted in some Tuna action on the jigs.

These Tuna were really a bonus as we were out on the banks to Jig for the many different Snappers and Groupers that inhabit the reefs as well as some of the Amberjacks that grow very large here so Angus took us away from the shoals and onto the Banks which come up from 900ft to 700ft. This is very deep water for Jigging so it is just as well that a lot of the fish are caught within the top 200ft as it’s hell of a lot of line to retrieve if you do need to get near the bottom. This depth of water called for the 400/500g Jigs so that’s what we sent over the side and they were hit constantly. It was quite a skill to detect the takes on the drop as the Assist hook would be trailing behind the Jig and you wouldn’t necessarily hook-up, once you feel a couple of knocks you have found the fish so start Jigging and the fish would hopefully oblige. Once we got the knack we were all into various Snappers including the brightly coloured Ruby Snapper that looks as though it has been covered in Orangey Red Glow Paint.

There are a couple of Banks that come up to 500ft and this is Amberjack territory so we gave them a try but unfortunately this time there was still quite a swell on the ocean which coupled with the wind meant that the Drift was all wrong and Angus found it impossible to hold a good line so we returned to the Snappers.

We were in constant radio contact with the other boat and it sounded as they were having just as much success as us even managing a small Amberjack of just 8kg. After some more Snappers and two Grouper Angus called it a day and we motored home at a fair rate of knots.

At the Fishing Club we met up with the other guys who had fished inshore to see how their day had been but it was not the news I wanted to hear as only a small Giant Trevally a Barracuda and a small grouper had been caught and sea conditions were not good. It was decision time, do we keep the third boat inshore for the next day as the forecast was improving or do we send her out to join Neptune and Eclare out on the Banks. After much deliberating with Angus and Adrian the decision was made to keep the third boat “Snowgoose” inshore as the favourable weather forecast could signal a change and there was also the logistical problem of moving this slower boat firstly up to Ngomeni and then out to the Banks.

For the second day there was a slight rotation of Anglers to give others a feel of the fishing offshore so I decided to join Snowgoose inshore. The NKB`s once again produced a similar bag of fish as before though the numbers were up on day one as conditions were improving and they managed three Amberjack all around the 18kg size. For us the action inshore was confined to chasing a shoal of Bonito and casting 35g jigs into them with the spinning gear, great fun as these little guys really put up a struggle on light tackle. I was first to catch but it wasn’t until the third hook-up that we managed to land a fish whole as King Mackerel were constantly chomping the fish clean in half right in front of our eyes. My instinct was to quickly attach a Bite Trace to my Popping set-up and cast into the shoal but by the time I was anywhere near ready the Bonito were out of site.

Day three I was back aboard Neptune with Chalkie and Andy and we really wanted to get amongst the Amberjack for some big fish action. Conditions were perfect and after a few more Yellowfin we headed towards the 500ft marks to try our luck. We were once again into Red and Ruby Snappers galore before the first Amberjack hit, just 15kg this time but a promising start as the other boat also had a more impressive fish of 26kg, then came a message over the boats radio. It was from a Ranger boat that was assisting an Oil Survey Ship that we could see in the distance and we were both being asked to maintain a 10km exclusion, we had no choice but to leave the area. Not to be too disheartened we spent the rest of the day jigging even more Snappers and a further 40 YFT as the fish tally rocketed.

On day four another rotation of anglers saw me joined on Neptune by Mick Cox and Graeme Galloway, two friends of mine that I’d not fished with for a couple of years so I was really looking forward to the day ahead. By now the sea had calmed completely on the banks and the fishing started much the same as the previous days and we were into more Tuna from the start, they were everywhere. We decided to head straight to the Amberjack spot hoping to beat the Survey ship but she was soon upon us again asking us to move on, this was really annoying as conditions were perfect and there were a lot of fish showing on the boats sounder. However before we had to move on Graeme managed to boat a 40kg Amberjack that put up a hell of a fight for close to 15mins and Steve Gardiner was brought to his knees on Eclare battling with one of 33kg on a light jigging outfit. I just wonder how things may have been if we could have fished on in this area because 50 and 60kg Amberjack are not a rarity here.

As more and more Snappers and Tuna came to the boat, the largest trolled lure was taken by a bigger YFT and I was quickly on the rod. This was already a much harder fight without what was to happen next. Suddenly the familiar rod juddering typical from a fighting Tuna was replaced by an extremely strong and steady pull as line departed from the wide-spool Shimano Tiagra 80 at a rate of knots, the fish had been taken by something even larger. As I struggled to maintain a footing and get some kind of control over the fish it was all I could do to stop myself being pulled over the gunnels. I got onto the fighting chair as a waist-harness was placed around me and Angus started to back the boat up for me to try and regain some line. With the deck now clear of rods and Tuna the crew reached for the fighting chairs foot rest so that I could get some purchase but it was too late and as the mono disappeared I could see the Braid Backing. In a split second the line snapped with a crack! and the fish was lost. Now with hindsight its easy to say that I should have backed off the drag a little as the spool size diminished but the only thing that was going through my mind at the time was how to stay in the boat. Our guess is that this was most likely a very large Marlin or even a big Shark, either way “a fish of a lifetime”. Still we could talk about “the one that got away” back at the fishing club.

The inshore fishing had unfortunately remained very slow all week with the water still coloured and there was to be a change of plans for our last day as no boats would be going to the NKB`s because this was the day of a local light tackle fishing competition and Neptune had entered. Instead one group would start fishing up at Ngomeini making their way back to Malindi via some inshore spots that are often productive for King mackerel and I would still try inshore off Malindi aboard “Tina” a boat I’d not fished aboard for a number of years.. Three guys decided to take the day off so it was down to two boats. My day started by jigging over a reef in shallow water and I was soon into a Bludger Trevally so I was hoping things had changed but the excitement was short lived and it was much later in the day while trolling between reefs that Adrian Turner caught the next fish taking a strike that resulted in his first ever Sailfish at 45kgs which was quickly photographed before tagging and releasing. Despite trying many different areas, jigging was almost a waste of energy but Mick Cox wasn’t giving in and he got his rewards with his best YFT at 16kgs. We finally called it a day and met the others at the fishing club where we heard that they’d indeed had a lot of action with the King Mackerel on light tackle, the biggest was a respectable fish of 22.8kgs for Shaun Tester. That night we could reward ourselves with a few drinks as the fishing was over and it was back to Blighty the next evening.

Overall the trip had not turned out how I had planned due to the coloured inshore water, the explosive jigging and light tackle spinning I’d experienced here twelve months previous just didn’t materialise but our offshore fish count was off the scale. The two boats fishing the NKB`s had amounted a total of 150 YFT to 25kgs, over 200 assorted Snappers, 5 Groupers to 20kgs and 8 Amberjack to 40kgs. Add this to 2 Sailfish to 45kgs and a few other smaller fish inshore and you have to agree the numbers are impressive.

I have already reserved the boats for October 2013 and some of the guys on this last trip will be joining me again however I may have places available should anyone be interested in coming along, just use my contacts page to enquire.


Product References
Casting Jigs:  35g  45g
Vertical Jigs: 160g  190g  200g  350g  400g



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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