Text and photography by Christiaan Kruger
They say “home is where the heart is” and in my case it is certainly true: porcelain white beaches, palm trees, pristine islands and crystal clear waters are only the beginning of the array of beauty that Mozambique’s Bazaruto Archipelago has to offer. Whether you’re an avid fisherman or just an adventurer looking for the perfect getaway destination, then my home town is what you’ve been looking for.
I am situated in a quaint coastal town called Vilankulo in the province of Inhambabe, also known by many as “The Pearl of Mozambique”. We are surrounded by five islands; Bazaruto, Benguerra, Bangue, Margarque and Santa Carolina (common- ly called Paradise Island) all of which attract and cater for many diverse interests like diving, fishing and boating. The island waters are also home to the rare Dugong - a medium-sized marine mammal with a manatee type appearance - which sailors in the 1700’s claimed to be mermaids as they too “breastfeed” their young.
This particular part of Mozambique’s coastline has a very impressive marine biodiversity, including dolphins, sharks, humpback whales and game fish, such as the famous Black Marlin. Our area in particular attracts many big game fishing enthusiasts who are interested in landing that fish of a lifetime: a large female Black Marlin. Although we have a short marlin
season (stretching over September, October and November every year) the Bazaruto Archipelago boasts only a handful of boats during the season as opposed, for example, to the busier Cairns in Australia.
Our area in particular attracts many big game fishing enthusiasts who are interested in landing that fish of a lifetime: a large female Black Marlin.
Extensive research on Black Marlin over 1000 pounds caught along the coast of Africa has shown that the Bazaruto Archipelago has produced almost all Black Marlin over 1000lbs - only two were caught slightly south in Tofo, another quaint surfing spot south of our home ground here in Bazaruto.
I recently had an exciting experience with a beautiful 500 pound Black Marlin as we started off the morning fishing for tuna and wahoo. After a few
of those, I told my crew take one of the Yellowfin tunas and put it out as a live bait for a marlin on the big rod. We put the tuna in the luna tubes and ran out to deeper water where there wouldn’t be too many sharks.
Got out there, put the bait in the water and it was swimming very nicely. Fifteen minutes later we had a strike. I jumped to the rod and free-spooled the reel so the fish had time to get the whole bait in its mouth. Tightening the drag, the fish didn’t behave like a marlin so I tightened the drag further but the fish just didn’t take line and began to dive straight down. After a twenty minute fight I told the fisherman in the chair to go up once more on the drag because this fish was most probably a big bullshark. As he went up on the drag I saw the fish make a change and didn’t like the pressure of the increased drag. She swam straight up and did a huge
jump 30 meters from the boat. Now we knew it was a marlin and a nice one at that. Unfortunately on the second jump she spat the bait and the hook. Not a nice sight to see when a marlin jumps and you see your hook flying out of her mouth. I instructed my deckhand to reel up the bait and put out the lures. Maybe we can find another one…
As he was reeling it up the marlin came back out of nowhere and ate the yellowfin (which was dead now) again. The deckhand did a great job by going straight down to free-spool so that she could eat the bait. Then he went slowly up on the drag again and we were hooked up to the same fish! During the second round
she jumped several times and we landed her about fifteen minutes, took some quick pictures and set her free to fight another day.
Although the Black Marlin is a main attraction for me personally, and also where I put all my focus as a skilled angler, the Bazaruto Archipelago boasts many other game fish, including the impressive Giant Trevally (GT) which are targeted in the summer months (September-March).
Top-water GT angling is some of the most exhilarating and challenging fishing you can experience out here. The GT is pound for pound one of the strongest fish in the ocean, and you will gain respect from fellow fisherman if you can catch one. Some of the other game fish we find here include Wahoo, Yellowfin Tuna and King Mackerel to name but a few.
GTs on top-waters lures
Casting stickbaits on a shallow reef just off Bazaruto Archipela-
Tunas (top) and jobfish (bottom) can also be caught while targeting GT.
go is a dream for many people and I’ve been very fortunate catching some really nice GTs here. One afternoon another guide and I decided we were just going to take two big popping rods and go see if we could find some GTs. On my second cast I had a big splash on my stickbait but the fish unfortunately didn’t get stuck. I casted again and we saw this huge shape behind my lure. I thought it was a shark so I started reeling the lure in as fast as I could to get the lure away but the fish was faster and as he hit lure I could see it was not a shark but a really nice GT.We pulled the fish off the reef with the boat and a couple of minutes later the fish was landed, tagged and released for the next angler to have brawl of a lifetime with. Depending on your budget, I recommend Vila la Mar Vilanculos as an entry level self-catering option for accommodation. Vila la Mar Vilanculos is a beautiful beach village with fully equipped bungalows right on the beach where we launch for charters at sunrise. Should wives and children join in on fishing holidays Vila la Mar is the perfect destination, with BBQ areas, ample shady trees and gardens, wooden decks overlooking the ocean and a large swimming pool with a kiddie splash pool, inviting the entire family, young and old.
For dining options, a great favourite in town is Frutos do Mar. This little seaside seafood restaurant and bar is the cen-
With its rich ecosystem, the Bazurato Archipelago holds the largest population of dugong in Mozambique (around 300 animals) and almost certainly is the last remaining viable population of dugongs left off East Africa.
ter of Vilankulo’s nightlife and serves some of the best food in town. It is a beautiful space with vistas of blues for days, excellent service and a range of cocktails to let even the most stressed linger a little longer.
Travelling to our little piece of paradise is effortless and comfortable. We have a minimum of two direct flights flying into Vilankulo International airport every day, one from Maputo and one from Johannesburg. Visa entry fees and vary from nationality to nationality, but can be be issued at the borders, at any given time of arrival. Overland travel is also an option as the national roads south of Vilankulo connecting us with the dominant arrival point of Maputo are in excellent condition and even sedan vehicles travel up and down the coast with ease. Mozambique's local currency is Meticais and cash is readily available from ATMs with both Visa and Mastercard options.
I’ve had the fortunate experience and opportunity to fish numerous places on the planet, including Ascension Island, South Africa, Angola and Madagascar and will also visit Cape Verde for their Blue Marlin season early next year. No matter how far and wide I travel in my life, I know I will always return here, to the home I share with Mozambique’s Black marlin.