Three hours later, and an education in flying and navigation procedure, we landed at Vilanculos. A bustling little harbour town, fast trying to recover from a lengthy civil war.
Passing through, one sees the worn down splendour of old Portuguese colonialism. The architecture, desperately trying to heal itself and help recreate the paradise this place once was. We were met at the harbour by one of the lodges ski boats and after a thirty-minute buzz across the channel, we were there. Nine days of fishing supreme awaited us. After a quick bite we unpacked our gear and quickly hunted down Andrew Parsons, the resident fly fishing guide, and organised a trip for the afternoon. These waters have plenty to offer all year round and as this was my second trip, I was only to happy to be back, but this time a little more prepared for what lay in store.
Our tactics were simple. Regular drifts over the reefs, casting a fast sinking line into the wind and shaking out the excess line (this allows you to get your fly down without drifting over it) and then a good fast retrieve. It was only a matter of time before it was hit by the marauding kingies. This is where having a guide really pays off, as an unproductive area was quickly replaced by a productive one. As with most places like this, you never know what might hit you. A short wire trace and good knots are of utmost importance. I remember a few times, standing in awe after a savage take, cursing while I retrieved a flyless leader.
Working the reefs around these islands regularly produce barracuda, various caranx species, largemouth queenfish, king and queen mackerel and various reef fish. By the end of our stay we had accounted for no less than thirteen different species on fly.
The islands in the archipelago are mostly unspoiled and boast around 115 different bird species, including the rare crab plover. Our excursions regularly brought us close to dolphins, leatherback turtles, various rays and this time we spotted one of the rare manatees or dugongs as they are known in these areas. The archipelago has a fourteen-foot tidal difference during spring and neap so the surroundings are ever changing, revealing its secrets. We fished a sandbank in the middle of the channel, only exposed for two hours on a spring low, ten meters away, the drop off held king mackerel. South of Benguerra the deep waters off Magaruque provided us with kawakawa or little eastern tuna. Casting into a surface feeding shoal of these torpedoes really gets the adrenaline going and that reel screaming. It's here that a heavy rod pays off, as you need to land these speed merchants as quickly as possible before the taxman gets them. I refer to the many sharks in the area that collect their dues for allowing you to fish their waters. To the north lies Bazaruto island with plenty of deep water reefs which hold anything from 3kg to 20kg and, of course, has Sailfish Bay. Although we tried, this time we never raised any sailies, but then again, I will be back.
Benguerra Lodge, which was our home for nine days caters for the flyfisherman and has boats kitted out for the task at hand. The hours not spent fishing were used to snorkel or scuba the reefs, leisurely walking the deserted beaches (with rod in hand), bird watching, sailing the 14 foot Hobicat around the channels or lunching on the beach, feasting on crab, lobster, prawns and other exotic seafoods.
If you are into trolling, you can try your luck at catching trophy size marlin or whatever else the deep blue might hold.
Once again the chartreuse clouser reigned supreme but most deceiver patterns work well. Let's face it, when the pelagics are charging about, most baitfish patterns work well. Poppers are also a good bet and great fun when looking for surface action. If you can cast the "master blaster" (definitely the biggest popper I've ever seen) you have a chance of meeting with Caranx Ignoblis (Giant Kingfish) who regularly gets up to 15kg plus around here. Stopping these one of these brutes is something to be experienced and high up there on my list of things to still try and do.
Rob van Blerk
Africa's Destination Specialist.
phone: 00 27 317009833