Deep-sea game fishing is the pinnacle of the piscatorial world – and Africa boasts some of the richest waters on the planet. Here’s where to cast a line…

1. Watamu, Kenya

Hemingway's Watamu: the perfect spot for deep-sea fishing – via Daily Nation
Hemingway’s Watamu: the perfect spot for deep-sea fishing – via Daily Nation

On the east coast of Africa, few destinations can compete with Watamu when it comes to the sheer diversity of deep-sea angling on offer. Thanks to varied underwater topography and a thriving coral reef system, the waters here teem with baitfish and larger predators. Notably, the seas here offer anglers the rare opportunity to bag a ‘grand slam’ – catching three species of marlin (black, blue and striped) – in a single day. Happily, though, a tag and release programme supports ocean research, and ensures the longevity of the fish stocks for future generations. Aside from the sought-after billfish, the seas off Watamu are also famous for their solid catches of yellowfin tuna and wahoo.

While a number of lodges in the region offer deep-sea fishing excursions, few can compete with Hemingway’s when it comes to the quality of boats, tackle and fishing guides. A favourite on the east African coast for 30 years, the much-loved hotel recently reopened after a multi-million-dollar renovation.

2. Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique

Catch of the day at Anantara Bazaruto Island Resort – courtesy of Anantara Bazaruto Island Resort

While the hard-fighting wahoo and dorado make for fine adversaries, marlin are considered the ultimate test of a fisherman’s mettle at sea – and the tussle to land a large marlin can last for hours. It’s an epic battle between foes, a contest famously written up by Ernest Hemingway in his classic tale, The Old Man and the Sea.

While marlin are found on both the Atlantic and Indian Ocean coasts of Africa, the waters off the Bazaruto Archipelago offer some of the richest fishing grounds. A combination of open ocean and deep inter-island channels – coupled with sea-grass meadows and coral reefs – make for an abundant ocean ecosystem. Mozambique is also the only destination in Africa to deliver ‘grander’ black marlin, weighing in at over 1,000 pounds (450 kilograms).

Marlin fishing is best here from November through to January, and a number of luxury lodges and resorts – including the likes of andBeyond Benguerra Island and Anantara Bazaruto Island Resort – offer expert fishing charters on-site.

3. Southern Atolls, Seychelles

A catch on Alphonse Island, Mozambique – via Fly Odyssey
A catch on Alphonse Island, Seychelles – via Fly Odyssey

Situated just a few degrees shy of the equator, you’ll find equally good deep-sea game-fishing in and around the 115 islands that make up the Seychelles. But these impossibly scenic granitic islands have another ace up their sleeve: bonefish.

Hop on a flight to the uninhabited southern atolls of this island nation – the likes of Astove, Farquhar and Alphonse atolls – and see the shallow sandflats that surround the islands, offering some of the finest marine fly-fishing on the planet. The waters here are filled with bonefish, pompano and the hard-fighting trevally.

Local knowledge is key to fishing success – and the guides on pristine Alphonse Island are expertly placed to show you the best spots to cast a fly amid the 10,000 acres of tidal sandflats that surround the island.

Although you’ll catch year round, October to April is the best time visit to make the most of the calmer seas and wind-free days.

4. São Tomé and Príncipe

Fishing hotspot at Bom Bom Island – via XO Private
Fishing hotspot at Bom Bom Island – via XO Private

For the intrepid traveller looking to cast a line way off the beaten track, it’s hard to beat these far-flung Atlantic islands. Lying 400 kilometres off the coast of Gabon, getting to the fishing grounds isn’t easy or cheap; but they offer some of the most memorable deep-sea angling on the planet.

Bom Bom Island is justifiably famous for its quality of accommodation and fishing guides. The chance to land a large blue marlin is the main draw card here, with most visitors arriving in the peak marlin months of July and August. From September to December, it’s the sailfish that draws in anglers, with hard-fighting barracuda, wahoo and tuna on offer in between.

5. Cape Point, Cape Town

Fishing with Hooked on Africa, Cape Town – via Hooked on Africa
Fishing with Hooked on Africa, Cape Town – via Hooked on Africa / by Grant Scholtz

It’s impossible to avoid the ocean in Cape Town – a city long dubbed the ‘Tavern of the Seas’. Happily, anglers looking for an adventurous day out aren’t far from some of the best tuna grounds that Africa has to offer.

Boat charters from either Simon’s Town or Hout Bay harbours make a fast run south of the iconic peninsula, a 20- to 50-mile journey to the rich fishing waters that are home to skipjack, longfin and big eye (ahi) tuna. However, it is the yellowfin tuna that is most prized by local anglers and chefs.

If you don’t fancy tackling the deep ocean, the in-shore waters offer excellent opportunities for a half-day on the water. The Cape Snoek (Thyrsites Atun) is a popular local line fish, and the backbone of many local fishing communities, while summer brings the chance to cast a lure for the prized Cape yellowtail in the warm waters of False Bay.

John Segar

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