A Fly Angler’s Guide to Mozambique
(incorporating Mozambique general tackle and tactics)
MOZAMBIQUE ON A FLY ROD
Mozambique is a popular holiday destination for South Africans, well known for its azure seas, white beaches and an abundance of fish, most of which can be targeted on fly. For fly fishers wishing to experience the thrill of salt water fly fishing, it is a destination well worth considering, being easily accessible and relatively affordable, provided you plan your trip according to your budget. Since the war ended, the country has made a concerted effort to promote tourism and, in our experience, things have improved dramatically on almost all levels. Sure, there are still problems and visiting this beautiful country is not without its dangers, but with proper preparation and knowledge of what to expect and what to do, you can experience a memorable and hassle-free holiday.
Over the last couple of months, TCFF has embarked on various assignments to gather information to assist those wishing to experience Mozambique on a fly rod. We have striven to identify the fly fishing possibilities along the coastline from Ponta do Ouro right up to the Bazaruto Archipelago and report on what we found honestly, with no intention of promoting a specific venue or lodge. Over the next couple of months, we will be publishing a series of articles dealing with each venue visited, along with tips relating to the specific area and for travelling in Mozambique in general. We do not claim that the information is definitive or even complete, for any assignment is limited by factors such as time, weather and other variables not within our control. However, our aim is to provide, for the first time in print, a serious guide to fly fishing Mozambique and we hope that these articles will identify a venue suited to your budget and requirements.
As the first venue is best accessed from the border post at Kosi Bay, we include tips relating to that specific border post. Later articles will deal with the border post at Malelane (Ressano Garcia), and contain information to make travelling through as hassle-free as possible.
1) PONTA DO OURO
Just 9.6km after leaving the border post at Kosi Bay, the heavy sandy track winds down into the sleepy, laid-back town of Ponta do Ouro. Tucked snugly under a hill in the corner of a long, curved bay, this relaxed seaside community is surprisingly larger than it at first appears. Stretching for a good kilometre or two in either direction, it boasts a diverse assortment of holiday homes, local houses, scuba diving operations and scattered holiday resorts. There are a remarkable number of derelict houses in the area, some obviously gutted by wartime fires and others seemingly abandoned before building was completed. These are randomly interspersed among some delightfully well-kept and attractive homes, creating a strangely interesting mix in styles and living conditions. Nevertheless, with its original open-air market, local roadside stalls and lush vegetation, it has all the characteristics of a peaceful Mozambican town and you soon find yourself slowing down to the easy pace of the place. Ponta do Ouro is most popular for its surfing and diving opportunities and, due to its close proximity to South Africa, it can at times become quite busy with holidaymakers – especially during South African vacation periods. If you happen to own your own boat, the fly fishing possibilities increase dramatically as there are lots of reefs at varying depths, mostly to the north, but many of these are diving reefs and get busy as a result of all the diving operators. Divers report regular sightings of game fish in the vicinity of these reefs (mackerel, barracuda and kingfish mainly). There are good beach launching facilities and launching is generally quite easy.
FISHING: SHORE BASED
We do not recommend Ponta do Ouro for serious shore-based fly fishing, but it’s a fair choice for a family holiday with some fly fishing thrown in, the bonus being that it is close to South Africa. Right in front of the first chalets at Motel do Mar, a long, open and windswept beach stretches away to the left, and to the right lies the point after which the town is named. The beach to the north is not the most fly fishing friendly beach, as it is quite straight and featureless, and the surf can be rough at times. In summer, however, with a small swell and an offshore breeze in the morning, the fishing can be productive as there is a deep channel that runs parallel to the beach all the way north to Ponta Malongane. The beach is reasonably steep though, and the surge can be quite severe, so the sea would have to be reasonably calm and you would need to be a competent caster in order to get your fly a good distance out into the deeper water whilst dealing with the surge. A number of shallow sandbanks lie just off the beach on the other side of the channel, making the deeper water between them and the beach a natural feeding area for predators. Fish such as wave garrick (Trachinotus botla) and small kingfish will be prominent here during the summer months. A small weighted fly such as a Clouser Minnow, fished on an intermediate or sinking line to cut through the surf wash, could be productive. The best times are on a full tide just as it starts to get light in the morning, or in the late afternoon and dusk. Bear in mind that the wind tends to pick up in the afternoon in Mozambique, so the best conditions are in the early morning. It is a huge stretch of beach and holds potential for the more adventurous fly angler who enjoys some challenging surf fishing.
To the right (south), lies the point and some rocky ledges, which are rather exposed to the open ocean but border on some fishable deep water. The bay in front of the campsite is the most sheltered area and it’s worth fishing from the beach on a full tide in the early morning. As you reach the first rocks before the point, a small channel cuts from the sea into the bay through which the boats launch. This is probably the best fishing spot as there is shelter for baitfish and it’s a good area for predators to ambush the shoals of minnows. Fishing here, however, is hampered by much boat traffic during the season. Again, early morning is best before there’s any boat activity and preferably on a high tide with minimal swell and warm water. As you continue around the point, you will find some flat ledges with direct access to deep water. These are more suited to spin fishermen as the distance required to get over the ledges is challenging to most fly casters, especially when there is some swell. In calm seas these ledges are certainly worth prospecting, but only on a spring low tide when the rocks are readily accessible. Take care when fishing here as there is a large tidal variation in Mozambique and the waves can quickly surge up over the ledges as the tide pushes. On a full tide, you may also have difficulty getting back around the point as the water washes right up against the edges of the hill. Generally, the fishing around Ponta do Ouro is quite challenging due to the terrain but, under the right conditions, will reward the angler who is willing to get up early and put in the hours.
As with most areas in Mozambique, the offshore fishing potential is limitless – you just need to find a good reef or some surface activity. The fish one is likely to find around the reefs are a variety of kingfish species, queenfish, mackerel, jobfish, grouper and snappers. The reefs and good fishing areas are mostly to the north towards Ponta Malongane and within a kilometre or two of the coast. The depth of water on the reefs that you are likely to fish ranges from 5m – 25m. The currents can be quite strong, so a Di7 fast sinking or lead core line is recommended to get your heavily weighted fly down to where the fish are feeding. Surface activity is fairly common and birds are normally a dead giveaway of fish feeding on the surface. Kawakawa, frigate tuna, bludger kingfish, queenfish and yellowfin tuna are most likely to be found on the surface. You can either dead-drift the boat into feeding fish, stop and chum, or charge into the shoals and make a quick-fire cast before they sound.
There are facilities at Ponta do Ouro for boat launching should you wish to bring your own boat. The launching area is at the campsite right at the south end of the beach (carry on straight past the supermarket and Motel do Mar turnoff). You enter through the security gate at the campsite entrance. There is secure parking at the launch site where you can leave your vehicle during the day. It is generally a fairly easy and sheltered beach launch, but can become pretty hairy in a heavy swell as there is big surf coming off the point and a very shallow sandbar to cross. Study the sea carefully, take time to watch the dive boats launching and ask for information from the dive operators before venturing out.
Ponta is a big dive centre and there are various scuba operations in the area. There are all kinds of reefs to suit all levels of experience, but these can get quite crowded with divers in season. Motel do Mar is a self-catering DIY resort and doesn’t provide much in the way of organised activities, but U-Can Developments next to the resort offers kite surfing, quad bike and 4×4 trails, paragliding and horse rides. The beach affords endless walks, swimming, snorkelling, and the town and its surrounds provide some opportunities to explore.
TCFF was hosted by Motel do Mar, a large and centrally situated establishment consisting of 60, four-bed apartment blocks built right next to the beach. The chalets are fairly clean and comfortable, all have ample space for fishing and diving gear and are well situated in the town. They are all self-catering, gas powered and each block of four chalets shares a braai area. Every chalet has its own fridge, shower and bath, ceiling fan, two-point plug sockets and a small wall safe to store your valuables. There is mosquito netting on the windows but no bed net, so be sure to bring your own.
Should the self-catering option not appeal, the complex has its own basic restaurant and bar, but you can also visit one of the restaurants about 100m away in town. Generally the prices in Ponta are not as cheap as further north and a standard meal will set you back anywhere from R50 – R75/person on average. The portions are large and the food is tasty (but rich). Fishmonger Baracus (above the supermarket) is a great choice for dinner and breakfast, and has a pleasant and relaxing local feel to it. There are a couple of local stores in town selling the most basic of provisions. You can purchase some daily groceries, but they are pricey and bringing your own supplies across from South Africa is a better option. It’s best not to rely on being able to buy any necessities once you are there.
Approaching the border from the South African side, one needs to take the Jozini turnoff from the N2 and follow the signs to the crowded and bustling town of Jozini. There is a BP petrol station here but it can be very busy with locals selling their wares and you may be hassled by a few of them wanting to sell you goods or exchange money. You do not need to fill up here, as there is a better opportunity closer to the border. When leaving Jozini, take care to follow the Kosi Bay and Ingwavuma signs (take the left fork in the road as you leave Jozini). Follow the tarred road over the wall of Jozini/Pongolapoort Dam and continue following the Kosi Bay signs (not Sodwana Bay) all the way to Emangusi (Manguzi) which is 105km from the Pongolapoort Dam. On the way out of Manguzi, you will find a very smart Total garage with a shop, clean toilets and fuel. We suggest that you fill up here before entering Mozambique. The road is tar all the way to the border post. Watch out for potholes from Piet Retief to Manguzi.
For further information visit www.pontadoouro.co.za
KOSI BAY BORDER POST
The border post at Kosi Bay (Farazela) is a low-key affair and getting through immigration is a breeze. We were intending to exchange money on the South African side, but there was no one there when we arrived, which was quite late (4pm). Meticais are not required at the border as both the South African and Mozambican sides accept South African rands. On the South African side, one person goes into the immigration office with the passports, while the driver shows the car registration papers to the official at the gate who takes down the particulars. It doesn’t take more than a couple of minutes before you are cleared and can proceed a full 10m to the Mozambican side. Here you must park and then enter a small office where you are required to fill out a simple form and pay for a temporary import permit and 3rd party car insurance (for two people). After this, cross the road to a small window where they will check and stamp your visa.
There is no time to adjust as you are thrown straight into 4×4 terrain. The only road heading into Mozambique from the border is a heavy and winding sand track and you will need to deflate your tyres and engage high-range 4×4 gear; 2×4 is possible, but not recommended. Should you not have adequate transport, a border transfer can be arranged and your vehicle can be left in a parking lot at the border. Ponta do Ouro is a quick 9.6km drive from the border at Kosi Bay. From the border, take the right-hand fork and keep right whenever the road forks. If you are on the right track, you should pass a large white house after about 5km. The road will lead you right into the town. To get to Motel do Mar, carry straight on towards the beach as you enter Ponta do Ouro, then turn left just after you pass the small shopping centre on your left. Motel do Mar is the big blue and white double-storey complex on your left.
2) PONTA MALONGANE
Mozambique is a popular holiday destination for South Africans, well known for azure seas, white beaches and an abundance of fish, most of which can be targeted on fly. For fly fishers wishing to experience the thrill of salt water fly fishing, it is a destination well worth considering, being easily accessible and relatively affordable, provided that you plan the trip according to your budget. Since the war ended in 1992, the country has made a concerted effort to promote tourism and, in our experience, things have improved dramatically on almost all levels. Sure, there are still problems and visiting this beautiful country is not without its dangers, but with proper preparation and knowledge of what to expect and what to do, you can enjoy a memorable and hassle-free holiday.
Over the last couple of months, TCFF has embarked on various assignments to gather information to assist those wishing to experience Mozambique on a fly rod. We have striven to identify the fly fishing possibilities along the coastline, from Ponta do Ouro right up to the Bazaruto Archipelago, and report on what we found honestly, with no intention of promoting a specific venue or lodge. Over the next couple of months we will be publishing a series of articles dealing with each venue visited, along with tips related to the specific area and for travelling in Mozambique in general. We do not claim that the information is definitive or even complete, for any assignment is limited by factors such as time, weather and other things not within our control. However, our aim is to provide, for the first time in print, a serious guide to fly fishing Mozambique, and we hope that these articles will identify a venue suited to your budget and requirements.
This month we travel further up the coast, full of expectations, to Ponta Malongane, a scant 8km from Ponta do Ouro. Continuing out of Ponta do Ouro, or alternatively from the border at Kosi Bay, you will find yourself navigating a web of crisscrossing sandy tracks that resemble an on-land rabbit warren, all seeming to head everywhere and nowhere at once. You are incessantly faced with a stream of what appears to be potentially critical navigational decisions: right and left forks, switchbacks and split after split loom ahead as you slip and slide past the nearby dunes, behind which lie the Indian Ocean. The best advice we can offer is to keep taking the road most travelled by, or even better, the one that always seems to be going the straightest along the coast. Don’t panic; it is difficult to get lost as they all apparently join back up at some point. Keep straight – avoid the temptation and confusion of choice by rather fixing your eyes unerringly on the road immediately ahead, and after just over 5km of fun driving you will suddenly find yourself in among the local reed chalets that surround Ponta Malongane. Continuing down the same track past the tiny reed pubs and roadside stalls will lead you right into the reception area at the entrance to Parque de Malongane (the Portuguese name for the resort).
The coastal resort of Parque de Malongane is a do-it-yourself camper, fisherman and diver’s dream where everything is designed to cater for the real no-fuss outdoorsman. Built unobtrusively behind a low ridge of sand dunes at the end of a long, sweeping bay, the whole resort has a typical African bush camp feel to it, and you almost expect to hear the deep, guttural roar of a bushveld lion piercing the night. Although it is (pleasingly) inconspicuously built and all but invisible from the beach, it is a surprisingly large camp and stretches for a few 100m right into the corner of the bay where it ends close up against the prominent point from which Ponta Malongane draws its name. At the southern end lies the well designed and super-functional dive camp, which has an adjoining wooden bar and deck complete with fabulous views out over the bay. This is the ideal spot to put back a cold one at the end of a day’s fishing.
Maintained and managed by helpful and friendly staff who are all more than willing to offer their assistance, Ponta Malongane is a comfortable, practical and relaxed destination providing for a variety of different interests. In addition to being well serviced with amenities such as water and electricity, the park is very neat, well maintained and there is upgrade work being done continually to ensure that high standards are maintained throughout the resort. For the outdoorsman and fly angler, this is a great place to set up camp or rent a chalet, relax in the warm Mozambican climate and enjoy excellent fly fishing opportunities with all the conveniences – at an affordable cost. The only downside is that it can get very busy during the high season and the campsites may get a bit rowdy. There are, however, regulations requiring low noise volume after 10pm and the campsite is split into two to try and cater for those requiring more peace and quiet when things get a bit noisy.
FISHING: SHORE BASED
Ponta Malongane consists of a prominent point at the end of a long sweeping beach, and offers a number of both shore and offshore fly fishing opportunities. Directly in front of the boat launch gate, you will find a sheltered bay protected from all but the biggest swells by some flat, barnacle-covered rocky ledges. The fly fishing off this bit of reef certainly has the potential to be excellent in summer – especially for brassy (greenspot), giant and yellowtail kingfish, wave garrick, pompano, stumpnose, skipjack and some larger wrasse species. The gullies and channels formed by the rocky point are the prime spots, and this little bit of reef seems almost tailor-made for fly anglers. Wading out to the inshore point of this reef, then fishing back towards the beach in the foamy water washing around the point, is deadly for kingfish in summer, and when the swell is small you can fish off the ocean side straight into deep water. The downside is that it can be inaccessible later on an incoming tide and on the high tide – especially if the swell is fairly large. Then you may be limited to fishing only the last of the dropping tide and the first bit of the push before you are forced to move onto the beach. Not to worry though, as you will almost always get a few hours on the ledges on the change of tide (please be safety conscious and don’t take chances – especially with a pushing tide) and the beach too will provide you with excellent surf fishing opportunities.
Taking a stroll north from the boat launching area and working the numerous deep sandy holes that are strung out along the lengthy beach, will produce a variety of kingfish, wave garrick and stumpnose. An especially good hole is to be found about 500m up the beach from the boat launch gate – you can’t miss the deep flat water along the edge of a shallow sandbar. This is a prime spot for baitfish to congregate, so get a fly down near the bottom in the churned up water washing off the bank, and you could be in business. There are miles of beaches on either side of the resort just begging to be explored, and any time spent constructively working the fishy-looking areas in the right conditions will surely be rewarded with some fun surf action. Just bear in mind that the surf on these beaches can get pretty big and rough at times and they are not always fishable (especially when the dreaded easterly is blowing). Also, even in the calmest seas a reasonably long cast is going to be required to get the fly out into the deeper water off these steep beaches.
Access to a boat is going to increase your fish-catching opportunities tenfold. Out at sea you are faced with a variety of options – working the shallow inshore areas behind the back line for cuta and kingfish, dredging one of the many reefs (just stay clear of dive boats) with a sinking line, or looking for bigger prizes such as dorado, sailfish, tuna and wahoo by chumming, working floating structure, or teasing the fish to the boat with hookless teasers. Unfortunately, we were not able to get a charter while we were there, but other boats made some good catches of yellowfin tuna, cuta, green jobfish, dorado and sailfish on conventional tackle. Good sources for offshore fishing information are any of the three experienced dive boat skippers – Derrick, Mal or Gavin. Get hold of them at the dive centre any time during the day and they will be more than happy to update you with the local information and prevailing conditions. Ideally you should have your own boat, as this will allow you much greater flexibility and access to many more game fish. One of the big advantages offered by Ponta Malongane is the opportunity to launch private craft from there. If you don’t have your own boat, the resort is in the process of setting up a fishing ski-boat for charter purposes – this should be up and running by December 2004 and will be available for hire to residents at the resort as well as those not staying at Ponta Malongane.
Under the shade of the wild fig and casuarina trees lie 53 sheltered campsites, as well as a plethora of self-catering rondavels, timber chalets, tented camps on wooden stilts and larger six- or eight-person, fully equipped houses – each complete with braai areas and ablution facilities and all linked by cool sandy paths. Each type of accommodation has varying degrees of self-catering and, for the visitor who prefers to let someone else do the cooking, the Loggerhead bar and restaurant produces decent meals and bar meals at a reasonable cost. The resort also has its own shop next to the restaurant where you can purchase supplies and freshly baked bread daily. At the time of writing, the shop was undergoing renovations and the newly improved version should soon be up and running. Developed primarily as a functional activity-based resort, it is designed for water-related activities and is ideal from a fly fisher’s perspective – especially those on a more limited budget or who prefer the flexibility of doing things their own way. In addition to the various accommodation opportunities, the resort has public boat launching facilities, fish and boat cleaning areas, secure vehicle and boat parking, a dive centre, a beautiful wooden bar and deck, swimming pool, communal eating and food storage area (with fridges and cooking equipment), a restaurant and a pub complete with DStv. If you are based somewhere else but would still like to make use of the facilities, Ponta Malongane caters for day visitors (including boat launching) for a nominal fee and offers secure parking for both your vehicle and boat. They do not, however, allow private divers to launch, and any diving needs are to be arranged through the on-site dive camp, which is located at the southern end of the resort.
Diving is the primary activity at Ponta Malongane and the PADI registered resort offers a multitude of courses and dives for all levels of experience. The area is marketed as a “nature lover’s paradise” and boasts a wide variety of flora and fauna, including the giant bushbaby, turtles, dolphins, whales, as well as numerous species of birds. There are some tough 4×4 trails such as “The Pit” and “Signal Hill” for those who like a challenge. In the local village there are some charming reed hut bars and an interesting market selling various forms of local art and sculptures.
Ponta Malongane is 15km from the Kosi Bay border and the drive takes about 30 minutes. The road consists of fairly heavy sand and a 4×4 (or at least a 2×4 vehicle with diff-lock) is recommended. You may experience problems if you don’t have 4-wheel drive and meet another car coming towards you, forcing you to stop. Some knowledge of driving on sand is recommended. There are numerous sand tracks leading all over the place, but stay on the main track that hugs the coast and you will end up at Malongane. You can either go through Ponta do Ouro or along the more direct inland road, which is in much better condition and a must if you don’t have a 4×4. The resort runs regular border transfers for those not wanting to brave the roads, and there is secure parking at the border for a small daily fee.
For further information visit www.malongane.com
3) PONTA MAMOLI
We set off from Ponta Malongane on the next stage of our trip and after 11km of narrow-winding sandy tracks, bone-jarring bumps and trees scraping the roof of our 4×4, we finally emerged from the thick indigenous bush at the gates of the luxury Ponta Mamoli Resort, where we were warmly greeted by the management team Kevin and Bev Collins and their quietly efficient and friendly staff. The attentive service at this small but upmarket resort was immediately evident from the note neatly printed on the chalkboard in the reception area, personally welcoming us to “the magic of Mamoli” and we were made to feel completely at ease from the minute we arrived.
After a round of refreshing fruit cocktails, we were shown to our chalet, one of 16 and all of which are accessed along a number of attractive wooden walkways that protect the sensitive sand dunes and vegetation. The cosy, warm feel to the timber chalets, all built unobtrusively beneath the shady pines that line the dunes of Ponta Mamoli beach, immediately delighted us. As it was already late in the afternoon, we dragged the heaps of luggage to our room and settled in, before making our way to the open-air dining area where we enjoyed a cold beer at the well-stocked bar. After an interesting and informative chat with Kevin about the colourful history of the area, we were treated to an absolutely delicious three-course, home-cooked meal that left us too full to move.
FISHING: SHORE BASED
Dawn the following morning found us on the beach exploring the shore fishing possibilities that the beach, point and reef had to offer and I was pleasantly surprised at how well suited the area was to salt water fly fishing. Tucked in the corner of the point is a sheltered bay which boasts numerous (although ever-shifting) sandbanks, creating channels and deep-water cuts that held shoals of baitfish for the entire time we were there. This is an ideal spot for game fish to ambush the hoards of bait, and in the summer months, shore-fishing into these pockets of deep water will certainly provide excellent catches of various kingfish species, wave garrick, skipjack, shad, queenfish and stumpnose. Unfortunately we were subjected to cold-water conditions and strong winds when we were there (July), but the area holds numerous possibilities. The day before our arrival, two skipjack were taken in the surf and a week before that, a number of yellowtail kingfish of up to 11lb were caught on light spinning gear off the sandbanks in the bay. I believe that a 110lb ignobilis kingfish was also landed on bait off the beach a short while before we arrived, so fish are certainly there during the winter months. In addition to the fishing, right in front of the resort, just a few kilometres up the coast, lies the next promontory – Techobanine Point. We didn’t get a chance to fish this area because of the unstable weather, but I believe that it’s even better suited to fly fishing than at Ponta Mamoli and also boasts reefs and sandbanks that border deep channels and cuts. Techobanine is a 30-minute walk along the beach and it can also be reached by four-wheel drive vehicle. The resort will transfer you there for the day for a small fee. Endless surf fishing is possible along the beach between the points, but this would require calm seas and the ability to cast a fairly long line to reach over the shore break and into the deeper water beyond.
We were unexpectedly treated to a sudden break in the weather when we awoke on the third morning of our trip to clear skies and not a breath of wind. We immediately packed our gear, gulped down a quick breakfast and headed out to the launch area. Ponta Mamoli owns and operates two of its own boats – an 18ft Invader Cat powered by 2 x 85hp Yamaha outboards and a 21ft dive duck, also with 2 x 85hp Yamahas. The tractor was not working at the time we were there, so we couldn’t try out the big boat. However, the Invader is perfect for fly fishing with a small centre consol design, plenty of open deck space, few protrusions for fly line to get snagged and a small canopy providing a clear casting area. Rates were not available at the time of writing.
We loaded everything into the inflatable dive boat and after an interesting briefing about the reefs we were going to fish and dive, we headed out through the surf to the “Playground”, a shallow inshore reef only a few hundred metres behind the backline. The water above the reef was alive with a hatch of small, wriggling fry. The predators were obviously aware of this because my first cast slammed tight after the second strip and I was immediately into a good-sized yellowtail kingfish. After a very interesting fight, in which a huge potato bass did everything in its power to consume the struggling fish, and I did everything I could not to allow it the pleasure of a free meal, the skipper managed to pop the tippet as he tried to lift the fish into the boat. Fortunately, it was the first cast of the morning and with the promise of more kingies to follow in the perfect conditions, we laughed it off. After an hour or so of fun fishing with a few smaller yellowtail kingfish and a green jobfish, we headed to a deeper reef called “G-Spot” for a dive before the impending east wind got up. This reef is the resort’s prime dive site and is a spectacular underwater setting. It holds large numbers of game fish and should provide fantastic fishing in season.
The area abounds with many shallow inshore reefs, ranging in depth from 2m – 10m and there are many opportunities for boat-based anglers. The resort protects its exclusivity by not allowing private boats to be launched, although it does allow day visitors to use the beach for a small fee. No jet skis or other power craft are allowed, so you will always enjoy the peace and quiet that you are paying for. All in all Ponta Mamoli is a top class destination in all aspects – fishing, service, accommodation and nonfishing activities. It is certainly, in our opinion, well worth the price.
Ponta Mamoli is renowned for its world-class diving and, as a PADI-registered resort, it offers numerous courses and dives. The G-Spot reef is the main dive site and numerous game fish, dolphins and even whales can be spotted in a single dive. Both Kevin and Bev are registered PADI instructors and run the courses themselves. In addition to the diving, there are opportunities for whale watching and dolphin encounters, canoeing, turtle expeditions (October to January), evening barbecues on the banks of Lake Piti, Mamoli or Sotiba where hippos and crocs can regularly be spotted, horse trails and rides, bird walks, beach walks and windsurfing. The Maputo Elephant Park is right on the resort’s doorstep and plans are in the pipeline for a 6000ha game reserve around Mamoli. The resort lives up to its motto: “Escape, Explore, Experience.”
Accommodation consists of 16 timber chalets on raised timber decks (three of them family units) situated under the trees and sheltered from the wind. Each has an en suite bathroom with hot water shower and is tastefully decorated. There is no glass in the windows, just mosquito netting and a reed blind, so they are quite airy and cool in summer, but a little chilly in winter. They are all fitted with a ceiling fan and are mozzie-proof, with a complimentary can of Doom spray supplied for extra measure. Each chalet has its own wooden veranda and comfortable deck chairs. The dining and lounge area overlooks the swimming pool and Mamoli Bay. It provides open air dining for 40 people, a fully stocked bar with DStv and the biggest couches you have ever seen. Tea and coffee are available 24 hours a day and guests can browse through a wide range of specific-interest books. The service and exclusivity at Ponta Mamoli comes at a price and the resort is in the mid- to upmarket price range. However, you will certainly feel that you have received value for money – the rates include all meals and guests enjoy a high level of service with the entire staff at their beck and call.
For further information visit www.mozambiquetravel.com
Barely an hour’s drive over sandy tracks from the Farazela border post near Kosi Bay and 100km south of Maputo, Ponta Mamoli is easily accessible from South Africa, yet feels as though it is miles from anywhere. The heavy sand road requires the use of a 4×4 vehicle, but you can park at the border and the resort will arrange a transfer. From the border, simply follow the Ponta Mamoli signs past Ponta Do Ouro and Ponta Malongane. Coming from Maputo, you will need to travel south through Boane, on to Zitundu and then left down to Mamoli. This drive takes about four hours and is risky without a 4×4, so rather go through or around Swaziland if you are coming from up north. With the resort accommodating a maximum of 32 guests, there are few people to interfere with your fishing – and your peace and quiet. It is an ideal getaway for South Africans who are looking for a fly fishing destination with comfortable accommodation, great food, excellent shore and offshore fly fishing and plenty of activities for non-anglers. The endless, deserted beaches and reefs, lush subtropical vegetation and clean, warm water make for a truly wonderful Mozambican experience.
4) INHACA ISLAND
“Is this fish ever going to stop?” Jan groaned – his face contorted with exertion, the rod bent almost double, dangerously close to breaking point. Thirty-three minutes into the fight, the victor was clearly undecided. We were in search of queenfish, fishing an area known to produce large specimens, especially at last light. At the hookup, I was hopeful that Jan was onto a big one, but the fish had not jumped once and doubt slowly crept in. It didn’t exhibit any of the head-shaking antics members of the Caranx genus are known for either, so this late in the game my money was on a big golden kingfish. A short while later the fish surfaced about 30m away, but the fast fading light did not allow us positive identification. Tail angrily slapping the surface, the fish was sending a message and we both agreed that it was probably foul-hooked near the caudal fin. Shortly after the strike, the line had gone momentarily slack and then tightened up again. Mystified at the time, it now made sense. But it also gave cause for concern: dragging it backwards through the water would drown the fish if we did not land it soon. With renewed vigor, Jan put as much pressure on the 10-wt as he could muster, and a couple of minutes later I tailed a beautiful largemouth queenfish, clearly exhausted but still very much alive. As suspected, the fly had dislodged and was embedded just below the dorsal – probably the reason why it did not jump. Photographs done, the fish was successfully revived and released to fight another day. On the way back to the island, with the searchlight cutting a path through the inky blackness of the night, I was smiling – so, a queenfish after all! I just love it when a plan comes together.
FISHING: SHORE BASED
While Inhaca does offer reasonable shore-based fishing, most of it still has to be accessed by boat. The best spots are the south point (Santa Maria), the lighthouse and Portuguese Island. Santa Maria is a wonderful place to spend a day if strong winds keep you off the sea. The island is separated here from the mainland by a relatively narrow channel (Hell’s Gate), which produces a very strong flow on both pushing and ebbing tides. Sheltered from north and east winds, the deep water in the area adjacent to Hell’s Gate can offer excellent fishing for a wide variety of species, from kingfish to skipjack. Both pushing and ebbing tides are good, as long as there is enough water moving through the gap. Sometimes the fishing has the potential to be spectacular. I remember fishing there on a pushing tide. I had just landed a largespot pompano and was gazing seaward when a huge ignobilis (giant kingfish) came marauding across a shallow sandbar, the water barely covering its back. Later, I saw three more fish do exactly the same thing and I resolved on my next visit to go armed with a 12-wt. An innovative angler could lie in wait for these monsters and present the fly just at the right moment – all sight-fishing. The locals catch many bonefish in the deep channel just before the marine reserve, and if you are patient, a sinking line and a slowly stripped Crazy Charlie, small Clouser, or any variation of these patterns may produce your first “bone”, albeit not in the classical way. Later, when the tide is right, you can explore the channel closer to the gap for skipjack and other game fish. While you’re at it, the rest of the family can laze on the beach or even snorkel the wonderful little reef inside the marine reserve. This abounds with marine life and under the right conditions can be one of the highlights of your stay. However, touch nothing, beware of stonefish, devil fire fish, and maybe even the odd moray eel.
Portuguese Island is situated to the north of Inhaca and can be reached by boat. It offers relatively good fishing on its western point with the right tide. It is also a great place to spend a day, picnicking and fishing. A channel separates Inhaca from Portuguese Island, and this too offers good fishing in a fast flowing, relatively deep cut. However, fishing here is limited to a few hours on either side of the tide. There are a few other areas around the island that produce fish from the shore, but the fish are mostly small and not really worth the effort.
There is some great fishing to be had in the tropical waters surrounding the island. The first fishing spot is located only ten minutes from the lodge and from there it is merely a question of what you want to catch and where the weather will allow you to go. There is such a wide variety of species that discussing tactics and tackle for each would require an article on its own. From green jobfish, mackerel, kingfish, queenfish, barracuda, garfish, tuna and dorado, to big game such as sailfish and marlin – the list is long and impressive. Inhaca has produced record queenfish and it is a great place to specifically target this species. It is also home to some of the biggest golden kingfish (Gnathanodon speciosus) that I have seen. While there are a few small reefs that consistently produce good catches, one of the best reefs in the area is Baixo Danae, a large shallow water reef situated approximately 10km off the northeastern point of the island. At its shallowest point it comes up to roughly 3m and, if conditions allow, you are almost guaranteed to hook a good game fish. On our recent outing, we were trying to build a species list and were on seven when a frenzied action in the water drew our attention. Jumping up on the fuel hatch for a better look, I shouted to my fishing partner Jan to get ready. Baitfish were scattering in all directions and as he lifted his fly from the water, I happened to glance down and almost lost my footing. Following the fly from the depths came an ignobilis the size of a bus. You could measure this fish by the distance between the eyes! Just short of the surface it stopped, took a good look at us, lazily turned around and with a disdainful flick of a very large and powerful tail, disappeared back into the depths. A fish that size will almost certainly reef you, irrespective of the tackle used. Still, I’d love to give it a try.
Five minutes later, another commotion broke the surface about 100m away. This time, garfish as long as my arm and other baitfish were scattering in all directions. Calling for lines up, I started the outboards and steered a course to intercept the action. As the bows ploughed through the clear, cobalt-blue ocean, a startled cry emanated from the crew. Parting the waves like a ballistic missile, a marlin erupted in hot pursuit of the fleeing game fish – in less than 20m of water. Stuff like this makes even the most hardened salt water angler weak at the knees. Outboards roaring angrily, I turned hard to starboard and hoarsely shouted for the teasers to be let out. All things being equal, there is nothing like targeting the ultimate game fish on fly. For those not so optimistic (or foolish, some would say) to go after marlin, there are enough sailfish around to make them worth hunting. It is a difficult business, but if you put in the time and effort, you may reap the rewards. There are few things more beautiful than a sailfish with all its colours switched on, and on fly they present a real challenge.
The success of any fishing trip can often be attributed to local knowledge. Fishing a particular venue once or twice will give little insight into what the fishery has to offer. Gone Fishin’ is also involved in the upliftment of the local population and the conservation of the island and its resources. Apart from creating much needed jobs, it sponsors a community conservation project that is aimed at controlling the alien Indian crow that has almost destroyed the island’s indigenous bird population. With the eradication of the crows, indigenous birdlife is now returning to its former splendour. Gone Fishin’ is also mindful of protecting marine resources, and catch-and-release is advocated and practised where possible.
The island, populated by approximately 6000 people, has a quaint little town reminiscent of those we have experienced in the Caribbean, but with an African flair and a fresh food market. If you wish to spend a night on the town, it also has the odd curio shop and three restaurants. On a clear day, you can make out the faint outline of the high-rise buildings on Maputo’s skyline 37km away, but here you are well and truly removed from city life. It’s a good place to relax, fish and have fun.
Getting to Inhaca is a breeze. Through the border post at Ressano Garcia (Komatipoort), it’s an hour’s drive on a good tar road to Maputo. Easy directions take you to the Pestana Rovumo Hotel in the city, where your vehicle is left under guard for the duration of the trip. Here you board a courtesy bus that will take you to the Maputo Marina and the ferry that makes the crossing to the island. It’s a comfortable cruise and approximately two hours later you will be on the shores of Ilha Inhaca.
5) PRAIA DO SOL
A few kilometres south of the coastal town of Bilene, on the banks of the huge San Martinho lagoon, lies the low-key, eco-friendly resort of Praia do Sol, or “Beach of the Sun.” It is an extremely relaxing and quiet resort in an easily accessible location and it is a great option for those who wish to “get away from it all.” The resort unfortunately does not adjoin the beach, so a boat trip across the lagoon, or a tough 4×4 trail needs to be undertaken in order to reach the mouth of the lagoon and the beachfront. However, the white sands and clean, warm water of the lagoon directly in front of the lodge are just as good, if not better than the beach, for swimming and sunbathing.
FISHING: SHORE BASED
According to the locals, the area at the mouth of the lagoon offers some very good fishing – especially for ignobilis kingfish. Although the mouth was closed off when we visited the area, it was in the process of being dredged and it apparently stays open for a period of two years once it is cleared. The adjacent beach is very steep and fly fishing may be difficult, but just to the right of the mouth there are a number of rocks and gullies, and possibilities for the intrepid surf angler exist in this area. We were unable to make a proper assessment of the shore-fishing potential due to the wild sea conditions that persisted during our visit.
An inspection of the lagoon in the resort dive centre’s inflatable revealed some promising holes, drop-offs and channels, which are likely to hold countless species of fish in the summer and when the mouth is open. There are some really deep areas – with the deepest being around 35m – and a probe with an echo sounder indicated the presence of substantial numbers of fish. A chumming session and a few exploratory flies by the team in several parts of the lagoon produced nothing, probably due to the fact that a storm during the team’s visit had left the water cold and murky. Locals do net the waters with their gill nets, but these are not normally very deep nets, so they keep mainly to the shallows and upper 2ft of the water column, catching pan-sized fish. There is likely to be an abundance of juvenile kingfish, wolf herring and ox-eye tarpon here in season.
There certainly is no shortage of fish in the area, according to local charter boat skipper Rudy Harmse, a South African. He has an album full of mouth-watering catches to prove it. During his time in Bilene, he has made some spectacular catches of king mackerel, queenfish, tuna, sailfish, Natal snoek (queen mackerel) and countless kingfish species, including the golden kingfish. Natal snoek and yellowfin tuna are prolific from August to January, and the sailfishing is best during September and October. Harmse takes a fair number of fly anglers out on a regular basis and he says they normally do quite well on the numerous reefs in the area, many of which are marked by the white water breaking above them in the big storm swell, although they range in depth from 4 – 15m. A number of 6m deep pinnacles can be found about 4km offshore. Harmse also has a few secret spots stored on his fishfinder that attract large numbers of dorado, kingfish, queenfish and mackerel in summer.
Harmse runs an independent charter service using a 22ft Invader Cat powered by 2 x 130hp Yamahas. Private boats can also be launched from a public slipway in Bilene. There are a number of halfbeaks and wolf herring for sale in the local markets each morning, and these make an excellent chum mix.
The Praia do Sol resort comprises a selection of very private wooden chalets, built on stilts in the indigenous bush and linked by meandering sandy paths. They range in size from studio rooms to six-sleeper chalets of single and double-storey configurations. The double-storey chalet has a delightful and very cosy loft-style main bedroom, and all chalets have a wooden verandah with varying views out over the lagoon. The resort strives to be as eco-friendly as possible and has made use of entirely natural, local materials in the construction of the chalets – including the bathroom basin, which is a converted clay pot. All bedrooms have mosquito netting, although the chalets themselves are rather open. They could become a bit chilly in winter, but are nicely cool during summer. Each chalet is equipped with a fan, a kettle with a tea and coffee station, a hot shower, beach and bath towels as well as linen. The resort runs on municipal electricity, and it uses a generator when the power is down, so bring a torch just in case. Low and high season rates vary and include breakfast and dinner.
The dining area features a fully-stocked bar (which serves complimentary bar snacks daily), an open-air dining room, swimming pool and comfortable swing chairs on a wooden deck with gorgeous views over the lake. We found it to be a most friendly and social area to hang out at the end of a day’s fishing. Next to the pool is a bonfire hearth, which is a great spot to relax around with a glass of wine on winter evenings. The resort offers a set menu with a choice of tasty main courses. Breakfast is either continental or cooked, and there is a limited al-la-carte lunch menu. The resort is close to the town of Bilene where there are a number of excellent local restaurants from which to choose. The town also boasts a local market that is worth a visit.
The lodge provides a ferry to the beach for a small fee, although swimming and sun bathing is great right in front of the lodge. The same ferry is used for relaxing sunset cruises around the lagoon in the early evening. Next door to the lodge, an activities centre offers water skiing and a variety of diving, boat and canoe trips. Other activities at the lodge include 4×4 trails, bird watching and swimming in their fresh water pool. Whales are present in good numbers during August.
From Gauteng follow the N4 highway until you reach the border at Ressano Garcia (Komatipoort). From here it is ± an hour’s drive to the capital of Mozambique, Maputo. Take the EN1 main road north from Maputo to the town of Macia, 142km from the capital. Turn right down the road to Bilene in the centre of Macia. The road is tarred the whole way to Bilene and it is in good condition. Just before arriving in Bilene, you will reach a traffic circle and you take the right-hand exit on the right-hand side of Motel Bilene. When the road reaches a T-junction with the lagoon in front of you, take a right and follow the road, turning right again just before the dead end. When the road turns to gravel and where it forks in two, take the left fork. Navigating the last kilometre or so to the lodge can be a bit tricky, but the lodge provides specific directions in their booking confirmation sheet. There are some soft sand patches in this last stretch, but a 4×4 vehicle is not a necessity. The distance from the town of Macia to Praia do Sol lodge is 35.8km and takes approximately half an hour.
For further information visit www.pdsol.co.za
The dirt road that meanders down to the Protea Hotel’s luxury Zongoene Lodge at the mouth of the mighty Limpopo River is the route recommended in the lodge’s brochure. But this bone-jarring track is so riddled with holes and craters, that it took the TCFF team nearly two hours to cover the 30-odd kilometres to the coast and left its members wishing they had taken kidney belts and neck braces. Nevertheless, a warm welcome and a drink for dusty and parched throats await guests at the lodge, with its comfortable lounge and cosy dining area. Due to the close proximity of the lodge to the Limpopo River, Zongoene offers a Mozambican experience that is slightly different from many of the places TCFF has so far visited in this series. Vast sweeping beaches, a large tidal estuary and the huge mouth of the river inspire a beauty of their own. The lodge is built on a small, sandy point tucked between the mouth of the river and the estuary. Plenty of walking is required to explore the endless bays that stretch out for miles to the south of the river, or if you prefer, the lodge provides quad bikes for exploring the beaches and bays.
Fishing the surf and the river mouth on the first day at Zongoene, we landed a few small shad and brassy kingfish on the dropping tide. Despite perfect conditions and right tide, the same areas were quiet in the late afternoon. Wolf herring abound in the estuary, but we fished through the afternoon into the dark without success. However, the estuary holds potential and its deep drop-off will provide some good sport in season. In similarly fine weather, we had more success in off-coloured water on the shallow inshore reefs with queenfish, couta and various large rock cod species. Although we visited the area in mid-winter with water temperatures a chilly 20 degrees Celsius, the sighting of queenfish, bludger kingfish and prodigal sons ploughing into a hapless baitball boded well for fishing in the right conditions during the summer months.
FISHING: SHORE BASED
Although the water is generally discoloured, the fishing is excellent from the shore and the surf zone is perfectly suited to fly fishing. Ever-shifting sandbars and banks create endless cuts, bays, channels and sand ledges with direct access to deep and foamy water – ideal for species such as kingfish, queenfish, shad, pompano and the like. A number of couta have been caught right off the beach by surf anglers, which is probably a direct result of the deep water in the large river mouth. The estuary’s long drop-off into deep water all along the shoreline, will provide excellent sport with wolf herring and small kingfish during the summer months. As is unfortunately the norm with many estuaries in Mozambique, it is quite extensively gill netted by the locals, which has had a detrimental effect on the fish stocks in the estuary. Fortunately their nets generally only cover the top few feet of the water column and the shallows, and because the estuary is tidal, there will always be some game fish in the vicinity. In fact, a few decent ignobilis kingfish were caught there just prior to our arrival. The mouth is an excellent area to prospect on an incoming tide for fish entering the river or feeding in the mouth, and both sides provide good angling, so you can choose your area to suit the prevailing wind conditions. A word of warning though: the Limpopo River is notorious for the large numbers of dangerous Zambezi sharks lurking in its murky water, so be careful where you wade and try to stay in shallow water wherever possible.
Running two deep-sea boats that launch straight out of the river mouth, the lodge caters for all facets of fishing. “Osprey” is a 28ft Magnum with 2 x 225hp Mariner outboards, and its baby sister, “Zongoene 1”, a 24ft Magnum with 2 x 115hp Yamahas. They are both very comfortable boats and well suited to fly fishing. A lovely shallow water reef called “Captain Morgan” just off the mouth of the river produced some excellent catches of queenfish, couta and a few species of rock cod for the TCFF team. In season the kingfish, queenfish and couta abound on this shallow reef, which peaks at a depth of 7m. The fishing is definitely best on a pushing tide when the dirtier river water is pushed back inshore. A few kilometres further out is a cleaner 30m deep reef which also produces lots of queenfish, couta, kawakawa, queen mackerel and kingfish during the summer months when the water is warmer. Billfish and other pelagic species can also be found under the right conditions. There are some really shallow reefs (1m – 2m deep) just behind the backline, which provide great fishing when the sea conditions allow. All in all, the fishing in the area seems to have potential although it is not clear what conditions would be like in the rainy season, given the proximity of the river. The lodge is a member of IGFA and supports the practice of catch-and-release.
Built around two fresh water swimming pools and sun decks, Zongoene is a pretty and practical location. Set in among lush tropical plants and linked by wooden walkways, the large, double pool chalets and four-bed family chalets are tastefully decorated and very comfortable (accommodating a total of 60 guests). They are very spacious with large en suite bathrooms boasting both a shower and bath. Mosquito netting on the windows and over the beds and a complimentary can of Doom ensures mostly mosquito-proof chalets. As is the norm in Mozambique, there is no air conditioner. However, there is a ceiling fan that keeps you relatively cool. The rooms are serviced twice a day. The lounge and dining area is elegantly decorated in true African style and enjoys a tranquil ambience – perfect after a long day’s fishing. The lodge has a fair collection of specific interest books and magazines (including numerous back issues of TCFF) in the lounge area. In addition to the main lounge/dining area, there is a festive beach bar at the river mouth, where the lodge sometimes serves a lavish beachside barbecue dinner if the weather is good. The lodge also has a fully equipped executive conference centre for 60 people. Whether you enjoy a sunny lunch on the deck overlooking the lush Jurassic Park-style swimming pool or unwind on one of the large and comfortable couches in the bar area, you will appreciate the cosy and informal atmosphere at the lodge. In line with Protea Hotels’ normal high standards, the food is excellent and the service is good.
In addition to the variety of fishing offered by the lodge, there are numerous other activities available. These include scuba diving (equipment can be rented), whale and dolphin watching, quad bike adventures, forest/dunes trail, a moonlight trail and a full day safari through untamed bush. Sight seeing trips can be arranged to Monte Belo Light House built in 1922, the second oldest in Mozambique, where you’ll have a bird’s eye view over the estuary and the Indian Ocean. Boat trips to Xai-Xai and canoe rentals are also available. The Limpopo River boasts magnificent mangroves and an abundance of bird life for those who want to get out onto the river and experience the local fauna and flora.
The most direct route (and the one published by the lodge in its brochure) is to turn right off the EN1 at a small town called Chicumbane, 192km from the Xai-Xai turnoff in Maputo. This route takes you 35km along a very bumpy but well signposted dirt road through the village of Zongoene to the mouth of the Limpopo. Although it is a very slow and uncomfortable ride, the road is not sandy and doesn’t require the use of a 4×4 vehicle, but good ground clearance and a 2×4 with diff lock is preferable. A much better option would be to turn off the EN1 exactly 50km earlier (south of Chicumbane) in the town of Macia, taking the tarred road all the way to Bilene and the much smoother and quicker dirt road from there to Zongoene along the coast. This route is an hour shorter, is well signposted and pretty easy to navigate. Although almost all of it can be driven in a two-wheel drive vehicle, there is one sandy hill that requires the use of four-wheel drive – although you may just make it in a 2×4 if you know what you are doing. One final word of warning though – be sure to drive around that innocent looking puddle…
For further information visit www.zongoene.com
7) PARAISO DE CHIDENGUELE
An hour north of the flood-damaged and war-torn town of Xai-Xai, where the EN1 winds to within a whisker of the Indian Ocean, lies the sleepy town of Chidenguele, which means “highest point” in the local Chope language. The soccer field on the outskirts of the town marks the start of a sandy road that meanders its way down past fresh water lakes to a spectacular stretch of the Mozambican coastline and the Paraiso de Chidenguele Beach Resort. We arrived late on a hot, windy afternoon, only to be met by a large, angry sea – a direct result of the storms that bombarded us three days earlier at Praia do Sol Resort. The lodge’s brochure proclaims this area to be “hardcore kingfish country”, and we were champing at the bit to get a taste of some of the legendary giant kingfish that inhabit these waters. Instead we were limited to drooling over photographs of some big fish that adorn the walls in the bar, and took the opportunity to gather information on the local hotspots from the managers.
As it turned out, reaching the good fishing areas required a spring low tide and a large amount of beach driving, which is of course detrimental to the environment and illegal under local Mozambican law. Although we were there during a full moon, I was not prepared to drive on the beach for these reasons, so the lodge offered the services of one of their employees and experienced local fisherman, “Boom-Boom.” Plans were quickly made for the following day, and when we awoke to a beautiful, still morning and a dramatically flattened sea, it was with great anticipation that we headed off up the coast to the legendary King’s Pool. Making our way along the coast, I was immediately struck by what a perfectly designed piece of fishing coastline this was. It is a rock and surf fly angler’s paradise – ledges, bays, reefs and gullies, all bordering deep, fishable water and combined with a huge reef running parallel to the shore, create the perfect environment for big predators.
Boom-Boom is a most enthusiastic and knowledgeable character, full of stories of great battles between angler and fish. He is also a firm believer in catch-and-release and the team was pleased to hear from Boom-Boom how many fish are released in the area by both rock and surf anglers and fly fishermen. In two interesting days with him, we explored some awesome spots within 16km on either side of the resort. Good fishing spots are marked by their distances in kilometres along the beach from the lodge up and down the coast. Although there was never a dull moment where Boom-Boom was concerned, the sea remained cold and green and we were unable to entice anything to the fly. But let water conditions improve, and this incredible stretch of coastline will transform itself into a hardcore fly angler’s dream.
FISHING: SHORE BASED
The best spot is King’s Pool, named after the local king who is carried there to bathe in the calm, sheltered waters. A long, rocky promontory juts out from the shore at a 30-degree angle, forming a barrier against the waves and creating a deep pool that is open to the sea at one end. With flat, wide rocky ledges, low to the water level, this spot seems to have been created with the fly angler in mind. There are countless areas with direct access to deep water on both sides of this promontory and from the shore, all within easy reach of a fly caster. Kingfish of many sizes abound here, and there are options for both novices and more experienced anglers to encounter various species of these ferocious predators. Other spots well-suited to fly fishing are to be found 3.8km – 4.2km north, 1km – 2km south, 7.2km – 7.5km south and 10km south. These are the prime spots, but there are plenty of opportunities in between these points just begging to be explored. The terrain in these areas varies from sandy bays, channels and ledges to deep, foamy water. Although kingfish are the main target here, there are a number of photos in the bar of nice pompano caught on bait in the surf, and other species such as wave garrick and queenfish will be common in summer. This coastline can only be effectively fished on spring tides – the reefs will be covered on a neap tide and most fishing areas will not be accessible. Fishermen who choose to skirt the law and drive on the beach, are urged to do so responsibly and cause as little damage to the environment as possible. Staying in the tracks of other vehicles and driving below the high tide mark will have less impact on the ecosystem. Motorists should also be aware that this is not an easy beach to drive on and experience is essential – especially when trying to get back up the sandy track to the lodge.
The rocky coastline provides no safe access for ski-boats, so most fishing is shore based. The only option is to launch a light and easily managed inflatable through a gully or on a high tide. Boaters are urged to scout the area properly on a low tide, and identify the safest place to launch and the potential underwater hazards. The area can also be fished from a surf ski or rescue craft, but anglers are warned to take the necessary safety precautions since this can be a dangerous area. A 20km long reef runs parallel to the shore barely 300m out, all the way up and down the coast. This forms a wonderful deep and sheltered channel and it has the potential to produce some spectacular fishing.
Paraiso de Chidenguele boasts two separate accommodation options: self-catering chalets and smaller overnight units. The thatched, sea-facing self-catering chalets are isolated from each other and are tucked away in the thick indigenous forest. Surrounded by numerous endangered cycads, they are spacious and comfortable. Each chalet comes with a fully equipped kitchen, refrigerator, braai area, mosquito nets, linen, towels and even a Weber braai on request. Each has a timber deck area, bathroom with hot and cold running water and they are serviced daily. The overnight units comprise apartment-style rooms situated high on the hill overlooking the lodge’s main building and the ocean. These units are basic but clean and fairly comfortable. The main dining/bar area is built on a deck with views over the sparkling ocean and houses a fully stocked bar with DStv as well as an open plan dining area. Due to the resort’s close proximity to the main road, it is also popular with day visitors. A sandy path and vehicle access road leads down to the beach from here.
The area around Paraiso de Chidenguele has a wide variety of birds due to the varied eco-systems and wetlands. There are drives to the historic Boa Paz lighthouse, Chidenguele Cathedral and Chidenguele village. Also, there are a few hikes through the forest and around some pretty fresh water lakes behind the dunes. The lodge does not offer diving as there is no boat launching facility, but the snorkelling at King’s Pool is excellent and there are plenty of rock pools to be explored along the coast. There is a good swimming and sunbathing area in front of the resort, complete with wooden sun shelters. The endless miles of coastline are ideal for long, invigorating beach walks.
The turnoff to Paraiso de Chidenguele is 71.5km north of the bridge at Xai-Xai, and is on the outskirts of Chidenguele village. As you enter the village from the south, you will see a soccer field on your right-hand side. The turnoff is to the right just before the field, and the 5km road to the resort is well signposted from there. Although the road is dirt, 4×4 vehicles are not required. The resort is a full day’s drive from Gauteng and is 270km from Maputo.
For further information visit www.paraisodechidenguele.com
8) CAJU AFRIQUE
Caju Afrique is a cashew nut farm in the making which offers upmarket accommodation in timber chalets on the banks of the Rio River and Lake Polela near the town of Inharrime. The farm’s entry into the tourist market came about primarily as a result of the fact that the start-up period of the cashew nut operation is quite a lengthy business. The setting is stunning with timber walkways leading down to the water’s edge and this venue is ideal for someone looking for seclusion and quiet natural beauty. Lake Polela measures some 32km across at its widest point and gradually narrows to where it meets the lower section of the Rio River, more than 30km inland. It is apparent that the expanse of water in front of the lodge forms part of the upper section of this huge salt water lake system, although at the time of our visit it was cut off from the main lake at the EN1 road bridge which crosses the lake just before Inharrime. We were not able to determine whether the main body of water was open to the sea or when the inland section had been cut off, but this had clearly resulted in the salt levels dropping in the upper sections.
The water in the lake was gin clear and, due to the fact that it was cut off from the main lake, almost fresh. It will probably stay this way until connection with the main lake at the EN1 road bridge is restored. During our brief stay, we saw little fish life in the shallows, although the locals did net some tilapia species. This was probably due to the fact that the inland section of the lake was not linked to the main system, resulting in lower salt water levels. Subject to these levels, you also never know if you will be encountering fresh water or salt water species. We did, however, see pictures of some sizable fish taken by the locals which resembled grunter, but the quality of the photographs was poor and it was not possible to positively identify the species. Without obvious structure to attract and hold fish close to the shoreline, this will be a difficult shore-based fishing venue as there is no water movement.
If you wish to visit Caju Afrique with the primary intention to fly fish, it is best to bring a boat and fishfinder to assist in locating fish and fishable structures hidden in the depths. There are canoes available for the more energetic and it is possible to fly fish off them. During our stay we had the use of the farm manager’s inflatable boat and were able to locate and catch garfish, which we found in open water in the middle of the lake and in one of the secluded coves well away from the side. It is very likely that you may also find oxeye tarpon, snapper and various species of kingfish in some areas, especially if you can gain access to the main body of water. However, if it is closed off below the bridge it will not be possible to get a boat into the main section of the lake. Caju Afrique, roughly 30km inland, can be used as a base to explore shore-based fishing along the coast where the usual species such as kingfish and largespot pompano can be caught.
Caju Afrique is worth a visit if you are looking for a quiet place to stay and simply relax or to break a long journey further north. The quiet atmosphere allows you to enjoy the natural beauty of the area, go bird-watching and take walks along the lake shore to collect some of the many exquisite stones that wash out onto the sand – there is a multitude of colours and many have fascinating intricate patterns and markings on them. Guests can also hike along the numerous pathways on the farm and a tour of the farming operations can be arranged. A visit to the indigenous forest close to the entrance of the farm is worth considering and, as previously mentioned, guests have access to canoes with which to explore the lake. Comfortable deckchairs are available for those wanting to sunbathe or sit and read in the outdoors and enjoy the scenery.
The chalets, built on stilts, have two bedrooms with double four-poster beds which are exceptionally comfortable to sleep in; an enclosed patio offers a further two single sleeper couches. The open-plan lounge/kitchen area is fully equipped with a microwave, fridge and freezer, and the rate includes the supply of fresh fruit and vegetables grown on the farm. The chalets are fully serviced by very friendly staff who speak and understand English well. A laundry service is available to make your stay even more carefree. Caju Afrique also offers camping facilities for those who prefer to rough it.
Take the EN1 north from Maputo to the town of Inharrime. In the town and just past the Department of Agriculture and the police station, which are on the right, look out for a left turnoff signposted for the route to Congumo. Follow the road out of town for a few kilometres until you get to a fork in the road; take the left fork which is clearly marked Congumo. A few kilometres further on you will pass through the small village of Chitava. Keep a look out for the Caju Afrique sign on the left after Chitava, turn left at the sign and follow the road and white arrows to Caju Afrique (about 16km from Inharrime).
For further information visit www.cajuafrique.com
9) DOLPHIN LODGE
The vehicle’s headlights cut a tunnel through the enveloping darkness and rain as we cautiously negotiated the sand road on our way to Dolphin Lodge. The rain had started falling that afternoon, brought in from the warm Indian Ocean by a strong southeasterly wind. Little did we know that it was going to continue, on and off, for the next three days. The weather did little to dampen our spirits as Dolphin Lodge came into view, a warm glow of lights emanating from the beautiful double-storey log building which houses the reception, shop, bar and restaurant. A relatively new development, situated on the southern side of the Zavora lighthouse, the lodge has been built on top of the coastal dunes, and offers spectacular views of the ocean and some of the good fishing spots right in front of the property.
Our first morning dawned grey and windy. The onshore wind had made the sea choppy as the wind swell pushed against the Mozambique current. This assignment was not going to be easy, but we were determined to make the best of the conditions. Frustration levels grew as the days progressed. We could see that the coastline had stunning formation and reef edges dropping off into deep water – ideal for land-based fishing, but the sea and weather were conspiring against us. Frustration changed to despair; eventually despair became acceptance. We simply went fishing, fighting the rain, wind and waves as best we could. Our efforts were rewarded with only a few small fish. However, we know that this area has the potential to produce fantastic fishing.
Dolphin Lodge does not have a charter operator based on site, however, they can arrange offshore fishing with Zavora Adventures. At the time of our visit the weather and sea conditions did not allow us to venture offshore, but we are aware that the Zavora area is known for some of the best offshore fishing that Mozambique has to offer. You will encounter all the usual pelagic species, various kingfish and a host of bottom dwellers. The area is renowned for producing queen mackerel during the winter months – when you are also likely to encounter some trophy-sized king mackerel. Visitors are welcome to bring their own boats. The launching area, behind the main reef at Zavora Point, is one of the easiest and safest surf launches along the entire Mozambique coastline. The main fishing area is Deep Reef, a massive reef system running a number of kilometres in a north/south line. The reef rises up out of 40m – 50m deep water, and has numerous pinnacles and sections ranging between 25m – 35m in depth. The area is a magnet for pelagic predators and ideal for deep water fly fishing with fast sinking lines. There is also a host of other uncharted reefs in the area which will provide good fishing, and in calm sea conditions you can fish into the white water around the edges of the reef at Zavora.
FISHING: LAND BASED
Dolphin Lodge is situated no more than a kilometre from the Zavora Point; it is about a ten-minute walk from the lodge to the main reef in front of the lighthouse. Fishing off the reef will give you access to deep water, and the chances of hooking into a big fish are good if the sea conditions are favourable. The reef is only accessible for a few hours during the spring low tide, so bear this in mind when planning your trip to Dolphin Lodge. When walking to the point of the reef, keep a lookout for triggerfish feeding in the shallow water covering the sea side of it. A floating line and small crab pattern may just entice a bite. However, the main shore-based attraction at Dolphin Lodge is the 6km section of coastline in front of it, extending south to the reef known as Makanza Point named after the local tribal chief. The area comprises a series of flat, rocky ledges interspersed with deep holes and channels, ideal habitat for a wide variety of inshore predators, including kingfish and various snapper.
The area is best fished over a low tide, when you will have access to the deeper areas at the front of the ledges. When the tide pushes, you can move back to the holes and channels closer to the beach. As these flood with water, the fish will move into them to feed. Species like kingfish will patrol the shore break over the high tide in search of food, and there are also sections of surf where you can target wave garrick. A huge plus factor for this area is that it is not subjected to the same amount of fishing pressure as the main reef at Zavora, and you will still find good numbers of fish. Testament to this fact is that we were able to catch eight different species, literally fishing in the shallow rock pools, because the large seas experienced during our brief visit made it impossible and unsafe to try and get to the really good-looking deep water holes. Unfortunately most were on the small side! However, it is encouraging to find a venue which holds so much promise. The other option is to fish the Makanza Point area. There is a sand road running behind the coastal dunes; the lodge management can give you directions. The area gets very little fishing pressure from locals and will produce good fishing in calm sea conditions. Plan your visit to coincide with the spring low tide to be able to get right to the front of the reef.
The main reef offers some amazing snorkelling, specifically in the large sheltered hole at the point of the reef, but remember that this area is only accessible over the spring low tide. The sheltered bay behind the reef is also ideal for a variety of water sport activities. The area around Dolphin Lodge comprises natural coastal forest fringed with palm trees and has a wide array of birdlife, while nature lovers can visit the numerous salt and fresh water lakes behind the coastal dunes.
The large double-storey log homes with thatched roofs can sleep between six and ten people each. The units vary slightly in design, but generally have two or three separate bedrooms, two bathrooms and an open-plan lounge/kitchen and dining room. Each unit is furnished with the basic household items and is fully equipped for self-catering. The units are also serviced daily. Situated high on the coastal dunes, they have panoramic views of the ocean and are surrounded by bush. The restaurant and bar offer a wide variety of meals and drinks at competitive prices – and DStv if you need to keep up to date with the latest news and sporting events. Dolphin Lodge caters for the family and groups of friends wanting an enjoyable seaside holiday and the chance of good fishing, even if you do not have a boat.
The quick option is to fly to Inhambane. Arrangements can be made for you to be collected at the airport, a little over an hour’s drive to Dolphin Lodge. The slower and inexpensive option is to drive from South Africa. Take the EN1 north from Maputo, travelling through Xai-Xai until you reach the town of Inharrime. The distance from the Komatipoort border post to Inharrime is approximately 450km. Proceed through Inharrime and continue north on the EN1 for approximately 10km. Keep a lookout for the sand road branching off to the right which is marked with a signpost for Zavora. Follow the sand road for about 17km, until you can see the lighthouse on top of the coastal dunes. The sand road splits at the base of the dune, and you will find Dolphin Lodge’s sign indicating that you must follow the right fork. It is about 1km to the lodge. The road generally has a hard surface, although there are two or three sections of soft sand. A vehicle with diff-lock should have no difficulty negotiating these sections, especially if you deflate the tyres.
For further information visit www.zavoralodge.com
10) ZAVORA LODGE
The old lighthouse, a lone sentinel, stands guard on the highest dune overlooking the beautiful Ponta da Zavora. No longer in use, it once served as a warning to sea- farers, but now stands as a beacon, heralding your arrival at Zavora Lodge. The lighthouse comes into view within the last few kilometres, confirming that you have almost reached your destination and the long journey to get there is quickly forgotten. Once a thriving community, Zavora did not escape Mozambique’s civil war and the scars of the past turmoil are still in evidence. Zavora is slowly rebuilding and working towards regaining its former splendour, although a new battle looms on the horizon as the ocean tries to reclaim the dunes.
Standing on the deck at Cudas Bar and Restaurant, it is not hard to see why Zavora is a popular holiday destination among fishermen, especially offshore anglers. The inshore reef creates a sheltered bay making surf launching a breeze. At low tide there are no waves on the inside of the reef and it can be likened to launching in a harbour. The Zavora area is rated by many as having some of the best fishing Mozambique has to offer, and looking at the navigational chart at Zavora Lodge’s reception you will see a number of inshore reefs and pinnacles. The most prominent is a massive reef system, known as Deep Reef, which runs parallel to the coast about six nautical miles out, and then there is also the wreck of the Klipfontein – the Dutch liner which sank about four nautical miles off Zavora on 8 January 1953. Maritime records indicate that the vessel struck a submerged object – possibly an uncharted reef – and went down within an hour. Fortunately all the crew and passengers made it to safety.
Venturing offshore will certainly be the best option for regular encounters with trophy-sized fish, mostly pelagic species, and especially king mackerel. At the time of our visit Zavora did not have fishing charters in operation, although we were told plans are afoot to provide this service for visitors who are not able to bring a boat. We had the pleasure of fishing with Rodney Glass, a regular visitor who knows the various reefs intimately. Unseasonal weather and two frontal systems made fishing difficult, but Rodney still managed to put us on fish although they were slow to take the fly, often striking short. Evidence of the fishing potential was that bait fishermen, returning with a catch of up to ten king mackerel in only three hours at sea, were complaining the fishing had been unusually slow.
The most productive area offshore is certainly Deep Reef. The structure rises out of 50m of water and the shallower points vary between 25 – 30m, perfect for deep-water fly fishing. Species you may encounter include all the usual pelagics, as well as dorado and sailfish. Kingfish and a variety of reef-dwelling species can also be found on Deep Reef and bonito are regularly sighted chasing baitfish on the surface. Zavora is particularly well known for the abundance of king mackerel, and if you are keen on targeting this species with the potential of taking a truly large specimen, you will not go wrong by choosing Zavora. Large numbers of queen mackerel put in an appearance during the winter months and these are great fish to catch on 9- and 10-wt rods, although for general offshore fishing a 12-wt rod is recommended – you do not want to be undergunned when the big one takes your fly! Large flies and fast sinking lines will produce the desired results, and do not forget single strand wire for the toothy critters.
Another popular fishing area is the wreck of the Klipfontein which acts as a massive FAD, and divers report regular sightings of large kingfish in the vicinity. King mackerel and other pelagic species can also be plentiful around the wreck. There are many other smaller reefs and pinnacles in the area and in calm conditions you can position a boat close to the Zavora reef, casting towards the white water. You will find a variety of kingfish and a host of other inshore species feeding along the edges of the reef. Be aware that large ignobilis kingfish are regularly spotted here.
FISHING: SHORE BASED
Land-based fishing opportunities abound at Zavora. The main reef in front of the lighthouse is completely exposed at low spring tide and fishing around the point of the reef will be productive. During calm sea conditions it is possible to fish the entire length of the seaward side of the reef. There is also a large hole in the reef near the point which is likely to hold a variety of smaller fish during low tides. When conditions are not ideal to fish the main reef, or when the tide tells you it is time to leave, take a ten-minute walk along the beach in a northerly direction and you will find a series of flat rocky ledges with deeper gullies in between. This area is clearly visible from the bar deck. It is possible to fish from the front of these ledges, especially at low neap tide when the main reef may not be accessible. When the tide gets too high to fish the outer perimeter, move to the gullies and holes between the rocks. Some large kingfish have been caught from these rocks by bait fishermen and it is advisable to take a heavy rod when prospecting this area. A large swell and strong onshore winds made it difficult for us to venture out to the front of these reefs, but we have no doubt of their potential, and believe Zavora will be a good choice if you are going to be limited to shore-based fishing. Take along a good pair of suitable boots or shoes for walking on the reefs.
The surf area in front of the resort and the areas to the north and south of Zavora will produce species such as wave garrick (largespot pompano) for those willing to persevere with small flies. The area to the north is generally deserted and seldom visited. It may be well worth taking a backpack and spending a day exploring the beach in this area.
Zavora’s main focus is on the superb fishing available to guests. However, there is some excellent snorkelling available around the inshore reefs. Whales (mostly winter and spring months) and other sea creatures are also regularly sighted, and Zavora’s elevated position makes spotting them easy.
Zavora Lodge offers various accommodation options, generally for the self-catering market. They have four campsites, two of which are located on the sea side of the dunes. Most campsites include a baraca and a plug point with shared ablutions and hot water showers, although some campsites have their own ablution facilities. Fully equipped, self-catering reed bungalows are available and these sleep between four and eight persons. For those who prefer a more solid structure, there are three beach houses available, sleeping between eight and ten persons, perfect for a large family or group of friends. The houses have individual bedrooms and are fully equipped for self-catering with fridges and freezers. All bedding and mosquito nets are supplied in the bungalows and houses. Ice is available and fresh bread, made daily, can be ordered at reception.
You can also arrange a fully catered stay with meals served at Cudas Bar and Restaurant. The a la carte menu comprises a basic selection of breakfast, lunch and dinner meals. Seafood features strongly, although you can get steak or chicken if you prefer. A TV with DStv decoder is available in the restaurant if you need to keep up to date with the news and sporting events. Beach launching and boat/fishing permits are required by Mozambique’s maritime authorities and can be purchased at reception. Zavora Lodge has staff who will assist you in launching your boat and trailering it after a day out at sea. There is also a boat-washing facility.
Take the EN1 north from Maputo, travelling through Xai-Xai until you reach the town of Inharrime. The distance from the Komatipoort border post to Inharrime is approximately 450km. Proceed through Inharrime and continue north for approximately 10km. Keep a look out for the sand road branching off to the right; Zavora has a sign marking the turnoff. Follow the sand road for 17km to Zavora. The road generally has a hard surface, although there are two or three sections of soft sand. A vehicle with diff-lock should have no difficulty negotiating these sections, especially if you deflate the tyres.
For further information visit www.zavoralodge.com
11) SOL DE LIGOGO
The strong southeasterly wind which had been dogging our three-week assignment in Mozambique, was again bringing in grey clouds laden with rain as we made our way to Sol de Ligogo. In hindsight, the rain was not the problem – in any event you get wet when fishing the shoreline – it was the wind that was causing havoc. The southeasterly pushing against the Mozambique current was building up a large groundswell which had huge waves crashing into the reef, making it impossible and unsafe to venture out onto the front edges. Frustration levels were mounting as we stood on the dunes overlooking the stunning reef in front of the resort. A quick scan revealed numerous deep channels and holes along the edge, some reaching in towards the beach. This was possibly one of the best land-based fishing areas we had ever had the privilege of visiting – and we could not fish it, at least not effectively.
So what does one do in Mozambique when the weather and sea conditions conspire against you? Our host Bill Auth realised we were slowly going mad not being able to fish, and suggested that we accompany him into town to stock up on supplies. Maxixe and Inhambane are only a short drive away and both are reasonably well developed. This was the ideal time to take a break from fishing and to explore the area. You can get all the basics you need and a variety of luxuries at reasonable prices from shops like Taurus in Maxixe. There is definitely no need to cart everything all the way from South Africa, and if you ask nicely you may even place your order with Bill and he will collect the goods for you. Not many resorts in Mozambique offer that level of service. Bill also has a few contacts for getting the best quality seafood at competitive prices, although you are welcome to haggle with the local fishermen and hope that what you get is fresh. By day two the skies cleared while the wind continued unabated. Fishing conditions were far from perfect, and we resorted to fishing the shorebreak. It was just too dangerous to venture out on the reef. We caught plenty of juvenile kingfish and other reef dwellers, fishing our 9-wt rods. Great fun – and far better than not fishing at all.
Weather and an unexpected technical problem with one of the boat’s motors prevented us from venturing out to sea. It was a pity things didn’t work out, since it is apparent that the offshore reefs at Sol de Ligogo get very little fishing pressure, and they must hold an abundance of fish. With the rapid rate of tourism development in Mozambique, the better-known areas are being subjected to intense fishing pressure, with greater numbers of anglers targeting a dwindling resource. The more remote and less developed areas like Sol de Ligogo are bound to have more fish available. You will find all the usual pelagic and demersal species, including a variety of kingfish. We also anticipate that they may be bigger on average than those you are likely to catch in other areas. Sol de Ligogo offers fishing charters at reasonable rates, utilising a 5m centre-console Invader Craft well suited to fly fishing, although we recommend you take a stripping basket. Launching is done in a small, well-protected bay behind the main reef. Visitors are welcome to bring their own boats, but remember to arrange your boat launching and fishing permits before launching.
FISHING: SHORE BASED
The 2km – 3km section of coastline in front of Sol de Ligogo has some of the best land-based fishing opportunities we have seen in all our journeys through Mozambique. Taking into account that the area gets very little fishing pressure from locals and visitors alike, we just have to believe it will produce superb fishing when sea conditions are favourable. The area directly north of the resort comprises a small bay with a sandy beach, perfect for wave garrick (largespot pompano) and a host of other species. Moving back closer to the resort is the main reef extending into the bay. This is accessible at low tide and provides access to deep water at the point. Large kingfish and the occasional pelagic species will patrol this area, but unfortunately sea conditions did not allow us to explore it. The area directly behind the reef is relatively shallow with a sandy bottom, an ideal nursery area for many species of fish. Of particular interest was the presence of bonefish. In Mozambique bonefish are generally considered to be a deep water species occasionally found in the surf zone; however, our host caught one on bait in the protected bay behind the reef. A small crab or shrimp pattern fished on a light leader is likely to attract the attention of a number of small fish and maybe a surprise catch.
The main reef extends along the beach in front of the resort and starts to break up south of Sol de Ligogo. The entire reef is accessible during the low tide, and in calm conditions you will be able to get right to the front edge and fish the drop-off directly into deep, open water. The chances of bumping into a big fish are good, so make sure you have suitable tackle. There are numerous breaks, deeper holes and channels all along the reef which can be fished with lighter rods. These are also ideal to fish when the tide pushes and you have to move back from the front edge. Once the tide is high, it is possible to fish off the beach. Kingfish and a host of other species including Natal stumpnose will be found feeding over the submerged reef and just behind the shore break. We were extremely frustrated at having such an amazing fishing venue available to us while the weather and rough seas did not give us an opportunity to truly test the waters. For fly anglers with limited resources or a passion for land-based fishing, Sol de Ligogo is definitely worth considering if you are planning a trip to Mozambique.
Sol de Ligogo is a family-run resort developed and managed by Bill and Lorraine Auth and their son Cheldon. They offer self-catering chalets constructed of reed and plastered walls under grass roofs. The units are basic with an open-plan design and two separate bedrooms. Each chalet can accommodate between six and eight guests, and they offer spectacular views of the ocean from the open patio. There are covered parking bays for your vehicle. Bar facilities are available at the restaurant, which serves a selection of seafood and other simple meals.
Cheldon is a qualified dive master and offers scuba diving off the reefs directly in front of the resort in favourable conditions. There is also fantastic snorkelling in the holes and gullies between the reef just off the beach and around the reef at the point of the bay. The sheltered bay on the inside of this reef is ideal for novices and youngsters to get to know the sea and for general water-related activities.
Take the EN1 north from Maputo, travelling through Xai-Xai and Inhambane. The first turnoff to Sol de Ligogo is situated between Inharrime and Lindela. The alternative is to travel to Lindela. The road splits at Lindela and you must take the right fork to Jangamo and Inhambane. At the turnoff to Jangamo you will find a signboard for Sol de Ligogo. Follow the road to the town and keep a lookout for the sign marking the sand road to the resort. This route links with the road from the first turnoff and takes you through the small settlementof Ligogo. A four-wheel drive vehicle is best, but you can get to the resort in a vehicle with diff-lock and good ground clearance. The other option is to fly to Inhambane and arrange to be collected at the airport.
For further information visit www.soldeligogo.co.za
12) ISLAND ROCK RESORT
Island Rock Resort, some 500km north of Maputo, is situated just south of Inhambane, one of the oldest towns on the east coast of Africa. Island Rock Resort is aptly named after the huge rock at the end of a massive reef system which extends from the shore for approximately 3km, following the contour of the beach. Built in an elevated position among the natural dune vegetation, the resort offers stunning views of the sea and reef. A large part of the reef is accessible during the spring low tide and provides visitors with numerous fishing opportunities. Unfortunately, during our visit a large swell was running which made it unsafe to venture out onto the reef, but we have no doubt of the enormous potential this area offers the fly angler. Island Rock Resort is an ideal place for a family holiday, with dad and the kids having the opportunity to do some fly fishing at the same time.
FISHING: SHORE BASED
It is best to pursue shore-based fishing at low tide, with large portions of the Island Rock reef being accessible during spring low. A word of warning: be well aware of when low tide occurs and, when the tide starts to push, make your way off the reef. In most instances you will be fishing into the sheltered lagoon behind the reef, but in calm seas it is possible to fish the sea side. Fishing from the beach also offers a few opportunities: rocky ledges are situated to the south of the resort where the main reef joins the land. We also found a few rocky ledges further north, about 5km from Island Rock beach, close to Paindane, which would be well worth exploring during low tide.
The offshore potential of this area is huge. At low tide it is possible to fish along the inside of the reef in areas which are inaccessible to shore-based anglers. Here you can target a variety of kingfish species and other reef dwellers, as well as barracuda. Fishing along the outside of the reef and further offshore you will encounter all the usual pelagic species, including large kingfish and sailfish. During our stay we saw a number of free-jumping sailfish in this area. You are also likely to spot free-jumping manta rays and their smaller, more acrobatic cousins, the devil rays. Unfortunately, Island Rock Resort does not offer fishing charters and during our short stay we made arrangements to fish off a boat belonging to the local diving operation. Offshore fishing can be arranged through the nearby resorts of Paindane and Guinjata Bay which are accessible via a sand road. You are, however, welcome to bring your own boat and there is safe launching, especially at low tide. A small inflatable boat can be safely used along the inside of the reef at low tide or in calm conditions. This gives you access to areas which cannot be fished from the reef.
Bird- and whale-watching, tree-spotting (very diverse flora), quad biking and 4×4 trails are popular activities. There is a dive camp on site offering scuba diving, and safe snorkelling can be enjoyed along the back section of the reef at low tide. Special activities are organised during the December holiday period. Inhambane and Maxixe are relatively close by and it is worth visiting these towns, even if just to stop in at the markets or visit some of the restaurants to taste the local cuisine.
Campsites are tucked away on the dunes offering seclusion and privacy, and visitors can choose a beach, sea or bush view site. Four to ten sites are grouped together and each group has its own ablution facilities with hot-water showers. Most of these sites have casitas (traditional reed chalets) with a sombrero (giant grass-topped umbrella) to make the experience as comfortable as possible. Casitas offer cool accommodation for two to four people and are equipped with crockery, but no bedding or fridge. Sites suited to rooftop tents are also available. In addition, there is a lapa option which offers fully equipped brick chalets for larger groups. The lapas consist of five brick and grass-roofed units, each with its own verandah, positioned around a central communal kitchen and entertainment area. Each lapa has a shared ablution block. The units are designed to accommodate five people comfortably. There is a restaurant and bar on site.
Take the EN1 route north from Maputo and at Lindela take the right fork to Inhambane and Jangamo. After 3km keep a look out for the signpost to Jangamo turning off to the right. Once in Jangamo, there is a large traffic circle in the centre of town. As you proceed around it, look out for the Island Rock Resort signboard pointing to a sand road. This sand road is approximately 19km long and takes you directly onto Island Rock Resort. It is possible to reach the resort with a vehicle which has difflock, although a four-wheel drive is advisable, especially if you are towing a boat. It will take you the best part of the day to travel from the border through Maputo and up to Jangamo. To break the trip and avoid travelling in the dark, we made for Komatipoort and stayed over at River Hill Lodge. This gave us the opportunity to pursue tigerfish in the Incomati River during the afternoon, before crossing the border early the next morning, giving us the entire day to take a leisurely drive up the Mozambican coast.
For further information visit www.islandrock.co.za
13) GUINJATA BAY
In the Mozambican province of Inhambane, situated in the sheltered hollow of a majestic promontory with stunning views over a sparkling bay, lies the remarkable resort of Guinjata Bay. From its humble beginnings as a single reed chalet and tiny caravan, owner and creator Paul Greyling has transformed his dream into a stylish, functional and highly successful beach resort that caters for just about everyone and everything relating to the sea and its environment. This is an extraordinary achievement considering the resources that were available to Paul, and in a relatively short space of time he has created a truly first-class facility. The resort maintains a perfect balance between style and practicality and is able to offer a wide variety of comfortable accommodation options and professional, specialised services.
We arrived on a warm and still August evening, and soon settled into our spacious self-catering chalet. With a flat sea and the promise of further good weather the following day, bags were quickly unpacked, rods rigged and flies tied in anticipation of an early morning start on board one of the resort’s ski-boats, Prince of Tides. We were not disappointed, and soon after breakfast the next day we were speeding south on an oily smooth sea to nearby Paindane reef. Water conditions were not ideal, and yet I was soon hanging onto my rod, line peeling from the spool, as the first fish of the morning made a searing run out to sea. After a high-speed fight, a small kawakawa was quickly boated; a bigger one soon followed – both fish hitting a rapidly retrieved Clouser Minnow only 5m below the boat. With a turning tide, a current began to develop and we decided to head north instead towards nearby Coconut Bay. I was soon casting an intermediate line into some frothing white water right up against an inshore reef as the skipper deftly held the boat clear of the treacherous rocks. After a few quick casts resulting in a couple of small bluefin kingfish, we turned and headed out to sea to a deeper 25m reef where we hoped to hook up with some of the resident bludger kingfish that abound in the area.
With a heavy fly and the fastest sinking line I had, I was into a good fish on our first drift. Expecting a bludger, I was pleasantly surprised when a good-sized yellowspot kingfish came to the boat. Another slightly smaller one followed on the very next cast, and we spent the rest of the morning catching a heap of different species including kawa-kawa, green jobfish, yellowtail kingfish and a magnificent swallowtail grouper. The weather played the game for a change, and the next couple of days followed pretty much the same course as we concentrated on getting down deep and dredging the reefs for the various species that occur around these underwater pinnacles. With deep water only a couple of hundred metres off the beach, Guinjata is renowned for its offshore and sailfish fishery, but unfortunately conditions at the time were not conducive to trying for these highly sought after pelagic species, so we concentrated on the inshore reefs instead.
FISHING: SHORE BASED
The best fishing at Guinjata is certainly offshore based, but some options for shore-based fishing exist in the area. Directly in front of the dive centre is a sheltered bay, and the ever-changing sandbars create channels and drop-offs that hold schools of sheltering baitfish. I was assured that it is quite possible to sight-cast to marauding kingfish in the waves as they harass the shoals of baitfish on a high tide during summer. This is, however, the main launching area, so one would have to time one’s fishing to coincide with the quiet periods when boat traffic is at a minimum. A trip to the rocky ledges at Coconut Bay (north) and Paindane (south) on a spring low tide will produce some excellent fishing for bluefin, yellowtail and brassy (greenspot) kingfish in the foamy water around these reefs. These can be dangerous areas to fish so take care, watch the swell and the tide, and don’t venture out if you are in any doubt as to your safety. The rocky point on the right-hand side of Guinjata Bay could present some possibilities when sea conditions are right, and there are long beaches in either direction for those who want to explore the surf zone. Spring tides are best for shore fishing, and neap tides are better for offshore fishing.
A number of reefs in the area, ranging in depth from a couple of metres to nearly 30m, offer a variety of options for fly anglers. Fast sinking lines are needed to get the fly down into the feeding zone, and heavy flies such as a Clouser Deep Minnow are ideal. Queenfish, couta (king mackerel), a variety of kingfish, jobfish, Natal snoek (queen mackerel) and prodigal sons are prolific in the area. It is quite possible to drift the boat right in close to the exposed reefs at Guinjata, Paindane and Coconut Bay, but experience is essential as this can be a dangerous exercise. Blue water species such as tuna, wahoo, dorado and sailfish are also very common in summer, and much surface action can be found when conditions are right. Most of the fishing is near to shore and doesn’t require extensive travel – even sailfish are at times abundant only a few hundred metres behind the backline. The resort owns and runs four fully rigged deep-sea ski-boats in various sizes. All these boats are stable and well designed to cater for fly anglers, with open decks and minimal protrusions. The skipper clips a sheet of shade cloth over the stern area to minimise the chances of fly lines snagging on the boat’s fittings. Chumming can be done on request, and this certainly improves the odds of locating fish. Rates vary between R1600 and R2000: boat, skipper, fuel, bait and tackle (not fly) included for morning or afternoon sessions for a maximum of four anglers per boat. Guests need to provide their own food and drinks, although this can be arranged through the resort at an extra cost. Advance bookings are recommended, especially in season. The resort offers fly fishing charters, and is familiar with the specialised needs and techniques of fly fishing, but fly anglers need to supply their own gear.
Guinjata is very popular with ski-boaters and has facilities for launching private boats from the beach in front of the dive centre at a fee, depending on the type of craft and are valid for a 30-day period. Additional boat fishing licences, spear fishing and diving licences are payable before launching. The resort pays these charges directly to the Maritime Authorities on your behalf and debits your account. There are fish-cleaning areas and ample boat/trailer parking at the beach. Gillies are available for hire through reception. No beach driving is allowed except in the boat launch area, and this is strictly enforced.
There is a wide variety of accommodation available at Guinjata Bay, catering for all preferences and budgets. One has the choice of full board or self-catering chalets for two – 16 people, as well as sheltered 6m x 8m camping baracas for a maximum of eight people per site, complete with water and electricity. The two- to eight-bedroom chalets come with deep freeze, fridge, stove, bedding, cutlery, crockery, hot water, electricity and cleaning help. The main dining/bar area is built on the hill with spectacular views over the bay. It consists of wooden and reed buildings, an indoor and outdoor dining area, bar, reception area, shop and fully equipped, air-conditioned conference and training facilities, complete with TV, video, flipcharts, white screen, whiteboard and breakaway areas. A beach bar and restaurant operate in high season, and there are toilets and showers available at the dive centre on the beach. It is clear that no convenience has been overlooked, and the entire resort runs like a well-oiled machine. The resort operates on generator-driven power, and has four regularly serviced back-up generators in case of failure. Power is normally on from 6am to 9pm, although it can stay on much later if the restaurant and bar are occupied. A number of package deals (including fly-in, weekend, mid-week and game fishing options) are available and can be arranged through the booking agent.
Renowned as a world-class dive site, Guinjata is a registered PADI resort and offers a multitude of dives and diving courses. Manta Reef is one of the world’s top ten dive sites, and divers can enjoy the spectacle of watching these massive, graceful mantas at various stations along the reef. There are shallow inshore reefs for the less experienced divers, and one can snorkel at the nearby Paindane tidal pool. The number of whales in the bay during our stay was phenomenal, and whale-watching tours are offered. Whale sharks abound between September and May, and snorkelling with these massive creatures is an experience not to be missed. Other leisure activities include 4×4 trails, quad bike cultural tours, birding tours and visits to the local community. The beach is magnificent, and sunbathing, swimming and beach walking are great ways to relax. There are kayaks, windsurfers, boogie boards and paddle-skis for hire at the beach. The resort is willing to organise various other team-building activities which can be arranged with the conference convener. Guinjata also holds regular game fishing competitions, which can attract large numbers of fishermen. Day trips to Inhambane (market and museum) and boat trips to Maxixe are other activities of interest. Guinjata Bay Resort employs strict policies regarding driving on the beach, operating power-driven craft and vehicles in and around the resort, pets, spear fishing, making of fires etc. The beach area is well regulated and controlled in order to protect the interests and safety of guests.
The town of Inhambane is 25km from the lodge, and direct two-hour flights are available from Johannesburg on Mondays and Fridays. The lodge arranges transfers from the airport to the resort. The drive to Guinjata Bay from Johannesburg takes around 14 hours (ten hours from Nelspruit) and the resort is 480km from the EN1 turn-off outside Maputo. Take the EN1 main road north from Maputo towards Xai-Xai and Beira, going through the towns of Xai-Xai and Quissico. Take the well-signposted EN101 turnoff towards Inhambane in a town called Lindela (437km from Maputo). Twenty-four kilometres after taking this turning you will find the dirt road leading to Guinjata Bay off to your right. Be careful as this turnoff is on a blind corner and appears quite unexpectedly. The 19km sandy track past Coconut Bay to Guinjata Bay Resort is well signposted from here, and only the last section really requires the use of a 4-wheel drive vehicle.
For further information visit www.guinjatabay.co.za
14) JEFF’S PALM RESORT
From a distance, the piece of bamboo, a little over a metre long and no thicker than a fence pole, appeared to be an insignificant piece of debris drifting in a vast ocean. That is, until the water around it erupted as a large bull dorado smashed headlong into the shoal of tiny baitfish sheltering below the driftwood. The terrified baitfish were sent fleeing in all directions, only to regroup below the bamboo before the next assault. Those tiny fish had no chance against the marauding predator and, as we moved closer into fly casting range, it became apparent that there was in fact a whole shoal of dorado milling around the bamboo. Fly anglers dream of situations like this; a shoal of surface-feeding predators and, even better, dorado, one of the most colourful and attractive fish in the ocean.
The above scenario was playing itself out no more than 500m from shore about 3km south of our base, Jeff’s Palm Resort. However, our story does not have the fairy-tale ending we had hoped for. The dorado were zoned in on the baitfish and none of the flies we threw at them raised any interest. After about an hour of casting, changing flies, some more casting and trying all the tricks in the book, the dorado eventually lost interest in the piece of bamboo and disappeared. Fly fishing can be a frustrating pursuit at times, but we quickly remedied the situation when a shoal of brassy kingfish appeared, obviously attracted by the feeding dorado. They had no reservations about eating the first fly we offered. You win some, you lose some. However, when in Mozambique you are likely to be doing a lot of winning if you pick the right place to go fishing and Jeff’s Palm Resort definitely offers a few of those.
Jeff’s does offer fishing charters and the area abounds with productive reefs in close proximity to Guinjata Bay and Paindane, most of which take less than ten minutes to get to. Boats are launched through the surf in the lee of a small reef and the launch is generally easy. Guests are, however, welcome to bring their own boats and the staff at Jeff’s will help to arrange the necessary boat and fishing permits and assist with the launching and trailering of your boat. The most productive area appears to be off Paindane, where you will find all manner of pelagic species, including sailfish. There are also a number of reefs which hold a variety of bottom-dwelling species, and some fairly large kingfish have been taken in this area. One advantage of the Paindane area is that in calm conditions you can move in close to the main reef, sections of which are clearly visible on the high tide, and cast flies into the white water. Generally, the fish are going to be smaller than those you will encounter further out, but they are great fun on a 9-wt rod. Similar fishing can be done around the reef at Guinjata Bay, but the best area is Island Rock, a short boat ride south. The Island Rock area has far less fishing pressure and you are likely to find greater numbers and larger fish feeding along the exposed reef fringes. Be aware that this type of fishing requires calm sea conditions and an experienced skipper. Always watch the swell and wave pattern for at least ten minutes before moving in close and maintain a safe distance off the reef and any area where there is breaking water.
The Island Rock area also holds a number of deep-water reefs, although most are still uncharted. If you have the necessary equipment (fishfinder and GPS) it will be well worth your while spending some time exploring the area. There are also a few deep-water reefs directly off the point of Guinjata Bay which can produce good fishing in the right conditions. We had our chances during our excursions out at sea, but the two really big fish we hooked both got the better of us. You will need 10- and 12-wt rods for general offshore use, matched with fast sinking lines to get the fly down deep.
FISHING: SHORE BASED
Jeff’s Palm Resort overlooks a stretch of sandy beach with various deeper holes and channels which constantly change due to the effects of the tides and general sea conditions. You are likely to find wave garrick and a variety of small fish feeding in the white water adjacent to the deeper areas. Intermediate and slow sinking lines on an 8- or 9-wt rod are ideal for this area. The small reef at the point of Guinjata Bay, less than ten minutes’ walk from Jeff’s, can be fished over the low tide. This area should hold bigger fish, including the various kingfish species. Look at where waves create working white water, especially in areas where the rocks and sandy beach meet. The other productive shore-based area is at Paindane, a short drive south, although the main reef is only accessible for a few hours over the spring low tide. There are also flat ledges to the south of Paindane which can be fished in calmer sea conditions.
Colin Jefferies owns and manages Jeff’s Palm Resort, and it was apparent from the outset that he makes it his priority to ensure that all his guests have an enjoyable stay. They offer self-catering accommodation in fully equipped chalets, varying in size, sleeping four to ten people. The chalets are constructed of brick and reed walls under grass roofs. They are situated on the coastal dune overlooking Guinjata Bay and some have spectacular views of the ocean. A cleaning lady services the chalets daily and attends to chores, including washing of clothes so that you can enjoy a relaxing holiday. There is a beach bar and Rosa’s Restaurant, which has a sun deck overlooking the beach. The restaurant offers a good selection of reasonably priced meals and we can confirm the food is excellent. Jeff’s has a supermarket on the property where you can buy food and other essential items, so you need not cart everything from home.
Jeff’s offers a host of water-related sport activities, the main focus being scuba-diving on the nearby reefs, including the world-renowned Manta Reef. The Dive Centre is managed by Derek Wagner and includes approved training for novices. The water sports centre and shop are run by Evan Landman and he offers kayaks, paddle skis, surfboards, windsurfers and boogie boards for hire, in addition to lessons on how to use the equipment. The shop stocks basic fishing, diving and other beach-related gear.
The quick option is to fly from Johannesburg to Inhambane and arrange for the lodge to collect you at the airport. Executive Turbine offers charter flights from Lanseria to Inhambane, while LAM flies from OR Tambo Airport. If you choose the latter, be warned – they have a habit of changing flight schedules without notifying their customers. By road, take the EN1 north from Maputo travelling through Xai-Xai and on to Lindela where you take the right fork to Inhambane. From Lindela it is about 24km to the Jeff’s Palm Resort turnoff which is clearly signposted. From the turnoff it is roughly 20km on a sand road to the resort. This road has a hard red surface when it is dry, and only the last section is sandy. Generally, you can reach Jeff’s Palm Resort in a sedan, although you will need a 4×4 to travel around the resort.
For more information visit www.jeffsmoz.com
15) CASA BARRY
Casa Barry Lodge is located in the small town of Tofo alongside a beautiful little bay, a short drive from Inhambane. During colonial times, Tofo was a popular holiday destination and it is fast reclaiming this status. The resort and specifically the restaurant with its wooden deck overlook the sheltered beach with spectacular views of sunsets over the bay. Casa Barry and Tofo offer the holidaymaker a lot, and a major attraction of this resort is that it is possible to reach it driving a normal family sedan on tarred roads. Sections of the EN1 are in a poor condition but these areas present no problems if one drives cautiously. Maintenance and repair work is presently being undertaken to improve the road.
FISHING: SHORE BASED
The opportunities for shore based fishing in this area are almost endless. A reef extends from the Praia do Tofo point, less than 200m from the resort, offering excellent opportunities for fishing at low tide. In calm conditions, it is possible to fish the sea side of the reef and fish stocks are plentiful. Flat ledges lying to the south of the point are also accessible at low tide and are worth fishing. Just south of Tofo, the coast forms a second small bay, Tofinho, terminating in a rocky point known both as Ponta Verde and Cabo Inhambane, although the locals simply refer to the entire area as Tofinho. Sandstone cliffs drop vertically into the Indian Ocean and open water game fish have been caught from this area. There are a few flat ledges that are accessible at low tide and it is possible to fly fish from these too. There is also another sandy bay and rocky point known as Praia da Roche just south of Tofinho with more flat rock ledges that will produce good fishing. From Casa Barry, looking north across the small bay, there is an expansive section of beach with numerous flat rocky ledges within walking distance of the resort. These are also worth fishing at low tide. You will find all the common kingfish species along these ledges, in addition to largespot pompano and a host of other smaller reef dwellers and inshore species. In areas where the ledges drop off into deep water, there is a chance of running into some truly big fish including species such as king mackerel.
The offshore fishing in this area can be fantastic and during its visit, the TCFF team regularly encountered surface-feeding pelagics, including yellowfin tuna. A number of free jumping sailfish, a common catch in this area, were also spotted. King mackerel are abundant over the deeper reefs, many of which are close inshore and it is seldom necessary to travel far to find fish in this area. The resort does offer dedicated fishing charters although it is still new to the specific needs of fly fishermen. Those involved in the charters impressed us with their enthusiasm to learn more about the sport. They made every effort to accommodate fly anglers on their boats, even removing the equipment used by conventional anglers for trolling so that the fly lines were not obstructed. The guys at Casa Barry are fishermen and they quickly picked up on the way we needed the boat positioned and how to drift over the reefs to get the fast sinking lines down. This enabled us to catch bottom-dwelling reef species, midwater predators and surface pelagics. This is definitely an area where one can catch some big fish, so sturdy tackle and flies are required. It is also advisable to use wire for the toothy critters. Fishermen are welcome to bring their own boats. Boats are launched through the surf, and the resort staff will help fishermen obtain the necessary permits.
Casa Barry offers accommodation in four- and six-sleeper reed and grass chalets. The chalets each have a bathroom with a shower and toilet and an open-plan lounge/kitchen. They are fully equipped for self-catering and a general assistant attends to guests’ cleaning and other requirements. There is also a small safe for valuables. There are casitas and barracas available for those looking for more economical lodgings. Guests can elect to stay on a self-catering basis, alternatively a fully catered package.
Casa Barry offers a wide variety of activities for guests, including horse and quad bike rides. There is a small shop offering essentials and they even have a soft-serve ice cream machine. Tofo Scuba is based at the resort and offers a variety of dives and accredited courses, as well as swimming with whale sharks. The TCFF team undertook such a swim with these magnificent, gentle creatures and found it to be an amazing experience. The less adventurous can often spot these massive sharks cruising just offshore in the area between Tofinho and Praia da Roche. Casa Barry sponsors a whale shark research programme. Manta and devil rays can also be spotted jumping out of the water and the best chance of seeing them perform is from a boat. The resort further offers a restaurant for guests who do not wish to go the self-catering route. The restaurant is also open to day visitors and the food is excellent. The bar has a large-screen, rear-projection television with DStv for those wanting to keep up to date with local and international sport and news while on holiday. There is also a craft market in the centre of Tofo where you can buy a wide variety of curios and gifts.
By road, travel north along the EN1 to Lindela then take the road branching off to the right, which is clearly marked, to Inhambane. Follow the road past the turn-off to Jangamo and onto Inhambane. Stay on this road until you are well into town and you can see the pier on your left. At the pier, there is a small sign indicating a right turn to Tofo. Follow the road to the circle, where you find a second sign indicating the route to Tofo. Continue along this road out of town. Roughly 17km on, the tarred road turns sharply to the right and there are signs confirming you must continue following the road to the right. About 6km on, the road reaches Tofo and the Casa Barry resort is clearly marked.
For further information visit www.casabarry.com
16) BALI HAI
Every once in a while we get lucky and find ourselves at a special place, a place where we immediately feel at home. Bali Hai is one such place. Built on the dunes overlooking Ponta da Barra, Bali Hai offers upmarket self-catering accommodation and facilities on a par with some of the best in Mozambique. This is air-conditioned luxury at an affordable price. Bali Hai is owned by true fishermen, guys who know and understand the urge to get out on the water and do battle with the amazing creatures which inhabit the deep. They also know that wives and girlfriends do not always share that yearning, and have therefore developed a resort that satisfies both fishermen and their families. Bali Hai is comfortable and well positioned with stunning views of the ocean and it is only a short walk to the beach at Barra Point where you can fish, swim and snorkel or just relax in the warm sun. Bali Hai is one of those resorts you look forward to revisiting not just for the good fishing.
Bali Hai has a 19ft Ace Craft with 90hp Yamaha motors available for charter at a competitive all-inclusive rate, alternatively you can bring your own boat. There is a concrete road leading onto the beach and it is a relatively easy surf launch. You will, however, need a beach permit and a boat/fishing permit, available from Mozambique’s maritime authorities, before you venture onto the beach and out to sea. Offshore opportunities within a 15 nautical mile radius of Barra Point are almost endless, starting from close inshore. In calm conditions you can fish the reef at the Point, casting into the white water created by waves breaking over the reef, but take at least ten minutes to watch the swell and wave pattern before venturing in close. This area is under a lot of fishing pressure from the locals and you will mostly encounter smaller fish. However, the big guys do put in a regular appearance. Similar fishing can be experienced along the ledges to the south of Barra Point and around the rocky point at Tofo. In addition to king mackerel, all the usual inshore species can be found in these areas. Queen mackerel also occur along the inshore reefs and behind the surf line during the winter months. There are a number of inshore reefs in close proximity to the beach on both sides of the lighthouse point which are worth exploring with lighter rods.
All the aforementioned areas are safely accessible using a small inflatable boat (rubber duck) if you do not have a larger boat, or do not want to tow a large boat all the way from South Africa. The best and most consistent fishing is, however, further offshore. There are a number of well-known reefs throughout the area, although the guys at Bali Hai prefer to fish to the north over reefs they frequent on a regular basis. These range in depth from 15 – 35m and have an abundance of fish, including a wide variety of reef dwellers, assorted kingfish species and all the common pelagics. King mackerel abound, and on our last day they were in fly-eating mode, even taking the fly on the drop. You will see shoals of bonitos and skipjack tuna feeding on the surface, and dorado also make a regular appearance. Green jobfish are common and certain reefs are home to large numbers of greater barracuda.
The guys from Bali Hai know these reefs intimately and will take you to specific areas depending on your species of preference, or simply to reefs which produce a bit of everything. They are not fly fishermen, but they are experienced offshore anglers and they know all about drift-fishing. They know how to position the boat in relation to the wind and current to ensure a good drift over the productive reef. With GPS and fishfinder they are able to gauge water depth and the boat’s position in relation to the reef or the area where the fish are holding, and they will regularly put you onto good fish. It will, however, be up to you to get your fly down, so take the correct tackle, fast sinking lines and large weighted flies. One other spot worth looking at is the marker buoy at the channel entrance to Inhambane. The buoy acts as a FAD (fish attracting device) and game fish often visit it in search of food.
FISHING: SHORE BASED
Barra Point directly south of Bali Hai and the lighthouse is without a doubt the best spot for land-based fly fishing in the Barra area. It takes less than five minutes to walk down the road from the resort to the Point. The area on the inside of the reef and to the west comprises shallow reef and sand patches extending to a sandy beach. Fish the deeper areas near working water (white water). There are a few places you can wade out to, but only do so with the falling tide and start to make your way back once the tide turns. There are flat rocky ledges, interspersed with deeper gullies to the south of the point. Over the low tide it is possible to stand at the front of the ledges and fish into open water. Unfortunately weather and sea conditions did not allow us to fish this section during our stay, although we believe that under the correct conditions it will be productive, and has the potential to produce big fish and the occasional pelagic species.
ACCOMMODATION AND SERVICES
Bali Hai offers comfortable, fully furnished accommodation with air- conditioned rooms. The main house has four bedrooms upstairs, all en suite, which open onto the main deck and a private bar. The first floor has a lounge/TV room with DStv and a smaller deck overlooking the swimming pool. The ground floor comprises a spacious open plan lounge, dining room and fully equipped kitchen complete with ice-maker. In addition, there are four two-bedroom chalets each with a timber deck. All bedrooms are en suite and each room has a fridge/freezer. There is a fully equipped communal kitchen, a dining room (with a TV connected to the decoder in the main house) and braai facilities at each chalet. You need only bring your food and beverages, much of which can be replenished at Inhambane if the need arises. Bali Hai provides all the bedding and towels, and cleaning staff is in daily attendance. It is possible to book the entire main house and the lodge if you are a large group. There are plans to build a restaurant and additional chalets to provide full board accommodation options. Apart from the fishing charters, Bali Hai offers whale-watching excursions from its boat. Scuba diving, snorkelling etc. can be arranged with one of the independent dive operators in the Barra area.
Take the EN1 north from Maputo, travelling through Xai-Xai and on to Lindela. At Lindela take the right fork to Inhambane. It is approximately 550km from the border post at Komatipoort to Inhambane. At Inhambane follow the road into town and when you get to the pier look for the signs indicating the route to Barra, Tofo and the airport. Follow the road out past the airport. Watch out for the bumps over the culverts and continue on this road for 18km, until you get to Bar Babalaza. Here the road makes a sharp right turn to Tofo, while you carry straight onto the dirt road to Barra. About 5km after leaving the tar, keep a look out for the sand road branching off to the right. Bali Hai has a sign just in front of the turn. At this point it is advisable to deflate your tyres as the last few kilometres are sand. A vehicle with diff-lock should manage without difficulty. The sand road leads to the Barra Point lighthouse and just before it you will find another Bali Hai sign, where you turn right and drive up to the lodge. Bar Babalaza has a compressor and tyre pump where you can re-inflate your vehicle’s tyres for a small fee.
For further information visit www.mozambiqueholidayaccommodation.com
17) BARRA RESORTS
The Barra Resorts group has three lodges, two of which are situated on the Barra peninsula just north of Inhambane. The Barra area is a popular holiday destination and is easily accessible in a regular family sedan. Barra Lodge is one of the most established resorts in the area and caters for the family, whereas the group’s flagship, Flamingo Bay Water Lodge, is an upmarket venue catering to honeymooners and couples looking for a romantic getaway with that little bit extra.
Flamingo Bay is tucked away at the edge of a mangrove estuary on the inside of the Barra peninsula. A wooden walkway brings you to the lodge which is characterised by large open spaces, giving one a sense of freedom. The main lodge comprises a bar, restaurant, lounges, swimming pool and deck in addition to a conference centre and small gift shop. The 20 timber chalets are situated out in the estuary and are built on stilts. Wooden walkways link the lodge to the chalets and there are chauffeur-driven golf carts to ferry you between the main lodge and chalets. However, many guests opt for the pleasant short walk. The chalets are tastefully decorated and spacious, and each has a private deck and stairway leading down to the water. During low tide the sand is completely exposed and we were amazed at the amount of sea life encountered while exploring the open flats. The pushing tide brings about a unique change of scenery as the water floods the flats again, rising to within half a metre of the chalets and walkways. Thousands of small fish can be seen throughout the area, and snorkelling around the chalets reveals many colourful tropical fish seeking shelter among the timber pylons.
Barra Lodge, on the other hand, is spread out among the palm trees at the edge of the beautiful Barra beach. The main lodge comprises a bar area, restaurant, TV room, gift shop and a large swimming pool. There is also a separate beach bar and restaurant. Barra Lodge offers basic accommodation, as well as other options which include self-catering cottages.
We were disappointed that Barra Resorts did not inform us that their fishing boat was in the process of being refurbished and would not be available for use during our visit. In an attempt to accommodate us, the activities coordinator arranged for us to use one of the dive boats. These large, semi-rigid inflatables are not ideal fly fishing platforms, but will get the job done when there is no other option. Unfortunately the dive boat was not fitted with a GPS or fishfinder, making it impossible to effectively fly fish offshore. This left us with no option but to concentrate on fishing inshore reefs. We caught a few fish, including bluefin kingfish, blackspot emperor and a brightly coloured wrasse. Most were on the small side, with the exception of a doublespotted queenfish and a brassy kingfish. These were caught by casting into the white water around an exposed reef at the lighthouse point. Although this area and the other shallow reefs get a lot of fishing pressure from both local fishermen and spear anglers, we believe you may still find a few fair-sized fish moving around the reefs. As there were plenty of small fish present, larger predators are likely to be attracted to these areas.
On our second attempt to fish offshore, the activities coordinator arranged a handheld GPS for us from the dive centre. Unfortunately the wind came up and we were unable to go out. The Barra area has enormous offshore potential with many deep-water reefs which attract a variety of large pelagic predators. It was a pity Barra Resorts were not able to show us whether they are capable of taking advantage of the offshore fly fishing opportunities which we know exist in this area. Be aware that boat-based fishing excursions, like most other activities, only start at 7am when the resort staff (specifically skippers and deckhands) start work. This means you lose between one and three hours of potentially the best fishing time, depending on the season.
FISHING: SHORE BASED
Barra Lodge is situated in the middle of a long sandy beach with no reef structure within the tidal zone. The beach area is also extensively netted and your best option would be to make your way to the lighthouse point. It is about a 30-minute walk along the beach. Driving on the beach is not permitted, but if you have a four-wheel drive vehicle there is a sand road which leads to the lighthouse. Fish from the beach or off the rocks in the area around the lighthouse point. If the sea is calm, make your way around the point to a series of flat ledges. During low tide it is possible to stand right at the seaward edge and fish into the open water. You will probably encounter all the usual inshore species and the occasional pelagic fish.
Alternatively, head in the opposite direction to the sand spit at the entrance to the massive Inhambane lagoon, or try the deeper channels between Flamingo Bay and the sand spit. Hire a quad bike from the resort if you do not have a four-wheel drive vehicle, or walk along the beach. It is a relatively short walk from Flamingo Bay and at low tide you can simply walk from your chalet. This entire area is subjected to intensive netting during the dropping tide and there is a noticeable absence of larger predatory fish. The pushing tide will be the best time to try the sand spit and lagoon. Be very careful when fishing at the point of the sand spit as this area gets cut off from the mainland once the tide starts to push, and it is eventually completely flooded. There are a few drop-offs on the inside of the sand spit near Flamingo Bay which can be fished safely through the first half of the pushing tide, but thereafter it is best to make your way to higher ground. Flamingo Bay and Barra Lodge have fishing skis and kayaks for hire which can be used to explore the lagoon and mangrove system.
Barra Resorts offer a host of water sports including scuba diving, snorkelling, ocean seafaris and catamaran day trips. Ocean seafaris include the possibility of swimming with dolphins and whale sharks if they are located. There are also quad bike trails, horseriding and sightseeing trips; alternatively spoil yourself with a relaxing massage. Barra Lodge is geared towards a fun-filled family holiday and if fishing is not a priority then it is well worth considering as a destination. Activities at both lodges are coordinated through the activities desk at Barra Lodge and most excursions start from there.
ACCOMMODATION AND SERVICES
Flamingo Bay’s accommodation is best described as upmarket and the air-conditioned chalets have double or twin single beds with mosquito nets. The restaurant offers a full buffet-style breakfast, à la carte lunch and a set supper with a selection of three to four starters and main courses, and at least two desserts. We were pleasantly surprised to find that the supper menu changes daily. Flamingo Bay does not allow children under the age of 12. Barra Lodge offers fully equipped, self-catering, two-bedroomed cottages which sleep up to six people; alternatively the casitas sleep two. You can arrange a full board option. The main restaurant has quite an extensive à la carte menu offering a variety of starters, main meals and desserts. The beach restaurant offers a basic menu in addition to a selection of pizzas. The shops at both resorts sell basic essentials and a few luxury items. There is a TV room with DStv at Barra Lodge, and the conference centre at Flamingo Bay has a similar setup if you need to stay in touch with the latest news and sporting events. The Barra area has full cell phone reception.
Fly-in packages are available and the resorts will collect and return you to the Inhambane airport. If you opt to drive, take the EN1 north from Maputo, continue through Xai-Xai until you reach Lindela. Take the right fork to Inhambane and Jangamo and follow the road into Inhambane. The distance is roughly 550km from the Komatipoort border post. There are signboards marking the route to the airport and Tofo/Barra. Follow these out of Inhambane and continue for about 18km until you get to Bar Babalaza. Here the tarred road makes a 90-degree right turn, but you continue straight onto the sand road. There is a sign for the Barra Lodges on the right at the school. Follow the sand road for 7km until it makes a sharp left fork. There is a signboard for Barra Lodge and you will find the resort on your right while travelling down this road. Flamingo Bay Water Lodge is 2km further on at the end of the road.
For further information visit www.barraresorts.com
18) MORRUMBENE BEACH RESORT
A twisting sand road winds its way from the EN1 national road down to a small, secluded bay flanked by pristine white sand beaches stretching as far as the eye can see. Local inhabitants dot the beaches, some fishing with hand lines and others pulling in nets in their daily search for food. Situated among a group of towering palms a stone’s throw from this beautiful beach is Morrumbene Beach Resort. Named after the nearby town, this is the only tourist development for miles, meaning that a handful of visitors can have the entire area to themselves. These days there are very few places in Mozambique where you can find such seclusion – although you’ll have to accept the fact that you will be sharing the beach directly in front of the resort with the local fishermen. A short walk to the north or south will give you more privacy, if that is what you seek. Developed by Tom and Ria Dreyer together with their son Thomas, who also manages the property, Morrumbene offers the visitor a piece of tropical paradise in a remote setting away from the crowded hustle and bustle of the big tourist centres.
Morrumbene is perfectly placed to take advantage of the vast offshore arena to the north of the Barra Peninsula. The resort does not offer all-year-round fishing charters (limited to peak season) and you will need to take your own boat, but we believe that it is well worth towing a boat from South Africa. Management will assist you in obtaining the necessary permits for driving on the beach to launch and for boat-based fishing. The surf launch is relatively easy, with the small bay in front of Morrumbene Beach Resort providing a sheltered area in most conditions. If it is not possible to launch, then you do not want to be out at sea on that day. There is a series of shallow reefs situated behind the surf line starting just to the north of the resort, and these hold numerous kingfish and barracuda. In calm sea conditions they can safely be fished from a small seaworthy boat such as a single-engined inflatable. You are also likely to encounter kawakawa and queen mackerel close to shore, especially during the winter months. If you intend venturing further offshore to target the vast shoals of pelagic predators and kingfish which inhabit the many deepwater reefs lying to the east, you will want something bigger with two motors. This is the same area that ski-boats from the Barra Peninsula target, however, it is a much shorter trip from Morrumbene and the fuel bill will be a lot less. The reefs also hold a wide variety of bottom-dwellers capable of putting a serious bend in a fly rod.
This is 12-wt territory. You just never know when something really big is going to take a fancy to your fly. At a push, you should be able to get away with a 10-wt for shoal-size king mackerel and some of the smaller reef dwellers, but big flies usually translate into big fish – and big fish need big rods. Fast sinking lines and standard deepwater tactics are the norm, although during one of our excursions out to sea we found king mackerel churning up the calm water as they chased down a shoal of hapless baitfish. Flies were being eaten on the drop, the slack line being ripped away without warning. We definitely missed more fish than we hooked, but it was exciting stuff nonetheless. The hectic action with the king mackerel was topped off with a shoal of yellowspotted kingfish, probably drawn up by the feeding king mackerel. We could see the shoal below the boat and they also had no hesitation in eating the fly – Mozambique fly fishing at its best!
FISHING: SHORE BASED
The area comprises sandy beaches with a small but deep bay right in front of the resort. The southern side of the bay has a sandbank running along a deep drop-off extending out to sea. This has the potential to produce a few pelagic species normally associated with offshore fishing, especially queen mackerel, although king mackerel have also been caught in the bay. Kawakawa and various kingfish are other species likely to be found herding baitfish up against the drop-off in suitable conditions. Be aware that the netters concentrate their activities around the bay. However, judging by their catches there is an abundance of small fish, a perfect food source to attract larger predatory fish into the area. The sandy point extending out to sea on the south side of the bay may produce a few small fish, as will the sheltered beach further south. However, your best options lie to the north. The beach here has numerous holes and gullies, drop-offs and banks which will produce fish for the fly angler willing to venture into the surf zone. We had limited opportunities to fish this area due to difficult sea conditions and unfavourable tides. Species to target include the highly sought after wave garrick, various kingfish, threadfin mullet and one that really got our attention, the African pompano. The local hand-line fishermen caught a number of these on bait, and there is no reason for them not to pounce on a fly. Small, weighted crab patterns, Charlies and other similar flies should work and will definitely entice the other surf zone inhabitants
Intermediate and slow sinking lines matched to an 8- or 9-wt rod will be ideal. Look for working white water, and fish the edges of deeper holes. Do not overlook the shallow banks between the holes. Those which consistently have 0.5m or so of water covering them and small rolling waves are perfect for wave garrick, which will also feed right up against the beach in the wave surge during the high tide.
Morrumbene Beach Resort’s accommodation is best described as above average with a hint of luxury. The chalets are fully equipped for self-catering and accommodate up to eight people each (three or four bedrooms). These are ideal for large families or groups of friends. Each unit has an open-plan lounge, dining room and kitchen that lead onto a covered patio. Management will allocate a staff member to service the chalet and attend to your other requirements, such as the washing of clothes. There is a beach bar which is open during peak season, but guests can also use the facilities out of season. A huge plus-factor for visitors travelling to Morrumbene is that you can stock up on all your basics in Maxixe en route to the resort. Maxixe, and to a lesser degree Morrumbene town and Masinga, are close enough to make a quick visit if you need to replenish anything.
Take the EN1 north from Maputo travelling through the towns of Xai-Xai and on to Lindela. The EN1 continues to the left at the fork in Lindela; follow the road to Maxixe and then on to the town of Morrumbene. The turnoff to Morrumbene Beach Resort is a further 15km along the EN1. There is a signpost on the left of the road which is clearly visible during the day and at night, but avoid driving in Mozambique at night if you can help it. From there, follow the sand road and markers for about 13km to the resort itself. You will probably need a four-wheel drive, although a vehicle with good ground clearance and a diff-lock should also be fine for negotiating the sand road to the resort.
For further information visit www.morrumbeneresort.co.mz
19) CASA CHUBUBOBO
Our ongoing Mozambique assignment this month takes us north to Vilanculos and some red-hot fishing at a new lodge. The rod was just about ripped from my hand as the big wahoo smashed the large Flashy Profile. The 15-wt curled over, almost as if in pain, before the powerful fish launched itself into the air and then grey-hounded across the surface melting a hundred metres of backing off the big reel. The drag had been set tight in anticipation of a large fish but could offer no resistance to the brute force being exerted by the rampaging wahoo. Until you have hooked one of these ocean speedsters, you just cannot appreciate how fast and powerful these fish really are. Following the initial run, the big fish began to violently shake its head, thrashing wildly on the surface in an attempt to dislodge the fly. With the angry fish holding its position, I tried desperately to recover some line, pulling back on the rod and then winding down, stealing back a few metres. Repeating the process, I could feel the line tighten as I put direct pressure on the wahoo. The third attempt moved the fish, the powerful rod straining against the weight. Thoughts of victory flashed through my mind, but the monster attached to my fly had other ideas – it burst into life once again, frantically leaping and twisting in a mad, desperate rush for freedom. Then, just as quickly as it had begun, the fish was gone. The rod went limp and my heart sank. I let out an agonising yell, but was able to quickly regain my composure and refrain from a string of obscene expletives. The huge fish had defeated me and has joined a small group of others that will haunt me for years to come. Questions flashed through my mind. Was the drag too tight and did I apply too much pressure? Reeling in the slack line revealed the answer – the first metre of my fly line was missing, suggesting that the wahoo had become wrapped in the leader, managing to slice through the fly line with its powerful tail. The encounter described above occurred while we were on assignment in Mozambique and being hosted by Kobus van Rensburg of Casa Chibubobo. Two big wahoo had been taken on trolling gear while moving from one reef to the next, and Kobus suggested we try to get one on fly – as they say, the rest is now history
Casa Chibubobo, located at Vilanculos, is a relatively new development (part of the MozaDev Group) and the lodge is situated near the airport on the southern outskirts of town. Vilanculos is roughly 700km north of Maputo and is the gateway to the Bazaruto Archipelago. What many people do not know is that it is also a great place from where to access the San Sebastian peninsula, one of the best fishing areas in Mozambique. Casa Chibubobo has been built right on the beach and looks out to Margaruque Island and the red sand cliffs of San Sebastian.
There are no real shore-based fishing opportunities around Vilanculos. You will need a boat to get to the best fishing areas situated on the eastern side of Margaruque Island, extending south well beyond the San Sebastian peninsula. Casa Chibubobo offers boat-based fishing charters from its 21ft Butt Cat Walala Wasala, which literally translates as “you snooze you lose.” The boat has a centre console and is ideal for fly fishing, although guests are also welcome to bring their own boats. The offshore area to the east and south of San Sebastian receives relatively little fishing pressure and demersal species are still plentiful on the many reefs which range from 10m – 30m deep.
We caught eight different reef-dwelling species, including the beautifully marked swallowtail rock cod, which were plentiful. Pelagic species and other game fish abound, including dorado and both king and queen mackerel – we caught 13 species in total during our brief visit. Some really big kingfish have been caught in this area, while sailfish and marlin are also regular visitors. This is big fish territory and we do not recommend going out to sea without a 12-wt, especially when you consider that one of the more popular reefs has been named “Jurassic Park” in honour of some of the beasts that call it home.
For those not wanting a long boat ride to the best fishing areas, it is possible to target species such as bonito and queen mackerel in the many deep channels extending from the mainland and weaving their way around the islands of Margaruque and Benque. The latter, situated between Margaruque and San Sebastian, is barely an island, but rather a small patch of sand with a lonely tree or two. The massive channel between the two islands can be particularly productive and has been known to deliver the odd sailfish and king mackerel. Nine- and 10-wt rods are ideal when fishing around the sand channels – remember to use a wire bite tippet if you encounter any queen mackerel.
For those fly anglers keen on shore-based fishing, it is possible to arrange a boat transfer to the nearby islands or the San Sebastian peninsula. The latter is particularly well known for shore-based fishing for kingfish and has produced some trophy-sized specimens. Wave garrick and a wide variety of other lesser known species can also be caught from the beaches in this area.
Casa Chibubobo has nine chalets, each accommodating up to eight people. They are fully equipped for self-catering with an open-plan kitchen, dining room and lounge leading onto a sun deck. Each has three bedrooms and two bathrooms (main en suite), and all the rooms are fitted with ceiling fans. The chalets are serviced daily, there is a laundry service available and a restaurant and bar on site. There is also a swimming pool which is partly covered by the restaurant’s roof – ideal for those sultry summer days. In addition to the chalets (which are also available on Fractional Title ownership), the lodge has a large double-storey house for 28 guests. Casa Chibubobo does offer fully catered packages, but if you opt to self-cater, there are a number of shops in Vilanculos where you can buy all the basic and essential items, as well as a variety of luxury goods. Casa Chibubobo offers (or can arrange) scuba diving and snorkelling trips for those interested in doing some sightseeing below the surface of the warm, tranquil waters around the islands.
Take the EN1 north from Maputo, travelling through Xai-Xai and Maxixe until you get to Pambarra where the turn-off to Vilanculos is clearly signposted. It is about 700km from Maputo to Vilanculos and the road is generally in good condition (except for a few sections between Massinga and Pambarra), so it is possible to drive to Vilanculos in a normal family sedan. The quick option is to fly to Vilanculos and arrange to be collected at the airport.
For more information visit www.mozadev.com
20) BENGUERRA LODGE
The Bazaruto Archipelago off Mozambique offers some of the finest, most varied and easily accessible fly fishing along the country’s entire coastline. The luxury Benguerra Lodge, located in the centre of this tropical island paradise, is perfectly positioned to take advantage of the entire region. Kingfish abound, in addition to a host of reef-dwelling species and pelagic predators including sailfish. Testament to the large variety of fish is that during my brief four-day visit, in difficult conditions, I still managed to add six new species to my list of fly rod captures. Fishing areas range from the shallow sandbanks interspersed by deep channels stretching across from the mainland to the Archipelago, the gap between Benguerra and Bazaruto islands (also known as Kingfish Alley), to the deep water reefs on the outside of the islands and just about everything in between.
FISHING: SHORE BASED
The most productive fishing on Benguerra is boat-based and your best chances of catching trophy specimens are offshore. However, there are a few places where you can fish from land, the most promising of which is the north point of the island. It can be reached on foot (roughly an hour’s walk) although it would be easier to be dropped off and collected by boat. There is a large sandbank adjacent to the lodge that is accessible over the low tide and it is worth trying the drop-off on the outer edge of the sandbank. The south point of the island can be reached by 4X4 vehicle and it is possible to arrange a trip to this area, although most of the fish you are likely to encounter will be on the small side.
Resident fishing guide, Andrew Parsons, has been based at Benguerra Lodge for over five years and guiding in the Archipelago for more than eight. He has an extensive knowledge of the area and, notwithstanding difficult conditions, he was able to produce some quality fish. Apart from the well-known reefs and fishing areas, Andrew also has a few secret locations that will produce a few fish when all else fails. This is the advantage of fishing at Benguerra Lodge: there is always a place to fish, no matter the weather. Andrew is assisted by Glanville Heydenrych, a capable young man who fished with us for two days and who also took me out on the last morning, which culminated in a 24lb king mackerel.
Benguerra Lodge’s fishing guides both utilise 16ft centre console Vidal Cats fitted with 40hp Yamaha motors. I was impressed with the way the boats handled the rough sea conditions, which was also in part due to the skill with which the guides controlled the boats. The boats are fitted with GPS and fishfinders which makes it easy to locate the productive reefs and identify where the fish are. Andrew is a master (with the assistance of the GPS) at positioning the boat upcurrent and upwind of the productive zone. This enables the angler to fish the entire water column over reefs lying 30m down and this was the main reason I was able to catch a variety of species. I was also amazed at his ability to spot surface activity and differentiate between the species and size of the fish, from a long way off while I was still trying to focus on the fact that there were fish feeding on the surface.
Due to the possibility of regularly encountering large fish and fishing deep water, it is advisable to take along double digit fly rods, with a 12-wt being a good all-round choice when venturing offshore. You can get away with a 10-wt, but you may need the pulling power of the heavier rods as a long drawn-out fight is likely to attract the attention of sharks. Lighter rods do have a place at Benguerra, particularly when fishing the sandy areas between the islands and mainland where you generally encounter smaller fish. I believe anything strong enough to bend a fly rod is worth catching and I spent a few hours chasing these smaller specimens, having great fun in the process. You can encounter some big fish in this area – I even saw a grouper eat one of the smaller fish. Unfortunately, the 10-wt I was fishing with at the time was no match for this monster which quickly broke me off on a reef.
Most of the fishing is done deep with fast sinking fly lines, usually shooting heads. Andrew favours the Airflo lines with intermediate running line, while I used Rio’s T14 and 850 grain Tungsten Deep Dredger lines combined with a Scientific Anglers intermediate running line. Braided running lines do not work well in this situation as most of the time you are stripping the running line onto the boat deck to achieve a longer strip and faster retrieve. Movement of the boat rolling in the swell and light winds quickly tangle the braided running lines which is the last thing you want when a big fish takes the fly. Ideally you want a 10m shooting head with at least 30m of running line. Floating and intermediate lines must not be overlooked as there are times you may want to cast poppers, or chase fish feeding on the surface. Notwithstanding the fact that the kingfish species were uncooperative, I did manage to catch a couple of big king mackerel, which made my short visit well worthwhile. I am happy to recommend Benguerra Lodge as a superb destination if you are looking for good fishing combined with a luxury holiday.
The lodge and its 11 thatched chalets are situated within the indigenous coastal forest just off the beach and they are spaced well apart to provide privacy. Benguerra Lodge is definitely the place to take your wife. If she is not fishing, she too can relax and enjoy a tropical island getaway. If you can afford it, I recommend you consider booking the Villa Zanzibar which comprises two luxury, double-bedded bedrooms (en suite) separated by a wooden deck with a plunge pool, open plan lounge, dining room and kitchen. Benguerra Lodge will supply a personal chef to prepare all meals at the Villa. Meals at the lodge mostly comprise a buffet style breakfast and lunch, while suppers are usually a set menu, with seafood featuring strongly in many of the courses. Your fishing guide will also arrange for a packed breakfast or lunch and beverages if you are fishing early or intend staying out all day. Rates include three meals per day, tea and coffee, daily laundry, medical rescue insurance, all non-motorised water sports and a 17% Mozambican tax. Benguerra Lodge accepts most major credit cards (not Diners Club) as well as South African Rand. Fishing trips and the services of the two guides can be booked separately on the island, but to avoid disappointment it is better to book prior to your arrival.
Benguerra Lodge does not only offer great fishing. There are several other leisure activities available to guests, including snorkelling and scuba diving (certified for PADI and NAUI), most of which is done at Two Mile Reef – a short boat ride from the lodge. The area on the inside of Two Mile Reef is shallow and well protected from the open ocean, making it safe even for novices to snorkel and enjoy the multitude of tropical fish species, corals and other sea creatures. The snorkelling trip includes a visit to Pansy Island, a large sandbank which has an unusually high concentration of rare shells, and a visit to the island of Bazaruto to climb the sand dunes. The view from these sand dunes is breathtaking and well worth the effort. There are a variety of other water-based sports available to guests and I was surprised that there were no organised whale-watching excursions at the time of my visit. During fishing trips offshore with Andrew, we encountered various dolphin species and a large number of humpback whales. These massive marine mammals were rolling and playing on the surface, regularly slapping the water with their huge pectoral flukes and occasionally breaching – a sight to behold!
Benguerra Lodge is easily accessible with regular direct flights from Johannesburg or Kruger Mpumalanga to Vilanculos. Benguerra Lodge’s staff will meet you at the airport and take you down to the harbour for the short boat ride across to the island. Subject to the availability of an airplane it is also possible to fly directly across to the island. Private air charters can also be arranged.
For further information visit www.andbeyond.com
21) BILLFISH LODGE
Billfish Lodge is a new establishment developed by Flip Markram (who manages the lodge with his wife, Erika) situated just north of Inhassoro. Perched on the sandcliffs overlooking the vast Indian Ocean, it offers stunning views of Santa Carolina and Bazaruto islands. The lodge has beautiful gardens with lush lawns and wooden walkways linking the individual chalets to the main building housing the reception, restaurant and bar (which overlook the large swimming pool). A deck extending from the pool over the cliff edge provides a viewing platform to watch the locals going about their daily fishing activities along the beach below, or to keep a look out for those returning from an excursion at sea.
The 18 chalets are spacious, offering above-average accommodation as to what we have come to expect in Mozambique – and even more so considering the price. They vary in size, being able to accommodate between four and ten people, and many of the rooms have en suite bathrooms. Most bedrooms are also air-conditioned for extra comfort during the hot summer months. The chalets are fully equipped for self-catering (which includes luxury items such as microwaves), although Billfish Lodge also offers fully catered accommodation options. The chalets are serviced daily and a laundry service can be arranged. The lodge has a permanent electricity supply, so there are no hassles with generators being switched on and off.
Most of the offshore fishing is done in the area to the north of Bazaruto Island over a massive reef system known as 25 Mile Reef, a reference to the distance from the mainland. The reef ranges from 12m – 30m in depth, with numerous pinnacles and high spots attracting all manner of demersal and pelagic species, including sailfish and all the various kingfish. It is quite a long run to the fishing area; however, the reef gets very little fishing pressure and is generally well worth the effort. Those wishing to fish closer to home can try around Santa Carolina Island and the many sandbanks which lie between Inhassoro and Bazaruto. There are also a number of reefs along the eastern shoreline of Bazaruto, but this is a reserve and you will require the relevant permits.
Billfish Lodge has boats available for charter, but visitors are also welcome to bring their own. Flip will gladly assist visitors in obtaining the necessary beach launching and boat permits from the authorities in Inhassoro. Boats are launched off the beach in front of the lodge – a simple procedure since there are few waves. This is definitely a beach launch as opposed to a surf launch, and in calm conditions it can be likened to launching off a shallow slipway.
An alternative is to tow your boat up to Bartholomew Diaz Point (known as BD Point), where you can fish the massive Govuro River estuary or make your way to BD Island. The sandbanks and channels between the estuary system and BD Island attract king and queen mackerel, kingfish and a host of other predators. The incoming tide rips around the point of the sand island, dragging baitfish and food with it to the waiting larger fish. The BD Point area and estuary is ideal for the visitor who brings a small boat or inflatable.
FISHING: SHORE BASED
There are no real shore-based fishing opportunities directly in front of Billfish Lodge. However, visitors with a 4×4 vehicle can drive up to BD Point and fish around the mouth of the Govuro River estuary. Kingfish will be the main target, with some large specimens having been taken in this area. We have no doubt that various pelagic species can also be caught from shore since the water drops off quickly around the mouth. The beach area to the south of the estuary will also be worth fishing. If you have organised a boat, you definitely want to try a bit of shore-based fishing off BD Island. There are deep-water drop-offs at the northern tip of the island, and it is possible to catch king mackerel and other pelagic predators off the beach. You are also likely to find a few big kingfish here, and since there is no rocky reef you will have a good chance of landing some big fish.
Apart from fishing, Billfish Lodge can arrange dhow trips, sundowner cruises and excursions to the islands. They also offer snorkelling if you are keen on getting a first-hand view of what lies beneath the ocean’s surface. A trip to Inhassoro and the local market is a must – we were amazed at the wide variety of merchandise on offer. You can buy all the basic necessities in Inhassoro – if they do not have what you need, Vilanculos is only an hour’s drive away. The lodge’s beautiful gardens attract a variety of birdlife for those whose interests extend beyond the piscatorial.
By road Inhassoro is a little over 700km north of Maputo. Take the EN1 from Maputo travelling through Xai-Xai and Maxixe on to Masinga. This section of road is generally in good condition. From Masinga you carry on heading north to Pambarra (the turn-off to Vilanculos), and then continue for another 70km where you will find the turn-off to the right for Inhassoro. It is a tar road from the turn-off to the town, where you will find Billfish Lodge’s sign marking the turn-off to the left onto a sand road. The lodge is about 3.6km from the town, and it is possible to travel to Inhassoro and Billfish Lodge in a normal family sedan. Alternatively fly to Vilanculos and arrange to be collected at the airport.
For further information visit www.billfishlodge.org