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Kenya Safaris Itinerary February 2015  


My second planned trip back to Kenya over the next 12 months is not actually a safari at all, but a 9 day visit in order to indulge in my passion of Big Game Fishing in the Indian Ocean based out of the fabulous beach resort of Hemingways, Watamu.




I am chartering "Seastorm" (see below) along with a UK client for two fishing tournaments, the Watamu Festival over 2 days, followed by the Friends of Kenya which is a nonstop 36 hour tournament.


Below is a report of this year's tournament.


I was first introduced to this sport back in the early 80's by my good friend Peter Ruysenaars, who today owns and operates the fabled Pemba Channel Fishing Club, with his wife Sandra. Peter kindly invited me to join him on his weeklong fishing trip and I was fortunate enough to catch my first game fish, a 120lb Yellow Fin Tuna and have been addicted to the sport ever since.



Below is a report of only the second 1000lb + Marlin to be caught in Kenya and the first off Watamu. This is also the first grander to be caught anywhere in the world in 2014, which highlights what a superb location Kenya is for big game fishing.


The news of this Kenyan Grander reminded me of the time I fought a 1,100lb + Marlin for 3 hours off the Great Barrier Reef, Australia some 25 years ago. I was black and blue after this and could not fish for 2 days following this battle, so I know what this particular angler, Roger Sutherland, must have felt after his epic 3 hour fight.


Fishing in Kenya can be all year round, but traditionally the main season is from July through until April with November through until March being the peak time of the year for the big Marlin.


For details on costs and availability, contact me at mike@safarikenya.eu 


Hemingways Watamu is much, much more than a centre of excellence for fishing. It is consistently ranked as one of the most prestigious beach resorts on the Kenya coast and is located on a beach ranked by the Daily Telegraph as one of the top 10 in the world. Luxury accommodation, superb cuisine, two swimming pools, tennis courts a gym and a spa/beauty centre, plus a championship golf course nearby, Hemingways has something to offer to all, not just us crazy anglers.






Seastorm is a 38 foot Wooden Sport fisherman, built in their Boatyard in Watamu by Willy Victor over a two year period and launched in 2009. Captained by local man Steve Webb, who is certainly producing some impressive results and a loyal following, this will be a Boat to watch in the future.  


Fishing at Hemingways, Watamu


Hemingways enjoys justified acclaim for its Big Game Fishing. Host of the ILTTA World Championships, many ESPN, DSTV and SKY televised events and numerous other Tournaments annually; it is a focal point of fishing off the East African Coast.





The waters off Watamu offer hugely diverse fishing opportunities and it is one of very few places where three types of Marlin, Sailfish, Broadbill Swordfish and Shortbill Spearfish are all available. With a series of underwater Mountains easily accessible offshore, bait and the predators are concentrated unlike the situation in the open Ocean.Their Boats are all twin diesel powered, in excess of 33 feet and have a Captain and two crew working the deck.



The crews are happy to work with beginners and help them through each step on the fishing learning curve or just sit back and watch a Master at work in the chair on a big fish. Children interested in fishing are very welcome too. Fishing charters are 10 hour full days or 5 hour half days , depending on your preference.


Fishing starts each season in July with the first two months being windy with the South East trade winds blowing but the fishing is very rewarding for those happy to be out there. September brings calmer seas and October heralds the arrival of the main Billfish run which continues through till the following April. All conventional tackle is provided (although those fishing on fly should bring their own kit) along with packed lunches and drinks on board.


We believe in the ethic of tag and release of all Billfish and are happy with the support we get on this from those who fish with us.


Authors Note:


I fully support and subscribe to the principals of "Tag & Release" for all Game Fish and nothing saddens me more than to see the end of a magnificent specimens life, hanging from a set of weighing scales.

However a Grander; and fish that die during the fight are most certainly the exception, rather than the rule.

The only fish usually brought in are either bait fish or dinner, or for distribution in the very important local food chain.


My wife's perception on all this is never mind the monster fish you lost, just bring home a Wahoo, Kingfish or Dorado for dinner. And perhaps some freshly caught yellow fin tuna, served raw with some Wasabi with a cold beer!



Grander Blue Marlin in Kenya


From Garry Cullen at Hemingways - 24 March 2014



Ol Jogi II - a twin Cat 3208 engine 33ft Bertram hooked this magnificent fish at 11.20am Friday 21st March on the centre mlima ledge off the Kenyan coastal town of Watamu. The fish eventually took a Williamson BBI # 1 in black and purple with two 7732 Mustad 12/0 hooks.


The Skipper, Stuart Simpson, saw the Marlin come up to the boat's port teaser and called it a grander immediately. "I knew when I first saw it that it was a grander" said Simpson "as I had never seen one like it".


The Marlin came to the teaser three times before switching to a totally unsuitable 50lb flat line which the crew - with little time to deliberate - had to frantically wind away from the lunging fish trying to take it. Then it proceeded to 'prop-watch' six feet behind the transom for the next 20 minutes before finally seeing and dropping back to take the tag line.


"It was incredibly tense" said experienced British angler Roger Sutherland who did a simply brilliant job on the rod throughout - " there was a flurry of furious activity as we took the flat line out of the water then nervous silence as the fish followed us for what felt like hours! "


When the fish eventually inhaled the lure, all knew it was well hooked as the rubber band on the tag line didn't pop until the fish went down. Roger Sutherland stoically fought the fish for two and a half hours on an 80W bent butt. "As the fish was hooked, we came back on the drag immediately" Simpson said "but once it had stopped running and settled down we jacked it up to about 60lbs of drag."


Within an hour the wireman, Sammy Tuva, had the trace double wrapped and tried to hang on but the fish was far too strong and ran off another 100 metres of line and sounded.


Roger Sutherland has caught many Marlin but his memory and experience of this fight, using drag that he did not believe was possible, will remain with him for the rest of his life!


When the fish reached the gantry at Hemingways and weighed in at 1062lbs, all present were thrilled to celebrate the second grander caught in the history of Kenyan fishing and the first grander caught worldwide in 2014.


"I knew we had done it when the scales showed 451kgs with its head still on the ground" Stuart Simpson said, and the celebrations began.


Asked how he felt to have caught Kenya's second grander Simpson said "This fish is another milestone in the Watamu fishing history and an important addition to Kenya's position as a serious Big Game fishing destination. We have incredibly diverse waters here - with five of the Billfish species available locally - and now we have proved once again that monster fish are off our coast."


The first grander caught in Kenya was caught on Neptune, skippered by Angus Paul, some years back. It weighed 1,197lbs and a trophy mount of it still hangs on the wall in Malindi.


Stuart Simpson has been fishing professionally for ten years and in that time has caught over four hundred Marlin. During that period he has boated fewer than ten. With the exception of this grander, his first, all of the others have died during the fight.


Roger Sutherland has come out to Hemingways annually for the last eleven years seeking his dream fish. He has certainly accomplished his mission and it could not happen to a more deserving angler. Congratulations, Roger!





Held back to back the Watamu Festival and the Friends of Kenya fishing competitions were a great success with many thanks going to the Watamu Sea Club for sponsoring the Watamu Festival and to Aggreko and Inshore Support for sponsoring the Friends of Kenya. Without their support we would not be able to hold these events.


The Watamu Festival was held on the 1st/2nd March 2014 out of Ocean Sports. The winning team was on White Bear Skippered by Jackson Safari and fished by Martin Foster, Robin James and Jamie Shepherd from Dubai. They had a great first days fishing with a Blue Marlin and two Striped Marlin and on the second

day they also managed to release another Striped Marlin bringing them a total of 1 Blue Marlin and 3 Striped Marlin to secure 1st position.


 From the left: Martin Foster, Jamie Shepherd and Robin James


Second Place went to Seyyda Skippered and fished by Dave Darnborough and Tim Brown who came out from the UK. They managed to release 2 Blue Marlin and 2 Sailfish with one of the Blues to be estimated at 450lbs.



Third place went to Unreel skippered by Rob Hellier and fished by Mark Jury and AKA Ginga Cremin. Releasing 2 Blue Marlin and 1 Sailfish.



Congratulations to all the other boats that fished the event and to those that had some great fishing but not managing to top the 1st Three Boats.



The Friends of Kenya was a 36hr event giving the Skippers and Anglers the chance to get out to their favourite fishing grounds. Neptune and Unreel took a risk and set off to the North Kenya Banks 50nm from Watamu Bay. On arrival the water had a slight green tinge to it worrying the two skippers but later on in the afternoon some blue water started to push in with the high tide and Neptune managed to release 2 Blue Marlin and 5 Sailfish before the evening with Unreel releasing 1 Blue Marlin and 2 Sailfish and 1 Broadbill. The next morning with Neptune running hot they released a further 2 Blue Marlin and 2 Striped Marlin giving them victory hands down. Congratulations to skipper Angus Paul who fished with Rick Lemonnier, Don Lafferty and Rich Roberts who came all the way from the States.


In 2nd place was the tiny Pintail skippered and fished by Richard Moller and Russell Brumby and 3rd place was Combava, with James and Simon Redfern and Rhino Rauscher up from Tanzania. Congratulations to them all!


 Richard Moller with his Blue Marlin caught on the 23foot Yamaha Dinghy.


There were 23 Sailfish, 17 Broadbill Swordfish, 2 striped and 2 Black
Marlin and 19 Blue Marlin. With Two Blues that died on us being weighed in, the bigger fish went to B's Nest at 594lbs caught by Simon Roche.



Watamu Rips has really come into its own late this season with some amazing Blue Marlin fishing and it's showing no signs of slowing down even though the winds have started to shift to the South some days.