Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Mafia & Latham Island, Tanzania October 2013

The obsession with Dogtooth Tuna is only growing keeping in mind the luck you need to land one of those unstoppable hard to catch monsters.
I came to conclusion a while ago that it has more to do with tons of luck than the skill itself when it comes to landing those toothy creatures. As much as I love them I hate them and I know it will only get better moving forward as they are in my bucket list and I will make it happen sooner or later, it is simply a matter of time.
Paulinho, Magnus & Nakata flew from Brazil and met me at the airport in Dar El Salam Tanzania.
We chilled upon our arrival and took the flight on the second day to Mafia Island to meet up with Mady & Jason from Sport Fishing Tanzania. This is not my first trip with them and I had the privilege to fish with them on a couple of occasion, top notch Captain with amazing skills to put you on the fish no matter how locked is the jaw! I always remember my first big GT with Mady 7 years ago and on every occasion I manage to make it happen on the same spot.
We met at the lodge and filled us in with the next 3 days plan. Mafia Island is well known for big GT’. The structures and the entrance to the bay make that location a unique one with ripping current in deep water. It makes you feel that you are going to be swiped away when entering and exiting the channel, a true unique experience for sure.
Upon our arrival we get the warm welcome followed by the coconut and right after that we start working on our gear. The excitement was taking over and all the guys were keen to wet a line.
At 7:00AM we got transferred to the boat by a local wooden boat, such an experience that gave us the feeling that we are on a small pirate’s ship. On the exit from the lagoon we saw whales and his calf swimming.
As soon we made it to the mouth of the entrance Mady put in position and we start popping and get hammered by small GT‘s in the range of 20KG and below. The surprise was that they were all black; it seems that those fish are spawning. We caught a couple and decided to move to the deeper water to jig for doggies. The whole purpose to fish Mafia is to pop but we were so excited that we no longer could wait to jig for them. We get bashed by them hammering every jig that went down with singing reel and screaming voices. It was a chaos with a great fun and lucky I had my first sailfish on the jig only to lose close to the boat when the fish decided to show us it is acrobatic skills. We ended the day with a lot of laugh and good time.
On the second day we decided to jig first to benefit from the early morning bites. Paulinho had the unstoppable fish at the end of his line and eventually the fish end up chewing through the leader - a true heart break to start the day. Right after we start getting the small Doggies, all of sudden Magnus get hammered by a big fish and the line again was screaming out of the Stella. Mady from the tower is shouting that it is a big fish, let it run and don’t touch your drag!  Magnus was struggling from the other hand and trying his best to keep up with the fish while the line is still peeling out with no intention for the fish to stop. A true beast was at the end of the line according to Mady & Jason to be well over the 80KG mark. After some huffing and buffing, the fish managed to cut through the leader with a heart break for all of us on board. From watching the bend of the OBX 500 I knew what it takes to bend that rod, I felt sorry for Magnus and all of us as the beast found its way out and gained its freedom. Broken but not defeated was the expression on everybody’s faces!
I had a similar situation on that day and was very upset as the bad luck continued to be on our side to land the big one.
On our 3rd and last day in Mafia Island we decided to run south and pop for GT’s. The run was long and by the time we made it to the location the quality and color of the water improved a lot. Not that we had unclean water, but the water down south was crystal clear and the potential was so high. We popped like no tomorrow but the GT’s seemed to be on vacation. We could not find them and locate them, so it was slow till a big shadow came from below and inhaled my popper. A nice Grouper hit the deck, took quick pictures and released it right away; I am getting so lucky with topwater Grouper bite lately.
Mady shouted from the tower and pointed to a direction while all of us looking at the bait fish getting chased, we approached the area and made few casts.
Paulinho in the back casted a Siren Bad Mon 250 in pink that was followed by 3 to 4 GT’s in the 40kg plus mark and luckily got hammered by the biggest one of the batch. The fish put so much heat on him while his Carpenter Endless Passion 82/38 was getting charged in full with a nice bend. Unfortunately the hook opened up and we ended up losing the biggest fish of the day. We then decided to run up north and jig close to the entrance of the channel. I don’t have to say the amount of jigs we lost and how big the fish we lost, I will try to keep it for myself moving forward.
On our last day in the lodge we took it easy preparing for a long overnight ride from Mafia Island to Latham. Mady & Jason was going to do the 65 miles run to Latham through the night. At 5:00PM we headed North trolling on the way to Latham and right after we crossed Mafia channel we get charged by a sailfish that Mangus manage to land. That was a good start for the long run.  I took a side on the boat and decided to sleep and charge my battery for the next day. During the run I heard the reel screaming and the guys running, I honestly did not bother with it till I heard a great run around 4:30AM.
I run to my camera and stood outside watching Jason behind the rod, it was a Mako and according to Jason they are very rare in Tanzania and this is his 4th one that he ever caught in his career. The fish was all light up and the guys were eager to set it free. I managed to get a quick shot and they released it safely. I looked at Mady and I asked her how long more before getting to Latham. A couple of miles was the answer. Mady ran through the whole night and was ready for the day - a true inspiration for anybody!

Arrived to Latham and on the first drop we get hammered by GT’s, that was a good sign!
The jigging bite was red hot on our arrival and we got Wahoo as well. The Doggies were showing up and the fish finder is lit up from the top to the bottom with bait and fish around it. The only things that were missing was the presence of the red crabs, they are late! Their presence is a promise of a great topwater bites in general.
We were so busy and we jigged hard with some nice pay off from time to time. Our jigs were cut in half by quantity as we kept on losing them due to cut off by the doggies. The hot jigs were ranging from 200g to 240g and short in general. The Doggies did not want any of the long jigs and certain colors produced more than other. They were finicky but the determination paid off with many hook ups.
The night was falling and that special doggie time was to be taken into consideration. A big steady hit on my jig with heavy weight on the OBX 400, the line was peeling and Mady asked not to touch the drag. I could tell it was a big fish. I follow Mady’s suggestion, played to the fish and started gaining line. It was getting really dark. Last color on the line and we could see a silver shinning color below. 15 feet left with massive silver shinning was rising while we all looked surprised, a huge GT on the jig just surfaced. Celebration and sheering took place while we were all rushing to take a quick photo and release the fish as quickly as possible. The fish measured at 140cm and was round like no other fish that I ever saw. That was my biggest GT on the jig so far, Tanzania produced and Mady delivered! We packed and headed for the anchor hoping for even a better day tomorrow.

In the early morning on our 5th day we rushed to jig, but the bite was a bit weird. All of sudden I hear a big splash behind me and I see Paulinho tied on topwater. I looked again and I saw him with the El Maestro 77H in his hand paired with Siren Sorry Charlie 170. He picked up the rod and casted and was right on the money. We could not see the take but we all saw the hit and the sound of that take. The reel was screaming and the pressure was on. Mady and Jason were very confident from the run that it could be a doggie. I, on the other hand, was hoping to see the fish as this is the first big fish on the new prototype rod and I had not yet had the chance to get a big fish on it. It took Paulinho about 15 to 20 minutes to get to boat sided only to see those long sickles. From the take and the run we correctly identified it as a Yellow Fin Tuna. The gaff shot was spectacular and again Paulinho sealed the deal. A nice hefty 75lb fish hit the deck. The rod performed nicely with a good bend and a great backbone exactly the way I want it. The Saragosa SW 10000 was a good balance and choice for that set up. Took couple of pictures and asked Mady to head to Latham to pop the surrounded island. We popped for almost 2 hours with no sign of life until I saw a bunch of GT’s chasing my lure with slow motion. I had never seen GT’s chasing lures like that before. We identified 1 in the pack over the 40kg mark, went back again for a drift and the chase was on. Landed a nice fish on the Race Point 150 matched with the Moutoukenmaru. A couple drifts and we were on again with everybody’s on board having a chance to get the opportunity to land some. I had the chance to bend the prototype Carpenter that I have in my possession and it performed nicely as always. We then decided to take a short break and go for a swim. The water was crystal clear and the guys enjoyed every bit of it, we saw some nice fish coming to the lures on top water today and it seemed it was only getting better.
The topwater tuna bite was insane, but the fish were shy and they went down on every attempt to get closer to them. Very frustrating but we couldn’t manage to get a shot at them so we decided to jig for the ruby snapper. They weren’t picky but we get tired hauling them from the deep water. The sunset was about to approach and the jigging bite start to get better with a mix bag of GT’s and small doggies. Nakata was on fire putting each one of us down with his jigging technique. His hit lure was a Shimano flat sided jig in Orange and Black back. That jig get hammered by big doggies left and right and the run was another to be remembered. Unfortunately Nakata was very upset to lose that jig, we called in the night while the bite is fading away.
On our last day, early in the morning the tuna were so scattered with some nice fish jumping around,
we jigged a bit and I had an amazing strike on my jigging rod. The fish was peeling line steady and the OBX 500 was bending all the way, finally what I was looking for! But the luck has decided it was not my day so I end up losing the fish after 15 minutes fight due to line shaving. The bite shut off right when the sun got a bit higher. In the mean time I decided to pop for the tuna. The El Maestro 77H was matched with the Moutoukenmaru. After putting the time, as I saw the lure getting hammered, the hit was as nice as it came in from a long cast and while the line is way out. I set the hook and had the fish to boat side in less than 5 minutes and to tell you the truth I was impressed by the new Saragosa SW 10000 reel. I got it to gaff and my mission to test the El Maestro 77H came in to a conclusion with a great backbone and performance by the rod. I was very happy to land that fish that was estimated around the 85lb mark and the aim for the rod is the 100lb mark fish. Mission accomplished in 2 occasions: first by Paulinho and second by me ceiling the deal with a bigger fish. After taking the time with pictures, we decided to hit the GT’s ground and right on the money we were not disappointed. I wanted to push the Race Point 150 so I matched it with a Prototype Siren Bad Mon 250 sinking. After a couple of casts I came in tight. The fish took some solid run and I knew right away it was a descent size fish. The fish tried to take me to the shallow but I managed to put the pressure and was surprised to see it when it got closer to the boat side. It looked enormously huge! Took couple of shots while the water was running in the mouth and released it to fight another day. The fish had a measurement of 133cm and hefty. Mady called it in the 50KG mark but being conservative. If it is not in the 5OKG mark, it is will only be shy away by 3KG at the most. After the guys boxed me out from the front and decided to take over knowing the opportunity and understanding the structure, by now they know where and when to expect the bite. On the other hand I was very happy with my result and wanted to give the opportunity to let the guys get their best shut. They got their asses handed to them on the front of the boat, they lost close to 6 Gamma most of it is due to breaking line, again lesson learned the hard way and they know now what it takes to land the big one. In order to target those monster fish you need to use a hollow line!!
One of the fish that charged Nakata was between the 60kg mark to the 70kg, we all saw the hit and the velocity that was left behind it. Mady said that she never saw a fish of that size hit a topwater lure.
Unfortunately the line departed leaving a sad puzzled expression on Nakata’s face. Magnus on the other hand has had the chance to land his biggest GT ever estimated around the 35kg mark. He was very happy with that. The bites died down and we decided to make it to the jigging ground to have our last shot at the doggies. Nakata did it again and the line was almost at its end. The Smith AMJ-S52EX had a nice bend and Mady screamed not to touch the drag. Everybody’s on board was so excited and it felt that our hard labor was coming to an end. The unfortunate happened again and Nakata was left with a broken heart.
We called the trip off and headed to Dar El Salam. Of course defeated by all means, but the planning and the rewind for adjustment is already in my mind for next year, I booked my days for 2014 before leaving Tanzania!
One thing I need to say about Sport Fishing Tanzania, they run a great operation and they know their fishing ground very well. They can put you on the fish and they know the right timing when the fish will bite; I had a great time on board with them and I can assure you won’t be sorry to fish on board with them! Thank you Mady & Jason!!
Tackle used:

Rods: Race Point 300, 200, 150. El Maestro 77H Prototype, Yamaga Blank, Carpenter Endless Passion 82/38, Carpenter Monster Hunter 79XH
Reels: Shimano Stella, Daiwa Saltiga, Shimano Saragosa
Line: Power Pro Hollow 130lb, Varivas SMP, Sunline Cast Away Monster PE, Sunline PE Jigger 8HG.
Leader: Saltywater Tackle system leader, Seaguar Fluoro
Lures: Siren Bad Mon 250 Sinking (Prototype), Carpenter Gammaa 160, 160H, 200, Carpenter Blue fish, Moutoukenmaru (Prototype), Sevenseas, Craft Bait, Shell Shaping.
Jigs: Hot’s Drift Tune, Haoli Half Pitch series II, Shout FCL Labo,

  Tight Lines