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Madagascar - A little fishing adventure

Updated: Nov 2, 2021

It was around ten years ago, when I first saw some impressive videos about fishing in Madagascar. In my mind, this place was connected to wilderness, adventure and untouched nature. So, eventually, there was no other choice, but to mark this destination on my "Places I need to visit" list. I took a couple of more years until in 2016, I finally managed to get there.



Where's Madagascar?


The Island is located roughly 400km off the African coast, near Mozambique and South Africa and it is the fourth largest island in the world.


Because of the tropical climate in Madagascar, I decided to go in November and December, which is considered a relatively dry time of the year.


Getting on board


for the first ten days I had already booked a nine days liveaboard trip with German company "Global Fishing Adventures", which took place on a 37ft catamaran. Which I shared with some other dudes, crazy enough to fly half around the world, just to cast some lures at angry fish.



The guys I shared the boat with for the first 10 days

At our original destination, the Radama archipelago, the weather forecast had announced extremely hot weather, with temperatures up to 40°C, which led to the decision to go in another direction. Past famous Mitsio Island to the far away Baie de Courrier.

On the way there we were riding at a speed of 8kn, which allowed us to have a few lures in the spread behind the boat, while getting closer to the first decent fishing spots. Here we could not only get in contact with the first game fish and test our gear, but also get ready for a life on board and test our resilience to seasickness.





Sharp teeth and distinct smell: Barracuda





Sailfish

The next days were wild. Sleeping in a tiny cabin, the first sunlight would already wake me up and soon turn my bedroom in a little sauna. So my solution to escape the heat, was to go out and have a few casts at sunrise.


Fishing wise we sticked to jigging and popping for most of the time, depending on the spot and trolled a few lures while changing the spot. Most fish we caught were part of the travally family, but also snappers, groupers, barracudas and kingfish were caught regularly.



King Mackerels were a common catch and made for some delicious meals

GT

My biggest GT of the trip


Snappers like this one gave amazing fights on light tackle


Long Tom

As the sun sets early in Madagascar, the end of daylight was not a good enough reason to stop fishing. We either set up large baits on a balloon for the big predators at night, while having dinner and beer, or tried to get some hookup on glow-in-the-dark jigs, which led to some more action, like this large king mackerel and a huge grouper.



Surprise catch with a glow-in-the-dark jig: This massive Grouper


When my boat trip came to an end, we had caught over 20 different species, landed some good fish, lost some ever better ones. Most of the fish we caught were healthily released, a few were turned in some of the best fish dishes, I had ever had in my life.


Luckily, this was not the end of my holidays. While the rest of the people, I had spent the last 10 days with returned to Germany, I had three weeks left in this beautiful, wild country, starting on the island Nosy Be.


I found myself left quite alone in the beginning, so I started to fish from the nearby beaches...but the fish I caught were no match to the ones I had hooked from the boat the days before. I met a friendly local guy, called Wilio, who returned from squid fishing with a traditional wooden boat, called "pirogue".


One of the traditional "Pirogue" boats I was fishing from with the locals

Luckily, I was pretty fluent in French, which allowed me to have a nice conservation. This guy should become my companion for the rest of my trip. We decided to rent two scooters for the next day and he would take me around the island, visiting some amazing places, including a majestic "holy" tree, a gigantic tree in the middle of the rainforest, which immediately reminded me of the movie "Avatar".


Me and my friend Wilio during our scooter tour

I have also tried fishing with the locals for a bit, but fishing close to the island was not very successful, except for a few small fish.


After a few more days on Nosy Be, I set over to the next Island: Nosy Komba.

This Island, even smaller than Nosy Be offered the opportunity to walk through the jungle and get in touch with local fauna, such as chamaeleons, snakes, all kinds of insects and of course, the famous lemurs.



On Nosy Komba you can find Makis that are used to people


Wild Chamaeleon

One of the coolest things on Nosy Komba were also the times I went fishing with the locals. Wilio introduced me to the most famous fisherman of the island, called Zulu. I'm still grateful for this amazing experience. Out at sea, in a small handmade boat, in a foreign country. People from backgrounds, that could not be more different from one another. Simply fishing together and having a good time.



Fishing with local celebrity Captain Zulu

To be honest, we didn't catch a lot of huge fish. Some squid and one barracuda, perfect for lunch. But in the end it was the experience, that counted the most.


Talking to the local people, I heard about a very special place. An island, called Nosy Iranja. Well, in fact, two islands, connected by a snow white sandy strip, that lays underwater during high tide and is exposed at low tide. I didn't have to think twice. To get there, we had to make several arrangements: Get a boat. Get a captain. Get fuel. And get started.

My new Madagascan aquaintances were a great help here. It was still a major hustle, but in end I was on the way to Nosy Iranja with a motorized pirogue, steered by Zulu's son.We had partied the night before and I got on the boat running on one hour of sleep. It was a trip of about 70km to Nosy Iranja, which left us with plenty of time to catch some fish, which would be very welcome as our dinner later.



Wahoo during our trip to Nosy Iranja



King Mackerel

Nosy Iranja itself was probably one of the most, if not the most beautiful place, I have ever visited. It looked like straight-up from a postcard or a wallpaper. Our bungalow there was an experience on it's own- No running water, no electricity, no toilet, but that worth it.



The white sand of Nosy Iranja



A place like from a fairytale

After Nosy Iraja, I returned to Nosy Komba and soon took over to the last stop of my trip: Nosy Sakatia, the turtle island. Nosy Sakatia was especially pleasant, since I seemed to be the only person spending their holidays there. It was almost uninhabited and indeed, the waters were packed with turtles. I have never seen so many, let alone in one place. The shallow waters allowed to snorkel right next to them and I also had the chance to go diving.

Fishing on Nosy Sakatia was not the best, which was not much of a surprise, as I had not seen many fish worth catching, during my snorkeling trips.


But I could not leave Madagascar without doing one last fishing trip. So for one of my last days, Wilio and me found some guys, that would take us fishing. And since the locals agreed, that the best time for fishing there was night time, it would become a night fishing trip. In a small pirogue, out at sea, at night. That gives you a different kind of adventure vibe. This trip could have gone south: Already on the way out, the clouds at the sky were becoming more dense and more dark. I relied on the locals' assessment of the situation and so we kept going. However, at some point we found ourselves right next to a storm front. It was not so much windy or rainy, but at some point, lightning started to strike into the sea. So close, that I could see the flashes turn the sea into a white cloud around the strike zone. I remember, how I turned around to Wilio, who was sitting behind me. The zigarette dangling from his mouth was the only light source there and so I could barely see his face. He asked me if I was afraid. When I asked him, if he still thought, that what we were doing was safe, he would reply with "C'est dangereux, mais ça c'est la pêche en Madagascar" (It's dangerous, but that's fishing in Madagascar). Luckily we made it home safe.



Tackle & Tipps

I travelled to Madagascar with a wide set of fishing gear:


PE 2-5 Jigging Expert Graphite Alexander PE 2-5*, Fin Nor Lethal LT60*, Daiwa Tournament 8 braid 0.35mm*

PE 3-6 Jigging Expert Graphite Jig Pro II*, Accurate Boss 600XN*, Jerry Brown Line One Solid 65lbs*

PE 6-8 Popping Shimano Ocea BB Heavy Game CW 180g*, Daiwa Catalina 6500*, Daiwa Tournament 8 Braid 0.45mm*

PE 4-6 Popping Alutecnos Popping 2.85m*, CW 100g, Penn Battle II 8000*, Daiwa Tournament 8 Braid 0.35mm*

PE 1-3 Spinning Sakura Shinjin Neo 964HH 2.92m*, M&W Pandora 6500*, Spiderwire Stealth Code Red 0.30mm*


*Unpaid referral


Additional tackle:

Leaders: Popping 130-170bs nylon, Jigging/Spinning 60-100lb nylon/fluorocarbon

Lures: Poppers and Stickbaits 45-180g, Jigs 80-300g, a few spoons, casting jigs and small hardbaits (light tackle fishing)

Single wire 80-100lb (trolling) and 130lb wire (Baitfishing)

some large heavy circle hooks (Baitfishing) and some balloons


The tackle I used was ideal for most fish. We had a few super heavy takes on the jig, which couldn't be lifted up. I think it was probably some giant groupers.

If I would go again, I would probably take three setups, a jigging setup around PE6, a heavy popping setup PE6-8 for GT and a light PE1-3 Shore Jigging setup for shore fishing and light tackle fishing, which should cover most of the possibilities in Madagascar.


Apart from fishing there a few things to consider when traveling to Madagascar:


There is Malaria in Madagascar. So don't forget a good mosquito repellent and some malaria medication. Generally, you should bring some medicine to treat a stomach bug, desinfectants and antibiotics, as the next hospital can be far away and healthcare can be an issue in Madagascar.


Despite the locals I met were really friendly and helpful, I heard some worrying stories and there is a high rate of crime in some areas. So always be careful and watch out for your valuables.


What else is there to do?


Like I have already pointed out in my trip report, Madagascar offers plenty of activities and it would be shame to miss out on these and only to focus on fishing.


1. Diving

Madagascar offers great diving oportunities. I dives only on Nosy Sakatia, where the diving is mostly focused on macro fauna, but some dive spots also offer encounters with whale sharks and humpback whales.


2. Take a trip to a wildlife reserve


I visited Lokobe Nature Reserve on Nosy Be, which also allows for some nice hikes in the primitive forest. Don't forget your mosquito spray!


3. Visit another island (island-hopping)

There are so many beautiful islands around Madagascar, it would be a shame to just visit one of them!


4. Enjoy local food/drinks

The local cuisine in Madagascar is amazing. You'll find all kinds of fish, lobsters, zebu-beef, mostly with white rice and vegetables. The Malagasse also have their own speciality when it comes to drinks: It's called "rhum arrangé" and is made by putting fruits in strong (~50% alc. vol) rum, then letting it sit in the bottle for some time. The fresh fruits on Madagascar are also beyond delicate.

5. Visit a local market

Madagascar is famous for vanilla and ylang ylang. Enjoy the foreign smell of spices and fruits while strawling through a Madagascan market.


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