Fishing has many addicts worldwide and most Kenya tour operators can organize specialized fishing expeditions with the help of one or more fishing centres. Game fishing at the coast can be combined with lake fishing in lakes Victoria and Turkana, and some lovely trout streams in the Aberdares, the Mau and the Cherenganis.
Besides inland fishing on lakes, rivers and streams, where the angler’s rewards include the giant Nile Perch, black bass, rainbow and brown trout; Indian Ocean sport fishing extends all the way from Lamu in the north to Shimoni and the Pemba Channel bordering Tanzania in the south. This area has developed in recent years into a major tourism attraction in its own right.
Many international deep-sea feshing sportsmen, from as far as Australia and Japan, the United States, Canada and Europe, as well as neighbouring African countries, now visit the Kenyan Coast simply to fish, and their numbers continue to grow with sophisticated charter boats and crews operating the length of the Coast. The main areas of focus for visiting fishermen are Malindi and Watamu in the north, Mtwapa Creek and neighbouring Mombasa in the middle and Diami, Shimoni and the Pemba Channel in the south.
These places offer fleets of charter vessels and shoreline accommodation which ranges from the comparatively modest to five-star resorts.
There is also an unsurpassed variety of superb deep sea and in-shore creek fishing. Many record-breaking marlin catches – blue, black and striped – have been clinched in the Pemba Channel, while Malindi boasts a year-round sailfish population, comparable to the best in the world.
Further out, between 30 and 50 km, on the Malindi and Watamu broadbill for the overnight adventurers, kingfish, wahoo, barracuda, dorado, giant trevally and a host of bottom fish when angling for the pot, coupled with an extensive season stretching from early August right through to the end of April; which makes Kenya’s deep-sea fishing unique and competitive.
For the visitor, enjoying a favourable rate of exchange against the Kenya shilling, the charges are reasonable. There is an ever-growing body of international sports fisherman who have learned that combining a deep-sea fishing trip with a wildlife safari makes Kenya not only a first-class destination, but a unique one too.
The Kenya Association of Sea Angling Clubs (KASAC), affiliated to the International Game Fish Association (IGFA), has had a very favourable response over the recent years to its efforts in encouraging the tagging and releasing of bill fish, especially the smaller sailfish, marlin and broadbill. In a recent international competition hosted by the Malindi Sea Fishing Club in November 1993, it was no surprise that while the top 10 boats alone caught 79 sailfish over the two days, no less than 76 of these were tagged and released, the remaining three being boated because they were too deep hooked or otherwise injured.
What is also of great interest was the number of sail caught – quite apart from probably 100 more that were raised. These figures which are taken for granted in this area must certainly be the envy of a great many famous resorts elsewhere in the world.
KASAC has campaigned over the years for a code of conduct as well as enforcing standards backed by legislation, that would assure greater safety and eliminate the fly-by-night pirate operators who offer seemingly bargain prices, but are not adequately equipped or even properly insured.
It is the special bargain hunter who often finds that the “saving” of a few thousand shillings on a day out, has led only to disappointment. For the discerning visitor it is still advisable to deal only with the recognised and well-established charter operators. Many are properly insured and equipped, providing seasoned skippers and crews as well as the best in modern tackle.