Mid – February on and into the first few weeks of March have always been the best time for big marlin, both blues and blacks, all along the coast although blue marlin do not appear every year, but this year looks to be one of those bumper years with boats reporting big blues being caught both around and outside the Rips off Watamu/Kilifi and at Shimoni.
The Mnarani Fishing Club at Kilifi held their annual International Classic tournament over the two days of last weekend, and Clueless with angler Paul Dawson on the rod clinched a win with a fine blue marlin of 151.8 kgs caught on the Sunday to add to three sail to give his team with David Ogden a 25 point lead over the second placed team of Adam Ogden, Batian Craig and Charlie Strachan on Black Widow. This team tagged eight sailfish, and third place went to the Seahorse team of Gina Faber, Malise Graham and Rene Faber with Malise tagging a striped marlin and the others each catching a sailfish.
Fourth team was Andrew Buckoke on Matamu who weighed a black marlin of 135.4kgs, as well as tagging a sail, and Sarah Penfold who tagged a sail.
The points system of scoring varies in different tournaments, with the score for tagged sailfish against marlin being a controversial subject on which anglers argue – at Kilifi it takes five sail to equal one marlin all released, while at Watamu for example it needs over nine sailfish to equal the score for a marlin. Another interesting mark is the weight given for a released fish, with sail usually given as 40kgs and marlin as 150kgs – most marlin caught are well under this figure, while it is very rare to catch a 40kg sailfish. If a fish under these weights is weighed in, then an angler loses points, but if a fish comes dead to the boat it is unethical to ‘release’ it!
Last Wednesday saw five marlin flags at Watamu, with Clueless continuing her good run with two blues released, estimated at 150 and 230 kgs, while Alleycat released a nice blue for Tom Cunningham who also had another big fish over 240 kgs earlier in the week to add to the 278kg blue a week ago. Kipapa which is usually based at Mtwapa, is also fishing from Watamu now, and angler Ben Goodingham from England released a fine blue marlin estimated at 175kgs – the previous day with fishing partner Steve Wright they had released two sailfish and missed several other strikes.
Most of these big fish are being hooked far out beyond the usual areas of the Rips, up to thirty miles offshore, and there are sailfish out there too, so one never knows what will strike next – perhaps it will be that grander blue, over a thousand pounds (453kgs), which bodes well for the Standard Chartered sponsored Watamu SFC tournament to be held this weekend.