We have published quite a few reports on the evolving fishery in the Red Sea north of the City of Port Sudan. Long known as a world-class diving spot, it has come into its own recently as a somewhat rugged, frontier-like place to go in search of giant trevally and triggerfish, among other species. Our latest report, in the August 2016 issue, was from subscriber Ueli Zellweger, who was particularly impressed by the triggerfishing there.
This past month we received still another report on this area. It’s from Larry Seidler who targeted GTs, triggerfish, bluefin trevally, and coral trout this past June. He recommends the trip but goes on to call it a “no frills trip for young, tough men, as the mother ship you live on is not air-conditioned, and Sudan is very hot—like 105 to 115 degrees Fahrenheit!” He was in Sudan in June, and he says he will go in May next time, when it is a little cooler.
Seidler says all of the species mentioned above were abundant. He did most of his fishing by wading flats and at the edge of coral reefs, casting large 2/0 flies with a 12 wt. rod rigged with a Rio GT line. “I caught many fish daily of all species, from two to 30 pounds,” he writes. “There is no fishing pressure in Sudan. I did not see any other boat the entire week I was there this year or last year.”
While noting that the mother ship used on this trip (it’s called My Scuba Libre) is not air-conditioned, there were some improvements this year over last, he says. For one thing, the electrical and plumbing systems on board have been improved; plus, he says, thick, new, and comfortable sleeping mats have been installed. He recommends the trip and gives the cost of it as 3,750 euros. Interestingly, he says he booked his trip directly with the outfitter of this trip, Wild Sea Expedition (www.wildseaexpedition.com), not Aardvark Mcleod or Tourette Fishing, the two agents who are listed as partners on the Wild Sea website and who have booked all of the other trips we have written about in the past.
“Socotra Island is one of the windiest islands in the world, and it is also beset by very strong currents, factors that make the most productive fishing spots impassable about seven months of the year.”
If you are an adventurer, the Wild Sea website deserves a look. Seems the two Italians who operate the company offer two versions of the Sudan trip (one that focuses on flats fishing and one that focuses on reef fishing), plus a trip to Djibouti that is completely new to us, and another one to Socotra Island that has been put on hold until things calm down in Yemen. More on that trip in a moment.
The country of Djibouti is a jigsaw puzzle piece of land surrounded by Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia about a thousand miles to the south of Port Sudan. It fronts on the Red Sea. Don’t be embarrassed, by the way, about not knowing that: We had to go to Google Maps to find it ourselves and figure out how to describe where it is. Like the Sudan trip, this one focuses on giant trevally and similar species. Here is how the two owners of the company (Nicola Vitali and Federico Castignoli) describe this trip:
“Djibouti is without any doubt one of the last frontiers for the fanatic GT hunter. Despite being quite easy to reach, the sea here still hasn’t been exploited because of the total absence of human structure on the coastline. What makes the fishing particularly good is Djibouti’s strategic position between the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. The sea here is extremely rich in nutrients.
“Wild Sea Expedition is proud to be the first to offer a liveboard trip to the two main fishing spots in Djibouti, the Seven Brothers Archipelago and the Passe of Goubet. The former are six small rocky islands right in the middle of the Bab el Mandeb Strait that connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden. This is one of the best GT places in the world. The current here is always pushing, and baitfish are present here in huge numbers. The real highlight of the place is the fact that GTs congregate around the islands in the spring to spawn. At that time, there are simply huge numbers of GTS around, many of them very large. Fish weighing more than 130 pounds have been caught. The Seven Brothers are also the best spot in the world for shore fishing for GTs, because the shoreline is very flat and easy to wade.
“The other place we fish is the Pass of Goubet, which is one of the most crazy and spectacular spots in the world for popping (using surface poppers). The pass is a small channel between two seas with a small island in the middle. Since the place is very tidal, the current can be really unbelievable. It will remind you of fishing a Himalayan river. You can imagine what it is like fighting a fish in such a mass of moving water! The best season in Djibouti is April to May, but June and October are also good. The main target here are GTs, but everything else is present, including snappers, groupers, tunas, Spanish mackerel, and Napoleons, along with a good number of sailfish and monster triggerfish. You can fly fish here for GTs on some of the flats.”
Here’s an excerpt from the Wild Sea website:
“Socotra Island is one of the windiest islands in the world, and it is also beset by very strong currents, factors that make the most productive fishing spots impassable about seven months of the year. The roughly 70-mile-long island is known for its dragon trees and numerous other indigenous species of plants, birds, reptiles and insects. In that regard, it is similar to the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador. It is currently being considered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The island is very lightly populated, and there are no accommodations there other than a few spartan camping sites and widely scattered fishing villages, many of which are reachable only by boat. The incredible thing about this island is the average size of the GTs that attack your popper have no equal anywhere in the world. Fully 90 percent of the fish you hook that way here weigh almost 90 pounds. This is certainly due to the local abundance of forage fish, a near-absence of fishing pressure, and strong currents that transport large quantities of nutrients. Additionally, the island is ideally located to enjoy the benefits of an ocean current from the south that creates an upwelling that brings nutrients from the deep up toward the surface. A final thing that works in this island’s favor is the effect on commercial fishermen of the often violent local winds. The resultant treacherous sea conditions prevent continuous fishing by local fishermen. Unfortunately, those same winds also limit the practical sport fishing season to a little less than four months a year, namely, October and November and March and April. As for the species available, other than GTs, there is a huge migration of sailfish and Spanish mackerel. Also, there is an annual migration of pelagic crabs (they float near the surface) that attracts golden trevally, yellow spotted trevally, bludger trevally and blacktip trevally. Many kinds of coral fish are present, too, such as red snapper, green jobfish, rusty jobfish, coral trout and various species of grouper and emperor. You can also fish from shore to catch Indian permit, bonefish, small threadfin, leerfish, bream, and bluefin trevally. . . .”
You get the picture. The trips here are all conducted from land-based tent camps. Suffice it to say, conditions are not luxurious. Nor, at the moment, is your safety guaranteed. It’s getting ahead of ourselves to say this but, again, a place on our Honor Roll is guaranteed to the first angler who files a detailed report on what this trip is like. Send it to: email@example.com.