June 4, 2023
A Moroccan white marlin takes off.
Fish Hunt Photograph

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Via half-closed eyes I peer via a slender hole within the curtains of my hotel-room window, the place I can see that on the planet outdoors, daybreak has began to announce itself. After my late arrival the earlier night, it’s onerous to withstand the temptation to roll over and drop again off to sleep, however abruptly an unfamiliar sound snaps me totally awake. It’s the decision of the muezzin ­summoning the Islamic devoted to watch the Fajr, the primary of the 5 each day prayers. The person’s closely accented voice resonates via audio system across the ­fantastically ornate minaret that sits on prime of one of many many mosques of Mohammedia.

“Good morning, Morocco,” he appears to say. “Time to stand up and go fishing.”

That there’s distinctive sport fishing out there within the blue water off the coast of northwestern Africa basically—and Morocco, particularly—isn’t any nice secret, however but it stays comparatively unknown ­in contrast with different locations world wide. The present IGFA line-class data for white ­marlin within the males’s 2-, 4- and 6-pound-test class, in addition to the ladies’s 6-pound-test class, are all held with fish caught off Mohammedia. The data tally for white marlin caught fly-fishing right here is much more spectacular, and contains the boys’s 4-, 6-, 8-, 12-, 16- and 20-pound-test tippet. With only one exception, the entire fly-caught data are held by famed Moroccan fly-fisherman Fouad Sahiaoui. That single exception is the 16-pound-test-tippet fish, a powerful 104-pound, 6-ounce white that’s credited to the legendary Billy Pate; and in reminiscence of his nice buddy, Sahiaoui has vowed to not try to interrupt this file. Additional, each the 16- and 20-pound-test ladies’s tippet data are at present held with whites caught right here, and each are credited to Pate’s spouse, Jody.

A vectorized map of Morocco and North Africa.
North Africa is a widely known vacation spot for giant whites.

A Stroll on the Wild Facet

The marina at Mohammedia isn’t like typical docks. You possibly can’t simply wander in and stroll the boardwalk, stopping to speak with the captains and mates as you’ll be able to at numerous different sport-fishing institutions world wide. If you wish to go fishing right here, step one is in your captain to register you on the Yacht Membership Du Maroc. Subsequent, you might want to current your passport or one other accepted type of identification—I used my UK driver’s license—to the safety guards on the entrance to the port. This will likely be retained, and in return, you’ll be given a day move, which you might want to maintain in an effort to change in your ID while you exit on the finish of the day. This may sound like a problematic and time-consuming course of, however it actually isn’t. All through my journey, your complete process took only a minute or two, which I used to be assured was ­completely regular.

When you move via port safety, you enter an unlimited industrial advanced. Mohammedia is an important oil port within the area, with the vast majority of the port actual property being taken over by docks occupied by giant oil tankers and huge storage tanks, together with the various paraphernalia related to the manufacturing and distribution of petroleum. A small nook of the principle harbor has been allotted to the native fleet of economic fishing boats, and tucked away on a few pontoons shut by is the place you’ll discover the sport-fishing group.

On my first morning fishing right here, we cleared the harbor breakwater and headed out into the open Atlantic, the place we stopped briefly to float alongside one among a number of giant buoys marking the channel into the harbor. Right here we jigged up stay bait with sabikis, shortly filling the livewell with some mackerel that the white marlin we’d be focusing on discover so irresistible.

I had been invited to Mohammedia by Laurent Sahyoun, with a chance to hitch him aboard his 40-foot Gamefisherman, One Extra, to witness for myself what I had reliably been informed by a number of mutual pals have to be some of the constant fishing for giant white marlin wherever. Sahyoun has fished the world all his life, and is the present holder of the boys’s 6-pound white marlin file with a fish that weighed simply over 116 kilos—he was a terrific useful resource.

A large white marlin breaking the surface of the water.
Bait-and-switch teaser fishing is the most well-liked approach to focus on the often aggressive whites.
Fish Hunt Photograph

Goal: White Marlin

“The very first thing visiting anglers ought to admire is that, not like many areas the place billfish are caught, Mohammedia isn’t a combined fishery,” Sahyoun mentioned. “We catch loads of white marlin, a number of blues, sometimes some dorado, and that’s just about it. We do have one other boat situated farther north at Tangier, the place we fish for the big bluefin tuna that run via the Gibraltar Straits.

“Our marlin season begins in July,” he continued. “The early a part of the season is after we expertise probably the most motion with blues, however there’s all the time an opportunity of an early white. Prime time for whites is a comparatively brief interval consisting of simply two months: August and September. Some years, the primary half of October will be productive, notably for the largest fish, however we advise purchasers to go to in both August or September.

A woman reeling a white marlin.
Kim Hermanowski put the warmth on an enormous white simply previous to launch.
Dave Lewis

“The subsequent large distinction with our fishery is that there is no such thing as a particular holding construction off the coast. We don’t think about fishing bait-aggregating ­options such because the banks, reefs and different construction which might be so productive elsewhere. The seabed is generally flat and featureless. The whites we catch are migrating alongside the coast, working in a southerly route from Portugal. Once they go away us, no person actually is aware of precisely the place they go.”

I visited the primary week of September and had been greeted by the welcome information that the fishing all through the earlier week had been excellent. “Throughout our final six days fishing, we launched 52 whites averaging 60 to greater than 100 kilos,” mentioned Marco Canu, our Italian captain. Canu typically runs Sahyoun’s second boat primarily based at Mohammedia, however on this event was standing in for One Extra’s common captain, Christian Benazeth, a recipient of the IGFA’s Tommy Gifford Award, who sadly had injured his leg. “Circumstances offshore have been excellent,” Canu continued. “We’ve had a gradual northwesterly breeze with principally calm seas. At this time is the primary day we’ve got had any floor swell, so ­hopefully it is not going to have an effect on the fishing.”

Learn Subsequent: Take a look at the IGFA’s All-Sort out white marlin world file right here.

The chunk was situated 20 to 30 miles northwest of Mohammedia, the place the depth varies from 400 to 650 ft. The skyline of Morocco’s capital metropolis of Rabat was clearly seen when Canu eased again to trolling pace, and the crew set about deploying our unfold of three teasers. It is a bait-and-switch ­fishery the place the often aggressive whites are teased in earlier than being first offered with a ­circle-hook-rigged lifeless bait, often a mackerel, sardine or mullet. A stay bait is all the time on the prepared for these situations the place the fish refuse the lifeless pitch. Reside baits, I used to be informed, are rarely turned down.

Sahyoun’s crews fish 20-pound-class standard rigs for whites, however two 30-pound outfits are all the time standing by, simply in case a blue exhibits up. “To achieve success right here, you might want to be quick and environment friendly, able to react as quickly as a fish seems,” Sahyoun mentioned. “Whites are aggressive, however they aren’t silly, and at instances will be finicky to hook. As quickly as a fish enters the unfold, the quicker you may get a bait in entrance of it, the larger your likelihood of success.”

Bill Pino holding up a prototype dredge.
Squidnation founder Invoice Pino prepares to deploy a prototype dredge.
Dave Lewis

Fishing all through that first day was sluggish. It appeared that the in a single day arrival of the swell had resulted in a mixing of the hotter layer of water on the floor with cooler water from deeper down. All through that first morning, the water temperature remained chilly. We did briefly increase a few whites, however they by no means actually confirmed any curiosity in our baits and shortly pale away. Lastly, by midafternoon, the warming impact of a sizzling African solar had labored its magic, and the floor temperature hit the mark.

I used to be starting to suppose that we had been going to get skunked when excited cries from the flybridge alerted everybody that we had raised a fish. I noticed a full of life white darting from one teaser to the following, its rounded pectoral fins lit up and glowing a superb lilac blue. Inside seconds, our visitor angler Kim Hermanowski had pitched a lifeless bait, and the fish completely crushed it. Every little thing went completely to plan; barely 10 minutes later, we launched our first white of the journey.

Radio chatter all through the day had confirmed that the opposite boats fishing in our neighborhood had all skilled a equally sluggish day. Again on the dock, we realized that the crew of Sahyoun’s different boat, Double Strike, had launched six whites from 11 bites. They’d been fishing an space a lot farther south than we had been, too distant to contact us by radio, the place that they had discovered more-favorable floor ­temperatures all through the day.

A sport-fishing captain at the helm.
Capt. Marco Canu retains an in depth eye on the unfold from the helm of One Extra, a 40-foot Gamefisherman.
Dave Lewis

A New Day Dawns

At the same time as we headed out previous the tankers, it was clear that Canu was undecided as to precisely the place to start out fishing. Because the Gamefisherman lifted its bow into the primary swell, which if something had elevated in a single day, he was visibly torn between heading to the world the place Double Strike had scored the day gone by and working again to the world we had fished—the world through which he clearly had a lot confidence. His intestine feeling was the latter choice.

On the run out, the crew was handled to a grasp class in dredge and teaser building and presentation by our second visitor angler, Squidnation founder Invoice Pino, who was on his second journey to Mohammedia and was field-testing some new gear. After a sluggish couple of hours, which as soon as once more we put right down to a barely less-than-ideal surface-water temperature, we began to lift a number of fish. Ultimately, Zac Smith, who had traveled to fish in Morocco with Pino and Hermanowski, had the chance to execute a ­textbook-perfect pitch and attached with a red-hot fish, which completely demonstrated simply why whites have a status for placing on such an important present on mild sort out. Smith’s was our solely fish on Day Two, and when again on the dock, we realized that Double Strike had as soon as once more scored nicely.

Circumstances the following morning had been excellent. The swell had began to ease, and as we accomplished our morning chore of buying recent stay baits, confidence aboard One Extra was using excessive. And positive sufficient, after we commenced trolling, it wasn’t lengthy earlier than the primary white rushed our unfold and succumbed to a pitched mackerel—and 10 minutes later, swam off, little doubt questioning what the hell simply occurred. Quickly afterward, we hooked one other fish, and when yet one more white joined it to see what was occurring, we had a double hookup and launch.

We had an important day with loads of motion, ­releasing eight fish from maybe a dozen bites. The common dimension of these fish was a wholesome 75 kilos, with the ­largest clearly going means over 100. As Moroccan marlin ­fishing goes, we had barely skilled a mean day trip on the water, which is why we had been already discussing plans to return. It’s a really distinctive fishery amid an interesting North African setting.

An ornate mosque in Morocco
Ornate mosques dot the panorama, usually located close to Christian church buildings.
Sean Pavone / Alamy

About Mohammedia

Morocco is a shining instance of how communities from totally different backgrounds can stay collectively in excellent concord. Within the middle of this nice and well-laid-out city, you’ll discover a Christian church situated just about alongside Islamic mosques. The environment is relaxed and protected. Every morning, you’re picked up at your resort and pushed to the port, after which returned on the finish of the day. English is extensively spoken all over the place, together with Arabic and French.

Having traveled extensively all through Africa and the Arab world, I can say that Morocco is definitely some of the welcoming nations I’ve visited. That mentioned, after all, it is best to all the time test official authorities sources previous to reserving any journey for the newest journey info and updates.

Direct flights into Casablanca can be found from a number of US hubs. Each day flights, operated by varied low-cost airways, are additionally out there from most European capital cities. Flight time from London is underneath three hours, and it’s barely an hour from Spain and different Mediterranean nations. Given the present energy of the US greenback, now could be the proper time to plan a visit to Morocco. Apart from the nice fishing, the nation is wealthy in world-famous vacationer sights and is nicely price a go to.

Buckets of spices and herbs in a moroccan market.
The town markets abound with colours and smells.
Jan Wlodarczyk / Alamy

In Mohammedia, you’ll discover a wide range of good resorts. I stayed on the Ibis, whereas my three American pals stayed on the Novotel. Each supply glorious worth for the cash, are completely situated, and have their very own bars and eating places. For me, the large shock was the range and high quality of eating choices on the town, which vary from glorious road meals to five-star eating places. You should definitely pattern both a lamb—or higher nonetheless, a goat—tagine, which is simply one of many extremely flavorful native specialties you’ll discover all through Morocco.

One Extra Sport Fishing

Positioned 45 minutes north of Casablanca’s worldwide airport, Mohammedia is the house of One Extra Sport Fishing, with two boats: a 40-foot Gamefisherman and a 30-foot Grady-White Canyon.
Each boats have skilled crews and are totally geared up with a complete collection of high-quality sort out in varied line courses. Focusing on line-class data, particularly on fly, isn’t solely a specialty, however it’s a ardour of those crews as nicely.

For extra info, contact Laurent Sahyoun through e-mail, [email protected], or Capt. Marco Canu, [email protected].