Half Term holiday saw the four of us travel to The Residence at Belle Mare on the East Coast of Mauritius. This is a really classy luxury Hotel in an enviable position on a long golden beach and with excellent water sport facilities (included), for those families that like that sort of thing. The gardens and grounds are beautifully kept and there is enough to do to fully occupy those members of the family who want to be occupied and for those who don’t, there is plenty of sun to soak up!
This is the third time we had been out with Gilbert, the Captain of the Fish Eagle, a 25-foot seagoing sports fishing boat. Gilbert is a Mauritian with an expert knowledge of the fishing waters around this part of Mauritius and is aided by Frederick his crewman. Gilbert runs the boat and Frederick runs the fishing rods!
In the absence of any of the girls wanting to go fishing, Archie and I went out on Thursday afternoon, to try our luck in the deep water on the other side of the reef. The reef lies approximately half a mile off-shore and inside is a very sheltered lagoon (ideal for snorkelling, water skiing, sailing etc.).
We were looking for flocks of sea birds because they would tell us where the sardine-like little fish had been pushed to the surface by the tuna below. By having to swim to the surface to try and escape the tuna that feed on them, these minnows are then able to be predated by the yeye (not sure of the English translation) packs of light-brown seabirds who swoop down and gobble them up. When the tuna go away, these sardine-type fish swim much deeper and hence deny the birds their feast.
As we motored out of the reef (a fairly small entrance with only one marker buoy and hence you really do need local knowledge), our artificial lures were streaming behind. Usually these are very brightly coloured plastic lures trailed up to 100 yards behind the boat. They are not deep sunk but usually “lie” in the wake of the boat or maybe a foot or so below. We had only gone a couple of hundred yards from the entrance when there was an almighty bang on one of the rods; this was apparently a marlin but he turned away and wasn’t hooked. The adrenaline up, we went in search of what we could catch. We did not have any success for the first half hour, but spent our time scanning the skies. Sure enough we then saw the yeye packs swooping down into the sea and then flying up again having caught their fish. It is an amazing sight and we were soon amongst them. Suddenly, the reels screeched and we had three fish on. One immediately came off, but the other two were hooked – tuna. Archie (aged 12) was in the chair, but being left-handed found the Penn right-handed reels difficult to wind in. Five minutes later, he had got a lovely yellowfin tuna on board. We then caught two more out of this shoal, but within minutes, the sardine-like fish (again the translation from the Mauritian was difficult!), the seabirds and the tuna had all gone and by now were all nearly half a mile away. The speed at which they moved was incredible.
We saw a few flying fish as we went in search of the yeye again and after another 20 minutes or so caught up with them. Despite having lots of birds wheeling around us, the tuna shoal was obviously differently positioned to their prey and to start with nothing took our baits. Then all four reels screeched and one rod holder (steel) sheared off. Fortunately the rod was caught before it went overboard. We managed to get all three tuna on board, but just as Archie was winding the last one in, Frederick who was in the stern running things, got very excited! He had seen a big marlin, maybe 150lbs in the wake following the skipjack tuna we had just caught. Suddenly he hit it. Marlin apparently like to kill their fish by hitting them really hard with their head to start with and then the turn their head and swallow their prey. That accounted for the enormous bang that occurred on the lure when we left the entrance to the reef. Despite following us for four or five minutes and Gilbert and Frederick trying every trick in the book to get the marlin to take a now re-baited (with a dead tuna) hook, he didn’t. It was an incredible sight seeing his body just below the surface and his fin showing by about 8in or 9in on occasions above the wake. Eventually he got bored (or smelled the fishing equivalent of a rat) and swam off.
We went looking for the yeye birds again and caught up with them once more. Sadly no more marlin but a few more tuna. We then decided we better be heading for home and literally just inside the reef as the rods were being wound in, one reel starting singing. The line went very taut and Gilbert indicated that Arch’ would find it impossible to reel in that fish as it was a Barracuda. I had a great fight with the Barracuda. The fish on board at last, we headed for the hotel with a total catch of seven yellow-fin tuna, two skipjack tuna and one Barracuda. It had been a hell of an afternoon’s fishing which was the highlight of the holiday.
The contact details for The Residence Hotel (Mauritius) are;
Tel: 230 401 88 88
Fax: 230 415 58 88