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 Zambia Reef

I’m well aware of the fortunate situation I’ve found myself in over the past couple of years – filming gives you the opportunity of fishing exotic destinations with some of the country’s best anglers with the best tackle available!  ASFN’s trip to Pomene was no different…

This trip I could write a book about – such a spectacular destination, some great company and phenomenal hosts (Paradise Beach Lodge). But instead,I’m going to give a more detailed account on a marvelous piece of reef called Zambia Reef.

Zambia reef is a 14km boat ride from Paradise beach lodge; it is 12km long and starts at 60m and gradually climbs up to 15m.

I’m sure there are similar and even better reefs off mid- to lower Mozambique, but my experience in Zambia was unique, with some spectacular angling.

Zambia didn’t seem to be a great jigging reef; yes, I’m sure that in summer the light jigging will be incredible and there are most definitely some big GTs floating around there, but it’s not your classic wall jigging structure or depth. Zambia seemed to me to be the perfect pelagic targeting spot – couta, wahoo, tuna and, I’m sure, sailfish, and also for popping (in summer). The structure of the reef caused some lovely upwelling points where the water boiled on the surface, and GTs love that. We had fusiliers around us most of the time, scattering and getting nervous.

The little time we fished there (two-and-a-half sessions) I’d say was on the better side of fantastic, especially considering that it was our first trip there and Dean Pretorius and I are predominantly shore anglers.

We caught several couta of between 15kg and 20kg and one of about 25kg, two wahoo of 18kg and 24kg, some yellowfin, bonnies and rainbow runners and had a couple of lost fish.

During one session, I jumped into the water for a free dive and did four drifts; I saw eight big loner couta, five wahoo, five GTs and three greater barracuda – and it’s not like I’m about to break any records for breath-holding in free diving. What I’m getting at is that there are plenty of big fish on this reef. With a lot of fish come a lot of sharks, and Zambia has no shortage of blackfin. One even got frisky with me and I had to bump it away. Bait types that worked well were the local sand mackerel, whole chokka and – as always – live bonnie. We just did drifts over certain sections of the reef with two baits out while we popped or jigged.

To catch the bonnies was a different story – they were boiling all over the place and wouldn’t touch a daisy chain or little sprat spoon. Eventually, we got one on a Yo-Zuri jointed lure that resulted in my biggest couta.

Then we eventually turned to the Alcock Slim Spoon; my companions Chad and Lando both said it was an amazing spoon for that area – and they were not wrong; it’s a must for the bonnies there. Live bonnie is the kingpin of all baits, so go to the effort of getting some.

With such a versatile reef you need versatile equipment, otherwise your boat is going to look like a bamboo forest. We fished the same rod for catching bonnies as we did for using them for live bait as well as trolling Pulsator Konas for wahoo and sailies.

The Daiwa Grandwave medium  heavy is ideal because it has a soft tip for sensitivity when catching small fish and then it locks up a third of the way down, giving you incredible pulling power. I’ve used 30lb up to 70lb on that rod.

 

I just changed reels depending on the situation – Daiwa Saltist 40 with Momoi 0.467 clear for drifting dead bait. We had one rigged up with a Saltiga Lever Drag 50 with Momoi 0.52mm for live bonnies and then, when we pulled the Konas,
we slotted a Saltist Big Game 2-speed lever drag on with 50lb Momoi.

For the popping, I had the luxury of a Dawai Saltiga 6000 loaded with 100lb Saltiga braid and a Saltiga 8-foot popping stick. The reasoning for the heavy tackle is to be able to bully GTs and avoid getting cut off. The popping rod needs to be 8’ or 8’6”so you can cast decent distances and cover more water.

For jigging, I’d say a 50lb outfit would be perfect. A Seagate 4500 with 50lb and a GrandWave 7’ jigging/popping rod would be ideal. Then, of course, you most definitely need a 30lb braid spinning stick for catching bonnies/small tunny and maybe even having
fun with the couta. I fished with a Daiwa Balistic 4000 with 30lb braid and an 8’ Exceler – such an awesome outfit and, more often than not, your most enjoyable catches come off outfits like this.

On the rigging, I’d suggest relatively heavy wire – No. 6 lead wire and 7 or 8 in between the hooks, with trebles
of size 2 or 1.

With the live bonnies, make two sizes – for big and small bonnies. Don’t be shy to pull a live bonny of up to 4kg. If an 8kg couta eats a 1kg bonnie, what do you think a 30kg couta will do? Wahoo are not scared of a big bonnie either.

We had the luxury of being skippered by host Tim Dunc; he landed a 36kg couta up there two years ago, and I’m pretty sure he didn’t catch the biggest couta that’s ever roamed there. Dean lost a giant with the wire (No. 5 lead wire) breaking.

On Zambia Reef, your personal best is always at risk of being beaten – I got my biggest couta and wahoo on that trip. If you are inclined to go to the effort of travelling, then I would say Pomene gets a nine out of 10 for Mozambique destinations.