Cape Verde Islands
Local legend has it that when God finished making the Sahara Desert, he wiped his hands together and the sand and small bits of rock that fell into the ocean became the islands of Cape Verde, just offshore of Africa's west coast.
One of the main reasons it makes my list is that I've had more blue marlin bites in a single day here than anywhere else I've ever fished. While fishing on Duyfken in 1997 with my sole angler, John Phillips, we lost count of the number of blues we raised. We estimated that between 35 and 50 different blue marlin struck our lures that day!
A few weeks later with Dr. Jim Huddlestun on board, we hooked, fought and lost the largest blue marlin anyone in my crew had ever seen. I called Hooker 15 minutes into the fight and told Capt. Trevor Cockle the fish was still tailing down-sea and showed no signs of being hooked - even with 30 pounds of drag on her back. When the line broke unexpectedly, my wireman, a tough young Carolinian, sat down as tears filled his eyes.
"Don't worry about it," said Dr. Huddlestun, "It was just a fish."
"No it wasn't," was my mate's reply, "I may never see another one like that again!"
So far, none of us has.
Before anyone I knew, or had even heard of, ever fished the Cape Verde Islands, Skip Smith, Barky Garnsey and I looked at charts of the islands and wondered what we might find there. We were already catching large numbers of big blue marlin off the Ivory Coast of Africa and knew about the good fishing in the Azores and the Canaries. Since the Cape Verde Islands lay along the line of the East Atlantic Ridge, right between the Canary Islands and the Ivory Coast, it seemed likely that the fishing would be good.
"I saw the first blue before I could even clear in," says Smith about his first trip to the islands. "A blue tailed past us while we waited for customs at the capital of Praia, down on Sao Tiago. Then we got 17 bites in one day at Sal and lost a grander on 50-pound when our angler got a little impatient. I couldn't leave after that."
This kind of action happens almost every year in Cape Verde, but no one can guess weeks or months ahead of time when exactly that hot bite's going to occur.
Season - March-August