One of the top annual fishing events in the Kenya sport-fish calendar, the Watamu SFC Fishing Festival was held over the weekend of March 2-3. This year's event was sponsored by Medina Palms Luxury Ocean Residences, an inspired development operated as a boutique hotel for fishermen to stay, at a stunning beachfront location in Watamu.
The Medina Palms team strive to engage and benefit the local community, and its sponsorship of the Watamu SFC Fishing Festival is only the latest in a series of local projects and events that have been enthusiastically supported by Medina Palms, which has also agreed to sponsor the African Billfish Foundation. The ABF, who have 3,000 members, encourage catch-and-release and members qualify for a special deal at Medina Palms.
This year's competition, a two-day billfish tournament, attracted 22 boats, which also were fishing for the added incentive of a Marlin Calcutta for the biggest marlin over 400 pounds, which can be fished from anywhere along the coast. Last year's prize went unclaimed, as was this year's prize, so the sum of 576,000 Kenyan Shillings, approx $6,700, rolls over to 2014.
Fishing conditions offshore this season have been far from ideal, with unseasonable cool green water present in some of the most productive billfish areas, such as The Rips. This is a result of unusual weather that has prevailed for months, with temperatures way below seasonal averages. February and early March are the absolute peak billfish season off the coast of Kenya, and at this time deep blue water normally prevails, providing excellent fishing.
Despite tough conditions, this year there was a total of four blue marlin, three black marlin, two striped marlin, one spearfish and eight sailfish tagged and released, one blue marlin boated and weighed in at 133.5 kgs (293 pounds, 10 ounces), and one sailfish boated.
The top, biggest billfish prize went to Mark Jury fishing on Dilligaf who released a blue marlin estimated at 150 kgs, or 330 pounds.
1st - Black Widow with one blue marlin tagged and released, one striped marlin tagged and released and two dorado, with 1,517 points fished by Jim and Jill Robertson, Adam Ogden and Adam Lenga.
2nd - Unreel with one blue marlin tagged and released, one striped marlin tagged and released and one dorado, with 1,509.5 points fished by Russell, Malcolm and Peter Brumby and Rob Hellier.
3rd - Pussycat with one sailfish tagged and released and one black marlin tagged and released, four dorado and one wahoo, with 869 points fished by Andy Adam and Danny and Charlie Webb.
4th - Clueless with one sailfish tagged and released, and one black marlin tagged and released, with 841 points fished by Erik Van Vliet, David Darnborough, Robert Duff and Andrew Buckoke.
The Junior Angler was Jameel Khan fishing on What Ever It Takes, with a sailfish weighing in at 34 kgs.
Small boat prize went to Dilligaf with a total of one sailfish and one blue marlin tagged and released, fished by Mark Jury and Sean Pike, both from England, who are frequent visitors to Kenya.
A prize was also awarded for the best catch-and-release photograph at a well-attended prize ceremony that was held at Ocean Sports, just along the beach from Medina Palms.
–– Source: Dave Lewis