May 3, 2014 Last Updated 4:03 pm

* Action Abroad – Kenya

Continuing his series on fishing abroad Stan Ryan relates some of his experiences while fishing Kenya in 2006.


Mick & Dorado



The Planning

With the advent of fishing programmes on Satellite TV it was possible to see angling in various places around the world. Plans were hatched by 6 of us for a trip in February 2006 . John Wilson’s TV programme gave us all dreams of huge fish. We fancied some “blue water” fishing. The choice was whittled down to Gambia or Kenya. Eventually, Kenya won out. We contacted the Kingfisher group run by the Paul family. We had seen Angus Paul, of the Kingfisher Club, help John Wilson to catch several Marlin.

This charter angling company is very professional. They  organised everything except our flights. The journey to Malindi was very long .We went via Amsterdam to Nairobi , then in a small plane to Mombasa , a total of nearly 18 hours. We were then driven in a very old Toyota Hiace to Malindi. The road, if you could call it that , was covered with potholes and the guts were rocked out of us! Added to this we were stopped at several police roadblocks. Arriving at 2am it was straight to bed.


Malindi Accomadation - Basic but sound

Malindi Accomadation – Basic but sound


Accommodation was in the Driftwood Club. This is a hotel with a series of thatched chalets attached to it.  There is an armed watchman present!!!

Inside the chalet we had two double beds with mosquito nets over them. It is a very good idea to spray these with insect repellent an hour or so before going to bed. Putting on the air-conditioning (if it works) will also drive any mossies and other insects out. You will experience insects like you have never seen before! Most are totally harmless but can be a little frightening at first.

The dining and bar  area are open air as there is no need to be indoors. Food is very good. In the morning we had a choice of cereals, fruit, breads etc. A packed lunch was provided every day.

The Driftwood website is worth looking at


Bed making in downton Malindi - Turists must take care in Kenya.

Bed making in downton Malindi – Turists must take care in Kenya.


After rising a little later than usual we went for a trip downtown. Nothing prepares a person for Africa! No matter what you have seen on TV or in magazines the reality of the poverty is simply unbelievable.  It is not just the vision but the smell and activity that are so different from home.

The better “shops” are made of corrugated tin just lashed together.  Goats were plentiful along the side of the road. Bikes carrying a mother, father and 2 kids were not uncommon. Tuk tuks and ancient cars clattered around ramshackle streets.


Best had to be a furniture shop where a bed was literally being made up on the street…..Bargaintown Malindi style !!!!!

One word of warning ….we should not have ventured out of our hotel without a driver or minder. Many parts of Africa are extremely dangerous. Life is cheap and it is very important to take all possible precautions.


Eclaire is a comfortable craft.

Eclaire is a comfortable craft.


On the Monday we were up at 4.30am for breakfast and boarded the boat at 5.30am. We headed straight of to the Rips. This is a group of underwater mountains and banks. The baitfish shoal up there and of course attract all kinds of other fish. First stop was to get bait, which are generally frigate mackerel and small bonito. Several baits are then trolled up and down the rips in the hope of raising a marlin. Various teasers are put behind the boat to bring fish to the surface. They are usually long chains of lures that jump all over the place splashing like mad attracting various fish up to the surface.

Usually, a downrigger is also used to fish deep down.

Straws were drawn and number 1 took the first hook up no matter what rod hooked a fish. Six baits were trolled in total. As well as live baits various lures fished at different depths.

Fishing like this is a slow process. Fortunately, there were beds and numbers 2 and 3 could snooze.

The skipper and his 2 mates carefully studied the surface baits to see the telltale sign of a marlin fin behind them.

The first fish hooked was a wahoo. It charged along the surface and grabbed one of the mackerel. As I was number 1 the rod was handed to me. By the way, one of the crew always grabbed the rod to set the hook. I did not like this at all as striking the fish is part of the whole fishing experience.  The rods were all heavy, mainly 50lb class. All fish were fought from a fighting chair. For those who have not experienced this, the rod is placed into a gimble in front of the seated angler. This gives huge leverage and so unless the fish is huge it can be hauled in without too much effort.

My Barra2

Next up was Richard with a bull Dorado. These have to be one of the prettiest fish in the sea. They go seriously berserk when hooked and dance around the surface. Then Terry hooked another Wahoo.

The crew on our boat, “Eclaire”, were extremely efficient and helpful. They spotted every fish following a surface bait and got extremely excited themselves. Some of the fish, barracuda and giant trevally struck the bait on the downrigger. This caused mayhem when it happened because unlike the surface attack this came out of the blue.  The rod was grabbed at terrific speed with much shouting. Blood pressure was up all round!!



Typically we were back in port around 4.00pm. The crew now had to clean the boat and wash all gear in fresh water. Remember some of these reels cost a fortune, some being upwards of €2000, and so deserve to be treated properly if they are to last. I have no doubt that the crew were probably onboard for another 1- 2 hours. One of them lives in Watamu which is 21Km from Malindi.  This is no distance in Ireland but in Kenya and without a car it is not easy. He told me that he hitched to and from work most days. This meant getting up at 2am for work.

It is expected that the crew get a small tip each day. They do work hard and deserve every penny that they get. €10 each is a lot of money to them but really not much to us. A whole extended family can depend on this for survival.

After our days fishing, typically we retired to the Kingfisher Club which is just across the road from the pier. The walls are adorned with stuffed fish that have been landed over the years. It was fantastic to sit back, have a cool beer and discuss tactics for the next day.





Malindi Sea Fishing Club 2006

The Kingfisher Company was originally set up by Herbie Paul. He and his wife, Catalina, greeted us every day when we arrived at the pier to see how fishing went. On the first day they pointed out several local restaurants that we could have dinner in that evening. As they were quite close to the hotel we said, in all innocence, that we would walk down to one. That is when it was clearly stated that it was not safe to walk anywhere at night and Catalina arranged a driver for us for the duration of our stay. The bill for each trip was €2 and we gave him a tip of €1. He seemed to think that he had won the lotto.

We had three more days fishing. Typically 3-4 fish per day were hooked. They were generally a good size. Sometimes a fish would take the bait. The fight would start and suddenly get very strong. Line would be torn from the reel. Then the fish seemed to give up and all that was reeled in was a head with shark teeth marks on it.


We had a reasonable variety of species. The biggest was a 63lb Giant Trevally. Richard hooked him and boy did he fight. One of my future trips will definitely be to catch a few of these on lures….probably in Oman.

I had a monstrous Kingfish which was just over 60lb. Again the fight was good but it would have been far better on lighter gear.

Barracuda and sharks also featured on a daily basis.


Catch and release featured for some fish but others were taken home for the table. There would be used to feed the families of the crew. Barracuda, wahoo and kingfish were sent to the next world with a thump of a baseball bat. It should also be born in mind that some of these fish can be very dangerous on a boat and can do serious damage to anybody that gets in their way.

Giant Trevally, sailfish, marlin and other billfish are returned. There is an exception to this. If an angler hooks a marlin and it is his first he can kill it and bring it onshore for a trophy picture. Most anglers do not do this.  As these fish are becoming scarcer all the time we should really all do our bit to protect them. What is the point in killing a fish that you are not going to eat?


We were quite happy with the fishing but it could have been much better. This was partly our fault. A day trolling for marlin would have been enough. It would have been great to try lighter gear and spinning. I think that Kingfisher are now offering jigging and I imagine that this would be very productive.

As stated in a previous article planning and preparation is the key to success but we did not realise this at the time.

That said I know people that would happily fish for a full week in the hopes of catching a marlin to the exclusion of all other fish.

At the moment I have been told that the numbers of fishermen visiting Malindi is down due to fear of Somali pirates.

Food & Trips

There are several excellent restaurants in the area. For anyone who likes eating fish they will think that they are in heaven.

We had one very interesting evening where we visited the local casino. This was not because of the betting but rather the clientele. It was like a scene from the “Godfather” and Tony Soprano would have been at home there. Rolex watches and gold chains were in plentiful supply. Apparently, there is quite a large Mafia presence in Malindi.


We finished off our trip with a safari in East Tsavo national park. This was really the highlight of the trip and is a must if you go to Kenya.

If heading for Kenya do not miss the chance of a safari!

If heading for Kenya do not miss the chance of a safari!

Requirements for travelling to Kenya and Gambia

A visa is required for Kenya. This can be applied for by applying to the Kenyan embassy in UK or can be bought on arrival for €20.

Inoculations: The best advice here is to go to your local Tropical Medical Bureau. This should be done at least 6 weeks in advance of travel. The doctor there will have a list of inoculations for each country. You will need to bring the International Certificate of Vaccinations with you. You will probably not be asked for this at any stage. However, if there is an outbreak of Yellow Fever in a country that you visit and you cannot produce the card showing you have been vaccinated you may not be allowed leave that country.

You will need to take tablets for malaria. There is a choice of Malarone or Lariam .  The former can be bought over the counter in Spain is much cheaper than here. So if you know somebody going on holidays there ask them to buy the tablets for you.

It is actually much better to avoid getting bitten by the mosquitoes. These little flies are attracted to some people more than others. Apparently, it depends on the hormone levels, pheromone in particular, and can make a person’s life a misery. I know this first hand as I have been eaten alive by them. There are various types of sprays. However, one of the best methods of preventing this is to eat 2 garlic tablets daily for a week before travel and also while there. Mossies, like vampires, are repelled by garlic!!!




Stan is a Dublin based angler. He has taken many trips abroad to many different locations. He has no affiliation to any travel company and his reviews and reports are real and unbiased. If you want to contact Stan you can do so via the



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