CAPE VERDE: Offshore Fishing

Cape Verde Islands

Cape Verde: Offshore Fishing

These desolate islands in the Atlantic Ocean were once a stop-over for slave traders from Africa. Now they have been re-born with a blossoming reputation as one of the world’s hottest blue marlin grounds, as John Ashley discovered.

“Only half way through their season, the tiny fleet had released more than 750 blue marlin between them.”

Situated in the Atlantic Ocean, 570km off the Ivory Coast of Africa, lies the Republic of Cape Verde Islands. These once uninhabited, desolate, wind-blown islands were discovered by the Portuguese way back in the 15thcentury, and they soon became part of an important searoute for the flourishing slave trade, right up until the early 19th century.

Cape Verde: Offshore Fishing 1

In 1973 the Cape Verde Islands achieved their independence, and with the assistance of foreign investments a few hotels were built to accommodate the increasing numbers of European tourists. These days the world is starting to discover how unique these islands really are and many new modern resorts and hotels have been established.

Along with the tourists came the fishermen, and it wasn’t long before a vast array of game species were discovered. Blue marlin, in particular, were found to be in abundance, and one guy who capitalised on their numbers was legendary gamefishing charter captain Zac Conde, who started seriously fishing these islands over eight years ago. His skills led to ‘cricket score’ numbers every season and a quickly spreading reputation.

Conde’s charter operation took off with international anglers eager to experience the action. It wasn’t long before other charter captains arrived, like Capt Miguel Gamito, who has a long history fishing Africa’s Ivory Coast. Also, Capt Conde’s long-time deckie and well-known Kiwi international fishermen, Capt Marty Bates, is now skippering his own boat.

The island of Sao Vicente became the hotspot, and coinciding with a new marina in the Mindelo Harbour, the charter fleet soon increased to six boats. So thick are the blue marlin here at times that often you can get over 20 bites a day, and catches of a dozen or more per day are often boasted about! While I was there in May, which was only half way through their season, the tiny charter fleet and a couple of private boats had released more than 750 blue marlin between them.


Travelling from Australia to this remote gamefishing frontier is a challenge, and unfortunately there is no easy route. Choosing your favourite airline to Lisbon in Portugal is one step, and then Tap Air or TACV Air can take care of the rest, but be warned there can be lengthy stopovers.

Alternatively, Tap Air has a couple of direct flights a week from Germany to Sao Vicente, and TACV also has a weekly direct flight from Amsterdam. As the tourist numbers increase there’s talk of other airlines putting on more direct flights from the UK to the island of Sal in the Cape Verde group. The best thing is to check flights on the website:

Marlin Cape Verde

Capt Zac Conde – Amelia

Worldwide Sportfishing
Capt James Roberts or Capt Clay Hensley – Hooker
Email: or

La Onda Pesca Deportiva
Capt Martin Bates – La Onda

Billfish Club Cabo Verde
Capt Berno Niebuhr – Happy Hooker

Atlantic Fishing Charter
Capt Matthias Henningsen – Smoker

Author and photography: John Ashley
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