Mauritius: Offshore Fishing
Port Of Call - Mauritius
Where Is Mauritius?
Mauritius is eight hours’ flight from Perth and one hour from the east coast of Africa, just before Madagascar. It lays on a similar latitude to Townsville and Port Hedland in Australia. It’s one of the Mascarene Islands, along with Rodrigues and Reunion Island.
The climate is tropical, but cooled by consistent southeast trade winds. There is a warm, dry winter from May to November and a hot, sometimes wet, and humid summer, November to May.
History Of Mauritius
Mauritius was unpopulated until 1638 when the Dutch settled the island, named it after a Dutch prince and killed off the dodo. They abandoned the island and the French seized it in 1715. They built an economy with sugar production and slave labour and renamed the island, Ile de France.
Port Louis was a harbour for French ships and pirates during the 1800s naval wars against Britain, so Britain attacked in 1810. The French won the first sea battle, but eventually surrendered on terms. Many Indians immigrated during British rule.
Mauritius attained independence in 1968 and became a republic in the British Commonwealth in 1992.
What Is Mauritius Famous For?
Mauritius is renowned for its mix of Indian, African and European culture; a beautiful coral lagoon; white beaches and deep-ocean drop-offs.
In Mauritius, afternoon tea is taken with vanilla. White rum is steeped in herbs and spices. Markets sell French food produce, tropical fruits and Ayurvedic herbs. And almost everyone speaks English, French and Creole.
The island is encircled by four- and five-star resorts and a coral reef, around 500m wide and 2m deep. The reef or lagoon waters are iridescent aquamarine. Waves break on the outer edge.
There are five main passes through the surrounding reef and fishing bases at Black River in the southwest; Grand Baie and Trou aux Biches in the north; and Trou D’eau Douce in the east. About 50 gamefishing charter boats operate from these different spots.
I recommend the north or the less-crowded southwest coast. Trade southeasterlies blow most days of the year, start around midday and strengthen throughout the afternoon, so those coasts are more sheltered inshore.
Mauritius exports tuna, but local Creole fishermen still use sailing boats, with bamboo masts that bend in the wind beneath ludicrously bright coloured sails. They race them in colourful weekend regattas.
Mauritius boasts the world record for mako shark at 1115lb and skipjack tuna at 41lb. There’s an honour board at the Le Morne Anglers Club bar, at Black River, that lists 39 marlin over 1000lb caught on local rod and reel over the past 40 years. Locals claim four of these big blue are caught every year around Mauritius.
Yellowfin, wahoo, dolphinfish and six species of billfish are caught regularly. Blue marlin are the most common billfish. Black marlin total about 25 per cent of marlin caught.
Sailfish, spearfish and broadbill are caught less regularly, but striped marlin are rare. Sharks are also common, with plenty of hammerheads between August and October.
The water around Mauritius is 80-600m deep just 2km offshore and drops to 3000m beyond that.
The best months are October to April. Early in the season, anglers troll with live skipjack tuna for marlin and hammerheads. Later in the season they troll with lures for dolphinfish and tuna.
Yellowfin tuna season is March-April. The big tuna schools only hang around for a few days, but it’s heaven when they arrive.
Getting To Mauritius
Air Mauritius flies twice a week from Perth (and three times per week in July, August, December and January). They fly once a week from Sydney via Melbourne direct. Virgin Blue do connections and luggage transfer (important for Perth’s two airports). Mauritius is a great stopover to Europe (it’s halfway). Air Mauritius runs lots of flights to European capitals (and Africa).
Accommodations In Mauritius
There are many more four- and five- star resorts in Mauritius than three-star, but those going for a week or more can rent apartments or villas. Or try the Association of Small and Medium Hotels in Mauritius (www.swham.net). In the southwest, Sugar Beach Resort is used by the fishing competitions.
Prices at resorts include two meals and a good range of watersports on the lagoon for free. Major Mauritian hotel groups include Sun Resorts, Veranda, Naiade, Constance and Beachcomber. They are just as fine as the international groups (Hilton, Accor, Meridien, Moevenpick, Oberoi and so on).