I recently had the pleasure of travelling to the 8th continent, Madagascar, for my honeymoon. It went without question that my fly rods were the first items to be packed and I’m grateful to say that my wife didn’t bat an eyelid.
We flew into Antananarivo on a Tuesday with the temperature being a chilly 19 degrees when we landed. This left us a little concerned since neither of us had packed any warm clothes. Things then got off to a rocky start when our airport transfer didn’t arrive and we were left to fend for ourselves in a foreign, non English speaking, country. After battling off hundreds of “taxi” drivers and locals trying to grab our bags we finally climbed into a car.
Much to our horror our “taxi” had to be push started and before we knew it we were hurtling down dirt back roads wondering if we were in fact even headed for our hotel. After a few stops at incorrect hotels we finally found our first night’s accommodation and I finally got to sit back and relax with a local beer.
Early the next morning we headed back to the airport and flew to Nosy Be where our true adventure began. Thankfully the temperature was a pleasant 26 degrees as we climbed onto our houseboat (an old converted fishing boat) and begin our week of island hoping.
We cruised slowly across the ocean, back towards the mainland, and into a bay called Russian Bay where we spent our first two nights. The accommodation consisted of beautiful A frame huts built on a hillside in thick forests. They overlooked the warm, waveless ocean which for brief moments I confused with a lake. There was no running water or electricity but the scenery more than made up for any amenities we were lacking.
While at our camp in Russian Bay I managed to find a small rocky point which Sharon and I would kayak to in the evenings for a little fly fishing (or dropshot in her instance). Although no big fish came out I managed to land a few bluefin kingies as well as blackspot snapper.
It was absolutely spectacular fishing the warm, clear waters of Madagascar. The fact that there was no wave action added a whole new aspect, as did the challenge of thick forests on my back cast. The sunset merely accentuated the beauty as did the rainbow I was graced with fishing under one evening.
When our time at Russian Bay was up we headed north along the coastline and stayed at Mahalina which consisted on a long beach with A frames built just meters from the waters edge. Again there was no running water or electricity but we certainly didn’t care in the least.
Fly fishing here was done along the impressive beach with thick forests being the backdrop. I managed to land a few yellowtail kingies which were again on the small side but great fun none the less. Fishing from a beach in the surf-less, clean water was challenging but I loved every minute of it.
During our island hoping our mornings were spent on the boat exploring small islands and snorkeling over pristine reefs. Sadly I wasn’t allowed to fish these areas since they were all protected by the government. There were however a lot of kingies around these reefs although I didn’t see anything too large at these locations either.
On one particular morning on the boat we found schools of baitfish near the surface. Sharon pulled out her dropshot gear and I got busy with my fly stick. Although she caught nothing she did managed to lure a small needle scale queenfish close enough to the boat for me to get a fly too it. And then it was fish on, much to her annoyance. And that was sadly to be the end of my fly fishing for the trip.
After Mahalina we headed to Lokobie past a very beautiful Nosy Tanikely where we spent the day swimming with turtles. Lokobie was a treat in itself with Nosy Komba being just a kilometer or so away. Here we got to play with lemurs to our hearts content as well as hold chameleons, tortoises and boa constrictors. It also had the added benefit of running water, albeit cold water from a local stream.
Our tour guides also offer fishing trips which head to the drop offs of the Mozambique channel where there are some large fish on offer. Being a honeymoon however I had to do my fishing amidst the romance.
After our week of island hoping we spent the next week on Nosy Be where we stayed in a hotel on the beach and explored the island on scooters.
Madagascar was an incredible experience with crystal clear oceans, vast forests (in the parks which are safe from deforestation) and an amazing culture of locals mixed with Italian and French flair. I’d recommend it to anyone who doesn’t mind the “comforts” of Africa.