Tofo Beach, Inhambane, Southern Mozambique: Well it’s always great to be invited to ZanziBeach right on Tofo Beach. Especially on days when master creative in the kitchen and restaurant owner Rui, is working on a new dish.
Açorda de Camarão
Well prawns are prawns are prawns. Or are they?
Well the prawns that Rui and the team in the Zanzi kitchen produced this day were certainly different.
Tofo Zombies can often be spotted at ZanziBeach
ZanziBeach is right on Tofo Beach
Cold, cold beer, remember that I’m right here…by The Roosta
Praia do Tofo
The different angles of ZanziBeach
Without divulging the secret recipe to all…the healthy serving of prawns is served in a delicious stock infused prawn sauce. And comes with a raw egg right smack bang in the middle of it. Which cooks into the hot meal as it is stirred right in.
Rich and filling. Tasty and colourful.
Zanzi serves a handsome bowl for 400 Mets. Or does a three-person serving for 1000 Mets.
The beer is always cold down at Zanzi. And all the really good wines we get around here, are available. Some great Portuguese imported flavours. And the ever tasty South African styles. The smoothies and cocktail variations thereof will keep you refreshed and full of bounce.
The views of Tofo Beach right from your table are the best in town. And the Tofo Mercado is a short walk away. It’s a great spot to take your family, when on holiday, and treat them to some real Portuguese table fare.
Fresh in from Bazaruto Island: Captain Duarte Rato has been hard at all February, and rounds it all off with a fantastic trip he got together with his Dad and his son. Spanning three generations, the effort was serious enough, but with the help of Duarte Jnr’s mom Gretha, those yellowfin were really in deep trouble!
“As all who fish with us know my Dad, Jose Duarte, is a true salt, a real old man of the sea who spent his life in the Ocean, mostly on commercial vessels. He took me to sea from a very young age and, from a very early stage in my life, when my friends wanted to be Doctors, or fireman, or engineers, I knew I wanted to be a charter Captain. My oldest son, Duarte, who just turned 5, as definitely inherited the passion of the sea from us. Or should I say obsession! The boy dreams fishing, watches fishing videos as opposed to cartoons, spends huge amounts of time looking at my BlueWater, Ski-boat and Marlin Magazines and, at five, can easily identify between a Blue, a Black and a Striped!”
The yellowfin tuna have also made an appearance of Tofo recently. Acres of birds enjoying the feast of small sardine-like fishies all over the place right now. Judging by some of the smashes going on, visible over a few kilometres even, there were some big fish on the hunt. Voracious attacks on the surface!
In the backline at Tofinho were the bonefish again. They looked like they could have been spawning as every now and then one lolled over another and a flash of underbelly was occasionally seen. Very cool to see them all so tightly knit and floating along just shy of the waves. If they were not spawning, then I am not sure what they were getting up to?! And no, they were not lemonfish!
Along the beach at Fatimas the bonefish pros were baiting up with prawn and squid and getting a handful of foot longs each. These guys just seem to know exactly when and where these fish decide to show up. This was a few days ago, as a front came through.
The markets are overloaded with lovely gamefish like couta, kingfish and tuna. The weather has been crappy, but aytime the row boats get themselves out there, they bring back nice fish.
Catching Yellowfin Tuna in Mozambique
Well the biggest one caught up in these tropical waters here so far, has to be this 72kg monster, by Duarte and crew, taken on a marlin rig, a few years ago. This fish caused quite a stir, as on this same day, they were all over the place. These huge yellowfin tuna, out of nowhere! And on a mission to smash into everything they could. Luckily this fish held on right to the end. Quite a few got away!
This is the biggest Yellowfin Tuna caught in mozambique by anyone we know. Yes Captain Duarte Rato again!
At around the same time, bigger class yellowfin tuna were being encountered up and down the East Coast seaboard of Southern Africa. Even Durban got a fish over 50kg’s. A new club record for all the years of that clubs existence.
Traditionally, yellowfin tuna just don’t hang in these tropical and warmer waters at all. Once they reach sexual maturity, which is 35 to 40kgs, they shoot over the horizon and into the “tuna lanes”.
But, tuna, all of the species, are well known for their feeding patterns. They can stick to a regimen like clockwork, often traversing hundreds of kilometres in a day as they migrate between feeding spots. Feeding spots that these highly intelligent fish know are going to produce at those times. And they can change feeding habits and patterns, completely.
Bluefin tuna used to use False Bay as one of their spots. These fish were most likely Southern Bluefin, which we still get in quite prolific numbers, right off our coast. The Transkei Wild Coast regularly sees legal longliners from Japan, there are two of them, catching Southern Bluefin Tuna, within cellphone signal distance from shore. These ships are based out of Durban and can be monitored on any AIS app, anytime. They catch serious fish. Billfish and Southern Bluefin. but the Bluefin that vacated False Bay in the seventies – have never come back!
Weirdly enough, Bluefin started pitching up off Ireland a while back. After a very long absence. Local anglers were amazed to see these huge fish coming right up to them, as they plied their regular fishing techniques right offshore. Soon, these guys were posting online, questions on how to catch Bluefin Tuna. And sure enough, they caught quite a few!
So the influx of bigger tuna to these shallower and more tropical waters, could be seen as an adjustment to their feeding patterns. An adjustment to the adjustments made as so many variables have to line up for natural events like sardine runs to occur.
So tackle up this next season. Keep that heavy duty popper at the ready!
Bonefish, bluebottles and easterlies in summertime Tofo
Surfing Tofinho in the predominant easterly winds of summertime can still be a blast. The sand on the point still sends little wind swells reeling along just fine.
The clean warm water has also enticed shoals of bonefish and blue-tailed mullet. They were swimming right into us as they porpoised down the face of the very waves we were catching. Chasing hapless little anchovy looking fishies all over the place. The boneys use the free power of the wave to ambush with. Spectacular.
Bonefish are a staple in this place. Using handlines and small hooks baited with prawn or squid, local anglers know exactly when and where to get a bag full of footlong boneys. They get really big here. World record size. See featured pic of Jimmy the local angler from Tofinho with a bus. Sometimes they vie for attention with the magnificent milkfish. Chanos chanos. A slab of muscle adorned with a huge tail. Which can be seen as they hunt right on the surface. They seem to enjoy the same feeding conditions as the bonefish. Small creatures right on the surface.
Both species will chase your spoon or dropshot. But they always turn away at the last minute. But they will gorge your tiny white fly.
Best have at least a 9 weight for this battle…
Rounding off…this is officially the details of the largest ever bonefish caught…just down the way in Zululand…
Weight: 19 pounds
Line Class: M-30 / All Tackle
Angler: Brian Batchelor
Location: Zululand, South Africa
Date: May 26, 1962
Fight Time: N/A
Tackle: Atlas line; Penn 49A reel; Sealey Heavy Surf rod
Praia do Tofo in Inhambane, Southern Mozambique, is full of distractions. So as the holiday season wound down, and the full tide moved to the early morning, it was time to give it a go early again.
The swell was crashing over the ledge at Tofinho, but out back the water was crystal clear and warm looking. The south wind helped get my Mydo SS Spoon right over the backline, and soon I was settled into a nice pre-sun rhythm. A few days before, a really big fish had hit my spoon but didn’t hold on. Luckily, at this same point. I was really hoping for a smaller fish today. When the waves are this big, like 2 metres, it is nigh impossible to get down to the water’s edge, and retrieve your catch.
So when on my 20th cast, as the spoon splashed its way towards the rock ledge, in between waves, the kingfish smashed me real hard, I thought it was another big guy! Luckily it wasn’t. It was rather, a feisty and stubborn Brassy Trevally, which gave the run around for a few minutes.
When I got his head out of the water, a good 4 metres below, I launched him up into the air. The braid held. The rod held. And as he flew through the air right up next to me on the cliff, I dropped my rod and caught him! Pinning him to the rocks. Adrenalin pumping, I tried to release him. Unfortunately, the pressure to get him up those 4 metres was too much and his mouth was damaged badly on one side. So he came home to become fish soup.
The Mydo SS Spoon makes for some serious splash
Pan sized for sure
Sunrise for kingfish
This fresh little Brassy Kingfish made for a great fish soup. His mouth was damaged during the fight and it would’nt have been right to release him like that. So we ate him. Humans!
The scene. Tofinho Point. With a nice swell running. Kingfish love these conditions.
Brassy Kingfish for fish soup
And this is how we do it…very simple recipe, that can be adjusted to suit your ingredients;
Once the fillets are nicely off the fish, skinned and ready for that meal – get rid of the guts and gills and break the carcass to fit in a nice big old pot. Boil. For long time. Like an hour at least.
In a nice big old pan, fire up the veggie side of things. Starting with onions, and tiny blocks of potato. 1cm3 each about. The onions need to brown proper, so lots of stirring is needed to stop the potatoes from sticking. Using as little oil as possible is the way to go. Then when the whole lot is proving too much to handle, chuck in the cubed tomatoes. Stir more like crazy. A few more minutes, and in goes the crushed garlic. As much as you can handle. At this stage you could also be spicing up with your favourite or available spicey ingredients.
Now the fry-up is all melting into itself, you can start taking it easier. By chucking in the water. Quite a lot, like two cups to start with. Chuck in an orange rind (really makes a difference). And a squeeze of lemon.
Coconut milk or water is great to add at this point. Milk also does the trick. Anything else you may have available, can go in now.
Back to the boiling fish. Get rid of the fish head and bones and fins and things, keeping back as much of the white meat as possible. Using a colander can help expedite this process.
Now mix the two together – just chuck the veggie fry straight into the pot of fish. Cook a while longer, on a low heat.
Pour the half glass of white wine in at the very end, just before you serve.
This post is sponsored by ZanziBeach Restaurant. Click here for more information.
Fish soup as served at ZanziBeach right in the beach at Praia do Tofo
And if you want to taste a real Portuguese made fish soup, try ZanziBeach, right on the beach at Tofo. Going for 150 Mets right now, this wholesome and nutritious meal will keep you paddling, casting or swimming all day. It’s got a real tomato tint to it. Specially prepared for the ocean-going fraternity of Tofo, there are also now Prego Rolls (180Mets), and Octopus Salad (250Mets).
A delicious and healthy smoothy/cocktail, rounds off a great after action eating experience.
The bonefish of Mozambique – well Inhambane in this case. Often this time of year (Summer), whilst working the shallow waters between Tofo and Tofinho, big silver fish can be seen lolling about the surface. Their silver backs are exposed as they dart this way and that, seemingly on the feed. But cast after cast and all you might get out of them is a look. Dropshots don’t work, nor do spoons or plugs. I am sure they will take a well-presented fillet bait, but they won’t touch a rapala or even a daisy chain.
Right behind the Tofo headland, is where these shoals of huge bonefish swim…
Some local subsistence fishermen know where and how to catch the smaller ones. Right in the surf zone, in the white waters below the cliffs, with bait won off the rocks at low tide.
But Jimmy, our fishing champion, based on the point at Tofinho…knows how to catch the big ones.
He has taken 5 in an evening…on squid bait!? And the size? Average 6 or 7 kilos!
Even Jimmy’s clients (he is a great rock ‘n surf fishing guide), have taken 2 or 3 in a session, using this method.
Highly acclaimed as a prizefighter, bonefish are extensively hunted on the flats of the Florida Keys in the USA. It’s one of the biggest sport fishing industries there is. And all on fly.
Saltwater fly fishing grew enormously as a result of these fiesty and fussy game fish.
Permit (pompano to us) and tarpon frequent the same waters as bonefish and many fishing guides and charters take their clients fishing for these acclaimed fish, all over the South.
But. In the USA, they hardly get half the size of the behemoths hanging out on the backline off Tofo and surrounds.
IGFA, the International Game Fishing Association, is the custodian organization for world and regional fishing records. And the all tackle world record bonefish is recorded as being caught in Zululand, South Africa, by Brian Bachelor in 1962. 8.6kgs.
When the bonefish come through here, they are really active. They seem to feed on tiny surface fish and organisms on the backline and the edge of the surf zone, with their otherwise suggesting down facing tiny mouths. In the USA they are fished on the flats on an incoming tide, where they feed on the sand bottom and in and about seagrass fields.
If you are super keen to get onto whipping a few flys about the back line, between Tofo and Tofinho points, and if you can handle a 9 weight, give us a buzz on firstname.lastname@example.org.
It might be an even better plan…to bring a 12 weight rig too, as kingfish, sailfish, tuna, king mackerel and queen fish also patrol the shallows behind the long, shallow ledge just off the Tofo headland.
And 8.6kgs is an easy target.
Jimmy says he has caught many 9kg bonefish! And bigger!