Fishing Djibouti

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Fishing in Djibouti - The First Impression

Arriving in Djibouti

After the weeks of planning and dreaming about the potential fishing in Djibouti may hold we were finally on our way. One minor hiccup left, making sure our luggage wasn’t over weight. I have enough gear to equip an army so there’s always the challenge of keeping to the weight limit. Needless to say there was some last- minute repacking at the check-in and sweet talking which would make Casanova proud but we made it through without paying an extra. With that taken care of it was time to hit the lounge for quick beer to get into the holiday spirit. 

Landing in Djibouti at midnight we were greeted by a typically African airport, old, rundown and the only plane on the runway but still took an age to get through customs. 

Rocky Djibouti Coastline
Rocky Djibouti Coastline

Getting through customs

 As with most African countries the customs officials have some strange ideas. Firstly they want your boarding passes from your home country till arriving in Djibouti, not just the last flight into Djibouti. Took some convincing that we had SA passports but lived in Qatar and hence had only flown from Qatar to Djibouti. Secondly and most strangely they ask for second ID to check your passport against. One passengers in front of me produced a library card because that was the only other ID on him. The customs officials seemed happy with that. TIA - This is Africa, don’t ask questions if it works for you.

That night we’d booked an Airbnb accommodation with Tom, an American guy that had lived in Djibouti for the last 14 years. He was a decent guy and was at the airport to meet us once we got through. He did charge us $20 for what was a 4km drive back to his place but hey it was midnight.

Getting Organized and Heading out into the unknown

After hardly sleeping  we were up early the next morning to Rachel, tom’s wife, making a breakfast which hit the spot. With breakfast done it was off to pick up our car, an awesome old school Land Cruiser.

Next it was to the shops for food, supplies and 20lt containers for fuel. Then back home, packed our gear and we were off, all before 10am. Dam good going and way quicker than expected.

Toyota Land Cruiser
Our trusted steed ‘Donkey’ the Land Cruiser

Driving out into the unknown

It was a slow drive getting out of town. Firstly, because the cruiser we’d already nicknamed ‘Donkey’ battled to reach 100km/h downhill and second the hundreds of big trucks that head off to Ethiopia taking cargo from the harbor. Fortunately about 60kms in we turned off the RN9 towards Lac Assal and that road is all but deserted.

Excitement levels were fever pitch, Fred and I bubbling about the fishing that lay ahead when suddenly the mood sobered as we both stared in disbelief at a rocket launcher resting silently and abandoned in the desert not far off the road. Wild thoughts immediately start rushing through your head and you wonder if you’re bitten off more than you can chew. A little further down the road we came across a few American soldiers who had set up post a little way of the road next to their vehicle and with their own rocket launcher. We jumped to the conclusion that the army boys were carrying out a training exercise. True or not we’ll never know but with our minds at ease we plowed on forward. The thoughts of fish overpowering the worries of abandoned rocket launchers. 

Two hours after leaving Djibouti we got our first glimpse of Lake Ghoubet. A stunning view over the whole bay as you descend down the rocky, barren mountains . The sea is beautiful, blue and deep while the coast rugged, broken volcanic rock. It’s quite a sight for a fisherman to behold. 

Detour to Lac Assal

Before reaching the sea we made a quick detour to Lac Assal, the lowest point in Africa and the saltiest lake in the world. It’s located at the very top of the Great Rift Valley where the African continent is tearing itself apart. Staring at the lake and landscape around it you can how the rocks are being twisted and tortured as the continents separate. Desolate and other worldly is the only way to describe it. It looks very much how you imagine Mars with volcanic rock surrounding vast white, salt flats and a lake frothing white and lined with crystallized salt. Once on the salt flats we met two young Afar men that made a living selling salt, crystals and most fascinating salt encrusted goat skulls. After the customary bartering we came away with two goat skulls and a few salt crystals as mementos.

Fred in Lac Assal
Fred in Lac Assal

Our First Taste of the Fishing in Djibouti

With out tourist excursion done it was back on our main mission, finding a spot to wet a line and test the fishing in Djibouti. The first place the road came near the coast was at a small, derelict harbor. The harbor was really just a rocky break water that ran out a couple hundred meters.

Habour in Lake Ghoubet
Break water forming a small habour isn’t much to look at but held incredible fish

Normally not a spot we’d stop at but being the first water we reached we decided to give it a bash. Not expecting too much we strolled down to check the water. First thing we found was a monster trigger fish caught in an abandoned fishing net in the back corner of the harbor. After rescuing it we then found a baby turtle also requiring rescuing.

Fred with a Trigger Fish
Fred with the Trigger Fish he rescued

A dream start to the trip

With our good deed done for the day I pulled out my heavy GT setup. More because I wanted to test my new rod and reel, an 11ft Assassin Spinmaster and Shimano Stella 10k, than expecting a pull. Cast, cast then bang! On my 5th cast on the sheltered side there was a monstrous explosion behind my v-shape spoon. A 30kg plus GT smashed my spoon right on the surface and took off towards the old buoy lines still anchored in the bay. Knowing I’d lose the fish if she made to them I locked but after seconds of chaos. The worst feeling in the world, slack line. The hooks straightened by it’s incredibly powerful jaws.

Sprinting back to the car I tackled up properly with GT strength hooks and to replaced the slops with shoes. Minutes later was back casting a chisel nose plug. First cast nothing, second cast smash! On again but this time with a good barracuda. Djibouti had us hooked. What a dream start!

Barracuda in Djibouti
First fish landed and not even in fish gear yet

We fished the wall for another hour with follows from bonito but not more hook ups. Then we had to leave to make it around to our camp site near Tadjoura.

One last evening session

On arriving at camp just before sunset the water directly in front was too inviting not to have a throw.  Out came the lighter setup, 30lb gear and a Rapala long cast stickbait. Fishing in shallow water over pristine coral reef I hooked a 7kg grouper. It dived straight for the coral, every time I pulled it out one hole I dived for the next. Eventually landed it and what a beautiful fish to end the day with.

With that day one was over and we were well and truly hooked on  Djibouti.

Fishing in Djibouti - Grouper
First Grouper of the trip

One thought on “Fishing in Djibouti - The First Impression”

  1. Really it’s excellent fishing time. Fishing is one of the most thrilling and adventurous interests you may ever participate in at any place. It’s gives you refreshment and mind blowing experience. Have a great fishing trip.

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