Earlier this year I came across a Facebook page about some guys bass fishing in Morocco (Lurestrikers Maroc). What was most interesting was that there were so many pictures of some really monster bass! Far bigger than anything I’ve seen in the UK. I mentioned in to photographer, Henry Gilbey back in May 2013 and it seems he too had come across the group. He’d also already had correspondence with their main man, Abdel Sabon.
As you can imagine, with its warmer waters the African country holds all kind of fish species that we just don’t have at home. However, it’s the similarities that are most surprising. Bass fishing in Morocco is not your only option. We saw some amazing Mullet and Bream on the coast, but the country is also known for its Pike, Zander and Black Bass fishing. Add to the lists the possibilities of catching Cob/Meagre, Spotted Bass, Bluefish, Leerfish and Morocco becomes a fishing holiday destination with massive and varied potential.
With the help and guidance of Lurestrikers Maroc, by December 2013 a group of us – six in all (myself, Henry, Jack, Neil, Charles and Paul) – where ready to head out there to try the (sea) bass fishingfor ourselves.
Even on landing in Marrakech we still weren’t quite sure where we’d be staying or fishing for the week. As a very experimental fishing trip (for them and us) we trusted in our hosts. Moroccan bass fishing reports over the last few weeks reported fish being caught on lures up to 11kg! That’s almost 25lb!!! Although we could never realistically pin our hopes on catching such an amazing fish during a week long visit, the average size of fish down there seemed obviously bigger than our own in the UK.
On pickup from the airport, with rods and bags loaded in to the Lurestrikers vans we headed out towards the city of Safi. The busy, bumpy roads were definitely an experience for me with so few travel miles under my belt. In darkness we didn’t get to see much scenery so obviously it wouldn’t be until the first full day that we’d get to sample the delights of the Moroccan countryside.
Home for most of the week was a simple but comfy little hostel within walking distance of a great little fishing spot – or series of them. Amenities may have been simple but we ate well (thanks to John!) and had everything we needed to survive the week.
The Bass fishing in Morocco seems never ending in terms of coastline. The mark below the hostel was no exception. With probably two miles or more of accessible, rough, rugged terrain to play with it was a really interesting introduction in what to expect of bass fishing in Morocco.
The first mornings fishing was a great intro to what we could expect for the week. To be up before dawn while you’re staying on the edge of the desert is flippin’ cold! Coats, chest waders, long johns etc. seem like a good idea at the time…. Its a race to get them on almost…. However, its when you get to 9 or 10am and the sun reaches a point where it just tops the cliffs behind you that you start regretting your decision to load yourself up with thermal layers.
With beautiful hindsight, a personal sacrifice of body heat during the first few hours of the morning is forgotten in that very first second that the sun hits you. December provided us with really nice temperatures overall and was very comfortable at around 20 degrees C. Lugging around extra (swiftly removed) layers as you walk literally miles each day is not pleasant though. After exploring by myself and losing the group on the first morning, I spent a good amount of time wandering the bone dry cliffs before I found Charles hiding from the waves behind a rock… By the end of our week bass fishing in Morocco, Charles (Nelson) would come to be affectionately known as Charles “Splash” Nelson. The man knows no fear.
I managed to pick off a small bass on a Z-Man Scented Jerk Shad just to the right of where Charles was fishing before we headed up for lunch. The only fish photo I took all week. Waiting for that biggy!…
Lunches were always good, whether we were at the hostel or on the road. “John” (below – that’s not his real name – although it was by the end of the week), the chef was always on hand. He did a great job.
Lessons were learned by the second day though and it became easier to travel lighter. More water, less clothes.
I won’t go in to explaining every day, as it happened, but what was blatantly clear was the potential that bass fishing in Morocco clearly has. I won’t lie – the bass fishing wasn’t easy during our trip – although I did catch every day. Abdel (Sabon) had a few great fish up to about 7 or 8lb and his experience certainly shone through. Personally I learnt a lot from him and from the trip. He’s as passionate about fishing tackle as I am! As were the group actually. I’d almost forgotten with time in the shop and such regular contact with ‘normal’ anglers, what tackle tarts some of these guys really are!
Although the coastline could be considered similar to my own stomping ground of north Cornwall in places, the fishing was different. To make the most of it a few adjustments were needed. I caught more fish on soft lures than I did hard during the week, but all of my better fish (2-5lb) were on hard lures. Over rock.
When bass fishing in Morocco, the number of baitfish in the water was absolutely insane compared to home. There were baby mullet and bream absolutely everywhere! Most no longer than 4″ long. From our limited experiences during just one week it seemed that despite the temptation to fish big lures for (potentially) big fish, the Moroccan bass were very happy with their regular and plentiful food sources.
Personally I had very few fish on any of my bigger hard lures during the week. Most successful were 120mm or less – in natural mullet/bream colours. Although Henry did very well on one day in particular on Cotton Candy patterns. It made sense really. These fish don’t need agitating or forcing in to snapping at a lure through frustration like they sometimes do at home. They want to eat stuff, lures included, as long as they look ‘normal’ and at least something like the mullet and bream that they’re hiding out, waiting for. They’re spoilt for choice and are relatively unfished for so they don’t need winding up.
Figuring out just how close to shore the fish were to be found was a game changer. At home I’ll often cast and try to cover a lot of ground. I’ve always had those times (like most of us I’m sure) where I’ll have a bass come up at the last minute and slap a lure just as its leaving the water. We put it down to a follow from distance or a stray fish and keep on blasting lures out. Bass fishing in Morocco has gotten me right back in to my hard lures again. It was great fun. I’ve fished with so many soft lures over the past few years that I’ve been bypassing or ignoring spots that would suit a hard lure in many instances. Loads spring to mind and I’ll be spending much, much more time on those in 2014 – with my lures (hard) in that backwash! Suspending and sinking lures were naturally very good at this type of fishing.
I discussed with Jack during the week about how we even older, traditional jointed lures like a Rapala J11 could be excellent here. Since you don’t need to cast far, the jointed action and deeper diving big will sit perfectly stable in the backwash as you just hold tension on the line – all the while sending out stacks of vibration.
One more corner…
I had one very memorable evening session. On the Wednesday I think it was. It was late in the evening and we were on our way back to the hostel from another mark further down the coast. We had a couple of hours till dark though. Naturally we parked up and set off as a group, on to a lovely, rocky, shallow stretch. I had a few casts in to the calm, clear water, but not feeling hugely confident I decided to walk to the northern side of the stretch, just to see what was around “the next corner” (and the next… etc). With dusk drawing closer I was pretty worried when I realised I had no headlamp with me. Probably 2 miles from the car, I knew that I’d have to turn back pretty soon just to ensure I could see where I was going.
The rocks were slippery and I was jumping through and between a mixture of giant boulders and shingle. What solid rock does lay around this coastline is weirdly potholed, with some sharp edges. It’s not easy even in broad daylight! Having already pushed it too far time wise, with the light dipping I peered my head over the top of the last point. I couldn’t believe what I saw. I laughed out loud and kicked myself for getting there so late as I stood in amazement at setting eyes upon what was most likely the best looking bit of bass fishing ground that I have ever seen in my entire life!
There were little rocky pinnacles absolutely everywhere, one after the other, each separated by just the right amount of water to get a cast or two in between. I literally ran at this point to get myself to the closest bit of water. I had to have one cast.
From what I could tell the water was probably around 6 feet deep. I couldn’t see much around the rock to my left, but I had one of the little pinnacles directly in front of me about 20 feet out and more to my right in the denser field. The light had already dropped fast as I flicked out a Duel Hardcore Minnow in to the gap. It was just right. After a few turns of the handle all went solid before line started peeling off my reel at speed, and in the opposite direction! For a split second I laughed to myself again, just considering how perfect everything was at that moment in time; with there being time for only one cast; with me being the only one of our group that was going to see this sight; and a big fish on the end of the line!
After one run directly away from me which I’d managed to eventually stop, the fish then decided to go left. It was at this point that I began to regret chucking lures in tight spaces. I could feel the braid running over the left hand pinnacle as I heard Henry (the animal) in my head telling me I was a pussy for setting my drag at anything less than “MAX”.
I’ve not hooked a fish that big before. A bass anyway. There was no way I could pull it back around the corner once it had made it. After a slow motion twenty seconds of us going in opposite directions the braided mainline finally gave in.
What a rush though! Probably 30 seconds of complete madness and euphoria.
With the sheer excitement of the moment I considered tying on another leader and having another go. Sense prevailed though and I started what was to be a very hairy walk back along the rocky coastline. One cast, one monster fish. By the time I’d reached the next man, Charles, it was pitch black and I couldn’t see a thing.
I’d just lost what was very likely the biggest bass of my life, but I really wasn’t too disheartened or sad. I’m always optimistic that the same will happen again one day, just the outcome will be different.
On the same session I think that a few of the guys had headed south and pulled out a couple of small ones.
The week overall…
We fished a really nice variety of locations during the week thanks to the two Abdel’s. From extreme, rocky points to a beautiful, sheltered estuary – that apparently comes alive when the main coastline is too rough. It’s the perfect shelter for all those baitfish!
What fish we did catch all came from around any amount of white water we could find. Very much like the north Cornish coast, Abdel confirmed that this bit of the Atlantic coast fishes better when there is more swell to stir things up a little. We found the odd little bit (and caught fish there), but conditions were generally calm. Certainly this never helps things at home and it seemed the same here.
I wasn’t sure what to expect of Morocco as far as water clarity went. Chatting to a lot of surfer friends who have been down there a lot they often mentioned the water being coloured up, but it was great that we got to fish in much clearer conditions than I’d expected. Always good for my confidence, being a bit like home.
As I said earlier, all of the larger fish were over shallow rocky areas. I had more fish over sand, but they were all small. The largest I had during the week was around 5lb, but this actually slipped the barbless treble after I’d beached it on a rock below me and went straight back. Most fish were up to around 2.5lb. I did catch every day though.
Lures To Take
The coastline and fishing locations are snag magnets! For any future trips that I make, bass fishing in Morocco, I will be narrowing my fishing lure selection. A couple of surface lures and a load of 90-130mm minnows in natural colours will suffice. Varying diving depths will be essential (deeper can be good for holding in the backwash), as will densities. I’d add a couple of packs of my favourite soft lures too. In natural colours! I’d might still be tempted to put one or two 150mm lures in my suitcase just in case rougher conditions changed things. I lost probably 8 or 10 hard lures (plus a good few soft) during by the end I was left scratching bright paintjobs off of any brighter less effective lures I had left in my box – just to dull them down a bit.
The Apia Dover 99F would be the perfect lure for Morocco. Stable, not too large and a great caster.
2019 update: I’d actually add a handful of metal jigs these days as Morocco would be the perfect place for blasting one out in to the surf.
Rods To Take
This is a 2019 addition . In 2013 I took with me a whole range of rods from 8′ to 10’+ but mostly just used a 10′ Yamaga all week. Rods have actually improved a lot since then and a rod of choice for the trip would now be the Tailwalk EGinn 106M-R. These have the length to make them perfect in the surf, but the lightness to easily cope with a light lure on a calm day. When you don’t want to travel heavy and pack excessively, this one rod does it all. Within reason.
As a backup I’d take an Apia Grandage 106MH. Rated to 50g and a far more powerful, robust tool than the EGinn, it will come in to it is own if conditions grow too rough for lighter lure types. If some larger fish show up too, this would be the one!
The nature of the very sharp, rocky coastline means that slightly heavier, #1.5PE braids (30lb) can be useful. You’ll go through a bit of leader too. Make that 20lb+. Shimano reels in 4000 and 5000 should cope with all bass fishing in Morocco and match the above rods well.
It goes without saying that excellent footwear and/or studded wading boots are a necessity. You’ll be walking a LOT if you join the Lurestrikers guys, so be prepared for that. They are very driven to try and ensure you catch fish. We had to work hard for it (with their help), but we did catch even with conditions against us.
Chest waders weren’t essential and only really aided me on one occasion where Jack and I went extremely off-piste – too impatient to wait for the tide. I would have worn my waist waders through preference if I’d been able to take them and this certainly wouldn’t have hindered fishing in most places we fished. I’d have stayed cooler too. There was one short spell where we were stood in the surf for a little while. Charles wore neoprene bottoms for most of the week and got on very well with it (cag upper). He definitely put himself in the face of it and if he got too hot, obviously he only had to take a short dip. Water and food were provided.
Flights were easy, to Marrakech from Gatwick. Henry arrange those bits so all thanks from me to him on that part. Once we were in Morocco I didn’t spend a penny apart from what we owed Lurestrikers for their time, effort and accommodation. Everything was provided.
You’ll have to forgive my lack of actual ‘fishy’ photos with this report, especially since we did catch each day. It would be easy to take from perhaps this and other reports of the trip that we weren’t successful without seeing the fish involved. I caught fish every day. The best fish was probably just short of 5lb. I’d beached it while Henry jumped down to grab her but the lively fish managed to slip away from the barbless trebles and flipped back in. That day was probably my best with 3 or 4 fish. All over 2lb, just none (apart from the better one) worthy of photographing. Not too bad considering conditions weren’t with us for the week. ‘Potential’ was the key word I’ve come back with really. I would definitely love to return and fish with the guys down there again. Given the right conditions then I can see the bass fishing in Morocco being very, very good indeed.
You can check out the Lure Srikers Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/lurestrikersmaroc
And if you want any more info from me, you can contact me throughthe website: http://www.artoffishing.co.uk
Over n out.