Introduction by Tim Baily
From time to time I invite friends to join me on a safari during which the principal objective is to find new fishing areas on our massive lake.
On most normal safaris the overriding objective is to catch as many good fish as we can for the anglers who are with us. This tends to prompt our guides into traveling from one known hotspot to another and spending little or no time exploring new territory.
These reconnaissance safaris I do with friends are some of the most enjoyable trips I have on the lake. We do not always get amazing results but when we do find a new hotspot, where the perch have not been introduced to lures and noisy boats, we often hit a bonanza of splendid fishing. In the Summer 1999 Africian Angler we reported one such safari, during which Steve Moulder and I caught nine perch over 75lb. Six of these fish were over 100lb. with the two biggest going 186 and 178lb. These fish were supplemented by plenty of sport from fish below 75lb. and were caught over three and a half days of arm-wrenching action.
The safari described here was first reported by John Wilson in a full-page article in the Daily Express (17 December 1999). John, who comes to Nasser twice a year, described the safaris tally as the most prolific catch of big fish in which it has ever been my privilege to share. Coming from and international angler of Johns experience, this is a compliment indeed on the outstanding fishing we have on Nasser. Here is Andy Davisons account of this historic catch.
When Tim said after our May trip, why didn't John Wilson and I come back in the winter to hunt for new perch pastures, it was too good an offer to turn down. The plan was to join Tim for the first week in December, with mad Mohammed at the helm, and search for a new Nile perch El Dorado off the beaten track.
On arrival it didn't look too promising. Christine Slater and Fred J.Taylor had been on the lake the previous week and had hardly fished due to terrible winds and sandstorms. We arrived and fished down the lakeon Tuesday, stopping at Jackal Island before continuing on down.
Wednesday continued very windy. Tim had the supply boat anchored in the lee of a sandy promontory where luckily the top light remained visible while he piloted us back in the dark against a really heavy swell. One rod-tube crashed over the side never to be seen again (along with our smiles) as Tim battled on, aided by the million-candle-power lamp in Mohammad's hands in the bow, sweeping for rocks. After a night that felt like being sand-blasted in a rocking-chair, the dawn arrived in splendid style, begging us to drown some lures before breakfast.So that's just what we did.
Within minutes we'd hit a couple of tigers to clear the cobwebs from our eyes and the rum from the brain. Then followed a short, exciting spell of marking fish on the finder, punctuated with brief hook-ups until I hooked and then proceeded to lose a perch of around 801b when I didn't drop the rod deep enough as the fish passed under the boat and the line caught round the prop fin. With the boat drifting, the boyswent underneath to check things out - and (what's this?!) found several feet of heavy long-line mono wrapped around the prop. The shear pin had gone and the prop was held on just by friction and a prayer. It must have happened the night before - luckily we'd not lost prop power on our way back to the supply boat in the dark!
John Wilson and Mohammed with John's new personal best: 141lb
After we resumed trolling, about ten seconds had passed when Mr Wilson's reel gave its first performance of the day as 1341b of very energetic perch headed for the sunrise. As the perch continued to shake its head like a dog with an ear infection so did Tim and I shake ours -Wilson strikes again!
But then, in retaliation, I boated a fish of 1371b. And so began a marathon contest between John's Reef Digger lure and my Nubian Sunset Nils Master. Tim wagered the breakfast bacon to the biggest fish (we'd brought five packs from home) little suspecting that we wouldn't get to eat breakfast until lunchtime.
I'd lost my 80-ish fish on a Red Head CD22 and it was a CD22 Fire Tiger that Tim had on when, in just 10ft of water, with the lure just behind the boat, a monster came out of the water and grabbed it, apparently intent on totally engulfing the outboard too. Unfortunately on such a short line the inevitable happened, and we sadly siad goodbye to the foaming wake as fish and lure departed. But partially making amends for this, I then boated fish of 92, 55 and 35, while Tim had a 48 and John an 84.
Revived and nourished after a late bacon bonanza we sallied forth once more. Tim, being the gentleman he is, gave Mohammed a break and drove the boat, letting Mohammed have his rod to fish. Mohammed only trolled Tim's orange CD22 for a few minutes, but obviously that's all the lad needed as he promptly hooked up and played to a standstill one of the 'buffaloes', as Tim calls them, weighing a mere 162lb. Well done Mohammed Ahmed. It was to be the biggest of the trip. Anyway, we ate his share of bacon for him, didn't we.
That night we drank a lot of rum while we savored the day's events: five fish over 75lb already. Next day saw us in fine form - I'd tried rum punch before but this was the first time I'd been punched by rum. Despite this, I started the day with a 97 then lost a biggy to a head hook-hold pulling free. Tim lost a biggy too. At 10am we had three hook-ups and all three hook-holds pulled free. Here's why.
The area now known as Buffalo Bay was a flooded sandy and rocky plateau - you could see what it would look like underwater by looking around what was left of the campsite. (The lake was up 20ft, and all this area had been like the campsite six months previously.) It was also an area of prolific new weed growth. (Best weed growth occurs where sunlight reaches so plants can photosynthesize - normally up to 20-30t in African lakes with not to clear visibilty.)
It appeared we had located a large group of big female perch in pre-spawning mode - and hence probably starting to get territorial. For this reason, some hits were rather like the aggressive defense seen by salmon on the redds.
We were now marking fish on the finder regularly and it seemed as if many of them were slapping the lure with their heads, hence the head hook-ups and many lost fish. Meanwhile other fish were feeding up on tilapia; hence the lures sometimes being engulfed.
The area was surrounded by Nubian fishing camps and many nets were present in the adjacent shallows. We were trolling in 10-40ft of water, with most hits around 20ft. Many fish were behind boulders, and whenever John called "Fish at ___ feet" so a hit transpired when the lures passed over the spot. I found that by slipping my lure back until I knocked rock or weed, and then retrieving a little, I kept it at the right depth to take fish. John also fished a long line a lot of the time and this was equally successful.
After losing a few more fish we started to ring the changes of lure size, color and speed, and Tim got us zigzagging - or was it zagzigging? What followed was John breaking his personal best again with a 141-pounder, as well as fish of 40, 121, 81 and 25lb. Meanwhile I clocked 78, 103, 139 and 60.
So that was Friday. Saturday was good to me with fish of 60, 30, and 10, while Tim had a 75 and John a 40, 10 and 65. We then moved on to deep water to try for new hotspots on the way back, and I had my deepest ever hook-up on a Red Heat at over 45 feet. Sunday produced a 126-pounder for Tim and fish of 10, 100, 60 and 50 for John, while I had a 103-pounder.
This gave a final staggering tally of: Mohammed 162lb, Tim 289lb, John 981lb, Andy 1024lb, for a grand total of 2456lb - over a ton of fish in four fast and furious days.