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(2008) A lifelong dream of mine has come true: to catch gold - well, actually, to catch the golden dorado or more correctly named, common dolphinfish. For those who already know me, or my work, they will certainly understand my motivation - for being both an angler and a photographer, some fish are just evidently prime targets to fit into both categories, and here the dolphinfish is right at the top of the list, for very obvious reasons.15 kilwa 20220211 1493704835

I drop into the water with my flippers on, and the mask in my hand. Quickly, I fit the mask on, and the camera in an underwater housing is handed to me from the boat. The water is really warm, about 33 degrees Celsius, which doesn't cool me down the least. The water is absolutely fantastic in colour: deep, deep blue. To my great surprise I can actually hear the chirping sounds of a flock of spotted dolphins (the mammal version), which played around the boat moments ago.

I take a quick look above the water to determine in which direction Gordon is fighting the fish; a fish we are certain is a dolphinfish. Slowly I move in the direction of the fish, and then like a flash of golden-green lightning the dolphinfish shoots past me, completely surprising me with its speed. I turn to start photographing, but the fish is already on the other side of the boat, and I can feel the boats propellers biting into the water to turn and give Gordon a better fighting position. I struggle to keep up and then suddenly the fish is straight in front of me again, and I manage to shoot off about ten pictures, before it starts jumping and thrashing in the surface. Understandably, Gordon does his best to land this fish quickly – it is the first dolphinfish of the trip, so we don't want to lose it. As a result, I only manage to get a couple more shots of Gordon landing the fish.

I fight my way back onto the boat to see and photograph this beauty of a fish – and WOW, what a fish – definitely worth travelling halfway across the earth for.
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Kilwa fishing
The place is Kilwa, actually Kilwa Masoko, as Kilwa is split into three parts/islands. The country is Tanzania, on Africa's east coast, south of the equator. I arrived here with Søren Honoré and Gordon Henriksen from Fisk & Fri magazine, after a successful photo safari at Selous Game Reserve.

My ultimate goal was, as you now know, to catch a dolphinfish, which was accomplished after only 2 hours of fishing. However, our four days on the ocean offered a lot more excitement and fish species.

Only a few minutes out of the small harbour at Kilwa we could start the fishing. Peter has actually hooked a Marlin right in the harbour entrance a while back. We fished along the exotic coast, very near a reef that runs parallel to the coast. Here the bottom drops steeply, and only a few hundred metres from the reef the depth is over 50 metres. The reef is naturally full of life, and besides all the different fish species, you can run in to turtles, dolphins and even humpback whales. On the inside of the reef there is another abundance of aquatic life. This zone is heavily affected by the tidewater, but still holds an unbelievable number of both aquarium fish and bigger predators – a perfect place to snorkel and/or fish with surface lures.43 kilwa 20220211 1231123217

Mostly, we trolled – four rods, where two had plugs on, and two had conaheads with squid-skirts. We also tried poppers and speed jigging near the reef and near Fanjove Island, not far from Kilwa.

The Golden Fish
Dolphin, dolphinfish, dorado, golden mackerel, mahi-mahi – many names for a supremely popular fish, both in sportsfishing and on the dinner plate. The name, mahi-mahi, which is Hawaiian, is basically used in culinary context, and mostly to distance the dolphinfish from the mammal version.

The common dolphinfish (Coryphaena hippurus) has a lifespan of four to five years, and can reach 40 kg in weight and 210 cm in length. It is found around the globe in tropical and sub-tropical waters.

Besides the obvious attraction of beautiful, dazzling colours it is also a superb sport-fish, fast, agile, hard fighting and frequently airborne.

We caught several dolphinfish, weighing up to 5 kg, and lost the big one, of about 10 kg. Peter has a good track record with this species, nearly always catching them - his personal record for the boat is 15 kg.

31 kilwa 20220211 1601414706The other Fishes
The first fish to bite were usually the fast and ferocious barracudas, of which we caught two species, great barracuda (Sphyraena barracuda) and pickhandle barracuda (Sphyraena jello) to about 5 kg. Peter has caught great barracuda to 12 kg.

Another exciting fish I really wanted to catch was the wahoo (Acanthocybium solandri). I didn't get one this time but we had two of them on the trip, a 5 kg for the Danish ambassador, Bjarne Sørensen, and an 8½ kg for Gordon. Peter's best so far weighed 24 kg.

Narrowbar Spanish mackerel or king mackerel (Scomberomorus commerson) eluded us this time, but Peter's best is 28 kg.26 kilwa 20220211 1720677488

We had two Giant trevally (Caranx ignobilis), but not so giant – biggest about 5 kg. Peter's best at the moment is 17 kg. However, Peter plans to do much more about speed-jigging and popping for these great beasts, so I am sure we will see some good results soon.

We were keenly on the lookout for yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares). Unfortunately, they managed to arrive the day after we left Kilwa, and have been there in big numbers since. Peter's best is 35 kg, but that weight will surely get beaten this season.

Sailfish (Istiophorus platypterus) – well, we had them around the boat every day, hitting the lures. Sailfish are pretty hard to keep hooked on normal lures/hooks, which Gordon found out the hard way. He was speed-jigging, sweating and panting, and managed to hook one and fight it for about five jumps or about one minute. I got one of 20 kg on a conahead with squid-skirt. Peter's best is 45 kg, which is very good for this part of the world.

Peter has just invested in two downriggers to try and target Black Marlin (Makaira indica) more seriously - so far his biggest is 45 kg.

46 kilwa 20220211 1878487831Boats & Tackle
21 ft Supercat, built in South Africa, with twin Suzuki 50 HP

30 ft Catamaran, built I Das es Salaam, with twin Suzuki Fourstroke 70 HP

Trolling: Penn 114H reels & Fenwick 30 lbs rods.

Jigging & Popping: Shimano Stella 10000 and 20000 reels, Daiwa Saltiga Z 5000 reels, Okuma Eclipz EZ 90 reels, Okuma Salina SA 80 reels, Daiwa Tournament TTG-280 reels & Shimano Aspire rods, Okuma Cedros Speed-Jig CJ-S-601 rods & Ocean Revolution lures.

Fly: Scierra Bluewater rods, Vision VSS 4910 rods & Scierra XDA91W reels, ComPO 69 reels.

Kilwa Dreams & Along the River Camp, Selous
Danish born, Peter Juhl, has created a stunning beach resort called Kilwa Dreams. Not only is it the most preferred restaurant and bar in the whole area, but Kilwa Dreams also offers biggame fishing, diving & snorkelling, and even safari trips to Africa's biggest game reserve, Selous, where Peter has built another brilliant resort.

We also had the pleasure of being Peter's guests at Selous, where we had a great day, photographing wildlife in the game reserve. At night we stayed in his bungalows, right next to the Rufiji River, which holds the famous tigerfish (Hydrocynus vittatus). We had our meals at his restaurant there, where the food was excellent and plentiful.

Do it yourself
If you want to try this yourself, you can check out Peter's website: and/or contact him on his email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
You are also welcome to contact me on my email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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