MADAGASCAR JULY 2013

John Phillips with one of many sailfish caught during the week

John Phillips with one of many sailfish caught during the week

That old saying that goes along the lines of ‘if it isn’t broken don’t try and fix it’ is the perfect way to begin the story of our latest Anglers World Holidays group trip to Terre Rouge Beach Camp, Nosy Be, Madagascar. Previously we have always flown to Nosy Be from Paris using Air Austral via Reunion, which was kind of frustrating as we had to fly past our destination only to have to change planes and fly back. Some previous clients had said they would prefer to fly a more direct route, hence the decision to fly Air France to Antananarivo, the capital city, then change to Air Madagascar for the short hop to Nosy Be: big mistake!

The reception committee on arrival at Terre Rouge

The reception committee on arrival at Terre Rouge

Over the years I have flown with many ‘bad airlines’ in various third world countries around the world, but none come even close to the gross incompetence, horrendous inefficiency and total disregard for their clients travel arrangements than I have just experienced with Air Madagascar, or I should say Air Madamaybe. Before we even left the UK they changed or cancelled our flights on several occasions, necessitating the booking of additional nights at Antananarivo, which is not something I suggest.

Home for the week!

Home for the week!

During our trip both flights to and from Nosy Be were delayed, then delayed again, and again, and aside from adding stress this meant arriving after dark meaning a night in Hellville, Nosy Be, before we could transfer to Terre Rouge beach camp, which again is not something I recommend. My advice, therefore, is to never, never, ever consider using Air Madamaybe, even if it means having to route via some remote Antarctic research station or even Alaska!

Local fishermen at Terre Rouge

Local fishermen at Terre Rouge

Sailfish were both large and abundant, amazing sport on light tackle

Sailfish were both large and abundant, amazing sport on light tackle

When finally we got to Terre Rouge the camp was as lovely as ever, and the weather throughout our trip was almost perfect. Huge numbers of sailfish were located a short ten minute run directly in front of the camp, and these provided excellent action each and every time we targeted them, either drifting or slow trolling dead and live baits using light jigging or popping rods.

Reviving a good sailfish, its worth spending ten or fifteen minutes to fully revive these world class sports fish before release

Reviving a good sailfish, its worth spending ten or fifteen minutes to fully revive these world class sports fish before release

Sadly the popping and jigging that most of us had planned for was at best slow, with just a handful of GT’s caught, and only one of these was taken on a popper. One day Simon Hughes and myself travelled a long way north to fish a distant drop off where we found some good jigging action that produced plenty of grouper, trevally, humphead snapper and various other species. The plan was to return the following day with the full group, but of course that was the only windy morning we had all week, so we ended up enjoying the sailfish in front of the camp.

Part of our group jigging aboard one of the camp boats, 'Blue Marlin'

Part of our group jigging aboard one of the camp boats, ‘Blue Marlin’

The only GT taken popping all week, a modest 35lb fish that took a Yozuri Surface Bull, one lure I never travel without

The only GT taken popping all week, a modest 35lb fish that took a Yozuri Surface Bull, one lure I never travel without

All in all a tough week but whereas most traveling anglers are happy to accept the variances of angling at remote destinations, the atrocious service we experienced from Air Madagascar is inexcusable. Certainly we will never be using this joke of a ‘national airline’ ever again!

Simon Hughes with one of several beautiful looking, and sweet tasting, humphead snapper caught at the drop off

Simon Hughes with one of several beautiful looking, and sweet tasting, humphead snapper caught at the drop off

Simon Hughes with one of several decent grouper caught at the drop off

Simon Hughes with one of several decent grouper caught at the drop off