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Top Fishing Charters in Kenya

Fishing in Kenya

Over the past few decades, Kenya has gained a reputation for world class angling and the best sportfishing in Africa. A fishing trip here is sure to include stunning scenery and wildlife, along with coveted game fish. While you can expect warm temperatures along the coast all year, fishing opportunities are dictated by the wet and dry seasons. Kenya receives a calm northerly wind (Kaskazy) from August through April, during which time the seas offer smooth sailing. Luckily, this is when many big game fish happen to be at their peak, as well! From the Aberdare Mountains to the undersea mountains offshore, the fishing in Kenya is a chance to discover everything this country has to offer.

Kenya Fishing Spots

Saltwater

Malindi

Malindi is a long-establish sport fishing destination. Before local charter fleets had access to high-end boats and electronics, anglers had to make the most of fishing grounds close to shore, and Malindi offered exactly that. Here, the Sabaki River meets the Indian Ocean, which causes a dramatic change in water color a few miles from shore. This nutrient-rich hot spot draws baitfish and large predators like Wahoo, Mahi Mahi, Tuna, and Sailfish close to the coast.

In the late 20th century, local skippers started upgrading their boats and buying navigational electronics. With tools like depth sounders at their disposal, a whole new world opened up to them offshore. Anglers now have access to previously unexplored destinations such as the North Kenya Banks, an undersea mountain chain 55 miles northeast of Malindi. Out here, you can hook into Blue, Black, and Striped Marlin, as well as the occasional Spearfish and Broadbill Swordfish.

Watamu

The nearby town of Watamu is frequented by many visiting anglers, both because of its outstanding big game fishing and because of its tourist appeal. Sailfish, Marlin, Swordfish, Yellowfin Tuna, and Kingfish are all in the cards here. A couple of hot spots off the coast of Watamu include The Rips (14-22 miles offshore) and the Watamu Banks over 30 miles out.

Mombasa and Shimoni

Continuing south brings you to Mombasa, another one of Kenya’s main sport fishing destinations. In addition to Marlin, Sailfish, Wahoo, Tuna, and Barracuda, the waters here offer good bottom fishing.

Shimoni lies 50 miles south of Mombasa, and boasts access to very deep water just a short distance from shore. The main fishing ground here is the Pemba Channel, where anglers enjoy saltwater fly fishing for Marlin and Sailfish. The Pemba Channel Fishing Club offers well-equipped boats for hire.

Freshwater

Lake Turkana

Lake Turkana lies in the remote desert of northern Kenya. It was here, on the north shore of the lake, that scientists discovered remains of an early human dating back 26 million years. Who knows, perhaps people knew the fishing here was good even back then!

Turkana, meaning “Jade Sea,” is a name derived from the rich color of the lake’s water. Lake Turkana is abundant with Nile Perch, some of them growing as large as 300 lbs. Tilapia, Barbel, Catfish, and Tigerfish are a few of the other species swimming here. Visiting anglers can enjoy this remote fishery while staying at local lodges nearby, or by arranging mobile fishing safaris with local agencies. Anglers who like roughing it will certainly earn their bragging rights here – the desert can get scorching hot and there's a variety of wildlife to look out for, including crocodiles.

Lake Victoria

Lake Victoria is the second largest lake in the world, spanning the borders of Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. This fishing spot 200 miles west of Nairobi hosts massive fish, including giant Catfish and Nile Perch weighing up to 500 lbs. When a fish gets this big, the only adversary it has to contend with is either a crocodile or a very ambitious angler! You can also catch Tilapia, Tigerfish, and other species here.

Mountain Streams

Rainbow and Brown Trout were introduced to a number of mountain rivers in Kenya at the turn of the twentieth century, and they’re going strong. Trout fishing here is mostly limited to waters above 5,200 feet in altitude, in locations such as the Aberdare Mountains, Mount Kenya, and Mount Elgan. Anglers will delight in the other wildlife they encounter while wading into Kenya’s mountain streams, including monkeys, forest hogs, and bushbuck.

It’s only legal to target local Trout by fly fishing, which has led to the development of a couple of customized fly patterns known as the Kenya Bug and the Mrs. Simpson. You can buy both of these patterns at local tackle shops.

Need to Know

Regulations

Many charter boats provide fishing license for visiting anglers, but you should always confirm this with the skipper ahead of time.

Anglers targeting Trout require a special Trout fishing license, available for purchase at national park offices. You are only allowed to fish for Trout in Kenya using artificial flies.   

Budget

The majority of fishing charters in Kenya focus on deep sea fishing. Half day trips (4-5 hours) generally range from USD $400-600, while full day trips (8-10 hours) cost between $700-900.

Specialized Swordfishing trips may last up to 14 hours and cost around $1,000. Multi-day fishing safaris cost around $700 per day.

Getting Around

Domestic flights between major cities in Kenya are the most convenient way to travel long distances here. Most flights last 1 hour or less.

For anglers on a tight budget, renting or hiring a car may be more affordable. Hiring a car with a driver is recommended, since roads outside of cities can be difficult to navigate. You can usually find taxis and cars for hire at the airport.

Alternatively, visitors can make use of the public bus system, which offers long distance service between cities (fare is paid onboard). Privately owned minibuses known as matatus also offer express service throughout the country, but are considered less safe and reliable than buses.

No matter how you find your way around, you can look forward world class angling when you arrive!

Kenya Fishing Seasons

January is the perfect time for Billfishing in Kenya! Blue, Black, and Striped Marlin are at their peak, as is Sailfish. Head to the undersea mountains for Swordfishing to top it all off!

The northerly wind assures calm seas at this time of year. A day of fishing off the coast of Kenya will have you hooking into Billfish left and right!

Casting lines anywhere from Malindi to Shimoni will have you catching Marlin, Sailfish, Wahoo, and Mahi Mahi. With the rainy season up ahead, this may be your last chance for a while.

It’s wet season in Kenya, which means the seas are too rough for sailing. With luck, you can enjoy a few weeks of good fishing at the start of April before charter boats start shutting down.

As Kenya’s rainy seasons continues, charter operators are pulling their boats out of the water for maintenance. Anglers can use this time to explore the mountain streams and desert lakes.

Try your luck in Lakes Turkana and Victoria for massive Nile Perch, or enjoy fishing for Rainbow and Brown Trout in Kenya’s mountain streams. 

The northerly wind will be returning soon as Kenya’s wet season comes to a close this month. Until then, most fishing opportunities are limited to the country’s lakes and rivers.

Kenya’s deep sea fishing season reopens this month, and you’ll have a good chance of catching Yellowfin Tuna, Wahoo, Giant Trevally, and Black Marlin, among others. 

Wahoo and Yellowfin are at their peak in September, accompanied by smaller numbers of King Mackerel and Trevally. Peak Billfishing season is months away, but a stray Marlin might surprise you! 

In October, you can continue to expect excellent fishing for Yellowfin Tuna and Wahoo. There’s always a possibility that you’ll find Swordfish, Black Marlin, and much more at the end of your line. 

As Marlin season approaches, the possibilities keep on growing. Yellowfin Tuna and Wahoo are still hunting bait fish close to shore, as Blue, Black, and Striped Marlin begin to appear more.

December is one of the best times for deep sea fishing in Kenya. Sailfish, Swordfish, Wahoo, and Blue, Black, and Striped Marlin are all here to make this holiday season a memorable one!

Kenya Fishing Calendar

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Top Targeted Species in Kenya

Sailfish

Marlin (Blue)

Tuna (Yellowfin)

Dolphin (Mahi Mahi)

Top Kenya Destinations