Traditionally, people visiting Morocco from the UK have been in search of culture or perfect surfing waves, not sport fishing thrills. It’s a fact, however, that the country has long been known to bass fishing fanatics as a place where the species runs to giant proportions. Couple the size of the fish with favourable fishing conditions from the consistent surf and you have a location with the potential for the trip of a lifetime.
In recent years, Morocco’s visibility on the UK sea angler’s radar has increased substantially. Keen followers of social media will no doubt be aware of Karim Rhalid who goes by the online name ‘Karim Angling’. It’s no exaggeration to say that Karim has single-handedly boosted Morocco’s profile as a fishing destination by regularly bringing snippets of the amazing fishing on offer to our computers and smartphones.
Karim’s photos and videos of big bags of bream from the beaches and lure fishing for leerfish are guaranteed to get any angler’s mouth watering but it’s his winning ways with big bass that is sure to be the major draw for many UK fishermen. Karim uses a variety of interesting methods to get among these bruisers (such as lure fishing in the surf from an inflatable rubber ring!) so to find out more we asked him to shed some light on the thinking behind his approach.
And now, over to Karim…
Hi, I’m Karim, a fishing guide from Oualidia, Morocco. I became a guide after people saw me making good catches of fish like bass and gilthead bream and many suggested that I would be great at showing other anglers how to do it. Once I realised there was the potential to make angling my job as well as my hobby, I decided to take the plunge. Now I am happy every day, doing what I love and making more good friends from all over the world. My business has been very successful and soon I’ll be expanding to offer guiding in south Morocco where there are plenty of different species to catch like kob fish (corvina), spotted bass, rays, guitar fish, sargo, gilthead – the list goes on…
My outlook on fishing is that it can be addictive but it’s a positive addiction that will enhance your life. You may dream about fishing and have trouble controlling how often you go. You may worry about your hook sharpness or the quality of your line and braid. You may even lie about ‘the one that got away’ but, all that aside, you will have many hours of pleasure.
Lots of people ask why there are bigger bass (and fish in general) in Morocco than in England or any European country. The answer is that it’s all down to Morocco’s position on the globe relative to the equator and its consistently warm sea temperatures. Even in the depths of winter, the air temperature ranges between 10° to 24°C during the day and doesn’t get lower than 5°C on the coldest nights. Morocco also has consistent surf which offers plenty of oxygen to keep the bass active, along with exposing lots of food items when the waves churn up the seabed. Combine these warm sea temperatures with consistently favourable feeding conditions and you have a fantastic potential to grow and hold large bass.
In Morocco the best time of year to fish for bass is from April to June and then again in December and January. During the winter months the weather at sea can be a bit rough but here the sea is mostly calm and beautifully blue. An added bonus is the sunshine which is pretty much guaranteed in Morocco.
I have fished with bait for bass for many years but after noticing that so many anglers from around the world were interested in lure fishing for them, I decided to give it a go last winter. My clients and I ended up landing some very nice bass on lures (as well as on bait). One of the largest bass I had on a lure was 18lbs (although we also caught them with bait up to 19lbs).
In Morocco there are two ways to catch bass using lures. The first is the one most commonly used by anglers: fishing from the rocks or from high cliffs. The second one is fishing in the surf, which is my preferred method (as you can see from my photos). Most of the time I just put on a wetsuit, take my fishing gear and walk along the sandy beaches. Wherever there is a spot where the waves break and the water is churning, I just walk into the sea until the water reaches my midriff and start casting. I find this an extremely effective method as the bass normally like to swim and hunt in the agitated water where there is plenty of oxygen and an abundance of food. The quantities of sand crabs, small sole and mullet schoolies draws the feeding bass in like a magnet. As well as being able to run your lure through a bass larder, a big plus of spinning in the surf is that there is less chance of losing a lure. It is thrilling for beginners to be able to catch fish without having to worry about slipping on wet rocks or getting their favourite lure snagged.
For my style of lure fishing I use 9ft spinning rods capable of casting 30g to 60g lures. The way I fish means that my reels get dunked in the sea a lot and, previously, I’ve found that this quickly destroys them – to the point where I had gotten used to buying 2-4 reels a year. For the last 14 months or so, however, I’ve been using the same Penn 4500 Spinfisher and it’s still going strong and landing good fish. I’ve tried a lot of makes and models of spinning reels over the years but nothing has stood up to the kind of fishing I do as well as this model has.
When it comes to braid, since you are after a big bass, you should always go thick and powerful. I use 0.18mm braid plus a short piece of 0.50mm monofilament as a leader. This reduces the chances of getting cut off by the rocks or by the head of a hooked bass when they are thrashing around. I’ve tried many different types of lures – lately I’ve been using some of the models from Samson and I’ve caught a few nice bass on them too. Other lures I like are the Savage Gear Sandeel in the 40g size (good in slightly deeper water) and the Fiish Black Minnow (great for fishing over hard ground as they are weedless). I tend not to use plugs a lot, mainly because distance is important for me and many models of this type of lure don’t cast as well as the other lures that I favour.
The time of year is a big influence on my lure selection and the way I fish. During the winter months, the bass are normally fat and full of eggs. I’ve found that in this condition they will only attack big and slow-moving lures and won’t waste too much energy following something floating on the surface and swimming too quickly. They just won’t go for it – maybe they are worried about wasting energy on a pursuit that might not pay off. This is why I often stick to 40g lures, offering them a big meal that is easy to catch.
There are definitely optimum times when you’ve got the best chance of catching the biggest fish. Most of my big bass were caught during early morning just at the beginning of the ebb tide. At this time of day, there is often cloud cover and with the change of the tide the water starts to get less agitated. This seems to act as a feeding trigger for the bass and they normally attack the lure as soon as it hits the water.
A major advantage of bass fishing in Morocco is that there are very few rules. This makes Morocco very special as we are allowed to keep the sizeable fish we catch. Anything under the legal limit goes back into the sea to grow bigger. Bass over the legal size limit are common in Morocco. The experience of catching a bass, taking it home and cooking it in your own way whilst watching the sun set is amazing. These simple pleasures make you a very rich person.
I hope you have enjoyed reading about the fantastic bass fishing in Morocco. There’s a lot more to Morocco than just bass, however, and I look forward to telling you more about the amazing fishing here in future pieces.