If you don’t have a lot of friends who have regaled you with stories about their flats fishing trips to Sudan, don’t worry, you are not alone. To date, Sudan and the Nubian flats have not exactly been a hot spot for tourists or fly fishers. But rest assured, there are stories to be told.
Bordered to the north by Egypt and to the south by Eritrea and now independent, but landlocked, South Sudan, Sudan’s history of civil unrest has largely left the country off traveling anglers’ radar. This began to change roughly ten years ago when divers, eager to explore the beauty of some of the Red Sea’s greatest ecosystems, began successfully visiting the crystal-clear waters and remarkable coral complexes of Sudan. Shortly thereafter, South African fly fishers, headed by the team at African Waters, followed and today Sudan’s Nubian flats have become a blossoming hot spot for flats anglers that appreciate adventure, challenge, value and unpressured wade fishing for a wide variety of desirable flats species.
In March of 2018, I took a group of adventuresome travelers to check it out firsthand. It was an incredible mothership-based adventure spent exploring the interface of two surreal worlds: the harsh, sunbaked, seemingly lifeless desert of the mainland and the incredibly rich turquoise waters of the Red Sea. For anglers that love the playful and highly interactive sport of chasing yellow margin and titan triggerfish on the fly, Sudan might be the greatest fishery on the planet. We allocated roughly 1/3 of our time to this fishery and spent a good deal more time targeting and teasing giant trevally, as well as sight fishing for bluefin trevally, bohar snapper, grouper, bumphead parrotfish and barracuda. Ultimately a trip to Sudan is for those that want to explore frontier fisheries and appreciate a real physical challenge in an environment that draws its beauty from extremes beyond what the ordinary angler will ever experience.
Sudan showcases two distinct and very different fisheries. The first revolves around endless miles of hard, easy to wade, white sand and turtle grass flats. These flats, which range from 100 feet to several hundred yards wide, ring the shoreline as far as the eye can see and represent the finest triggerfish habitat in the world. The other significant fishery encompasses the outer edges of the flats, countless coral reefs and pinnacles. These areas are prime habitat for GT’s as well as numerous reef species. These areas are incredibly rugged and are only appropriate for fit, agile anglers.
Due to the remote nature of the region, all fishing is accessed by a mothership and two pangas. The pangas are employed to reach the nearby flats and a wide range of islands that have previously not been visited by anglers as well as the deeper blue-water fisheries when appropriate. The typical program will have teams of three anglers and a guide motoring to the day’s chosen areas, anchoring, and then either walking the endless flats or wading their rugged edges. When walking the flats, classic sight fishing will be the norm, but when targeting GT’s on the edges, the guides will often throw hookless plugs to tease the trevally in. When practicing this method guests will typically blind cast out into the path of the teaser in hopes of intercepting following fish. This is a rigorous and often rewarding way to target GT’s. A good deal of ground is covered each day, and due to hot air temperatures and rugged terrain, we classify this trip as physically demanding.
Meals and Accommodations
Six anglers per week will be housed on the mothership Scuba Libre. Scuba Libre is a 60-foot rustic steel-hulled catamaran. Living conditions are snug and basic but comfortable, and the atmosphere is relaxed. Guests stay in two main cabins in the front of the boat. Each cabin sleeps three people with minimal space for luggage. The living area is comprised of a small saloon dining area as well as a top deck. There are three very small bathrooms on board, each with a toilet, a shower and a basin. Guests often enjoy snorkeling off the back of the boat after a day on the flats, as well as sleeping on the top deck under the stars. Meals are mostly Italian style and consist of pastas and freshly caught fish dishes as well as vegetables and fresh salads.