Fishing the Red Sea

Fly fishing the shallows off Sudan in northern Africa offers amazing action set in an entirely different sort of world.

Get a great feel for the place and the fishing in this short video, produced by Mark Murray.

Fishing Africa's Red Sea off Sudan - camels on the flats
Camels on the flats! We are so nowhere near Kansas…. Mark Murray / Tourette Fishing

THE NUBIAN FLATS — Fly Fishing Paradise in the Red Sea

For a third season, Africa’s Tourette Fishing has guided groups of fly-fishing enthusiasts with an adventurous streak to an area of the Red Sea in northern Africa that it calls the Nubian Flats. in northern Sudan, with countless islands and vast expanses of shallow-water flats, all essentially never fished. Despite the unrest in South Sudan, Tourette fishing has found northern Sudan to be “inviting, friendly and safe,” which helps explain why they’ve finished a third successful season there. As for what anglers catch in these waters — the photos in this gallery tell the story. All were taken by Tourette Fishing photographer Mark Murray, whose skill with a camera is readily apparent.

Also check out a gallery from last year on fishing the Nubian Flats.

Fishing Africa's Red Sea off Sudan - Where is Port Sudan?
Port Sudan is located roughly halfway down the west side of the Red Sea. Courtesy Google Earth


Fishing Africa's Red Sea off Sudan - Yellowmargin Triggerfish
Can a triggerfish look sinister? I’d say so, but then yellowmargin triggers are not like many others of the species — true flats dwellers, they’re fast, tough customers which will actually tail like bonefish. Mark Murray / Tourette Fishing

Trophy Bonefish

Fishing Africa's Red Sea off Sudan - Trophy bonefish
While the Nubian Flats haven’t offered great numbers of bones, they’re here and often large and aggressive, as Josh Gallivan noticed when this one rushed in to grab a crab fly. Mark Murray / Tourette Fishing

Infinite Flats

Fishing Africa's Red Sea off Sudan - Infinite Flats
Flats on the edge of the Red Sea seem endless; anglers can spend many days exploring them. Mark Murray / Tourette Fishing

Giant of a Giant — Trevally on Fly

Fishing Africa's Red Sea off Sudan - Huge Giant Trevally on Fly
A giant trevally this size in shallow water with sharp corals is a very difficult catch, but conquering such a fish on a fly rod is a feat of which angler Greg Ghaui is justifiably proud. Mark Murray / Tourette Fishing

Queenfish on a Rampage

Fishing Africa's Red Sea off Sudan - Needlescaled Queenfish
Though needlescaled queenfish don’t grow terribly large, they’re rapacious little gamesters, often in large schools, and offer fabulous sport on light fly tackle. Mark Murray / Tourette Fishing

Tigers of the Nubian Flats

Fishing Africa's Red Sea off Sudan - Yellowmargin Triggerfish
Aggressive and quick predators, yellowmargin triggerfish are one of the most exciting targets for fly-rodders in these waters. They can also be surprisingly finicky and at times hard to fool. Mark Murray / Tourette Fishing

Beyond the Flats — Dogtooth Tuna

Fishing Africa's Red Sea off Sudan - Dogtooth Tuna
Fishing out beyond the flats in a wooden boat offered anglers the chance to tangle with dogtooth tuna, present here in good numbers. Mark Murray / Tourette Fishing

Walking the Remote, Empty Flats

Fishing Africa's Red Sea off Sudan - Walking Remote Flats
Anglers have the desolate flats all to themselves, to walk quietly and scan for tails of various shapes and colors. Mark Murray / Tourette Fishing

Bluefin Trevallies — Blue on Blue

Fishing Africa's Red Sea off Sudan - Bluefin Trevally
Bluefin trevally often hunt the flats here in pairs, says Mark Murray, leading to doubles like this one. Mark Murray / Tourette Fishing

Fly Reels — Rack ‘Em Up

Fishing Africa's Red Sea off Sudan - fly reels
A quad of Shilton Fly Reels — first choice of Tourette Fishing guides, says Murray, since they perform and bear up so well in the harsh conditions. Mark Murray / Tourette Fishing

Giant Trevally — The Guide Takes a Turn

Fishing Africa's Red Sea off Sudan - Giant Trevally on Fly
When this GT came cruising down a flat looking for bonefish, senior guide Stu Harley couldn’t resist putting a fly in front it. Mark Murray / Tourette Fishing

A Triggerfish Take

Fishing Africa's Red Sea off Sudan - Yellowmargin Triggerfish Takes a Fly
As noted already, big yellowmargin triggerfish are prime targets in these waters, and when one keys in on a fly and charges it, the take can be spectacular. Mark Murray / Tourette Fishing

Underrated Batfish

Fishing Africa's Red Sea off Sudan - Big Batfish
Batfish tend to school thorughout the IndoPacific around motherships anchored up. Same here, on these Red Sea trips. But, says Murray, what most anglers don’t realize is the amazing fight these slab-sided fish put up when hooked. Mark Murray / Tourette Fishing

Yellow-lipped Emperor

Fishing Africa's Red Sea off Sudan - Yellow-lipped emperor
These small speedsters don’t get the recognition they merit as fun and very willing targets for fly-rodders, says Murray. Yellow-lipped emperors hang around rocky areas on the flats and eagerly snatch #2-4 flies. Mark Murray / Tourette Fishing

Sudanese: Uniformly Friendly

Fishing Africa's Red Sea off Sudan - friendly Sudanese man
Murray says anglers joining Tourette Fishing’s tours to Sudan have consistently found locals to be as friendly and helpful as the smile on the fellow in this portrait photo suggests. Mark Murray / Tourette Fishing

Menacing Teeth on a Yellowmargin Triggerfish

Fishing Africa's Red Sea off Sudan - Yellowmargin Triggerfish
There’s not much a yellowmargin trigger can’t crush in those teeth — including any errant fingers. Mark Murray / Tourette Fishing

Giant Trevally: Tackle Tester

Fishing Africa's Red Sea off Sudan - Giant Trevally on Fly
Another bruising-GT release — Murray says tan-over-white baitfish patterns on a 6/0 Gamakatsu SL12 hook is hard to beat for GT. Mark Murray / Tourette Fishing

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