March/April 2020 Volume 36 Number 2 COVER: YOUNG GUNS TAKING CHARGE Dylan Westoby with a beautiful 29.5kg ’cuda caught off Moçambique in December. See page 67 for the full story.
Cape Vidal Memories Myths and legends of paradise — by Erwin Bursik and Hilton Kidger
MAYDAY! MAYDAY! Marine radio installations and troubleshooting — by Markus Potgieter
Go Stefi-Joe! 2019 Billfish 15 000 tournament — by Blyde Pretorius
Gear up for the Fun Preview of the 2020 Durban Ski-Boat Club Festival — by Hilton Kidger
Kob in the Cape Hooked on False Bay fishing — by Donavan Cole
Kob in Summer Recipe ideas from one of SA’s top chefs — by Ryan Cole
Copper Recaptured Tag and release does work on bottomfish — by Kyle Hansen
Adventures for the Brave Fishing the Lakshadweep atolls — by Hannes Vorster
Broadbill Records Breaking ground in Kenya and Oman — by Bobby & Calvin du Plessis
Kids on the Water Building the future of deep sea angling — by Jono Booysen
Taking the Helm When juniors get going there’s no stopping them — by Dylan Westoby
Cruising Croatia 49
Fishing friendships bring big benefits — by Elize Smith
DEPARTMENTS 8 46 57 59 71
Editorial — by Erwin Bursik SADSAA News Subscribe and WIN! Kingfisher Awards Mercury Junior Anglers
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Reel Kids Winners Smalls & Ad Index Business Classifieds & Directory Rapala Lip — Last Word from the Ladies
The official magazine of the South African Deep Sea Angling Association
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Publisher: Erwin Bursik Editor: Sheena Carnie Advertising Executive: Mark Wilson
MEMORIES ARE MADE OF THIS
Editorial Assistant: Vahini Pillay Boat Tests: Heinrich Kleyn Contributors: Jono Booysen, Erwin Bursik, Donavan Cole, Ryan Cole, Bobby du Plessis, Calvin du Plessis, Markus Fourie, Kyle Hansen, Hilton Kidger, Blyde Pretorius, Elize Smith, Hannes Vorster and Dylan Westoby. ADVERTISING – NATIONAL SALES: Angler Publications Mark Wilson cell: 073 748 6107 ADVERTISING – Gauteng & Mpumalanga: Lyn Adams — 083 588 0217 Publishers: Angler Publications cc PO Box 20545, Durban North 4016 Telephone: (031) 572-2280/89/97/98 Fax: (031) 572-7891 e-mail: email@example.com Subscriptions to SKI-BOAT: R180 per annum (six issues). New subscriptions and renewals: SKI-BOAT Subscriptions Department, PO Box 20545, Durban North 4016. Telephone: (031) 572-2280/89/97/98 Fax: (031) 572-7891 • e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org • Through www.anglerpublications.co.za, or E-zine through <www.issuu.com> Reproduction: Hirt & Carter, Durban Printer: Robprint (Pty) Ltd, Durban Full production is done in-house by Angler Publications & Promotions on Apple Macintosh software and hardware for output directly to plate. SKI-BOAT Magazine, ISSN 0258-7297, is published six times a year by Angler Publications & Promotions cc, Reg. No. CK 88/05863/23, and is distributed by RNA, as well as directly by the publishers to retail stores throughout South Africa. • Copyright of all material is expressly reserved and nothing may be reproduced in part or whole without the permission of the publishers. • While every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the contents of this magazine, the publishers do not accept responsibility for omissions or errors or their consequences. Views expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of the publishers, the managing editor, editor, editorial staff or the South African Deep Sea Angling Association.
8 • SKI-BOAT March/April 2020
ADMIT I often wonder what we as deep sea anglers actually get out of catching a fish out on the ocean. And before you say “What a stupid question!” think for a minute. Why exactly do you do it? Is it the time spent out at sea? Is it the boating aspect or the act of setting a bait to catch a fish? Then again, is it the physical thrill of fighting a fish or is it the pleasure derived from sitting down to a meal of the freshest fish fillets one can obtain? It’s certainly not the most economical way of obtaining food, though, so perhaps it’s Erwin Bursik actually the incredibly happy memories one genPublisher erates during these fishing outings that is the drug that keeps us going back for more. It might be that as the years pass and age overrides the exuberance of youth the extremely powerful images in one’s mind that have built up over one’s entre lifespan become very much more important than they seemed at the time. Thinking back brings to the fore vivid memories of the past that an angler may enjoy as much as or perhaps even more than those made during a more recent excursion out on the ocean. Undertaking the research required to write the article on Cape Vidal which appears on page 10 of this issue rammed home for me the delight of being able to sit back and remember the fishing tales of days long gone. The memories and anecdotes brought to the front of my mind as well as those of many other anglers I have chatted to about that spectacular fishing venue amounted to material that cannot be condensed into a single magazine article. It was a great deal of fun just remembering and talking about those bygone days. Maybe it’s the old bull, young bull syndrome that’s making me become more aware of the value of past experiences. Today we go out to sea with the most modern craft, instrumentation and tackle and try to create more memories, but actually the lack of all that equipment is what created some of our most memorable days. Catch a ’cuda off Mr Ski-Boat this coming weekend would be fun for me, but after having caught so many, can the experience be more exciting than, say, catching the same ’cuda from my first ski-boat 50 years ago? I find that nowadays I get more excited if one of my crew, preferably a youngster, catches the ’cuda. It’s wonderful to see him/her soak in the experience to a point where it will, as time rolls by, provide them with a memory that will mature with them as a person and will remain with them for their lifetime. On page 67 of this issue young Dylan Westoby shares memories of his first fish caught while he was skippering. No doubt that memory will live on for him for many, many years to come. It is said that watching a fish you’ve caught and released swim away is an experience of the highest order, and I certainly agree with that. However a photograph of that release, while par for the course today, will in 20 or 30 years bring back in floods memories of the strike, fight, view of the fish alongside and the sight of it departing back into the blue depths from which it came. A photo helps add a huge amount of colour to the memory created at the time, so take lots of photos. Every excursion out to sea should be used to make memories, so get out there as often as you can and relish the big and small experiences that you’ll remember in years to come. Till the next tide.
g the k
k had to itchen sin
The feared ramp often had to be rebuilt.
10 â€˘ SKI-BOAT March/April 2020
Vehicles often got stuck in the soft dunes.
Today this area of sand is covered with casuarina trees.
By Erwin Bursik NE of man’s greatest attributes is the inherent freedom of choice. South African offshore anglers are particularly blessed with a wide variety of choice when it comes to ski-boat launch sites from the West Coast all around our coastline right up to Zululand’s border with Moçambique. Each and every one of us has a specific launch area that ticks all the boxes — that’s our version of paradise. This easily tossed around term “paradise” has been attributed to an unbelievable number of fishing spots along our coastline, often leading to huge debate, but a man’s paradise is his and his alone to determine. I was introduced to my particular version of paradise back in 1968 when I was persuaded to take an adventure trip with my friend Allan Cunningham to the wilds of Zululand’s northern coastline — a place named Cape Vidal to be exact. In 1968 Cape Vidal was far more remote and basic than the Cape Vidal of today. Back then it was the Department of Forestry’s domain and to get there from St Lucia involved a hairraising adventure on a treacherous 30km long 4X4 off-road mud bath that was not for the faint-hearted. That was in the late 1960s when the forestry department was busy cultivating pine trees in the area. The heavy machinery they used created paths through the bush and we followed — or tried to — on a road that was extremely narrow especially where it was raised up over the large number of very swampy stretches. Following torrential summer rains this road challenged even the hardy Land Rovers we used at the time, and a tow cable was the most crucial accessory. When we eventually reached an apparent turn off — although we still
hadn’t seen a peep of the ocean — I saw a few very basic wooden shacks on a relatively f lat plateau overlooking Lake Bhangazi. It was in one of these that Alan Cunningham and I were billeted as guests of Rod Tedder. A short drive to the crest of the heavily wooded primary dune took us to a solitary cottage tucked away on our right flank. It belonged to a Zululand angling legend, Walter Van Rooyen. From there it was a steep descent past the present camping area and a very basic and small forestry camping area which much later became the freezer area. Then there was a track straight over the sand dune and onto the beach. It was this access ramp that I will never forget. It was a very steep descent towing a ski-boat, but easy, but it would have been nigh impossible to get back up had it not been for the resourceful ski-boaters who created a ramp with horizontally spaced wild banana trunks. If memor y ser ves me correctly, Rod’s 16ft ski-boat Catfish powered by two motors was our means of getting to fish the offshore waters of Cape Vidal. On occasion we used my 30hp Penta outboard (ever heard of it?) which we carted from Durban for that purpose. The Barracuda Shack, which I believed is still being used these days, was Rod’s dream, and Al and I helped him start building it when the weather was not conducive to launching a skiboat. When Rod and his partners in the Barracuda Shack eventually completed it we benefitted from our initial input by having two memorable visits with Rod and Dawn in the Barracuda Shack. Cape Vidal ticked all my boxes for paradise — adventure, 4X4 off-roading, game viewing and, at the end, one of the most pristine semi-protected beach launches to be had. To top that, the ’cuda fishing just off the launch site satisfied our fish lust in terms of “whack-
Nearly there after driving 12 hours from Durban.
ing ’cuda”. Al and I were far from the first to discover this magical fishing base. Back in the 1940s a group of real pioneers forged their way up to Cape Vidal to create — with permission from the forestry department and the blessing of the Zulu King of that period — a number of small fishing spots on the dunes and hill overlooking Cape Vidal Bay and the extensive reef that jutted out from the point in a north-easterly direction. It’s this reef that makes this the pristine bay and semi-protected launch site it will always be. King Goodwill Zwelethini even went fishing at Cape Vidal in the 1970s when he and a small entourage accepted an invitation from Frikkie van der Westhuizen of Springs, and my late father-in-law Louis van Wyk, to go skiboat fishing there with them. The Walter van Rooyen shack was their base and, as the photographs overleaf show, it seemed King Zwelethini enjoyed his outing on Frikkie’s boat, Katonkel, catching a number of ’cuda and a sailfish.
ch; 8 ply tyres did
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SKI-BOAT March/April 2020 • 11
King Goodwill Zwelethini went fishing off Vidal on Katonkel in the 1970s and had a great day on the ocean.
THE BHANGAZI CLUB By Hilton Kidger Please bear with me because what follows is mainly from faded memory, as my first trip to Cape Vidal was in 1953 when I was just five... As far as I can recall from stories I was told around the campfire, my family’s connection with Cape Vidal started around 1948. Cape Vidal got its name from Lieutenant Alexander Vidal, captain of the Barracouta, but the area was commonly referred to as Bhangazi. Only in later years did Vidal become the common reference. Dad had returned from military service in the desert and Italy. He arrived in a Catalina Flying Boat that refuelled at Catalina Bay (St Lucia) before flying on to Durban harbour. By chance my Mother was at the landing base when he stepped out — what a way to meet and greet after six years apart. Once settled back in SA he was soon in touch with his good friends who were mostly in Zululand. They included Ernie Getgate, Colin Foxon, Norman Young, Coley Colenbrander and others. They formed a group called the Bhangazi Club and decided the ideal site for their base was on the beach in a sand dune with vegetation surrounding it. From a canvas thrown over a centre beam, the camp was gradually improved to a single-storey shack with reed sides and eventually a doublestorey shack was created.
HISTORY One of the earliest mentions of Cape Vidal in the public realm was in January 1898 when the sailing ship Dorothea ran aground on the seaward side of Cape Vidal’s reef during a storm. Some stories hold that this craft was carrying the Kruger millions cemented around the base of its forward mast, but to date the area has not yielded any treasure. Apart from the anchor chain which is still visible at spring low tide as a reminder of the ill-fated Dorothea, what is left of her is buried just beyond the surf line. Whilst the crew is said to have boarded the lifeboats, no facts of their survival have been substantiated. Living in that area required one to be tough, and one of these tough men was Reverend LO Feyling who established a mission above what is today known as Mission Rocks in the mid1890s. A few years later when the Dorothea was wrecked at Cape Vidal this reverend used a self-built wagon with wheels made of the trunk of a 12 • SKI-BOAT March/April 2020
huge tree, to salvage 20 tons of timber from the wreck. He used the timber to build his mission house. There are probably also bits of a German U-boat lying on the seabed off Cape Vidal. On 20 August 1943 two Catalina flying boats took off from Lake St. Lucia, hopped over the high sand bluff that runs up the coast from St Lucia, and depth charged a German submarine U–197 which was on the surface just off Cape Vidal. They completely annihilated the submarine before returning to land on Lake St. Lucia. Information on when exactly Cape Vidal was opened to fishing enthusiasts after the Second World War is sketchy, but Eukie Kidger, father of Hlton Kidger — previous Commodore of the Durban Ski-Boat Club, must have been one of the first people to go fishing there. Hilton agreed to share some of his experiences of Cape Vidal as a young boy, where he enjoyed time at the Bhangazi Club shack behind the big sand dune right opposite the Cape Vidal bay ....
The Kidger family in the early days at Vidal. Note that only cane rods and Scarborough reels were used.
was sent to Mervyn Guild at St Lucia, who had a private plane. My dad had the Willys Jeep franchise through a company He would then drop post, newspapers etc from the sky after called Stanley Motors. Dad was the General Manager and he buzzing the camp. If he was passing by at spring low tide he had three 4x4 Jeeps kitted out for Cape Vidal. I can still vividwould land on the beach, have a chat and a swim and then ly remember our departure from our home at Morningside depart, taking with him any written communication from my Road with me strapped in with a rope in the CJ 5 Jeep that dad which would then be sent on to my mother. did not have any doors! My dad drove that vehicle. Different times indeed. The other Jeeps were a truck with canopy Another difference I remember from my — a “hoender hok” holding 12 live chickearly visits compared to now is that ens was bolted to the top — and a before the trees were planted on the Jeep Station wagon. These two The first ‘ski-boat’ to be launched at dunes behind the shack the bay vehicles were driven by Enos, Vidal was used to take anglers’ big baits was always deep and never Dad’s driver, and a friend. out into the deep water of the bay. sanded up. The easterly that The journey took all day prevailed in the area with serious sand beginwashed the sand over the ning at Matubatuba. The dunes and into the forest, distance from St Lucia and in so doing always to Cape Vidal was ensured the bay was about 30km but it scoured out. As a result took about three the fishing in the bay hours to travel that was outstanding. distance. I spent Often as a youngster I more time with my would, whilst fishing rear end in swamp for wave garrick, water than out of it! watch sharks Remember there patrolling inside the was no portable reef and circling around refrigeration in those the bay. In those days days. As ice was a mullet, shad, wave garmajor need, but could rick, black tail and kingfish not be made on site, my were all there in abundad would order from dance. Durban Cold Storage and Cape Vidal has changed drathey sent the ice up by train matically since the 1950s, and to Matubatuba. They would nowadays there are log cabins for send up solid blocks of ice hire and a fully set up camp site with a packed in saw dust. These were small shop, and certainly many more peostored in a slatted truck so the air would ple visit there, but one things hasn’t changed — pass through and act as a coolant. If I it’s still paradise in my book. remember correctly the trip took three days. Enos was then despatched with a Jeep to collect the ice. It took him a full day to collect it and return. If readers have specific memories and photos of their own Some of these trips my dad did, involved him being away visits to Cape Vidal prior to 1980 that they would like to share for weeks at a time and back then there was no easy way of they’re welcome to email them to <email@example.com> staying in contact with those back home. Any post for my dad before 23 March. Basic but comfortable.
SKI-BOAT March/April 2020 • 13
MAYDAY, MAYDAY Marine radio installations and troubleshooting By Markus Fourie
NE of the most vital pieces of equipment on your ski-boat is the radio — your lifeline in times of trouble. In this article we will be discussing the marine radio, antenna and RF ground plane for use on ski-boats and how you can test your equipment. For operating a VHF radio in a marine environment, it is highly recommended that you purchase a proper “marine radio”. Many owners look for the least expensive way out and try to modify radios for marine applications. Bad decision! Marine radios are designed and manufactured to be able to withstand saltwater and sea air conditions. Marine radios meet the requirements of frequency stability and RF radiation. Only marine radios have the facility to do DSC calling. All marine radios have the ability to switch between high power (25 watt) and low power (1 watt). There is however one aspect where the radio manufacturers have “missed the boat”. There is no indication (or very little indication) of transmitting power or signal strength or reflected power indication on most of the marine radios. This feature would solve many 16 • SKI-BOAT March/April 2020
Very important: Please do not use Channel 16 for any radio testing — this is the emergency call channel. common problems. When installing the power and fusing circuits to the radios, make sure you use the new plastic blade fuses (shown below) that are specifically made for the auto industry. Not only are they
designed for 12-volt use, but they are also sealed to protect them from harsh environmental conditions. Glass fuses start to rust and corrode and that will cause problems. TRANSMIT MODE (TX) The radio consists of two parts — TX (transmitting) and RX (receiving). Let’s start with the transmit mode (TX) part of the radio ... Remember to measure the distance from the radio to the battery source. The further away the radio is from the power source (batteries), the thicker your cables need to be. Often when radios have low power output it’s because the wire is too thin which is preventing proper supply of 12 volt and current to the radio. To accurately measure the voltage do it as close as possible to the radio. Switch the radio to transmit at high power and press the “PTT”. The radio is now in transmitting mode. Now measure the voltage that the radio is getting. This test is extremely important. The voltage should not drop below 12 volt. If your radio panel goes dim when operating on high power (25 watt), it means that your supply wires are too thin. Never transmit if there is no anten-
na or dummy load connected to the radio output, because this will burn out the RF transistors. RECEIVING MODE (RX) When it’s in receiving mode your radio is receiving all kinds of RF signals, but will only let you hear the signals that are tuned to your radio frequency. There is a lot of noise also received by the radio, and the following can be done to determine the source of noise. Switch off all the equipment except the radio. Please remember that the antenna must be connected to the radio for this test. Turn down your squelch as far as possible. If you hear noise on the speaker, turn the squelch up till the noise just disappears, but do this adjustment very carefully, because you do not want to set the squelch level too high. The source of the noise may be on the vessel or simply nearby. To verify the noise level start to turn on all the DC panelbreakers one by one. Some electronics have high voltage capacitors and oscillators that need to charge up, so wait till the equipment has fully started up before switching on the next breaker. This way you can determine which piece of equipment is generating noise. Investigation of the individual items on each circuit will reveal which are the source of the noise. Major contributors of noise are batter y chargers, inverters, f luorescent lamps, some makes of halogen lamps, DC pumps, autopilots and LED lights. In general LED lights are very bad for RF equipment because they tend to “kill” the small receiving signal. ANTENNA The next important device is the antenna and how it should be connected to the radio and the ground system. The antenna should be mounted as high as possible, the closer to the radio the better. Almost all problems associated with systems working improperly are directly related to the PL-259 coax fittings. If there is a very fine wire from the shield, not touching but near the centre conductor, when the radio transmits the 25 watts of RF energy passes through the inner of the coax, and it will arc to the outer conductor and cause an RF short. To confirm a good connection, use a Standing Wave Ratio SWR meter for fine tuning antennas.
As this illustration shows, the height of the antenna can play a major role in the quality of your reception and transmission.
(SWR) meter or antenna tuner to test the resonant frequency of the antenna before you connect it to the radio. Check for the best reading (very low reading) — Standing Wave Ratio (SWR) reading. The coax of the antenna must not be coiled, because this will result a high SWR reading and it will blow the RF amps of the radio, due to the magnetic field generated when you are transmitting. In receiving mode there should be no problem. You get a lot of antennas ranging from 0 dB gain to 12 dB gain for skiboats. I think the best choice will be to use a 6 dB gain antenna, because the rocking of the boat will not influence the antenna transmission and receiving as much as with a 12 dB gain antenna. The VHF radio produces considerable amounts of peak RF power which
is routed via the 50 ohm coax to the antenna. Ideally the antenna should absorb all of the energy and convert this to radiated energy. This is also called the forward power of the radio. RF feedback, also called reverse power, tends to occur mainly on smaller boats like jetski’s, rubberducks and fibreglass boats; they are more affected than metal-skinned boats. RF feedback has become an increasing problem due to the more powerful VHF radios. The old 29 MHz ski-boat radio only transmits 5 watt, so all the RF feedback and antenna tuning was not as important as it is with VHF radios. On your antenna you need to have your forward power as close to 25 watt as possible and your reverse power as close to zero as possible, then you have the ideal setup. High reverse power is also a ver y good indication of misSKI-BOAT March/April 2020 • 17
matched antennas or even the completely wrong antenna connected to the radio.
RF GROUND PLANES A ground plane is a flat or nearly flat horizontal conducting surface that serves as part of an antenna, to reflect the radio waves from the other antenna elements. The plane does not necessarily have to be connected to ground. Ground planes are a very important part of a radio system, and also very important for instruments on the vessel like the radar system. The ocean’s high salt content improves conductivity that can help with the ground plane. The RF resistance of the ground plane should be very low between the ground plane and the saltwater. The ground plane should be located as deep as possible under your vessel so that when the vessel heels, the ground plane remains underwater. A good ground plane will help get the correct radiation pattern for the antenna when in transmit mode. Creating a good ground plane on a ski-boat can be challenging, but let’s start with connecting all your stainless steel components to each other by means of a copper strip. Getting the ground plane as close to and connected to the antenna’s earth is also important. It is also necessary to connect your radio’s chassis to this ground plane. Connecting your earth straps to the keel strip of the boat can also help. Now consider the surface area that you have created around your boat by connecting the keel strips to your ground plane. PRE-LAUNCH CHECKS Let’s assume you have a good installation on your boat and you need to do a radio check before you go to sea. Here are some pre-check points you can do on your boat. Transmission Test One trick to see if your radio is transmitting, is to keep an eye on the ammeter — if your boat is equipped with one. Though most boats aren’t equipped with one, this is a helpful gauge so consider having one installed. In receiving mode, your radio should read around 1 amp of current. When you transmit on high power, the 18 • SKI-BOAT March/April 2020
ammeter should kick up to about 5 or more amps. This is a fair indication that the radio is transmitting at full power. Radio testing must be done on the 1 watt setting and not on channel 16, because this is an emergency channel.
fuse is located and keep spare fuses handy. Loose connections and corrosion can cause radio failure. Cleaning and tightening the radio’s power cable connections can often restore normal operation.
Reception Test Confirm your radio’s “hearing ability” by tuning to a 24-hour weather broadcast station that is 25 or more kilometres away. Reception indicates that your receiver is probably okay.
INSTALLING YOUR RADIO Here’s a run down of the ver y basic equipment needed to do a proper installation: You need to have a watt meter (right) to test the forward power and the reverse power of the radio (forward power may not exceed 25 watt). You will also need a proper SWR meter to test the antenna and coax resistance on the correct frequency range that you are going to work on. A multimeter cannot do these measurements. Then you need a signal generator to generate the frequency that you are going to use to see if your radio is receiving this signal.
Modulation Test You may be transmitting at 25 watts of power, but if your voice doesn’t “modulate” or vary the radio’s signal, no one will hear your message. A quick test is to switch to one watt, or low power, and monitor yourself on a handheld device. You may have to turn the volume down or have someone take the portable VHF down the dock to prevent “squelching” (also known as feedback) due to signal overload. If your voice is understood, the radio is modulating okay. Mic test If the radio doesn’t transmit or you get reports from nearby boaters that they can’t hear you or that you are cutting in and out, the microphone cable may be at fault. While listening on a handheld VHF, stretch and manipulate the microphone cable to see if you can pinpoint an intermittent wire in the cable. If found, twist or fold the cable to find a position where the microphone will work and then wrap electrical tape or a zip tie around the cable to maintain that position. Antenna and cable check If you can only make contact with nearby boats, you may have an antenna or cable problem. Keep a backup antenna stowed on board as insurance. A short sailboat antenna will do, with an appropriate length of coaxial cable. You can temporarily secure the antenna to a side rail with tape or an antenna railmount to get you operational again. Look for any cracks, which can lead to water intrusion, appearing along the antenna’s length. Identify and correct any sharp bends or crushed sections of the coax cable, since these can reduce transmission power. The antenna connector at the back of the radio is a frequent cause of radio failure. Confirm that it is free from corrosion and without tension from a tightly stretched antenna cable. Voltage check Radio failure due to loss of voltage is common. Know where the in-line
HANDY RADIO CHECK METER One of my favourite pieces of test equipment is the ART-3 radio/antenna tester (shown above). It’s palm-size and can also easily be mounted and connected between a VHF radio and antenna as a kind of “stethoscope” to monitor and indicate the radio’s power output and the efficiency of the antenna and to evaluate reception. The ART-3 will give you a radio check every time you use the radio. The radio is a vital piece of equipment on your boat and it’s crucial that it works properly both for your own safety and so that you avoid being fined. If you have any further queries feel free to contact the author at Potch Marine on (018) 297 6182. Potch Marine can also supply most of the equipment discussed in the article. NOTE: For this article I made use of info in HF Radio Installation Procedure for Marine Applications by Dr John Gregory and John Sloop.
SKI-BOAT March/April 2020 â€¢ 19
By Blyde Pretorius Photo’s by Sarel Greyling photography
HERE is a reason why the Billfish 15 000 is the country’s best tournament of its kind. It’s the way their well-oiled committee, family of great sponsors and experienced anglers, who have incredible spirit and camaraderie, come together for a week of tough angling and great fun. It all fits together like a hand in a glove. In 2019 Yamaha came onboard as the new main sponsor, sponsoring a Seacat 510 Blast on a trailer with two 60hp motors. Club Marine rounded off the first prize with one year’s complimentary insurance on the boat. The Billfish 15 000 was once again a huge success, and with R1.3-million in prizes up for grabs everybody stood a chance to win something. As usual the huge marquee was set up at Sodwana Bay Lodge, and it witnessed many many hours of fun each day. The week’s preparations started on Saturday, 9 November 2019, with the Billfish 15 000 committee and helpers setting up a great display inside the marquee with sponsors’ stalls and a stage for a spectacular show. The day ended of with a sponsors evening, just to say thank you for their generosity. On Sunday, all the teams gathered for registration and the opening of the Billfish 15 000 tournament in the right tradition with Ds. Stanus Cloete sharing a message and a prayer to keep everyone safe for the week. As with any fishing event, the weather is a big factor at this tournament and safety always comes first. At Sodwana you can almost expect to have four seasons in one day, and the week of fishing looked dodgy, with lots of rain predicted. Monday, 11 November started off wet, but it was safe to launch, and by 4am 60 boats stood ready to catch some marlin. Everyone launched safely and at 6.57am Happy Days released the first marlin of the 2019 event. Lengendary muso Bok van Blerk was fishing in his first Billfish 15 000 tournament together with fishing guru Mark de la Hey, and they caught a nice blue marlin on the first morning to ensure their team was in the running. Six marlin were released on day one, and that evening all the teams gathered in the marquee, where there were plenty of options for those who needed to quench their thirst. Many stories were shared that first night and all the anglers that had released a marlin were given certificates and sashes to wear. Every night there were big prizes for the day’s fishing, like Pulsator lures, Dunlop cooler boxes, Yamaha generators, Probe fat max compressors and Warn winches, and the team that was first for the day walked away with a cash prize of R10 000 sponsored by McCarthy Toyota Hatfield. Live streaming on Facebook of every night’s prize giving made sure that the family that was left behind at home could also be part of the Billfish 15 000 tournament.
22 • SKI-BOAT March/April 2020
SKI-BOAT March/April 2020 â€¢ 23
Despite the prospect of a very wet fishing day ahead, everyone launched safely on day two and the marlin started to come alive. A total of 53 strikes with 35 hook-ups were reported, and 13 marlin were released that day, mostly blues and stripeys. Team Real Passion took the lead with two releases â€” one blue and one striped marlin for the day. On day three the weather deteriorated further and the weather committee gave it to the tribe to decide. A blow out was called. Although the anglers were disappointed with the lack of fishing, that night the MC, Jaco Hendriksz, kept everyone in good spirits with his sharp tongue as he handed out lucky draws and the daily Pig of the Day prize. SKI-BOAT March/April 2020 â€˘ 25
All anglers that released marlin.
Team Stefi-Joe in first place .
Team Real Passion in second place.
SKI-BOAT March/April 2020 â€˘ 27
Team Sea Duzer in third place.
Team Real Passion releasing their marlin.
Louis Venter from Team Real Passion with a 36.2kg tuna. Bok van Blerk and Mark de Hay releasing their marlin. Photo by Kevin Tait
As we’ve done in the past with blow outs, the prizes for the day were carried over to the next day. Another tradition that was continued was the auction that’s held each year to raise some money for our up and coming junior anglers and thereby promote the sport of deep sea angling. On day four all the anglers were fighting fit and ready to go out to sea. The Billfish was still anybody’s tournament to win and everyone went for it, with 11 successful releases. Once again only blue and striped marlin were caught, with sailfish nowehere to be seen. Team Real Passion’s luck turned and this time it was Team Stefi-Joe that released two marlin for the day. This put them in the lead, with only two points separating first and second place. A lot of nice bycatches also came out, including a nice 36.2kg yellowfin tuna which put Real Passion in the running for the Calcutta prize. By the Friday morning, the last day of fishing, all the leaders were very close to each other and only the weather could determine what was going to happen. That day all the teams waited
on the beach to hear from the weather committee. It was a go, but only for a short time before lines up was called around 10am and the competition was called off due to bad weather and heavy winds. Thanks to a great Beach Control team — Lizelle Els and Mariette Hendriksz — all the boats were uided back to the beach quickly and safely. Only Team Aurora had been able to get a double hook-up of two blue marlin that day, but unfortunately one of the marlin was disqualified due to technical footage and rules that applies to a double hook-up. Stefi-Joe’s prayers were answered — they won the Billfish 15 000! All the anglers gathered in the marquee for the main prizegiving to celebrate Stefi-Joe’s victory. The team relished their unforgettable walk to victory with a burning flame lighting the path to the stage. Congratulations to Team Stefi-Joe! Altogether 32 marlin were released at the 2019 Billfish 15 000! Once again a big thank you to all the sponsors, anglers, committee members and lots of friends who make this tournament the best of its kind. I hope to see you all again in November 2020. TOP TEN TEAMS 1. Stefi-Joe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .488 pts 2. Real Passion . . . . . . . . . . . . .486 pts 3. Sea Ducer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .480 pts 4. C-Cruiser . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .480 pts 5. Jorrie . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .480 pts 6. Happy Days . . . . . . . . . . . . .225 pts 7. Aurora . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .225 pts 8. C-Vannah . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .224 pts 9. Sea Cruiser Too . . . . . . . . . . .224 pts 10. Man Size . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .224 pts The winning team on their new boat with Team Yamaha.
28 • SKI-BOAT March/April 2020
BITS & PIECES
GEAR UP FOR THE 2020 DSBC FESTIVAL
T’S that time of year again when anglers start getting excited about the Durban Ski-Boat Club Festival which will be held from 24 to 26 April. Mark Wilson recently chatted to Hilton Kidger, Convener of the 2020 event, to get the low down on what we can expect at this year’s festival ... MW: It’s amazing how quickly time flies, and here we are again seeing everything fall into place for the 2020 event. Tell us what’s new and what the anglers can look forward to. HJK: We have hosted this popular festival for over 17 years now, and we are excited to announce that the main prize will be a 520 Seacat with twin 60hp 4-stroke Yamaha engines. We believe this will be a major draw card and that the boat is in line with current market requirements of the modern era angler/skipper who is looking for performance coupled with amazing economy. The 4-stroke Yamaha engines are also more environmentally friendly than other options. The winner will also be able to choose between a forward console or a centre console boat and of course it’s always nice to have a choice! The value of this prize exceeds R500 000! This is a huge step up from the Seacat 510 with 60hp 2-strokes which we’ve put up as a prize in previous years, and it once again shows DSBC’s commitment to our supporters We must take this opportunity to thank Yamaha and Seacat for their unswerving assistance in helping us keep the prize offering of this festival at the top of the tree! To add even more to our top class prizes, Adventure Tropicale Charters, a well-respected fishing charter company operating out of Pemba and Lazarus
Banks has offered us a prize worth R100 000! This in itself will be a wonderful treat for any angler to win. Just visit their website and you will be blown away by the fishing experience they offer. Many of us dream of visiting these exotic destinations and this is your chance! Remember, you have to be in it to win it! MW: Will the festival be held at your current premises or are plans afoot to host it at your new site right on the beach? HJK: It would be fantastic to accommodate the 2020 festival in the new premises, which would allow us to not only hold the festival but also include a launch of our new facilities, but alas, timing does not allow for this. However, we will soon be well on our way with our R10-million fit out of the new club, so we will have to wait till 2021 to host the festival there. MW: How have you found sponsorship? Has it become more difficult to get support for events like this? HJK: Happily our supporters are right behind us once again, and as this is the premier fishing festival of this sort they know they will get the right coverage with over 240 boats and 800 anglers plus their families attending over the three days. We also work to the philosophy of figuring out what can we do for our sponsors rather than just what they can do for us. This has worked well over the years.Adventure Tropicale Charters’ added support speaks volumes. For more details on the 2020 DSBC Festival see our advert on page 38 of this issue. I look forward to seeing you all there! SKI-BOAT March/April 2020 • 29
Hooked on False Bay Fishing
The author with a kob caught in front of the Strandfontein pavilion. By Donavan Cole
OB is probably my ver y favorite species to catch in the bay even though I will often return mombak. I still ask myself why I bother when I come back empty-handed, but those trips when we find the fish after the persistence makes it all worthwhile. What I love most about catching them is that when a fish take the bait you never know if it’s a 1kg or a 20kg specimen. The kob caught in the bay are often
undersize (under 50cm) and most of the time you will throw back ten undersize fish for every one that is above the legal size limit of 50cm, but then you’ll find quite a few fish between 3kg and 12kg. Bigger fish are not uncommon, but around 20kg is the biggest that you will encounter. WHEN AND WHERE I will mainly be discussing fishing the areas accessible when launching from the western side of False Bay at Simonstown or Millers Point.
In False Bay kob are predominately caught during the summer months, with catches starting around early October when the south-easterly winds start blowing and warming up the water in the bay. These winds will also start churning up the water creating the milky brown “kob water” that is seen inshore along the stretch between Muizenberg and Gordon’s Bay. A change of wind direction will, however, change conditions pretty quickly. When the wind swings more to the east this “kob water” will be pushed SKI-BOAT March/April 2020 • 31
The areas circled in red show some of the author’s favourite kob fishing spots. from Muizenberg towards Kalk Bay, and if it really blows then that water can sometimes move as far west as Simonstown. During these easterly blows you can almost be sure that kob will be off Fish Hoek and Kalk Bay and it will be worth having a look in these areas before running further down to Strandfontein. The opposite can be said about southerly and south-westerly wind days, as this will usually clean up the water along this stretch very quickly. The main reason that kob are found in this brown water is that this nutrient rich water will usually attract the bait fish that the kob feed on, unlike most species kob are known to be very good hunters in dirty water, these strong winds will also create a lot of wave action which will highly oxygenate the water, and the fish will in turn feed a lot more actively in these oxygen enriched waters. I will usually plan my trip according to the predicted weather reports. If the wind is due to drop in the afternoon or early evening then I’ll run down around 3pm and, depending on what the catch-
es are like, run back home around 10pm. Otherwise if the wind is predicted to drop during the night then I’ll launch a couple of hours before sunrise and fish well into the day. I’ve found that the best catches come an hour or two either side of sunset and sunrise. There are, however, times when conditions are good in the evening and the fish are biting nicely and I’ll stay out all night and then get to fish sunset and sunrise. I’ve also had many times where we’ve gone down in near perfect conditions and caught very little, then boats go down the next evening in less than ideal conditions and catch plenty of fish, so there are no hard and fast rules here. I’ll usually start off running down to Strandfontein Pavilion and, if the swell and wind allow, I’ll try to get in as shallow as possible behind the tidal pool wall. If the swell does not allow then I will start looking from the edge of the surf line and work my way out to around 15m deep water. If conditions are not great there or if good catches are reported further down, then I will run down towards Kapteins Klip/
Donavan Cole and Mikhail Daniels with kob caught in 12m water off Strandfontein. 32 • SKI-BOAT March/April 2020
Manadi and work on towards Swartklip. I don’t have specific “numbers”, positions or spots that I run to and anchor on; I just head for these general areas and then use my echo sounder to find where the fish are. When you’re fishing the early season from October to November you need to be especially careful at night because during these months there is an increase in the number of whales in the bay, especially in the shallows. Keep a good lookout and run as slowly as possible. During the summer months the south-easterly winds can blow for days on end, driving everyone mad. As I write this we are in the middle of a ten day blow. When that happens I watch the weather predictions waiting for when the wind moderates, and take any gap I can get. Ideally you want the south-easter to drop off completely and then swing to the north-west. This change in direction will usually result in the best conditions, and the north-westerly, being offshore, will blow the sea flat enough so that you can get into the shallow waters that are usually in the surf zone during south easterly (onshore) winds. I also keep a eye on the swell; ideally you want it to be under 2m so that you can get into the best areas. If the swell is over 2m then I will start looking in the deeper water, but if the swell starts pushing towards 3m I’d rather just stay home. One funny thing about kob fishing is that when we’re out we are usually trying to get as close inshore as possible and at the same time the rock and surf anglers are trying to get as far out as possible. These days we will often see bait boats and drones taking baits out from the beach and dropping them close to us. When looking for kob I have a few indicators I look at. Watercolor plays the biggest part in selecting the area to fish. I always start out looking for the brown dirty water that’s a result of the strong south-easter, but don’t lose hope if you arrive in the area and the water is clean as this is usually when the kob will start feeding after dark. Kob can be very frustrating fish to catch, especially when you are among other boats. There are times when you will be so close to another boat that you can talk to one another, and you will watch them catch fish after fish after fish while you don’t get a thing. Then there are times where you will have guys on the top current side of the boat catching plenty of fish while the guys under current on the same boat will be catching absolutely nothing. The best position to fish from will always be the stern of the boat as the swell, wind and current will come from different directions and the boat will
swing from side to side while on anchor. If space does not allow you to fish from the stern then always try to fish on the top current side which should keep your lines away from the keel and engines. TACTICS When fishing in shallow water — 5m and shallower — always first stop on the outside for a while and watch the sets of waves coming through so you can get a good idea of where the waves are breaking. That way you don’t end up anchoring in what you thought was f lat water and then get into trouble when a set comes through. Also be mindful of what the tides are doing and watch your echo sounder, especially over spring tides as you might anchor in water that is perfectly safe at first and later you have breaking waves around you as the tide drops and water gets shallower. Once you have assessed the area then move in closer, watching your echo sounder. Kob can usually be seen on the echo and if they’re feeding then it won’t take long after anchoring to get them to take baits. Once you find the fish on the echo then move up ahead of them, into the wind and drop your anchor as quietly as possible. I like to lower the anchor hand over hand as quietly as possible. I also have a specific anchor set up to use in the shallow water — a grapnel with a very short, heavy chain because a long, thin chain has a tendency to get completely stuck in the rocky ground as you swing side to side. The longer chain also makes a lot more noise on the reef as it snatches up and down. I also like to have a short rope attached to the crown of my anchor with a small buoy on the end so that if the anchor or chain gets snagged and I’m unable to recover the conventional way, I can pick up the buoy and pull the anchor up inverted. Don’t forget to always put your engines in gear while on anchor, especially when there is a strong current, because when they’re in neutral the propellers will spin in the moving current and any lines close by will be snagged and wrapped up. TACKLE When fishing for kob I will usually opt for heavier tackle — 10kg line upwards — because of how rough the ground can get. When you hook bigger fish in the shallows they will usually run off to the nearest rocks or reef and you generally don’t stand a chance on light tackle. We also find that when the conditions are favourable there will be a good few boats all anchored in close proximity to one another and with lighter tackle the fish often run around your own anchor or another boat’s anchor or their lines and get cut off. I
Kob showing on the echo sounder. also prefer to use heavier tackle because we frequently hook big sharks and rays and end up spending ages trying to land these fish on light tackle, unsure if it’s a big kob and wasting the best fishing times. Having said that, when the kob are very shy you will get a lot more bites using light tackle, so it’s always worth a tr y when conditions are good and you’re not getting any action on the heavier tackle. I prefer to use circle hooks as they generally hook fish in the corner of the mouth and not deeper, so fish that you want to release have a greater chance of survival. I have also found that I get snagged less often on the bottom when I’m using circle hooks, especially when fishing with drift lines. I will usually use a 3/0 to 9/0 depending on the brand and size of fish around. Before circle hooks became so popular I would mostly use Kendal Round hooks and, depending on the size of fish around, use between a 6/0 and 9/0. I also never use wire traces, so when the elf are around I also get fewer bite
offs because of the circles. I will usually fish a drift line (unweighted) by attaching a swivel to the end of the main line and then use a fluorocarbon trace of around 50cm between the swivel and the hook. Depending on the depth of water and how strong the current is, I will add a small ball or barrel sinker (seldom bigger than 1 oz) to the trace by sliding it on the main line against the swivel. I like to fish drift lines using a multiplier reel loaded with monofilament line rather than using a spinning/ grinder reel loaded with braid. When casting light drift baits out repeatedly with braid you get a lot of wind knots and tangles, and they’re usually impossible to get undone in the dark. With multipliers as you can also put the rod in a rod holder and set the ratchet and wait for it to tell you there is a fish on. You really need a ratchet when you’re fishing in the dark. Another trick is to use a small light stick attached to the tip of your rod with a thin cable tie and you can then keep a good eye on what your rod is doing in the dark.
Mikhail Daniels with two decent sized kob. Note the water colour. SKI-BOAT March/April 2020 • 33
low, but in this past year two fish that I tagged off Strandfontein were recaptured on the west coast between Melkbos and Gaanzekraal. This has surprised many other anglers as most fishermen believed that the west coast and east coast kob were different stocks with Cape Point being that imaginary border. One of the most interesting kob recaptures I’ve had was a fish I tagged and released off Melkbos on the west coast and which was recaptured by a commercial boat fishing off Stillbaai more than 600km away.
I also use a second rod rigged up with a trace similar to what rock and surf fishermen use — attach a 3-way swivel to the end of the main line with a hook trace of around 30cm on one side and a slightly longer sinker trace on the other end. I will use 1- to 3 oz sinkers depending on the depth of the water, and smaller hooks around 3/0 size as there is always a good chance of catching white stumpnose and other smaller species on this setup. This line will be dropped straight down next to the boat, and when it hits the bottom I’ll just take up the slack and wait for the bite. In some spots where the bottom is very foul I will only fish “up and down” with the last mentioned trace as a drift line will usually get stuck as soon as it hits the bottom, and fishing the up and down method will allow you to fish with far less tackle loss. BAIT FISHING The main baits I use for kob are squid/ chokka and sardine, and I will always try to start a kob trip by catching a few fresh squid off Simonstown or Fish Hoek on our way down to the fishing grounds. I remove the head of the squid and open the squid, cutting it into long thin strips and threading one or two on the hook, leaving a long tail depending on the size hooks. The sardine will be cut into blocks and I’ll add a piece with the chokka. I don’t ever use bait cotton when fishing from the boat. Never throw that squid head away, because it’s probably the best part of the squid and you can use it guts and all; no kob could ever swim past that. A fresh elf fillet is also very hard to beat. Livebait can also be very productive, and there will quite often be small maasbankers and streepies/karanteen under the boat that can be easily caught with sabikis or small baited hooks. At times there will also be masses of mullet on the surface around the boat in the shallows, so carry a throw net on board for those times. Kob can be caught on most baits when they’re feeding properly, and I have caught many kob on white mussel and red bait while fishing for reef fish. Lures are not commonly used to target kob in False Bay, but I believe that if we tried harder we would have good results as we have caught a few fish on spinners while throwing them for elf. This previous season I managed to land a fish of 19kg on a jig, and on that particular morning I caught a good few small kob and geelbek on the same jig. I believe that paddle tails are used quite successfully by rock and surf guys off the Strand reefs. I have tried them on a few occasions off the boat but usually lost interest after losing one or two to the foul bottom, even when rigged weedless. 34 • SKI-BOAT March/April 2020
Above: Fresh squid caught enroute to the kob grounds is the best bait in False bay. Left: A jig the author has used to catch kob.
SIZE AND BAG LIMITS In False Bay/Cape Town we follow different bag limits/restrictions on kob to anglers on the east coast and up into KZN as we mostly catch silver kob while further up the coast their main catch is dusky kob, especially inshore and in estuaries east of Agulhas. In the Cape the bag limit is five kob per person per day with a minimum size of 50cm. Please also remember that the bag limit is what you may have in your possession at any one time, so if you spend the night at sea fishing over two days that does not mean that you are permitted to keep two days’ quota. I try to tag and release as often as possible and have tagged more than 300 kob over the last few years. The tag recapture rates are unfortunately quite
FISHING ETIQUETTE When conditions are good, especially over weekends, you’ll find a good few boats out there. Just be mindful that in very shallow waters you can quickly scare fish away with too much noise, so try your best to move into the area as slowly as possible. When you’re approaching other boats try not to pass too close across their sterns as that is where the lines will usually be out; rather pass around their bow and watch out for anchor ropes. The same goes for when you’re anchoring — rather anchor next to another boat (not too close) instead of directly behind them because any big fish will usually run down with the current at first and the other boat then has a very good chance of losing their fish around your anchor rope if you’re anchored behind them. BELIEFS AND THEORIES One of my theories that many other regular kob fishermen in our area agree with, is that when we’re fishing from a catamaran in the very shallow water we catch a lot less fish than when fishing from a monohull, especially in a choppy sea. This is due to the tunnel slap as the wave action pushes through the tunnel of a cat creating a slapping noise which I’m pretty sure can be felt and/or heard by the fish. Another theory is that you should not use bright lights while night fishing. Most of the old kob fishermen will never switch on any deck lights or shine any torches in the water as they believe it spooks the fish. I’ve fished on some boats in the past where you would almost be thrashed for shining a torch anywhere near the water. Please note that I am by no means an authority on catching kob in False Bay and after catching these fish for more than 25 years I am still learning new things every time I go to sea. What I will say, though, is that persistence pays off with these fish more than anything else. If you’re keen to join us for a day’s fishing in False Bay to target kob or if you would like some updated info and catch reports then contact Donavan via <www.oceanlifecharters.co.za>.
Kob in Summer
By Ryan Cole, Executive Chef at Salsify, Camps Bay INGREDIENTS 2 small kob 1kg new potatoes 1 bulb fennel Fennel seeds 2 pieces of leek 30g Italian parsley 1 red onion Lemon — peeled and juiced 100ml olive oil 100ml canola oil 10g fresh thyme 2 tbs honey 1kg exotic tomato mix 250g crème fraiche 36 • SKI-BOAT March/April 2020
1 bunch spring onion 1 lime 30ml sherry vinegar 10ml spirit vinegar 1 tsp caramel sugar Black pepper White pepper Coarse sea salt Fine salt
METHOD Kob • Scale and fillet the kob as shown, then score deep lines into the skin. • Season with sea salt, black pepper and 30ml olive oil. • Dice some tomatoes into large chunks. Slice the red onion. • Slice fennel into half and then into quarters. Proceed to do the same with the leeks. • Place a piece of tinfoil on a roasting tray and cover with wax paper. Make a bed of your sliced red onion, tomato chunks, fennel and leeks. • Place the kob on top of the vegetables and bake in the oven on grill for 12 minutes.
Tomato salad • In a bowl use a fork to mix together 30ml sherry vinegar, 2 sprigs fresh thyme (picked leaves), 3g sea salt, black pepper, 100ml olive oil and honey. Mix until emulsified. • Slice all the tomatoes into different sizes and shapes. Season with tomato dressing. Allow to sit for 15 minutes before serving. Fennel dressing Juice of one lime, 10ml spirit vinegar, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp caramel sugar, toasted fennel seeds, 20ml water, 100ml canola oil, tops of 1 fennel picked and chopped. Mix. Potato salad • Cut baby potatoes in half and cook in salted boiling water for 15 minutes or until the potato falls off a fork when poked. • Drain water off the potatoes and place in a colander and toss lightly in fennel dressing. Lemon crème fraiche Combine: 250g crème fraiche, zest and juice of one lemon, pinch white pepper, half teaspoon salt and 2 sprigs of parsley chopped. Serve in a bowl as a side. For the spring onion Wash and dress in canola oil and salt and char under the grill. Serve all dishes together. Enjoy! SKI-BOAT March/April 2020 • 37
CONSERVATION Andries Riersma with the 93cm red steenbras he caught in January 2020, and (inset) Kyle Hansen with the same fish he tagged and released on the same spot four years before.
COPPER RECAPTURED Tag and release does work on bottomfish by Kyle Hansen
ED Steenbras (Petrus rupestris), or “coppers” as they are affectionately known, are prized catches among recreational and small scale fishers alike off the east shores of South Africa. They are known to reach weights over 100 lb and are renowned for their dogged fighting ability that will test even the most skilled angler’s technique and tackle to the limit. Sepia-tinged memories will recall a time when these fish were caught in vast numbers from shore and boat, the former a distant memory of days gone
by for all but the lucky few. As a child I was obsessed with this iconic predator of the deep. Perhaps it was the stunning pink hues they don or their reputation or scarcity — likely a combination of all three. I spent hours staring at pictures of men in suits and ties with primitive tackle, nonchalantly hovering around heaps of coppers big and small, dreaming what it might have been like to be around in that day and age. In September 2015 I enjoyed a day out at sea with Org Nieuwoudt, an experienced Gouritsmond skipper-cumconservation-advocate. On that day I was fortunate to land my first decent sized copper — a 61cm fork length
beauty. Org and I worked quickly to get her measured, tagged and released. We also made a shallow puncture in the abdomen of the fish to help it descend back to its rocky habitat some 30m below. This was to be the start of a good thing as Org soon became a regular ORI tagger, often educating his charter clients on the values of the project. One lucky angler got to witness this first hand. Andries Riersma was fishing with Org in early January 2020 when he recaptured my originally tagged red steenbras more than four years later, on exactly the same GPS co-ordinates. Personally I found it nothing short SKI-BOAT March/April 2020 • 41
of thrilling to see how the adolescent copper I caught had developed the hallmark yellow colouration characteristic of the larger specimens. The fish had grown from 61cm to 93cm. Coppers are incredibly aggressive by nature, a trait that had, until recently, relegated this all-conquering reef dweller to the prohibited list. They are often first to the bait and usually the angler with the biggest, ugliest offering will be the first to “go tight”. The complete ban on catching red steenbras has since been lifted and recreational anglers are now allowed one fish of 60cm or larger per day. However, those anglers with any inkling of conservation ethics will agree that these majestic predators are too precious to end up on the dinner table. The idea of slot-limits is a notion that’s gaining momentum and could be implemented as a condition to the bag limit of coppers and other species slow to sexual maturity. The powers-that-be would do well to look into this option as it would keep the “catch and cook” contingent happy while protecting the larger breeding specimens. Fortunately a general shift in consciousness seems to be under way among a healthy portion of the general angling public. Nowadays catch and kill en masse efforts are largely a thing of the past, with there being a stigma attached to such efforts and the anglers being branded destructive and wasteful as opposed to how in the past it was seen as heroic or admirable. Social media has also played a large part by calling anglers out for going over bag limits and creating general awareness around conservation practises. ENSURING SAFE RELEASE Although releasing fish is a step in the right direction and is in itself admirable, it is important for the angler to understand that release efforts are inevitably futile if they’re not administered correctly, particularly with bottomfish. Coppers, like many reef fish, are considered demersal (bottom-dwelling), compared to pelagics which roam a wide range of depths. Unlike pelagics, demersal fish are not adapted to handle a rapid ascent of the water column. Stark pressure changes experienced by the fish while it’s being hauled up cause internal gases to expand. This creates tremendous pressure on the fish’s internal organs, a syndrome known as barotrauma. When they’re bloated like this the fish cannot get back down to their normal home depth and just float on the surface until their almost certain death. They thus need help getting back down. One option is “down-rigging” the fish by by using a release-weight. A barbless hook rigged with a heavy weight is pushed through the fish’s top lip (see 42 • SKI-BOAT March/April 2020
Barbless stainless steel hook attached to one or more sinkers with a total weight of 1-2 pounds. Hook fish through upper lip from top to bottom Deepwater release mechanism. When the fish reaches the bottom give it a minute or two to recover and then pull up sharply to release the fish from the hook. diagram) and takes the fish down quickly; the barbless hook can be dislodged easily with a tug of the line when the fish is at the bottom. One can also use a Seaqualizer to do this job — a purpose designed piece of equipment. The whole idea of this method is to avoid pricking or venting the fish and to allow the weights to take the fish back down to the depth where it was caught. The pressure at that depth recompresses the gas in the swimbladder back down to what it was before the fish was bought to the surface and allows the fish to swim off without being buoyant. This systems works very well if you are set up to do it on the boat and is non-invasive, but the strong surface currents in areas where red steenbras are found often makes it difficult to successfully use this sytem. As most anglers know, when the gas in the swimbladder expands it often forces the stomach inside out and it sometimes protrudes from the fish’s mouth. According to Bruce Mann, senior scientist at ORI, in some fish species such as soldier/santer and seventy-four, the fish themselves bite their own stomach thereby releasing the gas and enabling them to swim down after release, even if caught in very deep water. In order to give red steenbras or other bottomfish a better chance of survival anglers need to release the expanded gas present in the abdomen thereby lowering buoyancy and allowing the fish to reach the depth where it normally lives. When it comes to this aspect Org has some more concise advice: “Honestly anglers need to do more than just taking the fish down deep with three or four 6 oz sinkers. We use our normal tagging equipment to pinch a small hole in the fish’s stomach to
release the oxygen. “It’s vital to release the oxygen prior to dropping the fish down to the bottom because if you don’t release the oxygen the fish will just come up to the surface of the water a short while later and you will not even notice it because of the current. If the stomach is visible or protruding out through the mouth it’s easier to puncture, but if not you must puncture the stomach or swim bladder through the fish’s skin. “When I drop the fish to the bottom I leave it to recover for a couple of minutes before I unhook it.” Note that the position of the swimbladder is approximately in line with the top of the pectoral fin and halfway between the pectoral fin and the anus,but it varies in each fish so do some homework on where you need to insert the needle to puncture the swim bladder without causing more damage. It is good practise to implement sensible handling techniques to improve the likelihood of survival of any fish. These include: • Keeping the fish wet at all times and taking it out the water for as short a time as possible, if at all. • Assisting revival of the fish until it swims off. • Minimising the fish’s time out of the water. • Using barbless or circle hooks. • Being prepared. Ensure all necessary equipment — release weights, tag applicator etc — is ready at hand. • Don’t touch the gills at all as they are very sensitive. For more information on ORI tags or if a tagged fish is caught contact Gareth Jordaan on <firstname.lastname@example.org>. For a great sustainable deep sea fishing experience contact Org Nieuwoudt via <www.gouritsfishing.co.za>.
SKI-BOAT March/April 2020 â€¢ 43
Phillip Marx, SADSAA President
TRUST that everyone’s new year has started off on a positive note. I was fortunate to attend the OET, the Billfish 15 000 and the SADSAA Light and Heavy Tackle Nationals at Sodwana in November last year. All these competitions were run extreme-
ly well, and were a huge success. It is great to see that the camaraderie between competing deep sea anglers is so good. Of course, it didn’t hurt that the fishing was so good over these three weeks too. On a less positive note, there were also several boating accidents over the holidays. Boat owners are encouraged to ensure that they are vigilant when launching. Check all your safety equipment is in order, and take note of the weather and sea conditions. Although we all want to rack up our hours at sea while on holiday, it is never worth taking the chance when conditions are not suitable. With the lease at the SADSAA Durban office coming to an end in
December, there have been some changes. The Safety portion of the office has now moved to Johannesburg, where it will be run by the safety secretary, Lyn Adams. This will hopefully better facilitate the dealings with the SAMSA office in Pretoria, and simplify the Skippers Licence application process. We wish Lyn all the best with her additional duties. Kim Hook will continue with the rest of the SADSAA administration duties in KZN. With this move Zee’s time with us has come to an end. We thank her for all she has done on SADSAA’s behalf in a very challenging portfolio.
N 2 January 2020, Hardus Rothmann, fishing aboard Little Joey at Sodwana Bay, caught a marlin without a bill (pictured left). The break was well healed, and the marlin in good condition, showing how well they can adapt to life without it. Dwayne Viviers, fishing from Ross Ramos off Inhaca, also caught a marlin without a bill in December, once again an old break on a fish that otherwise appeared strong. Both fish were safely released.
E have selected the following anglers to represent SADSAA and the Proteas at the 80th ILTTA to be held in Guatemala from 3 to 8 May 2020: Herman Dickinson (MP) Captain, Francois Bezuidenhout (MP) and Henk du Plessis (NG). Congratulations to all these anglers on their achievement, and we wish them tight lines.
SADSAA CONTACTS: Email: <email@example.com> • Website: <www.sadsaa.co.za> 46 • SKI-BOAT March/April 2020
UPCOMING TOURNAMENTS 7 – 14 February:Two Oceans Marlin Competition, Struisbaai 16 – 22 February: Mapelane Billfish Invitational 4 – 7 March: Billfish Interprovincial and Interclub 8 – 13 March: SGDSAA Rosebowl Interclub, Guinjata 14 – 15 March: Durban Ski-boat Club Interclub 22 – 27 March: SADSAA Junior Gamefish Nationals, PYC 26 – 29 March: Marlin Cup, Richards Bay 28 – 29 March: Umkomaas Interclub 28 – 29 March: Gamefish Jet Ski Inter-Club, Ballito 30 March – 4 April: SADSAA Bottomfish Nationals, Struisbaai 4 – 5 April: Couta Classic, Umlalazi 10 – 12 April: Bonanza, Richards Bay 16 – 18 April: Gonubie Marine Club Inter-Club, East London 21 – 25 April:Tuna Masters, Hout Bay 25 – 27 April: Durban Ski-boat Club Festival 25 April – 2 May: GBBAC Offshore Classic, Gordon’s Bay 27 April – 1 May: SADSAA Senior Gamefish Nationals
1 – 3 May:All Coastal Bottomfish Interprovincial, Gonubie 1 – 3 May: Marlin SBC Annual Classic Competition 2 – 3 May: Umlalazi Couta Classic, Umlalazi 3 – 9 May: ILTTA, Guatemala 4 – 8 May:All Inland Interprovincial, Sodwana 8 – 10 May: Shelly Beach Inter-Club, Shelly Beach 11 – 14 May: EFSA Billfish Tournament, Cape Verde 14 – 17 May: Mapelane Trophy Interclub, Mapelane 16 – 17 May: Shelly Beach Interclub, Shelly Beach 19 – 23 May:Tuna Interprovincial, Rumbly Bay 22 – 24 May: Umhlanga Prestige Andy de Wet Inter-Club 30 – 31 May: Zinkwazi Interclub, Zinkwazi 30 – 31 May: Mapelane Coºuta Derby, Mapelane 31 May – 5 June: Guinjata Species Bonanza, Guinjata 13 – 14 June:Warnadoone Interclub 24 – 27 June: 20th Shelly Beach Fishing Festival 25 – 28 June: Mapelane Junior Interclub, Mapelane
2019 LIGHT & HEAVY BILLFISH NATIONALS
Winners of the 2019 Heavy Tackle Billfish Nationals: SADSAA Light Tackle team — Charles du Plessis, Faith Lategan (skipper), Mark Cockcraft and George Breedt (captain). Photo by Sarel Greyling
Winners of the 2019 Heavy Tackle Billfish Nationals: NGDSAA Heavy Tackle Masters team — Chris Barnard, Henk du Plessis and Riaan Odendaal (Captain) — with Lappies Labuschagne. Photo by Sarel Greyling
Bronze: Limpopo (Jasper) 400 points Franz Reyneke (captain), Riaan Claasens & Nardus Erlank Light Tackle Final Results: Gold: SADSAA (Me Stephe) 310 points George Breedt (captain), Mark Cockcraft, Charles du Plessis and Faith Letegan (skipper) Silver: Griquas (My Lady) 210 points Len Matthews (captain), Alta Matthews, Donald Finalay and Follie van Vuuren (skipper) Bronze: Mpumalanga Red (Armaleo) 200 points Armand de Vos (captain), Duane Joubert, Pieter Jordaan (jnr) and Nico Gelderblom (skipper) Thanks go to SADSAA selectors Paddy Venske, Lappies Labuschagne and Jaco Hendrickz for spending the week with the anglers. We are also grateful to all the anglers and skippers for taking part with such positive attitudes. It has been our honour to host the combined Billfish Nationals over the past years, and we look forward to seeing many of you at the Heavy Tackle Nationals next year. — MDSAA Organising Committee
HE 2019 SADSAA Light and Heavy Tackle Billfish Nationals were held at Sodwana Bay from 18 to 22November. What an incredible week! With 18 Heavy Tackle teams and 8 Light Tackle teams taking part in the two tournaments, and four fishable days, the competition was a resounding success. Catching up with old friends, making new ones, and a healthy competition while taking advantage of the biting billfish ensured a great atmosphere, both on and off the water. In the heavy tackle tournament the following releases were recorded: 22 blue marlin, eight striped marlin and four black marlin. The light tackle teams released ten sailfish, three striped marlin and one shortbill spearfish. Total successful billfish releases for the week: 48 Heavy Tackle Final Results: Gold: North Gauteng Masters (Oom C-Breeze) 500 points Riaan Odendaal (captain), Henk du Plessis, Chris Barnard Silver: Gauteng White (Reel Passion) 400 points Henry Gouws (captain), Peet Koekemoer,Tommie Cowan and Johan Els (skipper)
READERS’ QUERIES SADSAA’s President, Phillip Marx, has undertaken to answer a limited number of readers’ queries regarding SADSAA in each issue. If you have a question you would like answered, email him on <firstname.lastname@example.org>. SKI-BOAT March/April 2020 • 47
Bangaram resort beach.
By Hannes Vorster
VER wanted to catch a big giant trevally (Caranx ignobilis aka GT) and lots of them? Or even the elusive and renowned Napoleon Wrasse. Well, I think I may have just found the place but, as with all things, this comes at a price (and I’m not referring to money here). I have been fortunate to fish in some of the world’s most prestigious GT waters but fishing the picturesque atolls of the Lakshadweep has been my most adventurous trip ever! When I get invited on a trip with the opening line stating: “Not for the faint hearted” and I’m reminded to bring my sea legs along — if you remotely suffer from mal de mer then do not even consider this trip — then you really have my attention! However, nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to experience in this remote part of the ocean that I had never even heard of. We were going to the Lakshadweep Islands 440km off the south west coast of India. They form the smallest Union Territory of India and their total surface area is only 32km2. These islands are the northernmost of the LakshadweepMaldives-Chagos group of islands — the tops of a vast undersea mountain range. The archipelago consists of 12 atolls, three reefs and five submerged banks, with a total of about 39 islands and islets. All these islands have been built up by corals and have fringing coral reefs very close to their shores. The reefs are in fact also atolls, although mostly submerged, with only small bare sand cays above the high-water mark. The submerged banks are sunken atolls. Only ten of the islands are inhabited. Since our visit in late November was at the end of the monsoon season, we were fully aware of the risk of potential bad weather and the odd rain shower. However, at the same time, it was the start of the fishing season, with a dark moon and fishing known to be very productive at this time of the year, so we figured it was a chance worth taking. The first part of our adventure was getting there. Our group of six anglers flew in from all over the world (Canada, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and South Africa) and met up at the Kochi International Airport in India. Next we flew to Agatti Island — a 7.6km long island, and the only one with a runway for domestic flights from India. From here we took tuk-tuks (carrying all our fishing gear and kit for a week) to the port, and from there we had a onehour ferry ride to Bangaram Island. The islands are magnificent! En route to Bangaram it was not difficult to spot the massive coral reefs and what the locals call bommies (coral reef pinnacles) under the cr ystal-clear waters of the Indian/Arabian Sea. On arrival on the pure white tropical beach surrounded by beautiful swaying palm trees we had a very warm wel50 • SKI-BOAT March/April 2020
come from the locals. As primitive as it is, Bangaram boasts a beautiful resort with air-conditioned beach bungalows, a dining area and a beach bar. This is the only island in Lakshadweep where the sale and consumption of alcohol is permitted. Diving is obviously a very popular activity in this part of the world and the dive centre is a popular attraction as are the other numerous water sport activities offered at the resort. The island is also regarded as a very important breeding place for sea turtles as well as for a number of pelagic birds. After enjoying a cold beverage on the hammock slung between two palm trees on the beach, and reflecting on our long journey to get there, I felt as if I could quite comfortably stay there for remainder of the trip. However, if this is what the “commercial” islands looked like, I could only imagine what the more remote areas were like. Fishing the waters in the surrounding atolls is a very rare and special experience and only a few fortunate folks have licenses from the local authorities to enter the area for recreational or sportfishing. Commercial fishing is also very strictly controlled and kept at a minimum and many species are protected. Every fisherman dreams of visiting a secret spot where nobody else goes and where you know with 100% certainty that you are going to catch fish. It’s just human nature; we want it all to ourselves and don’t want to be bothered by strangers taking our bite. Well, you can imagine our excitement when Sameer Aman (our tour guide and owner of Ammathi Adventures who is licensed for recreational fishing in Lakshadweep) informed us that the last time fishermen who visited these remote and mysterious atolls was in April! Can you just imagine casting a popper onto a reef that has not been fished in over 6 months? We had all our fishing tackle packed out and spent the evening rigging all the rods, spooling reels, making knots and all the regular preparations. Our boats were going to pick us up and midnight, and you could feel the excitement in the air. Eventually the call came that the boats had arrived — we were off on a seven day adventure! We would completely be cut off from the rest of the world for six days — no cellphone reception, no satellite phones, two small radios for the boat captains to communicate with one another, no GPS, no electricity, no cooling facility (which meant no ice!). However we had enough rice, pasta and coconuts to last for six days and lots of curry. This was a real Robinson Crusoe adventure. The wooden boats, custom built by the locals for fishing and typically used in the area, do not offer much shelter . There’s a bit of cover in the back, but otherwise it’s a completely open deck which offers enough casting space for three fishermen. We later found out that these decks would double up for sleeping space in the evenings — under the stars with no cabin. We each had a small roll-up mattress, a fleece blanket and a pillow. The two boats each carried three fishermen, a captain, a guide, a cook, a safety officer and a general deckhand. It was around 12:15am when we finally crept into our “beds” to get some rest before we engaged in some serious fishing. We were now completely cut off from civilization, en route to our first destination — Bitra island. “Cast! Cast! Cast!” those were the first words I heard our captain shout. It was 7am and the sun was just clearing the horizon. We had arrived at the first reef after sailing through the night. I was still trying to fathom where I was and who was shouting at us so early in the morning when I realised what was going on. We were in the middle of a school of baitfish frantically trying to escape from whatever game fish were feeding on them. They suddenly disappeared as quickly as they had arrived, but by now it was complete chaos on the boat with us all trying to clear our bedding from the deck to make space for casting.
Each of us was armed with two popping/stickbaiting rods (one heavy and one light), lighter spinning rods (for leisure fun and catching livebait), jigging rods (that would double up as trawling rods during the dead of the day when we were moving between the atolls) and an abundance of jigs, spinning lures, trawling skirts, poppers and stickbaits of all shapes and sizes. The boat is rigged with a very neat rod-rack to keep all the rods neat and ready for whenever they were needed. I have never seen such clear water. You could literally see the large GTs and other gamefish swimming through the reef structures, coral trees and gullies, and the abundance of reef fish made it feel like we were in the middle of a giant fish tank. It almost felt it should be illegal to fish there. However, the downside was that whatever we did was as visible to the fish as it was for us. We approached the atoll and started casting towards the bommies, and within only a few casts I heard a massive explosion on the surface. Edward Kuhn shouted “Fish on!” I saw Eddie’s Hamachi rod bend from butt to tip and we all looked at each other; we just knew this was going to be a week packed with a lot of fun and a lot of fish!
In the days to come we were rewarded with some fish species I have only read about in books and some I am still trying to identify. And to top it all, they were big. At the end of day one we teamed up with the other boat and started our search to find an entrance through the reefs into the atoll’s lagoon to find a quiet place to anchor and get some rest after a very hard day’s fishing. Casting 200-300 gram poppers and stickbaits and retrieving those plugs to create the unique splashing sound of feeding or injured fish on the surface is truly hard work and could be compared to any workout in the gym. Doing it all day long is another story, let alone doing it for six days nonstop! We were pleasantly surprised to see Adriaan Hotlzhousen who was fishing on the other boat holding up a massive dogtooth tuna. This fish was well over the 20kg mark, and a personal best for Adriaan who only recently became interested in offshore gamefishing. We were all very envious as this was one of the species we particularly wanted to catch. It turned out that the fish swallowed the popper entirely and despite us all using barbless hooks it died whilst the crew were trying to remove the lure from its mouth and at the same time avoid the razor sharp teeth.
SKI-BOAT March/April 2020 • 51
Hannes was very proud of this GT.
A beautiful wahoo for Kurt.
The aim was to release all fish caught, but since there was no cooling facility on the boat we obviously had to keep one or two fish each day for eating. I can say many things about the basic facilities on the boat, but one thing that absolutely stood out for me was how these blokes, given their limited resources, managed to come up with the quality of food they served us. Each day the cooks, each armed with only one small gas cooker, came up with mouthwatering dishes filled with Indian spices and freshly grated coconut. I have not eaten such delectable curry dishes in the best of Dubai’s Indian restaurants. We all gathered on one boat for the evening meal and could not wait to hear each other’s stories of the day. On day one between the six of us we caught over 30 large fish of varying species including 10 GTs. Adriaan’s doggie was obviously the highlight of the day. Edward lost a large rainbow runner on the light jigging setup. It was clearly to big for the setup and although Eddie managed to keep the fish on the line and got it right next to the boat, it saw us and darted back into the deep. The fish managed to break the leader line whilst Eddie was frantically trying to stop the screaming reel with his hand. The next two days we were going to fish Valiyapani reef. It is quite incredible to see huge waves breaking in the middle of the sea, where the currents meet the shallower water of 52 • SKI-BOAT March/April 2020
A few good wahoo were caught.
Malabar groupers have huge mouths.
the atoll. The aim is to get as close as possible to the reef and then to cast your lure into the whitewash where the GTs and other large gamefish are lurking, waiting for baitfish to wash off the reef into the deeper water. At one point I was retrieving a sinking stickbait and the next moment it was clear there was something chasing. It was only after Sameer shouted “Big fish! Big fish!” that we all realised that it was a huge GT which was literally breaking the surface water with its dorsal fin. From experience I know that when this happens you must continue your retrieval at the same speed and not change anything, but I have never in my entire life seen such a big fish! It was like I was getting “fish fever” — like “bok koors” when hunting. I must have done something wrong because the fish just turned away and lost interest. I was still shaking like a reed and the adrenaline was nearly oozing through my skin. This was the largest GT I had ever seen — well over the 50kg mark. It turns out all the stories of the big fish at Lakshadweep were true! We approached a shallow water area with clearly visible reefs and bommies and this was an area where we were all hoping to catch our first Napoleon wrasse. These creatures are the largest of all reef fish and can grow up to 7ft in length, with intricate, beautiful markings. Also known as the humphead wrasse, this behemoth is known for its broad lips, strong
Hannes with a passionfruit coraltrout.
Johan with a GT.
teeth, vibrant colours and the strange hump on its forehead. An interesting fact about the Napoleon wrasse is that an adult has the remarkable ability to change its sex. Born with both male and female sex organs, most changes occur female to male; this usually happens when a dominant male dies. I had been getting many strikes on a pink amberjack sinking stickbait, but just could not manage to get a decent hookup. Suddenly I had a hookup! I knew this lure was going to do the trick, but my joy was soon replaced with disappointment. I got stuck! The captain started reversing the boat and I frantically tried to avoid having my braided line cut off on the reef. I kept tight tension on my line and the next moment something really strange happened. I seemed to have managed to get the lure unstuck, but there was still a fish on the end of my line. Immediately I knew what had happened — this was the behaviour of a large grouper that had taken shelter in one of the caves or overhangs after getting hooked. It seemed like the angle of the boat and my attempts to get the lure back forced him out of his hole. I made sure I got the fish to the boat as soon as possible without giving it a change to dive back onto the reef. I was awarded with a huge Malabar grouper which looks like a pre-historic fish. On day three, Dan Oxford pulled out a wooden Napalm lure, this looked more like a mantelpiece decoration than a real lure. Despite the enormous cost of this beauty I was very
Kurt with a yellowfin grouper.
Adriaan’s dogtooth tuna - the highlight on day one..
skeptical about its ability to actually attract a fish’s attention. I was soon to be proved wrong. On his third cast Dan was into a fish that certainly meant business. Dan was putting his Carpenter Monster Hunter through its paces and this phenomenal rod just proved again why this range is so popular. Soon Dan had a 30kg GT on the boat! Cheriyapani Reef was where we had our first encounter with the Napoleon wrasse. This reef lies in particularly shallow water and there are large gulllies, bommies and holes in the reef; it’s known for its abundance of wrasses. The obvious problem was that it would be really challenging to negotiate one’s line away from the reef’s edges which cuts through your braid like a ceramic knife. At one stage the boat passed over a large hole in the reef surprising three wrasses that were just basking in there. I don’t know who got the biggest surprise — us or the fish, but they clearly got a massive fright and darted off into the reef. It wasn’t until later in the day that I had my first real opportunity of catching one. I was once again casting my favourite pink amberjack lure when all of a sudden I had a follow by two Napoleons. They came right up to the boat and the larger of the two was actually bumping my lure with its nose, but just not committing to taking it. I was literally praying and kept saying “Take it, take it, take it!” but in this crystal-clear water it was difficult to hide SKI-BOAT March/April 2020 • 53
Edward’s spectacular 40kg GT.
Eddie with a red moontail grouper.
anything from the fish. As soon as they noticed the boat and/or heard me they both turned away and swam off. On the same day Eddie, Dan and I each caught a GT of around the 30-35kg mark. I was ecstatic after being reminded of the strength and extreme fighting power of these beasts — this is what I came for! Later that morning we spotted some bird activity on the horizon and headed out towards where we saw them diving and feeding on small baitfish. This behaviour typically indicates the presence of yellowfin tuna. We weren’t disappointed. After each of us hooked and landed a number of tuna’s all in the 10-15kg range we decided that was enough of that and we headed back to the reef looking for more GT and possibly that prized Napoleon action.
Sleeping on deck.
54 • SKI-BOAT March/April 2020
The success just continued over the next few days and there were countless stories shared each evening of the large fish being landed and in great numbers. A particular story worth reflecting on was one told by Kurt Holtzhousen. On day five the other boat spotted a number of bonito out in the deeper water away from the reef; it was clear that something was feeding on them. The skipper decided to head out and see if they could catch any on the lighter spinning gear. Kurt passed his light jigging gear to the skipper (Abdullah) whilst he continued spinning with his own light tackle gear. All of a sudden Abdullah had a hook up; it was nothing big, but all indications were that it would be a bonnie and perfect size for a livebait. Seconds later about six or seven doggies arrived on the scene completely lit up and making no secret that they were in full feeding mode. The poor little bonnie was frantically trying to escape the onslaught. One could actually hear the doggies swiping at it; they were lining this fish up and darting at it like a Polaris missile and absolutely giving everything to grab it from their competition. If they missed they turned around and immediately gave it another go. Abdullah was trying his best to keep his catch away from these predators as we needed to rig it up as livebait. Meanwhile everyone else grabbed their bigger rods and started casting larger lures at the doggies. In the midst of this pandemonium Johan Hotzhousen was pulling a Cubera popper and a huge doggie came up for it and literally sucked the whole popper into its mouth less than a metre from the boat. This doggie was estimated around the 80-100kg mark so obviously a once in a lifetime fish, but Johan, in sheer admiration for the size and beauty of this large specimen got such a fright and completely froze. He did not strike or do anything, he was just staring at the 4D National Geographic scene playing out in front of him. Unfortunately, the doggie capitalized on this opportunity and managed to spit out the popper and disappear as fast as it had appeared. Adriaan also had a few chases by some of the members of this school, but none of them committed. Eventually one of the largest of all the doggies got hold of the poor bonnie which was still trying to flee. The guys said the doggie hit the bonnie so hard that it sounded like a hand grenade had gone off. The little jigging rod was no match for it and snapped into pieces. Regrettably nobody got a chance to get the GoPro going in these moments of havoc, as everybody was frantically trying to get a hook-up. The crew sailed back to the reef empty handed, but with the sight of these beauties and the story they were about to tell imprinted on their memories forever! For our last day of fishing we would be on PerumulPar reef which is the most remote. We decided to troll some lures behind the boat en route to the reef to see if we could pick
A blue spotted coral trout for Eddie.
up some wahoo, sailfish or dorado. This turned out to be very productive and it wasn’t long until we caught a really decent size wahoo and a few other fish. The big surprise was the two marlin we raised, with one committing to a lure. It was a short-lived battle, though, and the fish swam away with one of Eddie’s favorite lures. As if this was not enough, he got completely spooled and had to replace the line on his Diawa Saltiga 5500H. I think he may have seized the bearings too gathering from the way that it was screaming and peeling line off at maximum drag. Later that day Eddie was awarded with a personal best GT of around the 40kg mark which cheered him up. It was a real beauty of a fish that took him by complete surprise. The rest of us were just chilling after a very hard morning and afternoon session but Eddie was being persistent and kept saying that this was the last day and he did not want to have any regrets of not making the most of every moment. Well, his perseverance paid off. He was just about to lift his lure out the water for yet another cast when a GT grabbed it and nearly pulled Eddie off the boat. Once he came to his senses he looked at me with an expression of pure joy on his face and said:“This is the one!” I could see his rod bent from butt to tip and line peeling off his reel as Eddie frantically tried to turn the fish around. After an exhausting battle of around ten minutes, the fish started spiralling towards the surface from the depths. After a quick pic of his trophy the fish was safely released. Finally it was time to head back and you could see the disappointment on everybody’s faces. We desperately wanted to stay in this place but there was one thing we were looking forward to back at the beach bar at the Bangaram resort — an ice cold beverage with ice! We had caught a large variety of fish and in large numbers and a number of us had caught a personal best of at least one or more species. We were exhausted, but we’d had the experience of a lifetime. Sadly none of us caught a Napoleon wrasse, but we had seen them and even had a few follows during the course of the week. They are indeed very elusive and hence so highly sought after. We had so much fun and laughter and memories which will last a lifetime, and I fully realise how truly blessed I am. I would like to thank the Lord for granting me these opportunities, protecting me on the sea and for bringing me safely back to my family. I want to give special recognition to some of the folks who made this trip possible for us: Kurt Holtzhousen for putting the trip together, Sameer Aman who was our organiser and guide, Firos Sha our Safety & Rescue Officer, Mohammed Rafeeq & Abdullah who were our two boat captains, Saifudheen the guide on the second boat, and lastly Aboobacker, Riyas, Saif Ali & Aslam Uvvaour our cooks and
Dan caught this magnificent GT.
deck hands who did an absolutely amazing job. Here’s to more amazing adventures! FISH CAUGHT ON OUR TRIP Giant trevally, black trevally, big eye trevally, blue fin trevally, dogtooth tuna, passion fruit coral trout, leopard coral trout, tomato rock cod, Malabar grouper, red moontail grouper, yellowfin grouper, red sea bass, red emperor, spangled emperor, green jobfish, rosy jobfish, yellowfin tuna, barracuda, rainbow runner, bonito and wahoo. THINGS TO REMEMBER • Visas are required to enter India, regardless of nationality. • Permission to fish in the area must be obtained prior to the trip and can be arranged through the tour guide. • No alcohol — this will be confiscated at Kochi Airport and the rule is strictly enforced. • Waterproof bags are a necessity to keep important items dry during rain showers. • Ablution facilities are very basic and the only way to wash is a “sea shower”. • There is no electricity on the boats, so any electronic devices that need charging would require a battery pack. Take a few of these and ensure they are fully charged before you go. • There is no mobile phone reception, and if you feel the need to make use of a satellite phone you need to take your own. You will be cut off from civilization for the duration of the trip. • There are no cooling facilities aboard so you need to be aware that all soft drinks and water will be enjoyed at room temperature. • There is limited shelter on the boat, so be prepared to get wet when it rains and to be exposed to the sun. Take the necessary protection. • You’ll be sleeping on the deck under the stars — what an experience! • Barbless hooks are mandatory, not only to protect the fish and facilitate a quick release, but also for the safety of the anglers and the crew on deck. • Weight restriction on the flight from Kochi to Agatti is set at 20kg and any excess luggage is charged at a substantial cost so be prepared and ensure you only take what is really needed. • Take a diving mask as it is great to end each day with a bit of snorkelling around the reefs. • This is not a trip for the faint hearted — be warned. • Anybody interested in making a booking should contact Sameer on: <email@example.com> or visit their Facebook page <www.facebook.com/sportfishing lakshadweep/>. SKI-BOAT March/April 2020 • 55
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BROADBILL RECORDS South Africans breaking ground in Kenya and Oman The Du Plessis brothers — Calvin and Bobby — of Soolyman Charters have been doing incredibly well running charters in Kenya and Oman and have had some noteworthy catches of broadbill swordfish in recent months ... By Bobby du Plessis
T has long been a burning passion of mine to catch an Arabian broadbill swordfish, with many a long dark night spent trolling and drifting off Fujairah as well as Muscat in Oman. For a long time I was left with headaches and heartache but no success. Having seen the odd one caught by the commercial guys, I had no doubt
that these fish must have come up from the rich waters further south off Muscat. After chatting to many fishermen over the years and hearing of confirmed sightings of broadbill basking on the surface, I just knew that these fish lived in our waters and that I had to catch them. Those who know me personally will attest to the fact that I became obsessed with swordfish, living, breathing and incessantly talking about them in my quest to catch the Richard Skinner and Bobby du Plessis with the first recreationally caught broadbill in Oman. SKI-BOAT March/April 2020 • 61
elusive Arabian sword. Things started to change when I relocated my personal boat 160nm south from Fujairah UAE to Muscat, Oman. Fishing whenever I could and when mates were free and didn’t mind the scorching summer temps, we headed out night after night in search of my dream. Trust me when I say we tried every possible method known to man in a bid to try and catch or at least see one of these mythical Muscat fish. We were most often rewarded with good size tuna on the broadbill trace at night with Richard Malyon accounting for the largest one on my boat to date weighing in at 101.3kg. Never one to give up easily, the lack of a swordfish over the last few months just fueled my desire even more. Eventually when I got a few days free I decided I was going to find these things even if it was the last thing I did. While out there drifting in complete darkness at stupid o’clock in the morning, one’s mind starts to run away and I started to question my sanity. I began talking to myself, singing, rigging and re-rigging in a bid to try and stay awake. It’s soul destroying to go out there night after night and fish perfect tackle and baits and not get a strike. By 1.30am on 6 September we’d still had no strike. Disappointed, I went inside to check up on Veriza, my wife, and told myself that this quest was just a waste of time, effort and money. I was once again extemely grateful to have Veriza supporting me and my dream and always offering positive vibes to keep me going. At 3.30am the rod bounced and went light. Wondering what had happened, I stared out into the blueness of my underwater lights and saw a big swordfish shoot into the lights, make a turn and then head back into the lights, sending flying fish and squid scattering in all directions. I saw my glow stick trailing behind the fish and I knew that it was the fish I had been looking for! My good friend Richard Skinner did a great job on the rod, but unfortunately after two hours of back breaking work the hook pulled. Disappointed as we were, I was greatly consoled by the fact that we had finally confirmed a broadbill hook up. At 5.30am with the sky starting to turn grey as morning approached, I set up for one more drift before it was too late. The bait we used was a live horse mackerel on a single J-hook rig with 300 lb mono leader and a break away lead weight and green cylume light stick. The bait was lowered to approximately 300ft because my sounder showed all the baitfish were holding there, along with a few big marks which looked promising. Not even ten minutes later we hooked up! Richard did a great job on the 50 lb stand-up rod and brought the fish to the boat within 45 minutes. Luckily by that time it was sufficiently light that we could see what we were doing and anticipate the fish’s next move while on the leader. With only three of us board that night we had our hands full. A special mention must go out to Veriza for taking the wheel and driving my boat really well to present the fish for me to both leader and gaff in a safe manner, and for also managing to record all the action on her phone. She is one badass woman and I’m truly lucky to have her by my side always. There is no catch and release policy in Oman and I believe that I’m the first captain that has begun tagging billfish in the region with Billfish Foundation tags. This fish was kept due to its outstanding eating quality and I can assure you that nothing went to waste. My sincere thanks to all who have been onboard Soolyman and were involved in this quest over the last few months. Only you guys and girls will ever know how special this fish and this moment is to me and the future of a viable Muscat swordfish sportfishery.
ENYA has a much more well established broadbill sportfishery and catch-and-release as a policy is generally well supported. In 2018 I was greatly honoured to be judged top tagging captain in the Indian Ocean for broadbill swordfish for 2018 by The Billfish Foundation in Florida USA. I continue to tag and release as many swordfish as I can every season fishing on my boat Tega out of Watamu, Kenya. Recently I was involved in two recaptures of tagged broadbill which were very exciting. On 29 January 2016 Allycat tagged an estimated 70kg broadbill off Watamu, Kenya. The same fish was then recaptured on 11 March 2019 by Esa Roivinen from Finland fishing on Tega with me. The fish was caught in exactly the same spot as it was originally tagged and was at large for a total of 1 137 days and grew an estimated 30kg. The broadbill was caught during the daytime on the bottom in 1 500ft of water and took a dorado belly strip that was attached to 50 lb rod. Unfortunately it was hooked in the dorsal fin and came up dead. The second recapture relates to a broadbill caught by Sheni Jacob off the North Kenya Banks on 29 November 2014 while fishing with me aboard Soolyman. It took a night time trolled softhead lure with a glow stick and squid strip. We estimated it at 15kg and tagged and released it. The same broadbill was recaptured on 17 June 2019 by a commercial longline boat called Le Clipperton fishing off Reunion island. When it was recaptured the fish weighed 78kg after approximately five years at large. It had travelled about 1 400 nautical miles from its original tagged position. It’s interesting to get such different results from tagged fish and gives us a lot to think about.
For further information on fishing around Oman contact Bobby on <email@example.com>.
For further information on fishing around Watamu, Kenya, contact Calvin on <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
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Calvin du Plessis with a 15kg broadbill swordfish tagged off Watamu, Kenya, and ready for release.
MEANWHILE IN KENYA ... By Calvin du Plessis
By Jonathan Booysen
NE of the biggest wishes with that we fishermen have is that our children grow up to have the same love for the sport as what we do. Family bonds and lifelong friendships are forged through sharing the allure of the blue water and all the treasures that it holds within. it’s wonderful being out on the water, seeing nature at its best, away from TVs, computers, traffic jams and busy malls… the only distraction being a tug on the other end of the line. Over the past few years I have been very involved with junior development in competitive angling. I have had the privilege of seeing young novice anglers, some who had never been to sea before, become excellent accomplished anglers. Many parents have chatted to me about getting their children interested in fishing from a young age and asked if I had any suggestions on how to go about it. What I have learnt from my experience is that the younger the kids, the more ground work is needed before you even think of taking youngsters deepsea fishing. BABY STEPS It might sound obvious, but you need to start with the basics. Before putting together a serious fishing expedition, take your youngsters out on the boat for a ride to get them used to the feel of it. The idea is to get them to get them comfortable with the motion so that they are not nervous of their “first real fishing trip”. SEASICKNESS IS NOT A BIG DEAL There is always that fear of seasickness, but I find it’s best not to mention it at all. If it comes up in conversation, play it
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down so that there is no unnecessary apprehension which could possibly make things worse. If you suspect there might be an issue with motion sickness there are prophylactics that kids can use. Again, don’t make a big deal of it. You will get a very good idea if this will be an issue on that first boat cruise, hence its importance. If you see that there is a bout of seasickness coming on while moving slowly or drifting, increase the speed of the boat as this often helps. BE PREPARED FOR BREAKAGES After the first relaxed trip out to sea it’s time to go fishing for the first time. This might not seem that important, but to somebody that has never done it, it can be a daunting thought. Let them help pack the tackle and rods so that they can build up that anticipation and feel part of the crew. I would stay away from using your most expensive custom-built rods and reels for this first trip; use tackle that you won’t mind being bumped, broken or dropped into the sea. These things will happen as the juniors try to find their sea legs for the first time, so be patient. Remember to use tackle that is comfortable and easy for them to use. Spinning reels are the answer as there will be no overwinds or pyramids to deal with. Holding a spinning rod is also much easier on the wrists. KEEP IT SHORT Choosing the day to go fishing is also very important because you want it to be enjoyable and memorable. Bad weather is not conducive to fun, so make sure the forecast is good. Try to keep the sessions short at first. Youngster’s attention span is pretty short and they are easily distracted by other things happening around them, especially if they aren’t catching, so don’t plan that all-day fishing trip just yet. A few hours will be
enough at first. SAFETY FIRST Before heading out to sea it is vital that you have the correct size life jackets for the kids. I would suggest they wear them all the time. Another important factor is sun protection; sun block should be applied regularly to prevent any burns. This will also prevent you being in the dogbox with your partner if the kids do get sunburnt. CATCH A LOT — OF ANYTHING So you have bought the gear and decided on the day, now for the most important thing… If you want to get your children really hooked on fishing, go fishing where the fish are. Give them the best chance to actually experience the excitement of catching a fish on a fairly regular basis that first time you go out. This success will make your kids excited to go fishing again. I find that fishing on the bait spots is ideal for this. It’s amazing how kids can get excited about bringing up a string of mackerel or maasbanker. It is a real “Wow” moment for them, so take photos of their “first catch”. Remember to take a few extra sets of jigs because you’re guaranteed to have some tangles. If you are up for it, take a friend and their kids with. Sharing a fishing experience helps strengthen relationships with family and friends. It will also help spark that competitive spirit that we all have. As the kids get used to the fishing game the trips can be extended and different techniques can be taught. Whether you’re bottomfishing or gamefishing, get them involved in the process. Show them the different knots and traces that are used and rig a few baits so they can see how it’s done.
Use your judgement as to when it’s time to start focusing on bigger fish and being more technical. I would suggest starting slow and finally working your way up. Let the kids draw up a wish list of what they want to catch and focus on the most achievable ones. Try to go out with as many different people as possible. Everyone has their own way of fishing; they probably learnt it from their parents. This is not to say that it is the best way of going about it, but nobody is too old to learn and by spending time on the water with others, and “stealing with your eyes”, you will learn so much more. The way I see it, I learn 100 times more fishing for one hour with someone else than what I do fishing 100 hours by myself. When the fishing bug has really bitten and you are comfortable with the youngsters being on the boat, consider entering them into some of the junior fishing competitions. Dads and lads, junior interclubs etc are great places to get exposure to new techniques. Lifelong friends are made at these events so please support and encourage them. LESSONS LEARNT Take the opportunity during a fishing trip to teach kids meaningful lessons about life and the world around them. Preparation, patience, team work during and after the trip, respect for the fish they catch, being humble in success and defeat — all these are vital life lessons that can be taught by taking kids fishing. Enjoy the experience and savour the time together. You will be surprised how quickly time flies and when you look again, you will be the one asking your “kids” to take you fishing. And just remember that age old proverb:“Give a boy a fish and he’s fed for a day;º teach a boy to fish and he won’t have any money left to get into trouble.”
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When juniors get going there’s no stopping them By Dylan Westoby
When I turned 16 my birthday present was a skipper’s course with Mike Higgs. I finished writing my final exam at school in the morning and started my skipper’s course that afternoon. I concentrated on everything he told me and passed the exam with ease, becoming a legit Cat B skipper. Shortly after that we did a trip up to Sodwana. My dad had just done up a 15’ 6” Trimcraft monohull called Lucky
Y passion for fishing started at a very young age. My first trip to sea was off Port Edward with my dad, James, and my grandfather, Tony, when I was six. I caught a nice bull dorado that day and I’ve been hooked ever since. I have had many incredible fishing days since then and can somehow remember all the finer details of just about every Clyde Westoby, Dylan Westoby and trip. My dad always tells Drew Reynolds with their morning’s haul. me that there are never two days the same on the boat; there are so many variables and we never know what we are going to get. I guess this is what makes ski-boating and fishing so intriguing. By the age of 15 I was very fortunate to have a very large collection of trophy fish pictures on my iPhone and lots of very fond memories. I have always dreamt of one day being able to skipper a boat myself, land a big fish and share the “stoke” with some mates. Fortunately I didn’t have to wait too long.
Strike and fitted her with a 70hp Suzuki 4-stroke. It’s the ideal little boat for backline fishing and easy to handle on the beach. Unfortunately we were greeted with big surf and not the most ideal conditions for me to “cut my teeth” on, so Dad decided to take the wheel on this occasion. Although I felt confident enough to take the wheel, I realise that one must always respect the sea and not be foolish. We had an amazing trip and caught loads of fish. A few weeks later we headed for Mozambique. After a very long drive on a sandy road, we eventually arrived at our destination — a very well organised camp in a magnificent bay in southern Mozambique. Brenton Leisegang had invited us to join his family, the Reynolds and the Butchers at his camp for two weeks. The water was crystal clear, the other boats had come back with some decent couta and the waves were peeling off the point; I didn’t know SKI-BOAT March/April 2020 • 67
whether to pick up my fishing rod or my surfboard. I confess I chose my surfboard this time and had some waves of note. When we had a closer look at the other boats operating in the area we noticed a lot of damaged props and the odd gearbox around the camp so we had a feeling the launch was a bit rocky. We discovered this reality when we clipped the rocks on our first launch but fortunately no damage was done. After watching a few other boats come in and out we had a better understanding of the channel and managed to avoid the rocks from then on. After a few outings with my dad and my brother Clyde we had caught a large variety of gamefish and were starting to get to know the area a bit better. Our mates on Moyana had already caught a number of quality crocs so we knew it would soon be our turn. One morning I woke up asked my dad if I could take the boat out with my brother Clyde and my mate Drew Reynolds to go and catch a croc. Drew had landed a ’cuda close to 20kg the day before so I had a good feeling about my chances. My dad hesitated slightly, and replied,“Ja, okay, but just be careful of the rocks”. I have never got the boat ready that fast in my life! As we drove over the hill to the launchsite and got a visual of the surf I noticed the backline was a bit “cheeky” and suddenly I felt a little uneasy. After a quick discussion with my dad on the beach, we put on our life jackets, pushed the boat in and idled past the rocks. Once I got into the mid-break a few big sets stood up; I looked back and saw my mom and dad looking on anxiously. After doing two or three circles, I saw my gap and had a safe launch. That feeling of accomplishment was amazing! The next challenge was to find bait. I headed to the area where the fishing skis had got bait earlier, put the fish finder on and noticed a beautiful showing. We dropped our bait jigs down and were immediately on to full strings of mozzies and mackerel. It didn’t take us long to get a livewell full of decent bait and then we headed to the spot where I thought the crocs would be. Within minutes of putting our first livey out we were on with a ’cuda. Although it was a small one, there was great excitement and high fives allround. Another successful milestone with me at the helm. Soon after that I was still letting my livey out when it suddenly screamed off. I knew it was something big, but one minute it was on the surface and then it was deep down with big headnods. I was beginning to think it was a big GT. Eventually we got a visual and it was like a big silver submarine! Suddenly neither Clyde nor Drew want68 • SKI-BOAT March/April 2020
The Westoby brothers caught a lovely sailie and a 29.5kg ’cuda on Dylan’s first outing as skipper. ed to gaff this monster as they didn’t want to be responsible for messing it up, so I said, “No problem, pass me the gaff!” As the fish did its first turn past the boat I sank the gaff in just behind the
head. I wasn’t expecting the fish to be so feisty, but with one flick of its tail it pulled the gaff out of my hand and screamed off again with the gaff still in it. After calming down to a panic, I managed to get the fish next to the boat again and had a second failed attempt at gaffing it, with the fish pulling the second gaff out my hand. I felt like a matador during a bullfight, trying to slay a wild beast. We eventually retrieved one of the gaffs and made sure to hold on to it on the third attempt. The fish still had lots of fight in it and thrashed around for a bit before we managed to pull its head up over the gunnel and it flopped onto the deck like a very large sack of potatoes. A flurry of emotions followed along with lots of screaming, shouting and laughter. It was like a dream. My millennial instinct immediately kicked in and I lifted the beast for a number of photos with my iPhone. This was a special fish in so many ways. My previous personal best ’cuda was a 28.1kg fish which just fitted in the same size hatch, and we had to bend this fish’s tail to get it in the hatch so knew it was bigger. The day’s fun wasn’t over yet ... As we were making our way back up the reef we spotted a sailfish feeding on the surface. Clyde quickly grabbed his lucky popping rod and pitched a livey in front of its nose. Without hesitation the sailie smashed the bait and gave us an amazing display jumping all around the boat. After a relatively short fight we managed to get it next to the boat, remove the hooks and safely release it. It all seemed too good to be true. We did a few more drifts and Drew managed to land a few smaller ’cuda before we decided to call it a day. We had a good beaching, all grinnng from ear to ear. It was an amazing feeling, everyone was taking pictures and was such a happy moment. My dad was there to help winch the boat up and was obviously very proud of us. We were all very anxious to find out the ’cuda’s weight and were stoked to find out it weighed 29.5kg. It was certainly a day I will never forget, including learning a lot about the added responsibility and satisfaction of being at the helm. To put the icing on the cake I went out the following day and got another nice ’cuda of 21.5kg. During our two week stay the three boats in our group caught 13 species of gamefish — marlin, sailfish, ’cuda (five over 18kg), dorado, GT, yellowfin tuna, skipjack tuna, bonito, green jobfish, rosy jobfish, greater barracuda, wahoo and queenfish. Not bad considering how slow the fishing has been in Moçambique of late. My thanks to the Leisegangs for sharing their little piece of paradise with us, it was amazing!
SKI-BOAT magazine, in conjunction with Mercury, is proud to offer all junior deep sea anglers the opportunity to win awards for excellence in angling. If you are 16 years old or younger and you submit a photo of yourself and the fish you caught, you will receive a handsome certificate suitably inscribed confirming the catch. And there’s more ... Once a year the names of all junior anglers whos photographs appeared on the Mercury Junior Angler page will be included in a lucky draw and the winner will receive, courtesy of Mercury, a fantastic prize of a 2.5hp outboard motor. All you need to do is send us a photograph of yourself and your catch, together with the following details: • Your name address, telephone number and date of birth • Species and weight of the fish you caught • Line class used • Date and place fish was caught • Boat and skipper’s name All entries should be sent to : Mercury Junior Angler SKI-BOAT magazine PO Box 20545, Durban North 4016 or email your entry to <email@example.com>. There is no restriction on the number of awards that can be applied for, and SKI-BOAT magazine reserves the right to use the photographs as it sees fit. A selection of five award winners will appear in each issue of SKI-BOAT magazine. Junior anglers, Mercury and SKI-BOAT magazine acknowledge that you hold the future of our sport in your hands. Here’s your chance to show us what you can do!
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VIDAL FEVER by Luc Scalliet (14)
N August I was invited on a fishing trip to Cape Vidal with two of the most professional, experienced and hard-core South African anglers — Jono Booysen and Wayne Ritchie. Whether it’s a catch and release or a keeper for dinner, fishing at Cape Vidal is always exciting due to the incredible fish species found in these waters. Fishing there starts with a beach launch which makes for some adrenaline and excitement, but Uncle Wayne, our experienced skipper on Galavant, ensured we got through safely. We had two days of rain but that never stopped us from doing what we love. My heart was set on catching any pelagic species. On day one, making our way to one of Uncle Jono’s secret spots for catching livebait, I admired the surroundings;we really do live in such a beautiful country. His secret spot didn’t disappoint and we caught plenty of bonito and baitfish. We tried hard but that day ever yone caught fish except me. How could it be? I am “Lucky” Luc! “ Patience, patience,” I kept telling myself. We had little success with the livebait so we switched to trolling with konas for sailfish, and just before we decided to head back my reel suddenly started screaming and the call went out:“Fish on!” With endless runs and violent headshakes we were convinced that we had a decent tuna on the line. My arms got very sore fighting the fish but it was a blast. Tuna are known to be strong fighters, and the fish took nearly half
the line off my reel. With Uncle Jono by my side giving me advice I felt confident that I was going to land this fish, but sure enough the tax man came to claim my fish! It was heart breaking to only be rewarded with the head of the tuna and a chunk of mangled up meat. There’s a famous fisherman’s saying:“This is called fishing, not catching!” Sometimes you go out and despite all of your preparation and all of your knowledge you still don’t catch anything. That’s fine by me because it is not always about the “big catch” — it’s the whole experience of being out on the boat with friends that I love. Day two was even more rewarding, with us catching a few ’cuda and my own PB ’cuda caught on a live bonito; this is a thrilling milestone for any angler. The other highlight of the day was when Lorenzo (nine years old) landed a saily of about 45kg; it was amazing just to be part of that experience and to also release that amazing catch. The excitement of reeling in and landing a big fish is incredibly satisfying and what memories are made of. I just knew it was going to be an awesome fishing trip and I was not disappointed. My advice to young anglers is to take every opportunity to learn from the experienced guys. The best part of fishing with experienced fishermen (old timers) is that you get hands-on tuition in good fishing techniques and etiquette. Thanks to both Uncle Jono and Uncle Wayne for sharing their knowledge with the next generation.
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PLACES Hvar Island.
By Elize Smith (Mrs Seevarkie)
Success while fishing with Drazen and Tanja.
ISHING brings us numerous benefits, and the friendships that are made through this sport are incredible, often offering up unexpected surprises. I recently experienced this firsthand ... My story of an unforgettable adventure started when I was contacted by Gordan Govorcinovic who represented one of the Croatian teams fishing in the FIPS World Trolling Championships held at Sodwana Bay in February 2019. Gordan wanted to book two days of marlin fishing before the competition started so that he and his teammates, Bosko and Drazen, could familiarise themselves with the South African methods before it was game on. When they arrived I shared some local knowledge, helped them build their terminal tackle, rig a few lures and advised them which lures would probably work best in our waters. Next we put all our skills and luck to the test aboard Mrs Seevarkie. Unfortunately we didnâ€™t manage to land a big one over the two days. Nevertheless, during the competition the Croatians hooked and lost one marlin and eventually landed a black marlin which was successfully released by Gordan.
SKI-BOAT March/April 2020 â€˘ 75
The incredible beauty of Plitvice Lakes National Park.
Johan Smith’s first bluefin tuna. During the week we had a few drinks and many laughs together. A friendship was formed and they invited my husband and I to visit them in Croatia. They suggested we pack our bags and jump on a plane in September, said to be one of the best months to visit. They were so kind and eager to host us, but it all seemed a bit rushed and I hesitantly responded with,“Maybe we’ll see you in 2020.” I couldn’t get the idea out of my mind though and concluded that time waits for no man, so we decided to take advantage of this remarkable opportunity. After all, I’ve always wanted to catch one of those big bluefin tunas or a swordfish. On 3 September, we flew to Rome and then to Dubrovnik where we hired a small car. Driving on the righthand side of the road with left-hand steering proved a bit challenging for Johan and in the first ten minutes we already attracted some unpleasant reactions to
Croatia offered up plenty of good food and company. his driving. Communication was challenging too as most of the Croatians we came across weren’t fluent in English and we can’t speak Croatian. We stayed in Dubrovnik for three nights, experiencing the old town with all its histor y dating as far back as 700 AD. From Dubrovnik we set off to Makarska, a smaller town and real gem next to a huge mountain range alongside the coast. Swimming in Croatia is a real pleasure, with no sharks and crystal clear, warm water. OUr next stop was Split, one of the main coastal cities where we stayed for three nights. There we explored the city and also took a speedboat trip to see the Blue Cave and visited a few other islands. From Split we drove further up the coast passing Sebenik and on to Murter Island where Gordan’s boat was moored at Marina Hramina. There we were met by Gordan and Bosco and welcomed to Gordan’s holiday home.
Elize Smith’s first bluefin tuna.
On our first day of fishing we headed out 30-40km from the mooring to try our luck finding some bluefin tuna. We chummed with approximately 80kg of sardines and herring and put out four drifting baits at different depths in about 80m deep water. Unfortunately no tuna, but I managed to catch a nice dorado which one of the local restaurants in town prepared for us. The weather turned bad the next day and we were unable to launch, so we spent the day lazing at the beach and walking around the island and were amazed by the beauty along the coastline. With the weather still not playing along, day three was another no go, so Bosco treated us to a special beef barbecue, in real Croatian style. Superb meat accompanied by Cemish (white wine with sparkling water) and Rakia (mampoer). On day four we left Murter Island, driving along the coast past Zadar where we visited the Sea Organ and SKI-BOAT March/April 2020 • 77
En route to another island.
Dorado caught off Murter with Gordan and Bosko.
Visiting the sights in Pula.
Monument to the Sun before continuing on to our inland destination at Plitvice Lakes National Park. Early the next morning we packed our backpacks and set off for a day of exploring the streams and lakes of the Plitvice Lakes National Park. What a fantastic day enjoying the breathtaking beauty of nature. One of the lakes is so big that you have to take a ferry from one side to the other to carry on with your backpacking along the trails. This is a must-do for any tourist visiting Croatia. At the end of the trail you’re picked up by a truck that looks like a train which takes you back to the parking lot. From there we spent one at Rijeka where there is also lots to see and do, and the next day we set off to meet our other hosts, Drazen and his wife Tanja, at Medulin Marina. We were told that the bluefin tuna were more prevalent and bigger in this area. Not wasting any time, we immediately headed out about 15km and started chumming with four baits out. While waiting for the big one we were treated to a spread of cold meats, cheese, bread and a few beers. Johan hooked up on a nice size bonito but unfortunately we had no luck with the tuna. That night we went out for dinner with our hosts to try some of the local cuisine — truffles. It’s quite a different taste, though, so we decided to stick 78 • SKI-BOAT March/April 2020
The harbour in Rovinj.
with some more familiar food. The next day we just explored the town of Medulin with a little city train/car and that night we were treated to a Croatian dish of peppers filled with minced beef, a paprika sauce and mashed potatoes. Delicious! Pula was our stop the following day — a breathtaking place with stunning architecture and vivid history. That evening we were spoiled with a bluefin tuna steak — outstanding! Luckily Tanja and Drazen speak a bit of Dutch so we understood each other very well, much to Johan’s relief as his English “is not so delicious”. Drazen suggested that we go out for another round of fishing on the Saturday. Early in the morning he went and bought some fresh bait from the trawlers in Roving and got the boat ready, then after watching the Rugby World Cup match between SA and NZ and enjoying a very delicious pasta lunch we set out to try and land one of those big ones. When we reached our spot there were trawlers nearby pulling nets and lots of dolphins which was a good sign. After about 20 minutes of chumming with four drift baits in the water the first reel started screaming and it was my turn to fight the fish in 40m deep water. Drazen doesn’t have a fighting chair on the boat, so I fought it from the gunnel and landed a bluefin of about 50kg. I was ecstatic — my first fish over 50kg
and a bluefin tuna as well! Not long afterwards Johan hooked up too but unfortunately the hooks pulled. Luckily another reel started screaming and he was able to land this one — estimated at 70kg — on 50 lb stand-up tackle. It was his biggest tuna yet. It was a beautiful, calm afternoon and at approximately 5.30pm another reel started screaming. Drazen gave me this one to fight too and I safely released a bluefin tuna of roughly 65kg. Mission accomplished! Before leaving the next morning, we enjoyed fresh croissants and coffee at the marina to say goodbye to our dear friends, and then set off for Rovinj, one of the most beautiful towns in Croatia. Very early the next day we dropped off our car and caught our ferry to Venice where we spent the afternoon wandering the streets, amazed at the amount of water traffic patrolling the city channels. At last it was time for our final al dente pasta paired with great wine, and then a flight back to South Africa. What an unforgettable three weeks! We highly recommend Croatia for the bucket list beauty of it all and also to do some bluefin tuna fishing. To all our wonderful hosts — Gordan, Bosko, Drazen and Tanja — thank you so much! We will never forget the great hospitality you showed us and we hope to see you again soon.
BELL REEL KIDS WINNER
ACH year one lucky junior who writes a story for our Bell Reel Kids feature is picked in a lucky draw and wins a Shimano rod and reel courtesy of Bell. For 2019 our winner was Jordan Kahn from Ballito. Congratulations, Jordan! Jordan spends a great deal of time out fishing with his dad, Alain, and was fresh off the water when he received his prize from Blake Phillips of the Bell sales office (left). Our sincere thanks to Bell for their continued support of our juniors — they are the future of our sport. Are you 16 or under and would you like to have your story featured in SKI-BOAT magazine, win a Bell cap, jacket and model vehicle, and stand a chance to win a Shimano rod and reel? If so, then send your 500 word story about why you love fishing or about one great day’s outing to <firstname.lastname@example.org> along with a couple of high-resolution photos. See an example on page 72 of this issue. In the meantime, happy fishing!
SKI-BOAT MAGAZINE SURVEY WINNER HANK you to all the readers who took the time and trouble to fill in the readers’ survey and return the responses to us. We’ve learned a great deal about you and the kind of fishing you do and we hope you will be happy with the tweaks we make going forward. Sadly there could only be one winner and Anthony Cranswick of St Helena Bay is that lucky angler. He wins the Safari coolerbox and bundle of Mustad goodies courtesy of The Kingfisher.
SMALLS BOAT FOR SALE
AD INDEX Advanced Skippers’ Training . . . . . .56 Adventure Tropicale . . . . . . . . . . . . .63 Anglers Apparel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .66 Bazaruto Encounters . . . . . . . . . . . . .19 Billfish 15 000 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26 Boat for sale — Tim Christy . . . . . . .70 Club Marine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Club Marine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .74 Durban Ski-Boat Club Festival . . . . .38 Durban Yamaha . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20 Garmin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .35 Graphic Design Services . . . . . . . . . .66 Guinjata Bonanza . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .44 Lowrance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 Lowrance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .74 McCrystal Insurance . . . . . . . . . . . . .40 MDM — Raymarine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Mercury — Rutherford Marine . . . . .9 Mr Winch . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29 Mubala Lodge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Natal Caravans & Marine . . . . . . . . . .2 Natal Caravans & Marine . . . . . . . . .83 NSRI . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .76 Ocean Life Charters . . . . . . . . . . . . .19 Pangia Beach, Seychelles . . . . . . . . .14
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28ft LEECAT 800 EXPRESSA with 2 x 140hp Suzuki lean burn 4-stroke motors (2500 hours). All carefully maintained and serviced. Current SAMSA certificate. Known for its eyecatching design, the boat features electric f lushing toilet, large interior cabin/bed, covers, large fishbox, upholstered seating, Flotex carpets throughout, Cavicom, Lowrance 5-inch colour fishfinder, Lowrance 5-inch colour GPS, Furuno 16 mile radar. Viewing and test rides in Simons Town are welcome. Asking price: R430 000 Contact: Alan on 083 544 6748 80 • SKI-BOAT March/April 2020
Solly’s Anglers’ Corner . . . . . . . . . . .66
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BUSINESS CLASSIFIEDS & DIRECTORY
Last word from the ladies
WHEN GROWN MEN CRY The dangers of clubs, competitiveness and strafdoppe...
Y husband George is a man’s man — he enjoys rough conditions at sea, sleeping in the veld, wearing nothing but his Faf-speedo (an eyesore), drinking beer by the litre, whisky by the gallon and swearing like a sailor. He is also extremely competitive at everything he does, especially fishing. Bearing all that in mind, I was surprised to see him throw a few tantrums and cry like a baby during our December holiday at Cape Vidal. We recently became part of the Vidal Clan, a group of ski-boat enthusiasts who visit Cape Vidal during December each year. One of the fishermen arranged for personalised caps for the Vidal Clan, with the angler’s boat’s name emblazoned on it. George was very proud to become part of this fraternity and it meant that he only removed his cap when he retired to bed at night. While the cap gave George an excuse to hide his bald spot, it also made him even more competitive than before; he simply had to be the best fisherman in the Clan. Of course thecap-that-may-not-be-removed soon began to stink terribly, and George’s competitive streak meant our holiday was turned into a fishing bootcamp. We had to rise at 3am every fishable morning to be sure that we were the first boat to launch and then fish the whole day to try and catch the most fish. We were rather unsuccessful with our fishing exploits, but nobody ever beat us to the launch. Now we all love fishing and are used to most of the smells associated with our hobby, but it became a bit much when our sons and I had to hold our breath and stay mostly up-wind of George to avoid catching the smell of his cap. It reeked of a distinguishable mix of sardine, dorado, campfire smoke, whisky, beer and sweat; not a pleasant combination. It was after the “skippers’ briefing “that we witnessed George’s first 82 • SKI-BOAT March/April 2020
tantrum. Just to clarify, the skippers’ briefing is really just an excuse for all the skippers to congregate at the lookout point at Cape Vidal and have strafdoppe. Mates dream up any reason for one another to be punished with a mixture of the worst kinds of alcohol — and laxatives. As if this was not bad enough, one mate decided to decorate the rim of a drinking glass with an anaesthetic! When George returned from the skippers’ briefing he was drinking cane neat from the bottle, could not move his lips at all and was dashing for the toilet. The result was that George could talk and laugh but could not move his lips, just like a ventriloquist, and did not dare to cough. It was a ridiculous sight and we couldn’t help laughing which did not impress George. When he finally emerged from the toilet, he threw a tantrum and decided to sleep on the boat that evening — wearing only his speedo and cap. Despite his condition the night before, George was up at 3am the next morning banging on the log-cabin window. He was motioning desperately at his watch and the toilet, still unable to move his lips, and still sporting his speedo and cap. I had a hard time at keeping a straight face. After his rushed visit to the toilet we immediately set off to launch. Once out at sea we discovered that our Saltist BG5000 had been completely stripped of its braid and the red-head Rapala tied to it. George proceeded to throw another tantrum. Have you ever seen a ventriloquist throw a tantrum? It’s very entertaining, but if he’s also your skipper you have to be careful of your response! George was convinced that the boys had been playing with the rod and were hiding the truth from him. A short while later a Clan member sent a message around asking who had lost a red-head Rapala and a lot of braid. Apparently the Rapala was found dangling from a tree, with the braid leaving a trail all the way to the launch site. It
turned out that, in his poor state in the dark that morning George had forgotten to put away the rod before we drove to the launch-site. The rod had been standing up in the boat’s gunnel and the Rapala hooked onto a tree, so George had had his first strike of the day before we’d even launched the boat. With the anaesthetic still affecting George’s lips, it was impossible for the boys and I to keep a straight face when George apologised for his tantrum. We started laughing, and then so did George. The more he laughed — while not moving his lips — the harder we laughed, until we were all crying with laughter. This got even worse when we realised George was working extremely hard to try and suppress his laughter because the laxative had not yet worn off either! Things started to look up when we were pulling a few deep diving Magnum Rapalas and my rod suddenly screamed like a pig being slaughtered. We were convinced we had hooked a big tuna and there was chaos on our boat as we desperately started clearing lines to chase this big fish. George was barking out orders in ventriloquist-style, all the while trying to grab my rod. I managed to fight off the ventriloquist, but the fish presented a more difficult challenge. My muscles were crying for mercy when the fish finally relented and we got him close to the boat. As he surfaced our sons screamed with delight at the sight of a magnificent wahoo; it was our first ever, and George’s dream fish. We celebrated like mad people when the wahoo was safely deposited into our hatch and the anesthetic must have worn-off on George’s lips, because we could now see the emotion on his face (and lips) as he was overcome with emotion at having his dream fish onboard. Now we’re all counting the days — and fortifying our nerves — until the next Vidal Clan trip in December.