Ski-Boat magazine March 2023

Page 28

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2018

CONTENTS

March/April 2023 Volume 39 Number 2

COVER:CROC ’CUDA INDABOAT

Gerrie Peyper and Mark de la Hey show off the 24.8kg king mackerel Gerrie caught off Sodwana.

FEATURES

7Snaring a Speedster

Trolling tactics for ’cuda — by Justin Paynter

14Where to Fish

Part 8:Cape Vidal,St Lucia and Mapelane —by Mark Cockcroft,Johan Lange and Erwin Bursik.

26Completely Captivating

Boat review of the Invicta 30 —by Erwin Bursik

32Riding on a High

Reportback on the 2022 Yamaha Billfish 15000 —by Blyde Pretorius

36From Zero to Hero

How to win the Billfish 15000 — by Danie Visser

41Mussel Pilaf

Recipes for the weekend ahead — by Martin du Plessis

47Coming Full Circle

Small to big and back again — by Mush Nicholls

52Tropical Adventures

Cruising the big blue on a live-aboard yacht — by Erwin Bursik and Kirsten Daniels

DEPARTMENTS

4Editorial — by Erwin Bursik

5Postbox

38SADSAA News

43Subscribe and win

45Kingfisher Awards

59Bell Reel Kids

61Mercury Junior Anglers

62Marketplace & Ad Index

63Business Classifieds & Directory

64Rapala Lip Last Word from the Ladies

DOYOUPREFERANEZINE?
FINDUSFORFREEONWWW.ISSUU.COM
The official magazine of the South African Deep Sea Angling Association 2 2 6 6 1 1 4 4 3 3 2 2

Publisher: Erwin Bursik

Editor: Sheena Carnie

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Editorial Assistant: Lynette Oakley

Contributors: Erwin Bursik, Mark Cockroft, Kirsten Daniels, Martin du Plessis, Johan Lange, Mush Nicholls, Justin Paynter, Blyde Pretorius and Danie Visser.

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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.

PEARLSOFWISDOM

WITH the festive season a distant memory, we in South Africa have walked into a 2023 that’s been beset with heavy rains almost countrywide, alternating with blistering heat.

On the eastern seaboard, these conditions force the hot water of the south-flowing Benguela current to create small side eddies of this current to counter flow up against the often discoloured water. This has the effect of concentrating the hot-water-loving pelagic gamefish into areas where our ski-boating fraternity can target them fairly close to home.

Club news websites, especially here in KwaZulu-Natal, are getting cluttered with photographs of catches of dorado and the occasional yellowfin tuna and wahoo — exciting times!

I’ve had many decades of fishing experience on this coast, experiencing the good years and the not so good, and I believe the current signs augur well for a great ’cuda season. These beautiful, feisty and extremely wiley predators will bring a lot of extra excitement to our fishing fraternity while providing copious quantities of fresh white firm fillets to be savoured at the table. King mackerel is still my personal favourite — a tablefish I have grown up with and old on — as it’s extremely versatile whether you prefer it fried, curried pickled or on the braai. Roll on ’cuda season!

Justin Paynter, one of our most ardent supporters and a fastidious offshore angler, was recently awarded his Protea Colours — a richly deserved honour. In this issue he has shared some of his tactics for successfully targeting ’cuda while trolling. I got a chance to preview his writing and admit to picking up a number of interesting concepts I hope to put into practice long before this mag hits the shelves!

After the last three years when there were limited in-person events thanks to Covid-19, it’s encouraging to see the current trend of clubs and individuals once again arranging tackle- and fishing technique seminars. Even more encouraging is the extreme interest and good attendance at these events.

In the spirit of these seminars where experienced anglers generously share their knowledge, I want to share two pearls of wisdom I’ve picked up over the years:

Every angler — especially those in the offshore brigade — has theories about every aspect of fishing, even extending to who should be allowed on an offshore craft and what should be allowed in their lunch boxes. Among these theories are some “from my lips to your ears” happenings that will apparently determine when and how ’cuda will be caught on the KZN coast. Here are two such theories which I still believe to be true.

The first is from Pat Peddie, a stalwart of old of Mapelane Ski-Boat Club, and skipper of Nkwazi. “When the very high and large sand dune on the south side of the Mapelane launch turns a bright, strong green, the ’cuda will come. If it’s a dull green going to grey — no ’cuda.”

The second is from Les Buckle of the early Durban Ski-Boat Club, skipper of S44, later named Jackpot. Les’s theory was that you would catch ’cuda if the blue bottles washed up on Vetch’s Beach and the beach sand was so hot that, when running barefoot up the beach to collect one’s trailer you could only run about ten paces before hurriedly burying your feet in the sand where it was cooler. I vividly remember those days of burying my feet to cool off a bit, then catching my breath and running again, and repeating the exercise again and again until I reached the tow vehicle. Hopefully we could then hitch a lift on the tow vehicle and trailer to the wet sand to load up the boat.

Here’s to a year filled with fishing excitement and rewarding catches, but please remember to limit your catch and not catch your limit.

Erwin Bursik

4 • SKI-BOAT March/April 2023
EDITORIAL

LESSONS FOR LIFE

Dear Editor

I am fortunate to have a number of hobbies,including paragliding,adventure biking,compound bow shooting and,of course,deep sea fishing.Due to life and career pressures,I unfortunately do not get out on the sea as much as I would like — probably a maximum of five or six times a year.

Scarce though they are,my last two deep sea fishing trips taught me and my son Christiaan invaluable lessons that will stay with us for life.

LESSON ONE: DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU

WANT

DONE TO YOURSELF

We are based in George and went on a tuna trip in Cape Town with Fortuna a boat owned by a friend of mine,De Wet,and his son Douglas.The mission was clear:my son was turning 16 and I wanted him to catch his first tuna.

On the day we were joined by only two other anglers — a German visitor and his son.The rules were simple:the first fish was my son’s.

Within the first hour of trolling,the reel went.In line with the brief,my friend,the captain,grabbed the rod and called Christiaan over.To our surprise (and in my case absolute dismay),my son simply said we would get another chance,but this was the German kid’s only chance at catching a tuna and Christiaan insisted that he catch the first one.After about 15 minutes the German lad was rewarded with a decent 46kg yellowfin.

Thirty minutes later the Tiagra 50 ran again and this time my son was ready. The fish was strong and Christiaan had to keep focus while receiving tons of

advice from the side.

The end result? Christiaan caught his first tuna — a monster of 79kg! It also turned out to be the last fish for the day, but my son’s heart for the German child’s experience above his own is something that I will treasure for life!

LESSON TWO: A LESSON IN INTEGRITY

When I was Standard 9 I once bumped my dad’s car into my mom’s work’s car. Finance was an issue in our house,but my dad refused to lie and paid for the repairs from his own pocket,despite knowing that a little white lie about who the driver was would have passed the bill on to the insurers.This was my biggest lesson on integrity,and something that I will always remember and treasure.

On 2 January 2023 my son and I had the privilege of joining another friend of mine,Marius Botha,on his boat Addicted in Richards Bay.Marius is well known in the billfishing circles,being,as far as I know,one of only three people who have caught a grander marlin in South African waters.Marius has been part of a winning Billfish 15000 team before,represented South Africa internationally and has ±180 marlin catches as part of his impressive portfolio.

Once again the brief was simple: find us a billfish.Any marlin hooked would be mine and any sailfish or dorado would be for Christiaan.This was first time Christiaan was part of a trip where we specifically targeted billfish.

We got a marlin strike very early on, and just as I was getting excited,the hook broke! I was gutted to say the least.Marius reckons in his 30 years of fishing it’s the first time that a marlin hook broke.We got further strikes,but nothing seemed to go for us on the day.

Then,to our “disappointment”,a fish took a green lure and jumped.We called Christiaan to “get the Dorado out of the way”since this was supposed to be a billfish day.The fish gave no real fight against the Tiagra 80 and was alongside

the boat after about three minutes.

Our sentiments changed very quickly when Marius shouted “This is a shortbill spearfish!”(There might have been a few more descriptive words not fit for publishing in between).The fish dived down between the engines and Captain Marius kept his cool,opening one engine and instructing me to grab the leader,open the back door and pull the fish into the boat.The plan worked,but the fish was still very green and impossible to handle.Based on the condition of the fish we made the call to land it, which was never the intent.

Suddenly a few thoughts were voiced.Could this be a junior fishing record? It certainly would have been the local club’s record.“No,my son,we have valid fishing licences,but we are not members of a club.”“But Dad,can’t we quickly register?”“No,my son,we are not members.”

Then Marius mentioned something that hit deep.“My Dad is 70 and has been fishing for years;he has not yet caught a shortbill spearfish.I am 42, dedicated to billfishing for 30 years and never caught one.If I did,it would likely put my motivation to become a Protea billfish angler beyond any doubt.”The boat became quiet as we realised how easily we could let the fish be claimed as Marius’s.But Marius immediately said, “But I would never ever do that!”

What an experience.What lessons in integrity.My hope is that this day will remain with my son for the rest of his life,like my Dad’s car lesson to me.

Of course my other hope is that the Protea Committee select Marius for our National team anyway.It is people with this type of talent,commitment and integrity that we need!

In closing,I have realised that of all my hobbies,the experiences,friendships and lessons gained from deep sea fishing simply can’t be beaten. Hopefully we’ll get to eight trips this year…

SKI-BOAT March/April 2023 • 5
POSTBOX
Christiaan Steyn with a 79kg yellowfin. Marius Botha, Pieter Steyn and Christiaan Steyn celebrate catching a shortbill spearfish.

Trollingtactics for ’cuda

GAMEFISH anglers eagerly looking out for the arrival of ’cuda are like young,over-excited children on a long car journey,asking every five minutes:“Are we there yet? Are we there yet,Dad?”The anticipation of the arrival of probably one of the most exciting fish to catch is almost unbearable.

Designed like a sniper’s bullet,’cuda get the heart pumping at a rate of knots when they take your bait and your reel explodes into song.The only way to explain the sound is like an F1 car changing gears as it accelerates out of a corner into the home straight.Not much will beat a ’cuda pull.

This article is a two-part story detailing how to target these speedsters off a fishing platform using different techniques like drifting,trolling and fishing on anchor.I will also refer back to other articles where we’ve already covered other aspects like traces etc.

SKI-BOAT March/April 2023 • 7
TACTICS
A beautiful king mackerel, aka ’cuda, that fell for Justin Paynter’s tactics off Umdloti.

VESSELSANDEQUIPMENT

Each fishing platform has its pros and cons,but you need to ensure that whichever platform you use works for you and that it is well equipped.

So,what do we need? Well,firstly, we need a powered seaworthy vessel. These range from a paddleski,small boat (either a rubber duck or ski-vee big enough for you and a mate) or jetski up to a ski-boat where you can take on multiply crew members.

Your chosen vessel should be fitted with a fishfinder,GPS,autopilot,rod holders and,if space allows,a livewell but that’s not compulsory.Most anglers underestimate how important the fishfinder and GPS are on a boat. Going fishing — especially gamefishing — without a proper unit is like going fishing without fishing rods.

Human beings amaze me,often spending money on the wrong things. For example,we will buy the cheapest bed even though we spend half our life on it,or the cheapest tyres on our car even though they are what keeps us on the road.The same goes for fishfinders and GPS units.

Next time you go to the washbay, have a look — there will be boats with multiple rod and reel setups worth thousands upon thousands,but they will have a three-inch black and white fishfinder that looks like an old Nintendo Game Boy.It’s all well and good having the rods and reels,but without a proper unit,you are wasting your time.

I have been fortunate to fish with many outstanding anglers,and the one thing I have taken away from them is the importance of a good fishfinder and GPS.Byron Kane and Robbie Loumeau are two guys who use their Lowrance machines to their full potential,and the proof is in the pudding.

Auto pilot is a must if you can afford it,because it allows you to ensure you are able to successfully troll over your selected waypoints.It also allows you to set baits and clear lines while your crew member is fighting his fish as the boat continues to steer itself.It’s an absolute game changer.Just remember that an autopilot can only be used on a vessel with a fixed steering system.

Rod holders are just as important as fishfinders.I know this from first-hand experience,as I lost a rod and reel off Seabelle on the KZN north coast when I placed the wrong rod in the wrong holder.Don’t underestimate the power of insurance either.Thank goodness,I was insured by Club Marine,and they ensured my claim was handled swiftly.

Situating rod holders at different angles on a vessel has different advantages.Time and time again I go back to to paddleski fishing where the guys tend to get good quality fish consistently.If you have a look at their trolling rod

8 • SKI-BOAT March/April 2023
Whether you prefer to fish from a paddleski, jetski, ski-vee or bigger boat, Scott Magnus’s 19kg ’cuda (below) proves you don’t need a big boat to catch big fish.

holder positions,they sit at a 50-degree angle.I believe that their paddle stroke and the upright position of the rod allows the baits to flutter up and down in the water,creating activity for inquisitive ’cuda to investigate.I have tried this theory out on my rubber duck,and I have had huge success.

I also like to have a 90 degree stand up rod holder with a bait far out.

Traditionally on ski-boats guys used to lay their rods down at a 90-degree angle from the boat so that they almost looked like wings on an airplane.This was obviously very successful,and the old salts would insist that was the only position to fish for ’cuda,but again, what works for some doesn’t work for others.

In an ideal world,when trolling for these fish,I would suggest having two flat lines,one in the T-Top or stand-up holder,and another two in an angled

SKI-BOAT March/April 2023 • 9
A good quality fishfinder is essential if you want to locate the ’cuda. Here Byron Kane’s unit shows some good ’cuda showings which he, his daughter Rhori and son Brayden used to find the ’cuda and yellowfin tuna pictured above. The author’s suggested rod placements when hunting ’cuda.

rod holder at 50 degree.

And finally,the livebait well.

Anyone who owns a boat will say it’s a necessity,but dead bait works just as well as livebait.If you know how to rig a dead bait properly using those deadly Pulsator chin weights,I wouldn’t even waste my time catching livebait — I would run straight to Umdloti and be the first boat there.

TROLLING

When trolling for these speed bream, there are many helpful tips that can assist your hook up rate.

Speed

What is the correct trolling speed? That depends on the vessel or fishing platform you are fishing on.

When trolling livebait,I like to pull the baits at between 1.5 and 2.5 km/h. This is tricky,though,as current and wind are huge factors.

Your rule of thumb is to ensure that your baits swim perfectly next to the boat before you drop them down to your desired depth.They must be able to move freely and not look like they are being dragged.If this is the case, you will end up drowning your baits.If you put a livebait in the water and it spins or starts to pop out on the surface,you are trolling too fast.

To ensure that you get the desired speed,you can try the following:

•Put one motor just in gear,and the other engine switched off).

•If you have new engines,some have a function (troll mode) that allows you to drop your revs to ensure a slower trolling speed.

•If you are trolling too fast,you might have to change the pitch of your props as your props are incorrect (normally the case).

•You can also play with your trim and tilt.

•If you still aren’t winning,click the boat into gear and then out.This will

allow you to maintain a certain speed but also allow your baits to drop and then flutter up once you engage your engine again.This normally entices a bite,as it mimics a fishing ski action.

•You can also run up to the top of your marks and drift down.

Where to troll?

All the recent “Where to Fish”articles in the last few issues of SKI-BOAT will give you a good starting point in most parts of the country,so choose the areas you want to fish.For the purposes of this article I am going to refer to Umdloti.

When I set out ’cuda fishing I will arrive at Umdloti and look at the water colour and quality.I will also check the water temperature;a temp of 23°C is good,but anything from 24 upwards and you’re really in the game.

A good sign is also to see where the fishing skis are congregated.

Once I’m in the area I will stop the boat and see which way the current is moving.

I judge that by watching my GPS and the direction in which I am drifting.This will give me a good indication of where my starting point should be — either at “Selections”or the big bricks “chain pool”.

Once I have determined where I’ll be starting,I then start to get my rods ready.I like to start about 600m from my first mark.This gives me more than enough time to set the rods and get ready for action.

Rod setup and bait setup

I like to fish with four rods.This gives me the opportunity to fish all the different depths and maximise the opportunity of a screaming reel.

Rod 1:

•T-Top rod (standing upright)

•Bait choice would be a live mozzie or a dead mackerel with a green

bead trace

•50 m behind the boat.

•This is always the first rod I put out, because once it’s out,it’s out the way and you are then able to place your downrigged baits.

Rod 2:

•Flat line left (like an airplane wing)

•Bait choice would be a live mozzie/ mackerel/shad or a dead mackerel with a pink Pulsator duster.

•I will use a number 8 or 10 sinker. While the boat is in gear,I will let the sinker hit the bottom and then wind up five times.

The heavy sinker is to keep the bait as close to the bottom as possible.

•Don’t put the sinker too close to the bait;I would place it about 5- to 7m from the bait.

•Use a thin elastic to attach the sinker,as it is easier to break.

Rod 3:

•Flat line right (like an airplane wing)

•Bait choice would be a live mozzie/ mackerel/bonnie/shad or a dead mackerel/bonnie with a live glow Pulsator duster.

•Again I will use a number 8 or 10 sinker with the same proviso as above.

Rod 4:

•Rod placed between the engines, either positioned at a 45-degree angle or flat.

•Bait choice would be a dead walla walla with a number 3 or 4 sinker.

•The sinker on this bait should be positioned 10m from the bait.

Secret weapon: Flasher

Flashers were first used by spearfishermen who used to drop them to entice the gamefish to come closer to see what was happening before they shot the fish.

Deep-sea anglers have cottoned on

to this and now flashers,like the one below,are a must on any boat.A well known Zululand angler,Patat De Jager, makes a deadly flasher called “teasers flasher”.

A flasher is normally used out the back of the boat,about 10m out,placed in between the engines or on the downrigger.I guarantee that your “pull” rate will increase if you use one of

these,but getting the fish past the sharks and landing it is another story.

Downrigger

Not having a downrigger is like owning a bakkie without a tow hitch;a downrigger is a must.If you see a boat arriving at the washbay with a downrigger on,you know he means business and 9/10 he knows what he’s doing.

This piece of equipment is not cheap,but it allows you to get your baits into the zone.Your fishfinder shows you where the fish are sitting, and the downrigger has a depth counter on it,so you lower it down to the desired depth and hope there’s a hungry ’cuda waiting.

How to troll:

So,we have it all ready — the rig,the best baits,downrigger,a teaser flasher, and we’re at Umdloti — now what?

1.Determine your starting point.I love the 18m line off Umdloti and I tend to troll parallel to the land along the 18m line and then,when I make my turn and head back,I tend to go on the 22m line.

2.Always go with the current to start with.

3.Set the rods.

4.Put your boat in gear,and head towards your marks.

5.Watch the finder for showings,and if you see lots of showings hit the MOB (Man Over Board) sign and ensure you go over that mark on your way back up.

6.As stated earlier,I usually fish the line parallel to the shore,following the contour lines and the marks I have.If you don’t have any success that way,try zigzagging across the different depths.This means going shallow (towards land) to around 16m,and then going (out to sea) to around 26m.

7.These fish eat at a certain depth,so once you have located them,then stay on that depth,working the area.

8.’Cuda also tend to only eat one way— either into the current or against it.You need to pay careful attention to depth and the direction in which you were travelling when you get a strike.Often a boat will get a pull and then move off from the area.Remember,you are hunting,so figure out the pattern and, once you have,rather do sharper turns and move over the area where the fish are located than travelling hundreds of metres away and pulling your baits in a dead zone.

As I always say,time on the water, being in the right place at the right time,and ensuring your tackle is 100% ready will increase your chances of catching.However,what works for me, might not work for another angler,so be prepared to try your own variations on these tactics in your favourite hunting grounds.

In the next issue I’ll share tips on fishing for ’cuda while drifting or on anchor.

For further info on ’cuda fishing look at Justin’s articles in the July 2021, January 2022, March 2022 and May 2022 issues of SKI-BOAT.

SKI-BOAT March/April 2023 • 11
There are two optional trolling patterns worth trying off Umdloti. 1. Above — troll parrallel to the shore along the 18m line and then turn and return along the 22m line, starting out with the current. 2. Below — troll in a zigzag pattern between 16m depth and 26m depth. You can also locate the fish and then circle that area, for instance around Stud Rock.

Part 8 – Cape Vidal,St Lucia,Mapelane

WITH the development of offshore boating off the KwaZulu-Natal coast during the 1950s and 1960s,the offshore anglers who started fishing off Durban began to develop a beach launching fraternity that moved further south and north along the coast.

These brave ski-boaters with their 14- to 17 foot craft, mostly powered by one motor,started looking for semi-protected launch sites from which to venture out to sea to pursue their love of deep sea fishing.

Among these were many North Coast and Zululand sugar farmers who had the tenacity,resources and staff to explore what were then the northern beaches of Zululand,stretching from Mapelane in the south up to St Lucia and Cape Vidal to start with.

Initially they saw these as surf fishing venues,but soon they began to tow their ski-boats through long stretches of

riverine bush,coastal dunes and inland swamp areas to access this stretch which boasted pristine beaches and close offshore reefs,to test the warm tropical waters for the presence of gamefish.What they established,was that the area offered arguably the most prolific sportfishing opportunities available on South Africa’s eastern coastline.

St Lucia was the most accessible of the three spots.With its immense tidal estuary,existing land infrastructure and top class estuary fishing,St Lucia soon became the epicentre of the spotted grunter and kob fishery for ski-boaters.As beach launching from the northern side of the vast river mouth was deemed extremely difficult,ski-boaters found a way to Cape Vidal via forestry tracks.

Cape Vidal soon became the jewel of the Zululand coast. Its history,combined with the protected bay created by the substantial reef which extended to the northeast,drew the boating pioneers to set up camp and shacks to use as a base for this exceptional venue for beach- and boat fishing,as well

14 • SKI-BOAT March/April 2023
BACKTOBASICS
have been towing ski-boats to Mapelane since the early 1950s. (See the July 2020 issue of SKI-BOAT for more on the history of the area.)
Anglers

as family holidays.

Initially,the Department of Forestry controlled this area, but they subsequently handed it over to the then Natal Parks Board (now Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife),which managed the camping,beach access and chalets which were later built.

From the earliest days Cape Vidal became an extremely popular destination.Not only is it an outstanding beach venue,but its fishing from the shore is also revered by that fraternity and the offshore abundance of the full range of tropical pelagic gamefish and billfish provides some of the best offshore sportfishing in South Africa.

Jumping to the southern extremity of the area under review,we have Mapelane which is situated on the southern banks of the Imfolozi River.The estuary enters the ocean virtually alongside the St Lucia estuary.

The beach,sheltered by the immense Mapelane dune and substantial reef,was initially inaccessible to man and vehicle, let alone a vehicle towing a ski-boat.Again,it was the sugar farmers of the area who carved a track through the dense coastal forest abutting the Imfolozi River.They then built wooden shacks on the beach,some on stilts at the base of the high dune,to create the Mapelane Ski-Boat Club.

Access is now under the control of iSimangaliso Wetland Park authorities,but launch access to the beach should only be undertaken by ski-boaters after they’ve done a great deal of homework and have taken advice from the local operators.

The Mapelane Ski-Boat Club was later forced to abandon its beach facilities and relocate a kilometre or two inland, where it carved out a large camp site,clubhouse and boat parking area.

Mapelane has traditionally made a name for itself as the Natal snoek Mecca of the northern South African coast. Immense shoals of these fish frequented the area off the Mapelane lighthouse from May through to August before the annual rains and the off coloured waters from the Imfolozi River made fishing south of the river unproductive.

During this period really big king mackerel could also be targeted,with fish in the 20- to 30kg class frequently being caught.During the summer months,boats launching from Mapelane had to travel northwards to find clean water,and this is still the case.

St Lucia’s ski-boat club came into its own in the mid-1970s

when the boats started launching in the lee of the estuary’s northern breakwater.Offshore anglers made use of St Lucia’s centrally situated accommodation and ease of access,which provided them with offshore fishing up the coast to Cape Vidal,as well as southwards to Mapelane lighthouse.

The 1984 floods caused by Tropical Storm Domoina changed the estuary completely and after that it was often completely closed to the ocean,forcing boats launching from St Lucia to locate other viable launch areas.These sites enable an active fleet of both commercial and recreational craft to put to sea in pursuit of the pelagic gamefish and bottomfish of the region,as well as the marlin and sailfish the northern Zululand coast has become known for.

As the accompanying map of this area’s recommended fishing spots clearly shows,this section of the coast is extremely productive.Depending on how adventurous the ski-boater is,one can either base oneself at St Lucia and launch from there,or tow one’s boat up the eastern shores seeing as there is now a good tar road up to Cape Vidal.A popular option is to camp at Cape Vidal or book one of the EKZN Wildlife chalets situated just behind the primary dunes, although it’s best to check current reviews of these before booking.

Mapelane is by far the most inaccessible of these three venues,but it is a unique destination that offers an incredible experience.Unfortunately,with the heavy rains experienced since April 2022,the estuary prevents access from the beach, and high water on the “forest road”makes it largely inaccessible,even to 4x4 vehicles.Presently,towing a boat is practically not feasible.

The once popular cottages on the beach are no longer maintained by iSimangaliso and the Mapelane camp is exclusively for club members or by invite only.With the estuary being open constantly for almost a year now,anglers are therefore limited to the St Lucia and Cape Vidal launch sites.

St Lucia town has developed over the years and boasts a vibrant foreign tourist trade.There are numerous guest houses,lodges and a hotel,three supermarkets,more than its fair share of liquor stores,and a number of good restaurants and watering holes including the St Lucia Ski-Boat club which is open to the public for meals and a beverage on most days.

For those wishing to hire a fishing charter,there are a

SKI-BOAT March/April 2023 • 15
Skipper Mark Cockcroft with the Free State team during the Gamefish Nationals at St Lucia. The 13kg amberjack was an All Africa and SA record on 6kg line.
16 • SKI-BOAT March/April 2023

handful of very experienced charter operations in the area including the Wave Dancer and Free Spirit charters.Our sincere thanks to Barend Verster and Walter Leibrand who both kindly assisted with valuable insight on the area and confirmation of the information in this article.

The details provided below are for the benefit of skippers with their own boats who wish to venture to Zululand and experience the exciting fishing in the southern portion of the iSimangaliso nature reserve,namely St Lucia/Cape Vidal/Mapelane fishery.

Firstly,please note that if you plan to launch at Cape Vidal or St Lucia — and even more so at Mapelane — proper planning and homework needs to be done by the skipper to ensure that when you get there you don’t incur any unforeseen obstacles which could put a damper on what should be a fantastic experience.Some things to consider are launch permits,tractor fees and Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).

Launch permits (for both sites) can be purchased at the entrance to the Vidal nature reserve,and recently increased from R110 to R150 per launch.

The launch site at Cape Vidal enjoys the protection provided by the reef,thus making it possible to reverse launch. However,during peak seasons there is a private tractor that will push you in (provided you have a push plate) and retrieve you for a fee,making life a lot easier.Investigate this as part of your planning.

The St Lucia club tractor has become an essential feature of the St Lucia launch on account of the open sea beach launch.If you are new to the area,talk to the locals and Wiseman,the tractor operator and beach controller;they will explain the line and provide any guidance you need.As with all launches,patience is the key.

Wiseman is an old hand at this job and it is best to put your faith in his ability to read the swells and any shore dump, rather than to try and tell him when to push you in.He knocks off at 2pm,so don’t get caught on the ocean expecting a pull up out of the water unless you have an alternative plan if you beach after 2pm.Tractor vouchers can be purchased at the St Lucia ski-boat club and cost R250 for visitors and R200 for members,a small price to pay for the convenience.

The Mapelane,St Lucia,Cape Vidal fishery falls within the same marine reserve as Sodwana,stretching from the Mapelane lighthouse in the south,to Kosi Bay in the north.Be aware that no bottomfishing or jigging is permitted in the area.

Furthermore,a small area south of Vidal known as The Barges,and the much larger area north of Leven Point have been declared no fishing zones.These no fish zones are demarcated by white stakes on the beach and Ezemvelo officials have been known to monitor these from a vantage point in the dunes.

Notwithstanding the no jigging policy,there are sufficient other means of targeting the wide variety of gamefish and billfish.Drifting live- and dead baits has become more popular each time the petrol price increases.Hand in hand with this go popping,drop shotting,and spinning with stick baits and spoons while on the drift.On occasion,when the wind and current are not favourable,a slow trawl is necessary to maintain course.

There are of course still those die-hards who like to trawl a full spread with teasers for marlin,sailfish and wahoo,and others who are content to go to The Ledge (shown as the dark 50m contour on the map alongside) and pull Rapalas and

SKI-BOAT March/April 2023 • 17
The launch at St Lucia can be beautiful but wild, so if you’re unfamiliar with the area ask for advice from the locals. Skipper Mark Cockcroft with the Western Province team at the Gamefish Nationals at St Lucia. This 25.8kg king mackerel was a new SA record on 6kg line.
18 • SKI-BOAT March/April 2023 MAPELANE, ST LUCIA, CAPE VIDAL FISHING COORDINATES Base 28 24 27032 38 497 (Mapelane) Bats 28 14 24832 31 003 (live bait) Bats Deep28 15 21 732 31 803 (’cuda) Bats Pinnacle28 14 75132 33 025 (’cuda) Big Hill Deep28 17 64732 33 223 (’cuda) Chisa 28 24 50832 28 646 (’cuda) Dingo Deep28 26 96532 28 646 (marlin) Dingo North28 24 78132 29 418 (’cuda) Dingo Top28 25 14932 29 198 (’cuda) Dingo 28 25 45032 29 150 (’cuda) Drop 28 25 92232 27 442 (’cuda) Gat 28 26 25032 30 01 (marlin) Gat 2 28 26 49232 29 972 (marlin) Gat 3 28 27 67032 29 668 (marlin) Leven Point27 56 24032 36 329 (Vidal) Map Hole28 25 58032 30 252 (marlin) Marlin 28 21 76332 31 334 (Vidal) Marlin Vidal28 01 57232 36 068 (Vidal) Mountain Centre28 40 00032 39 045 (marlin) Mountain 128 40 03032 39 000 (marlin) Mountain 228 39 01532 30 050 (marlin) Mountain 328 40 04532 39 045 (marlin) Oscar Bait28 05 64532 34 604 (Vidal) Oscar 28 07 02532 36 128 (Vidal) Scavenger28 29 33632 27 170 (’cuda) Slides 38 20 78332 32 673 (marlin) Slides 2 28 20 96332 32 392 (marlin) Slides 3 28 20 56732 32 392 (marlin) Table Top N28 16 07132 32 715 (’cuda) Table Top S28 16 32132 32 623 (’cuda) Valley 2 28 18 41132 33 894 (marlin) Valley 3 28 21 69832 32 440 (marlin) Valley 4 28 19 37332 33 318 (marlin) Valley 5 28 17 71132 33 768 (marlin) Valley 6 28 26 95132 30 112 (marlin) Valley 7 28 19 81532 32 859 (marlin) Wally 1 28 17 87032 33 705 (marlin) Wally 2 28 19 16732 33 134 (marlin)

Speed Pros.On any given day success can be achieved in each of the methods described above.

BAIT

If you plan to drift livebait,the popular bait points (depending on where you launch) are as follows:

Mapelane/St Lucia — Directly behind the Mapelane Reef. If you have no success there,then travel slowly towards the St Lucia swimming beach on the back line.Maasbankers and mackerel are generally found on this line between 9- and 14m deep.Also along this line lies the old St Lucia dredger that was washed out to sea by Tropical Storm Domoina.This is usually an excellent spot for bait.

Other areas to try for bait going north are:Slides (approximately 22m),Mission Rock (13–25m),Bats Bait (12m) and Big Hill (20m).

Lately,by far the easiest means of collecting bait is to go to the colour line where the brown estuary outflow meets the blue water,and sound along this until you find the bait balls. Other boats and birds feeding are also a dead giveaway.

Cape Vidal — Directly behind the reef after you have launched,alternatively slightly south at a mark known as Bats Bait [28 14 248S 32 31 003E].

If bait is scarce,continue fishing with what you have and, while you are drifting (with one guy popping and another spinning),keep an eye on the sounder.If you see a showing, have the Sabiki stick handy to make a drop.

These are all mainly caught on The Ledge.On the shallower reefs you’ll find prodigal son and queenfish.

The species listed above can be targeted all year round, however this article will deal specifically with ’cuda,snoek, kingfish species,sailfish and marlin,and I’ll detail the best locations and times of year to target them.A list of co-ordinates is provided alongside,along with a map to give you an idea of where to find the various areas and reefs I mention.

King Mackerel (’cuda)

’Cuda can be targeted all year round,but are most prolific from February leading into the winter months.From late summer the shoaling ’cuda tend to come through thick and fast, and will take live maasbankers (mozzies),dead mackerel, spoons,bucktail jigs,deep diving Rapalas and Speed Pros.

Popular areas (starting in the south) are:the Pinnacles opposite the Jolly Rubino shipwreck south of Mapelane, Home Reef in the St Lucia Bay if the water is clean,Mission Rock (between 14- and 28m deep) and in the north between Three Sisters and Big Hill.

The most popular method of targeting these 5kg to 15kg shoaling fish is to drift with the current or slow troll (to hold your line) anywhere from 10m deep to 30m deep,changing the depth of each drift until you find the depth at which the fish are holding.

Much further north (from Vidal northwards) the reefs called Vegetation and Leven Point are also popular marks for the shoaling ’cuda.Some might say Oscar reef is good,but my personal experience with sharks — and especially dolphins — stealing your catch drops Oscar off my list.

From May to as late as December,big ’cuda — those 25kgplus models that the locals call “crocodiles”— can be found on The Ledge.The Ledge lies approximately 50m deep and then drops to 300m,or in some places to 600m,fairly rapidly.

With the predominantly north to south current,an upwelling of nutrients is created as water is pushed from the deep up to 50m,creating a healthy food chain of plankton, baitfish and the larger predators.Large ’cuda are targeted at various rocky outcrops along The Ledge including Big Hill Deep,Dingos,the Table Top,Bats Pinnacle,High Point and,my favorite,Scavengers.

GAMEFISH

The gamefish species you can expect to catch in this area include,but are not limited to,king mackerel (’cuda),queen mackerel (Natal snoek) and a variety of kingfish,all of which I talk about in detail below.

Other pelagic species you can expect to find are yellowfin tuna,bonito,eastern little tuna (skipjack),dorado and wahoo.

Depending on the speed of the current,a downrigger is advisable;alternatively 12oz to 16oz sinkers are a must to get your bait down to the reef.Don’t be scared to put a livebait out on the surface too — without a steel trace — as there is every chance of a tuna or dorado finding it on The Ledge.

Queen mackerel (Natal snoek)

Natal snoek are traditionally early morning winter fish that can be caught slow trolling a skirted sardine fillet or small Rapala on the backline in 5- to 10m of water.They also provide great excitement on light tackle if you throw small sprat-

SKI-BOAT March/April 2023 • 19
Mark Cockroft and his daughter Terri-Lynne show off her 20kg wahoo caught at the 2017 Snoek Derby. Elra Lotz caught and released this beautiful queenfish off St Lucia during the 2022 Queens of the Ocean competition. Dinner sorted. A nice selection of gamefish after a day aboard Watermark in late October.
20 • SKI-BOAT March/April 2023

type lures at feeding fish.Iron Candy and Onde Onde lures are deadly,and if you run short then Wave Dancer Tackle Shop in St Lucia stocks all the hot lures.

Historically Natal snoek have been caught on the backline from Mapelane reef to the Jolly Rubino wreck,with a particularly productive area being Crayfish Point just south of the reef.For the adventurous,Dawsons Creek which is the southernmost extremity of these waters,also produces quality snoek in the prime months.Heading north,each year in the St Lucia Snoek Derby decent snoek are caught along the backline in 9m to 12m of water from Slides to First Rock,Mission Rock,Bats,Big Hill and all the way to the Vidal Lighthouse.

In most years the prime months for snoek are May to August,with some of the bigger snoek making an appearance in September just after the red eye sardine run.However, since the estuary re-opened,and following good rains and dirty water in the mouth,the snoek have tended to hang around the dirty water well into the summer months.During this past December snoek could be seen jumping in the brown water and there were regular reports of 6- to 8kg snoek being caught opposite the estuary mouth and swimming beach,sometimes as late as 14h00.

Kingfish species

A variety of kingfish can be caught in the Mapelane,St Lucia and Cape Vidal fishery.These include the bluefin kingfish, bludger,yellowtail (black tip) kingfish and the big eye kingfish which provide tremendous sport for lure fishermen on light tackle.Then there is the holy grail of tackle busters,the giant kingfish aka the giant trevally/GT/Caranxignobilis.

Kingfish are said to be resident on the reefs inside The Ledge,generally up to 20m deep,however,big GTs have been hooked on The Ledge while using dead bonnies as bait. Because they are resident (as opposed to pelagic),environmentally friendly fishing and catch and release of these species is encouraged.

Kingfish are generally targeted while drifting livebait and spinning with lures,bucktails and drop shot.They can be targeted all year round,but the prime time for kingfish is September to March with November to March being particularly productive along this coast when the baby turtles hatch and are hunted by the larger predators.

Bluefin kingfish frequent the pinnacles and reefs opposite the Jolly Rubino wreck,and without changing lures there is a good chance of picking up the other kingfish species in this area as well.Conditions permitting,good returns can be realised by casting spoons and bucktails to the wreck itself. First Rock,Mission Rock and behind the reef at the Cape Vidal

up to 15m are also popular areas to target the smaller kingfish species.

In the larger category,impressive GTs have been caught at Crayfish Point and further south on the Pinnacles at the Jolly Rubino,but by far the most popular area for targeting GTs is Mission Rock.Again,livebait and spinning are the most popular methods,but trolling Speed Pros at 4- to 5 knots over the shallow reefs can also be effective.GTs like a full moon in summer,and you are sure to develop a deep burn in the arms when trying to stop one of these freight trains.

SAILFISH

Cape Vidal has,in some circles,been labelled as “sailfish central”along our coastline;some anglers maintain it’s even better than Sodwana.Different theories for this have been discussed around the campfire without a definitive conclusion being reached,but one thing is unquestionable:there is an abundance of sailfish from Mapelane to Cape Vidal.

It is not uncommon to hook a sailfish while drifting for ’cuda or other gamefish;in fact,it is quite a regular occurrence.I have experienced this on five occasions that I can recall.One such occasion helped dispel the superstitions that surround fishing vessels and fishermen.While drifting for ’cuda between Big Hill and Bats with my good friend Carmen Badenhorst,we were enjoying the boat lunch she had packed — including bananas.

In the middle of a discussion about whether bananas brought bad luck,we had a sharky sounding strike.Carmen politely dodged the “shark”and offered the rod to me.No sooner had I picked it up when the water exploded as a sailfish realized he’d been hooked and breached the surface next to the boat.The sailie was safely released but,needless to say, bananas,eggs,oranges and women are all welcome on my boat.

Sailfish hook ups are fairly regular all year round in the St Lucia/Vidal area,but the best time to experience the gill rattling thrill of a sailfish strike in our fishery is August to November,with better fishing closer to November.

The predominant area to target these exciting fish lies between St Lucia and Cape Vidal.My experience is that more sailfish are caught in the 20m to 30m depth range,although I have also caught sailfish and seen others caught on the 50m mark on The Ledge.

This being the case,I would suggest working between the 20m and the 50m marks in the following areas which are all popular for sailies:Perriers reef,Bats Cave,Big Hill and Cape Vidal lighthouse.

MARLIN

The Mapelane/St Lucia/Cape Vidal area is a prolific marlin fishery holding blue marlin,striped marlin,black marlin and shortbill spearfish.

The drop off (Ledge) in this area is close to the shoreline, reducing the travel time before lines in,adding to the attraction and making marlin accessible and easy to target on boats

SKI-BOAT March/April 2023 • 21
This ±18kg GT was caught and released in January 2021 with the able assistance of Logan Baty. Rachelle Botha with a sailie ready for release off St Lucia.

of any seaworthy size.Perhaps it is the attraction of the variety of gamefish or possibly the expense that detract from marlin being targeted as much as they could be;however,for the adventurous, there is terrific potential of big fish in greater numbers in this area.

Blue and striped marlin are usually targeted using konas,mainly on account of the strong currents in the deep water.The prime time to target these fish is November to April.

Generally,the working depth ranges from 300m to the 1000m mark but is area specific,as explained below.The areas to concentrate your efforts for blues and stripies include,but are not limited to:

The Canyon at Leven Point which drops quickly from 90m to 500m.Moving south,zig-zagging the 500m contour has proved to be very productive up to Cape Vidal point where the 800m contour is a good area to work.

Further south towards St Lucia,the Slides hold abundant structure from the 200m to the 600m mark,and this area is popular amongst the St Lucia and Mapelane marlin anglers. Even further south is the Mapelane Gat.This is another canyon that drops from 200 to 600m very quickly and creates a nice upwelling of nutrients and baitfish.

Black marlin of all sizes can be caught along the entire stretch in varying depths.This past December while fishing for livebait at The Dredger in 12m of water,I (Johan) caught a black marlin on a light tackle flick stick.A few years back, Mark also caught a black marlin in the shallows off the Slides; it was so small that at first he thought it was a dorado. However,the black marlin in the shallows are not always

small;within the past five years,a 300kg black marlin was speared in 8m of water off Leven Point.At the time this was a pending record.

It follows that you can and should target black marlin from the shallows up to the 500m mark using my preferred method of livebait angling.Alternatively, if the current allows,target your black marlin on swim baits and skip baits. Unfortunately,our generally rough sea conditions and the low angle of our viewpoints on our boats,makes the switch bait method very difficult to use effectively in this area.That said,it will not hurt to have a bait ready to switch if you do see a marlin come up on a teaser or dredge.

The productive areas to work are Oscar from the 50m to the 500m mark and,my favourite,from Mission Rock to Slides between the 50- and the 300m mark.This area is loaded with structure and, as the old adage goes,one should always fish the structure. Further south,the upwelling at the Mapelane Gat generally creates a holding pattern for marlin livebait such as the tuna species,and is also very productive.Keep a look out for the thermocline as that can be a game changer.

For further information contact the specific ski-boat clubs:

•St Lucia Ski-Boat Club: Peggy Rigby Cell: 073 789 8660 <secretary@slsbc.co.za> <www.slsbc.co.za>

•Mapelane Ski-Boat Club: Lourens (chairman) 083 448 0971

•Cape Vidal Ski-Boat Club: 083273 0872 <rhagemann@telkomsa.net>

22 • SKI-BOAT March/April 2023
A striped marlin about to be released.

The Invicta Cat 30 by Maiden Voyage Industries

Reviewed by Erwin Bursik

CAPTIVATED is an understatement when searching for adjectives to describe my first impression on seeing the fully completed Invicta Cat 30 lying on her moorings in the Harbour Island Marina in Gordons Bay.I actually stopped in my tracks when she came into view.She’s stunning! I must admit to being quite moved at finally seeing the fully completed craft.

Whilst it is always a bit of a come down when I first have to board a photo boat rather than taking the helm of the craft to be reviewed,it gives me great insight when I’m able to observe the boat’s over-water performance from every conceivable angle.When I eventually do take control of the boat under review,these observations bring many aspects into perspective,giving me a far better understanding of her performance.

In the case of the Invicta Cat 30,my original introduction to her (see May/June 2022 issue of SKI-BOAT) was with the initial centre console configuration.This gave me an added advantage to work from when physically reviewing the full cabin version I had gone to Cape Town to check out.

My very positive experience of this original sleek craft was almost a race-horse-at-full-gallop outing during my first run with her in False Bay.That feeling came flooding back as I watched Henry Swanepoel putting the full cabin version through her paces for the camera.

Having preconceived ideas is almost unavoidable,and in this case I expected a less “cigar boat”performance than what I had experienced and viewed early last year,and a more staid,dignified craft when it came to the on-water experience.To my surprise, when I eventually got behind the helm,her hull-over-water performance was equally as exciting as that of the centre console boat except for one aspect — on the full cabin model I didn’t have the 30 knots of generated wind speed trying to rip my glasses and cap off my head.

26 • SKI-BOAT March/April 2023
BOATREVIEW
SKI-BOAT March/April 2023 • 27
28 • SKI-BOAT March/April 2023

Seriously,though,I did anticipate a much more staid performance due to the substantial cabin weight and increased wind resistance and aerodynamics.In fact,the cabin version still provided as exciting a ride,but with a lot more skipper and crew comfort.

Her hull-over-water stance was a tad more pronounced than I had expected,but her inherent hull design with the two transfer steps which allow passive air ventilation,still work to decrease the wetted surface of the hulls.

I noticed that with the generated power of the four Suzuki 140s only minimal bow-up trimming was required for optimal speed and comfort.Interestingly,and after much playing with trims,I discovered that virtually no lateral trimming was necessary,a factor I will discuss further down when I speak about the counter-rotating propellers used on the Invicta.

While we did not experience very rough sea conditions,there was enough bounce on the ocean’s surface to enable me to try and get her to throw water or pound coming over a crest. I tried very hard,to the extent that Henry promised me a couple of bottles of Captain Morgan if I got water on her substantial enclosed windscreen.I failed.Looking at the photographs, it’s obvious that the bow and chine spray developed is sent well aft and very low,and as such even wind-driven spray in a quartering sea did not cause concern.

It is imperative that I highlight the Invicta’s power source and the concept of using four lower rated horsepower motors as against two bigger motors,generating an equal performance overall.A large factor in Henry’s decision to use four motors was based on ensuring the crew’s safety if one of the motors failed out in the tuna grounds off Cape Town.When weighing up whether you want to return on three motors as opposed to one motor,it’s not even a question.Running the Invicta on three motors made virtually no difference to her normal cruising performance.

As a matter of interest,Henry and his team tried running the identical craft with a pair of 200hp Suzuki motors,and while her performance was virtually equal overall,there was

an increase in fuel consumption.Henry has done extensive fuel flow charts and performance stats in a direct comparison between the four 140hp motors and the two 200hp motors.A pair of 300hp motors could also be used,but overall costs would be higher than the four 140hp motors,and they predict running costs would be higher too.The upside is if one motor died,one would still have an easy ride home on the other three,compared to running all that way on one 200hp motor.

The other mental gymnastics I had to do before seeing the craft concerned the configuration and setting of the counterrotating props.A long and varied debate is ongoing,but in the end Henry fitted two counter-rotating props on each transom (see photo alongside).In effect,this produces equal thrust if the throttles are powered equally.This obviates the lateral torque one normally gets when one motor on each sponson is used.

Without exploring various other options,this large craft performed exceptionally well when I put her through numerous exacting manoeuvres.No matter how hard I tried,I could not get her to either drop a sponson or require lateral trimming;the only trimming I did was bow up or down.

While on the subject of power generation,the power to speed curve she has with four motors meant she got onto the plane very quickly at 2700rpm and settled at 13 knots at 3000rpm,20 knots at 3800rpm and maxed out at 6000,producing 44 knots.

I have come to the conclusion that my initial reserve about skippering a craft with four motors was merely a mind over matter issue.Once I ignored the four motors versus two story while going through complex manoeuvres, and treated it like a normal exercise — just observing and feeling the craft’s performance — everything was simplified and I enjoyed the ride.In essence, the power was in the two throttle

SKI-BOAT March/April 2023 • 29

levers in my hand and not my head,which was befuddled by the four motors and the array of console gauges.This mindset change enabled me to really appreciate the Invicta’s hull over water performance.

One crucial aspect I needed to experience was the Invicta’s performance while going into tight turns,pulling out of them,digging out of the hole and getting back onto the

plane,as would be experienced when taking a craft this size through the surf at a destination such as Sodwana Bay.Her torque was electric,and pulling into and out of such a manoeuvre was easy.

Thinking in terms of marlin fishing with the Invicta Cat,I ran her through all the scenarios we would do when trolling for Billfish,observing her wake from 5 knots to 8 knots. Initially,I presumed that the four props would produce a lot more white water than two would have,and therefore spread the wake a lot more.Wrong.The wake created was very acceptable and really only started to spread out at over 8knots.

The next test was backing up on an imaginary dancing billfish.With the motors trimmed out a tad and some active throwing of the throttles,she responded with minimal wash over the transom.With outriggers and a fighting chair fitted, the Invicta would be ready,willing and able to take on the billfish found off South Africa’s coast.

In this same vein,Henry told me he is busy designing a flybridge option of the existing full cabin craft.Judging by what he has achieved with the version I just tested,I look forward to seeing what ideas he comes up with in this regard.

Finally I tested her fishability.I reduced the four motors to one and tried a dead slow troll which was 700rpm RPM at just over one knot,which is acceptable for livebait trolling for gamefish,while holding direction stably in the prevailing sea conditions on autopilot.

As I have so often said about the boat reviews I do,I primarily discuss the aspects of the craft with regard to its performance on the water;the photographs convey most of what you need to know about her looks,accessories and boat layout.

To be blunt,to properly appreciate and assess any craft, talk and splurb has to be overridden by one’s personal look, touch and feel — it’s a case of getting to the craft and personally doing your own inspection of it.In saying that,it behoves me to give a general rundown on my opinion of the design implementation and the quality of finishes of the craft being reviewed.In the case of the full cabin version of the Invicta Cat 30,I was astonished at Henry’s attention to detail and the thought and practicalities of the design,especially the innovation and finishes he has achieved.

In line with what I said in my original article last year, Henry’s individualistic thinking and design is remarkable — certainly no cut and paste of other boats.This shows itself in the design and fabrication of the full cabin and its eventual completion.As an example,the exterior facade glass work frame of anodised aluminium,the comfortable helm station and setting of the instrumentation,the finesse of the seating, the exceptional electrical wiring and the accessibility thereto is all outstanding.

Understandably,with their easy access to South Africa’s incredible big tuna fishery and Henry’s passion for catching them,this has strongly influenced the deck layout and various accessories.The aft console tackle and bait station,as well as the large tuna fish hatch with washdown facility and macerating flushing system is but a taste of what thought,experience and design ingenuity has been incorporated.For further information on the full array of the extensive onboard facilities email Henry <henry@mvimarine.com>.

With a second Invicta Cat 30 in the mould as I write,I am of the opinion that Maiden Voyage Industries,under the direction of Henry Swanepoel and the watchful eyes of his father, Hendrick Swanepoel senior,will do incredibly well.

Discerning boat owners should take serious note of this extremely well designed and constructed craft that will make its mark here in South Africa and also in the international boating world.Already South African-designed and manufactured craft are recognised worldwide as being tried and tested in some of the most challenging offshore sport fishing conditions on the planet,and are respected because of it.The Invicta Cat 30 will help uphold this reputation.

30 • SKI-BOAT March/April 2023
COMPETITION

2022 Yamaha Billfish 15000

IT’S Billfish time! For anyone who has ever attended the Billfish 15000,these words say it all! Once again Dorado Ski Boat Club delivered,making the 2022 Billfish 15 000 tournament the most spectacular event of the year.

Last year’s event was held at Sodwana Bay from 13 to 18 November and,as usual,started off on the Saturday with a Sponsors Night,where the committee thanked all the generous sponsors.

The teams arrived on the Sunday afternoon ready to register for the fully subscribed tournament,and later that evening gathered in the giant marquee pitched at Sodwana Bay Lodge for the opening event.

With Sodwana Bay Lodge in the process of upgrading and

building new boat lockers,the marquee had been moved from its usual spot which caused a few complications.With no electricity,no water and just loose sand everywhere,the venue was only accessible to 4x4 vehicles. Luckily a sponsorship from Victron Energy SA came to the rescue and they set up a remarkable solar power system so that the whole tournament was powered totally by the sun.

Unfortunately Monday was a blowout,but the teams were entertained

with Buffelsfontein Brandewyn and lots of other beverages sponsored by Halewood Artisanal Spirits.

Our MC,Jaco Hendriksz,did a great job of entertaining the crowd for the week.Anglers that made a boo-boo each day were crowned the “Kat se Gat”and those who did something right were crowned as “Kat se Snor”.

The Wednesday evening was auction night,with a boat auction,some hunting packages up for grabs,an Australian fishing trip and a few other items.A percentage of the funds raised at the auction were donated to the Benjamin Osmers Foundation and Sodwana’s animal shelter.

The fishing began on Tuesday and the rest of the week was spectacular for marlin fishing,with lots of bycatches also coming to the scale.

At the end of the week Team Bullship took the honours with the biggest bycatch of the week.They caught a massive wahoo of 37,6kg

Team Lauriska with their first place prize of a Mahindra tractor.
34 • SKI-BOAT March/April 2023

and walked away with the Calcutta prize worth R63000.

Record daily billfish hookups and releases were recorded,but then nothing less is expected of the best of the best marlin anglers in South Africa.In total 81 billfish were released in the week — five black marlin,50 blue marlin,seven sailfish,ten striped marlin, and seven shortbill spearfish!

Probably the best partnership of the tournament was that between Team Lauriska and sponsor Mahindra.From the word go,Theo Lütt from Mahindra Agri took on the challenge of getting Lauriska to and from the beach, because the anglers’tractor had broken down.In exchange, Team Lauriska set out to advertise Mahindra as much as they could.At the final prizegiving, Team Lauriska took top honours,winning themselves the first prize — a brand new Mahindra 7590 4x4 tractor. Dreams do still come true! Turn overleaf to read the full story of how they went from zero to four billfish and a tractor.

Our sincere thanks to Beach Control,Mariette Hendriksz and Lizelle Els,who handled everything like pros and made sure launching and beaching went smoothly every day.The team spirit and camaraderie was incredible.

We must also thank our Heavenly Father above for another great week and for keeping us safe.To each and every angler,sponsor and organiser involved,thank you for making the Billfish 15000 stand out above the rest. We hope to see you all again atSodwana for the 37th Billfish 15 000 from 12 to 17 November 2023.

TOP FIVE TEAMS

SKI-BOAT March/April 2023 • 35
1. Lauriska . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .899 pts 2. Satisfaction . . . . . . . . . . . .795 pts 3. Seevarkie . . . . . . . . . . . . . .508 pts 4. Envivo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .485 pts 5. Bullship . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .485 pts
An incredible 81 billfish were caught during the 2022 Billfish 15000. Satisfaction took second place and won two 60hp Yamaha motors. Seevarkie came third and won a solar system from Probenergy. Team Black Bart won the jetski division. Biggest bycatch of the week was Team Bullship’s 37,6kg wahoo.

How to win the Billfish 15000

ON the Saturday morning we were on our way to the 2022 Billfish 15000 knowing Team Lauriska had no towing vehicle on the beach for launching and not knowing what we would do.It didn’t take long for one of the competition’s main sponsors,Mahindra,to come to our rescue.They offered us a tractor to use for the whole week! Little did we know then what this relationship with them would mean to us.

Our team consisted of Johan Botha, a longtime friend,Johan Wessels from Fishing Pro Shop,Protea angler and friend Handro Swart,his son Whelan, and myself.Our plan for the week was to fish in an area that was well known to us,namely Jesser Point and Lighthouse.We were going to pull a spread of lures with the addition of a dredge teaser thanks to the newly fitted dredge boom on my boat.We also had pitch baits ready if any opportunity presented itself for that.

Monday was a blowout,but on Tuesday we managed to hookup on a marlin with Johan Wessels in the fighting chair.Unfortunately,we lost it after about 15 minutes,just when it was close to the boat.

It was not the start that we were looking for,but we kept our heads high, determined to do better.

On the Wednesday morning things started to change for us,and Johan Botha spent one hour forty minute battling with a blue marlin that we successfully released.Later the same day we released a striped marlin with Whelan in the chair.

With much excitement on the boat, and just before lines up,we almost managed to get our third marlin for the day but it didn’t stick.At weigh in that night we were in fifth position;we were slowly climbing the ladder!

Thursday started very slowly,with the morning not producing many hookups.Eventually about 12 o’clock we manage to hook up and release a blue marlin;this time it was Handro

Swart’s turn in the chair.At weigh in we saw we’d moved up into second position,and started to believe we could win the tournament!

A strong north-easter was predicted from midday on the Friday,so we knew we had to get a fish early if we wanted to move up into first place.

At 9am we were working the area in front of Jesser Point where we got two fish earlier in the week,when we got another hookup.Johan Wessels was back in the chair and we managed to release a shortbill spearfish five minutes later.As predicted,the weather turned bad and eventually at 1.30pm the competition was called off.

We knew we’d done it and were overjoyed when the organisers confirmed our win!

Our thanks to Dorado Ski Boat Club for the wonderful competition and to all our friends and families for their support.A special thanks to Theo and Maryna Lütt from Mahindra Randfontein for all their help and the tractor they lent us.

36 • SKI-BOAT March/April 2023
Johan Botha, blue marlinWhelan Swart, striped marlinHandro Swart, blue marlinJohan Wessels, shortbill spear

PRESIDENT’SREPORT

IT is always a great feeling to be able to acknowledge excellence, and once again I have the privilege of doing this.

Late last year,and again earlier this year,our selectors were hard at work sorting through all the nominations received for various tournaments,both local and internationally.

The following anglers have been selected to represent SADSAA in the Bottomfish Nationals to be hosted by Eastern Province Deep Sea Anglers Association from Diaz Club in Kentonon-Sea in March.

•SADSAA Mens Seniors:DP Burger (WP,Captain),Kevin Clark (EP) and Andrew Harris (Border).

•SADSAA Ladies Seniors:Michelle Richards (Natal,Captain),Belinda Fischl (Border) and Jacqueline Leuf (Border).

•SADSAA U19:Divan Burger (WP, Captain),Alex Tyldesley (Natal) and Francois Rossouw (FS).

•SADSAA Masters:Allen Ford (Border,Captain),Francois Beukes (Natal) and Kobus Koekemoer (Border).

The following Protea teams were also selected to fish a few international tournaments:

Oliviera (Southern Gauteng, Captain),Abed Kahn (Natal), Douglas Dustan (Natal) and Justin Paynter (Natal).

Our sincere congratulations and best wishes go to each of these anglers.Tight lines and fair seas.

CLAIMING RECORDS

At SADSAA we always strive to improve and move forward,not just focusing on our anglers,but also on the environment.We recently adopted the International Game Fishing Association (IGFA) rules pertaining to the recording of catches and the application of records for these catches.

IGFA is internationally recognised as the organisation that records and awards World Records for all fish species caught with rod and reel,and SADSAA is proud to be so closely aligned with such a prestigious group. IGFA is well known for its environmental and educational efforts,and anyone who wishes to know more can contact me or Peet Koekemoer, SADSAA’s Records Officer.

I thank Peet for taking the time to explain a little more about recording and registering your catch as a South African,All African or World Record...

•Deep sea tournament hosted in El Gouna,Egypt in February:Frank de

•IGFA Gamefish Tournament to be held in Miami,USA in March: George du Plessis (Natal,Captain), Abed Kahn (Natal),Francois Bezuidenhout (Mpumalanga) and George Breedt (Zululand).

•ILTAA Light Tackle Sailfish Tournament to be held in Panama in June this year:Mark Cockcroft (Sothern Gauteng,Captain),Len Matthews (Griquas) and Brendan Davids (WP).

When thinking about rewarding anglers for their record catches,you might think they are destroying our fish resources just for personal rewards.This is not our aim,and we would like to share some major changes we’ve made which ensure we always focus on the environment first, but at the same time reward the anglers for their great catches.

Last year we aligned SADSAA’s record catching rules with IGFA’s;this means anglers only have to remember and comply with one set of rules when it comes to recording South

Keep up to date with all the SADSAA news by visiting our website www.sadsaa.co.za or our facebook page @sadeepseaanglingassociation

38 • SKI-BOAT March/April 2023

You

African,African or IGFA record catches,and also allowed us to set the focus back on the environment.We would like to highlight the following major changes:

Firstly,we have our younger generation split into four categories,namely:Smallfry Girls and Boys (ages 0-10) and Junior Girls and Boys (ages 1116).Secondly,we focus on All-Tackle length records and how we record the longest fish caught.

Smallfry and Junior records: All species recognised for Line Class records and Tippet Class records are also recognised for Smallfry and Junior records.All IGFA International Angling Rules apply,with the exception that fish do not have to be weighed on land but can be weighed on the boat.When the fish is weighed on the boat,the fish MUST be released ALIVE.

All-Tackle length records: All-Tackle length records are kept for the longest fish of each eligible species caught by an angler according to the IGFA International Angling Rules in any Line Class up to 60kg (130 pounds) and MUST be released ALIVE.

All-Tackle Length Measuring: Fish must be measured using the official SADSAA/IGFA measuring device on a flat surface.The fish’s snout must be touching the nose stop and must be free of lures or lifting devices.

With the fish lying on top of the measuring device,measurements must be taken from the most forward part of the fish’s snout to the rear centre edge of the tail.(See the diagrams above.)

All measurements must be made in centimetres.Fish that measure between centimetre increments shall

be recorded at the lower of the two increments.For example,a fish that measures between 45 and 46 centimetres will have a recorded length of 45 centimetres.

General Best Handling Practices:

To remove your fish from the water to document it for record purposes, anglers should use either hands or a knotless,rubberized landing net to minimise slime and scale loss.

Lip gripping devices may be used to help subdue fish.However,large fish should not be hoisted vertically out of the water,as this can cause damage to jaw muscle and bone as well as to internal organs.

The best method for removing fish from the water by hand is to grip the fish or the lower jaw and support the fish’s underside.Again,the point is always to hold fish horizontally and not vertically.

Registering a record catch:

To register for a SADSAA record you need to belong to a club affiliated to SADSAA,and your affiliation fees need to be paid.If you do not belong to a club,you can then only register for an All Africa or IGFA record if the fish qualifies.

For the fish to qualify,you have to have caught it from a vessel at sea and according to the IGFA International

Angling Rules in any Line Class up to 60kg (130 pounds).

The fish must weigh more or must be longer than the existing record you want to apply for.

You can contact your local club for the SADSAA records or the SADSAA records officer for the current All Africa records.IGFA records are available online at <https://igfa.org/worldrecords/>.

Once you have identified that your catch is a potential record,you need to ensure you handle the fish according to the record category you would like to apply for,especially if the fish needs to be released alive,as the record will be disqualified if the fish was not released alive.

Complete the application form and send it to your club if you belong to a SADSAA-affiliated club.

If you do not belong to a SADSAAaffiliated club and you want to apply for an All Africa record,you can send the completed record application, together with the photos and line sample,to the SADSAA records officer. The address can be found on the application form.

Fees are applicable to register the records,and the fees and banking details can also be found on the SADSAA website. Completing the application form: The fish needs to be measured according to the diagrams below (x-x,xx-xx, and girth).

You need a good quality photo of the angler with the entire fish visible, and also of the rod and reel.

Take another good quality photo of the fish and make sure the species can be clearly identified in the photo as some species look very similar.

Also get a photo of the fish on the measuring device or weight on the scale.

You need a sample of the line on which you caught the fish,together with the hooks,leader and the lure if you used an artificial lure.

For further details download the documents from <www.sadsaa.co.za> or contact Peet Koekemoer,on <records@sadsaa.co.za>.

Happy boating and tight lines.

SKI-BOAT March/April 2023 • 39
can order official measuring devices (pictured above) directly from SADSAA by emailing <admin@sadsaa.co.za>.

Mussel Pilaf

ONIONS,garlic and spices are key to making a good pilaf or pilau. Essentially it is a rice dish of South Asian,Central Asian and Middle Eastern origin.Pilaf is cooked in broths or stocks — in other words, a savoury liquid made with spices,or simmered meat and veggies. It’s FULL of flavour!

Such methods of cooking rice at first spread through a vast territory from India to Spain,and eventually to the wider world and straight into my kitchen.

From India to the Caribbean,pilaf nearly always means rice cooked with something — meat,nuts,vegetables or fruits.In this case it’s cooked with handpicked mussels from the KwaZulu-Natal coast and prawns from our beautiful Indian Ocean.The annual licence fee is a drop (in the ocean) compared to the value of all the mussel harvests on the full/new moon or spring tide.

INGREDIENTS

30 mussels (per licence)

2 cups uncooked Basmati rice

1 tsp salt

1 tsp tumeric

1 cup white wine

1 onion finely diced

1 stick celery

1 2 red pepper

1 chilli

1kg prawn tails

1 tblsp crushed garlic

1 bunch fresh coriander

INSTRUCTIONS

Steam the cleaned mussels in one cup of white wine.Once the mussels have opened,they are ready.Remove them from the liquid.

You will notice that the liquid in the pot has increased because the mussels have opened and released sea water into the pot.This is gold!

Use this valuable liquid to blanch the prawn tails.Remove the prawn tails after about one minute.Add salt,turmeric, onion,chilli,celery,red pepper and garlic to the liquid and let it all simmer and infuse.You can use almost anything to create a stock.

Add the rice (two cups for eight people) to the stock.I use about one-and-a-half to two cups of stock per one cup of raw rice.A large flat pot is preferable to a deep one as it provides a bigger surface area.

Lightly fluff the cooked rice with a fork,add the mussels and prawns,garnish and serve.

Best shared with family and enjoyed on a spring tide (full/new moon) with a cold glass of Chenin.

Tip:don’t invite the entire family to share your meal otherwise the number of allowed mussels (30 in a dish) will be “stretched”a bit too far.

SKI-BOAT March/April 2023 • 41
RECIPE
42 • SKI-BOAT March/April 2023
All about action! All about fishing! WINNERS: SKI-BOAT March/April 2023 • 43 1 YEAR — 6 ISSUES R 2 7 0 Yes! Enter my subscription to SKI-BOAT Magazine I save 18% on the newsstand price! 1 Year (6 issues) only R220.00.Save R50.00! New subscriber Existing subscriber ALSO AVAILABLE AS AN E-ZINE. Get your FREEdigital subscription at www.issuu.com Name .......................................................................................................................... Address ....................................................................................................................... .................................................................................................................Code:............... Telephone .................................................(Home) ..................................................(Work) Cell.............................................Email Address................................................................. Subscription to commence with...................................................................................issue Payment options: Direct deposits or EFT Unfortunately due to postal issues beyond our control we are no longer accepting international subscriptions for the paper version of SKI-BOAT. However anyone is able to access the digital version free on www.issuu.com SAVE BANKING DETAILS FOR DIRECT DEPOSITS OR INTERNET PAYMENTS (eft) A/C Name: Angler Publications • Bank: First National Bank • Branch: Durban North • Branch Code: 220426 • A/C Number: 50790026585 Please email proof of payment and address details to <angler@mags.co.za> Now R220,00 Three lucky subscribers will each win a full year’s subscription to SKI-BOAT magazine, valued at the newsstand price of R270. This means, should you subscribe and win, you will receive your next year’s subscription ABSOLUTELY FREE! Subscribe to between 1st March 2023 and 1st June 2023 and win YOUR NEXT YEAR’S SUBSCRIPTION ABSOLUTELY FREE! FREE DIGITALE-ZINE ONWWW.ISSUU.COM MAIL TO: Angler Publications, PO Box 20545, Durban North 4016 All about boats! Congratulations to the following lucky subscribers who have each won a year’s extension of their subscription ... Johann van Zyl of Bellville, John Morrison of Mtubatuba and Julian van Zuydam of Pietermaritzburg. ENJOY!

Kingfisher

Award Application Form

I hereby apply for the Kingfisher Award in the category:

Meritorious Fish Outstanding Catch

Tick the appropriate box and supply us with the following information. Please remember to print clearly.

Applicant’s Details:

Name: ...................................................

Address: ...............................................

Code: ....................................................

Tel No: ...................................................

E-mail:

Club (if member): ..................................

I, the undersigned, agree to abide by the rules of this award.

YOUR favourite offshore angling magazine, SKI-BOAT , in conjunction with The Kingfisher and the South African Deep Sea Angling Association, is proud to offer all South African ski-boaters the unique opportunity to win awards for excellence in angling.

All deep sea anglers who achieve laid down standards of excellence will be entitled to apply for the KINGFISHER AWARD.Upon ratification by a panel of adjudicators,the angler will receive a handsome digital certificate,suitably inscribed.

The Kingfisher Award will be made for fish caught in two sections:

1) Meritorious Fish

This award is for a fish that’s a memorable achievement for the angler,if not

RULES:

There is no restriction on the number of awards which can be applied for. Award applicants must submit a photograph of the relevant fish with the application form and a photograph of the angler with the fish.

a personal best,and is not confined to the species listed below.

Tackle used is of no consideration here, the fish's weight being the main criterion.

2) Outstanding Catch

To satisfy the requirements for this award,anglers can catch any recognised fish species.As a guideline,the weight of that fish must equal or exceed the suggested weights below,or certain laid down fish weight:line class ratios.

Awards will be made in the following ratio categories:

3:1 – Bronze Award

5:1 – Silver Award

7:1 – Silver Award

10:1 – Gold Award.

Applies to IGFA line class 1kg ,2kg,4kg, 6kg,10kg,15kg,24kg,37kg and 60kg.

SPECIES: SUGGESTED

WEIGHT:

Barracuda 15kg

Dorado 12kg

Kingfish (Ignobilis) 20kg

Garrick (Leervis) 12kg

King Mackerel (’Cuda) 15kg

Black Marlin 100kg

SKI-BOAT reserves the right to use the photograph as it sees fit. Entries must be on the official form which is included in all issues of the magazine.

Blue Marlin 100kg

Striped Marlin 60kg

Prodigal Son 15kg

Meritorious Fish

Species: ................................................

Weight: ..................................................

Date of Capture: ....................................

Where Caught: ......................................

Skipper's Name: ....................................

Signature: .............................................. Email

Outstanding catch Category applied for (tick appropriate box):

3:15:1 7:1 10:1

Species: ................................................

Weight: ..................................................

Line class: .............................................

Date of Capture: ....................................

Where Caught: ......................................

Skipper’s Name: ....................................

Digital emailed photographs should be high-resolution.

Entires must be received within 45 days of capture. No witnesses of the catch are required. The award is made in the true spirit of sportsmanship and relies on the integrity of the angler to make a just claim. Aselection of award winners’names will be announced in future issues of SKIBOAT, along with relevant photographs. Award applicants should allow 30-45 days for processing of applications.

There is no charge for Kingfisher Awards.

Sailfish (Pacific) 25kg

Spearfish (Longbill) 20kg

Spearfish (Shortbill) 20kg

Tarpon 45kg

Tuna (Big Eye) 50kg

Tuna (Longfin) 25kg

Tuna (Yellowfin) 50kg

Wahoo 15kg

Yellowtail 15kg

RELEASED BILLFISH AND GT (Ignobilis) KINGFISH

With the strong trend towards releasing these and other fish, we have decided to amend the Kingfisher Award rules to provide for acknowledgement of all released fish. All we need is a photo of the fish being released or prior to release (e.g. GT held next to the boat) and the approximate weight of the fish which should fall in line with the stipulated weights set out above.

In line with this trend we will not be carrying photographs on the Kingfisher Awards page of any billfish or GTs aside from those that are released.

applications to:
angler@mags.co.za
1) 2) 3) 4) 5) 6) 7) 8) 9)
44 • SKI-BOAT March/April 2023

Small to big and back again

IBEGAN my fishing and boating journey in the suburban area of Pinetown,on the New Germany border of Durban in the mid 1950s. I soon had a few friends,both black and white,and boy did we have fun. The days were simply too short.In those days we had thousands of acres of forest,grasslands and of course a

lovely little river full of small fish,eels and crabs to explore.There was so much to do,and we set about it all with unlimited energy..

My pal Robin,nicknamed Bin,decided to build a boat to tame the mighty Palmiet River — although actually it was just a small stream.My late father, being a master carpenter,cut us a thin transom and a bow post,and the rest was easy.Bin and I used our combined

Fraülein and her tow vehicle may have changed form over the years, but never her skipper’s love for fishing.

marine engineering skills,and flattened a piece of corrugated iron into an uncorrugated piece.

My mother,being a German thoroughbred,insisted our boat had a name; she also decided unilaterally that the name would be Fraülein .And so Fraülein #1 was born — a six foot master craft.

A few kilometres downstream lived Monkey Mcgee.There was no doubt

SKI-BOAT March/April 2023 • 47
MEMORIES

about how he obtained his name — he not only resembled a vervet monkey, but also acted like one.When he was not up to mischief he was a help to our small Huckelberry-type group.His role was to get our boat back upstream by dragging it along the sandy bush path with the aid of one of his father’s donkeys.In return he was allowed the use of our boat.Rednecks? Well,if not,we weren’t far off

By the mid 1960s boarding school was behind us and it was time to get really serious about fishing.Real fishing. In the sea.A soft loan from Pa enabled us to purchase an Ace Craft paddleski kit,and within two weeks we were ready to put to sea.

Our base was Vetches Pier,and the fishing was hectic on Limestone Reef. Watching the large boats from the Durban Ski-Boat Club which often anchored in the same area taight us a great deal,and it was not long before we caught our first ’cuda.We were totally hooked on our new sport.

There were no shoal ’cuda near the shark nets,they were all big fish — seldom less than 15kg and many in the 20kg range.

The bulk of our catches were made up of snappper salmon and shad,along with the silkies and walla walla,all of which came in with the off-coloured water from the Umgeni River.The silkies (wolf herring) and the walla walla (ribbonfish) were put out as live baits and accounted for the large ’cuda.

Soon we decided it was time for a bigger boat;our small paddle craft limited us from venturing out to the main grounds,and we needed something with a motor.The purchase of a used 13 footer with one 35hp Mercury motor was the next step forward.Tongaat here we come!

As the years passed by the boats slowly increased in size,and at long last I was granted a number at the Durban Ski-Boat Club.

FISHINGBUDDIES

One day in the late 1970s this farmertype character arrived at my small boat building factory and introduced himself as Joos Solms,a farmer from Winterton.

He pronounced it without the first T and added another N next to the first one — Winnerton.His English was far better than my Afrikaans but,he explained,his volcalvary was not so good!

This was the start of a very special friendship.Joos grew up near Nongoma in Northern Zululand and had a similar Huckleberry-type childhood as I did, and his love for fishing was and is unquestionable.His small ski-boat, Capt’n Morgan, was well known at Umdloti and Cape Vidal.

Joos later progressed to larger boats, but he never lost his love of fishing on small boats.Whether it be fishing for bass or bream in Zimbabwe,tackling marlin and sailfish in Moçambique,or just fishing from the river bank or beach,he and I do it all.Our beach fishing trips to Moz were always accompanied by some tiny craft of his,and the two I recall very well could hardly be classed as boats! All the same,they did the job for some fair weather backline fishing.

Out of the blue an excited Joos

called me last year to say he had ordered a small boat to suit our needs in Moz.He asked my advice on fitting a single 30hp or two 15hp motors.I mentioned — as diplomatically as possible — that my days of going to sea with one motor were officially over.Now we have a lovely 12 foot Gypski with two motors and even a canopy.Her name is Gypsea Girl

Since then we have made two trips to Moz and have had an absolute ball. We never say nice things to each other, but I must add that Joos is one of the best skippers and fishermen I have had the privilege of fishing with,and when the fishing is slow he keeps the show alive with his great humour and wit.

In November 2022 Joos and I were sitting in the bar at the San Antonio Motel,Landela,Moçambique,enjoying the company of the owners Vic and Adelaine,and getting stuck into the ice cold beers.Suddenly we noticed a large catamaran with two huge outboards hanging on the transom arriving in the car park.It looked very similar to Joos’s new Cobra Cat 650.

Shortly thereafter the owners arrived in the bar and were also thirsty. They introduced themselves as farmers from Komatipoort — a short guy and a tall guy.The short guy began the interrogation,as is usually the case:“Waar het julle baars probeer vang?”They had obviously seen little Gypsea Girl

Joos spoke in Afrikaans,explaining that in fact we had been sea angling. There was a brief silence as the short guy and tall guy looked at each other, not sure if they were being handled or not.The short guy then asked me in English what we’d caught.I mentioned that we’d had good angling with an array of gamefish and a marlin.

There silence again as our new friends were even more confused as to whether or not they were being set up. Clearly it was time for show and tell,

SKI-BOAT March/April 2023 • 49
Joos Solms is thrilled that Gypsea Girl catches billfish and gamefish every bit as well as his original Capt’n Morgan did.

and we ran the movie of Joos fighting a small marlin which I somehow managed to film.It was really spectacular, with the fish dancing all around the boat.

The farmers,now relaxed,had one more question — the short guy again: “Hoekom vis julle twee saam? Boer en Engelsman?”Joos looked at the short guy with that natural naughty smile on his face,and retorted:“Because no one else will fish with me!”

SMALL BOATS OR LARGE BOATS?

Now,in the latter years of our fishing careers,Joos and I have become fairly selective about our fishing venues.We no longer fish in Durban,and at Cape Vidal we use the big boat;with tractors to launch the boat there one does not even get one’s feet wet! In Moçambique and other far off places the small craft is more suitable,and one is hardly aware of towing the little craft with a 2.8 Hilux.Cost wise,there is no comparison — in seven days of fishing we used 55 litres of petrol.

Other than the much higher costs involved in travelling,obtaining licences,launch fees etc when using a big boat,there are other reasons why we enjoy the small boat so much.It certainly has nothing to do with comfort and keeping dry,because Gypsea Girl is a tiny craft — strictly a two man boat with little space to move.However,she more than makes up for her size with the pleasure she affords us.We are now fishing the way we did a long time ago,

the way we enjoyed fishing so much in our youth.

I fish from the front where there is a comfortable padded little bench seat (the suicide seat!),whilst Joos has a seat behind the console.There’s no problem until all four rods bend simultaneously! We normally manage the small space without too much fuss as we both have our own gaffs and priests.In other words,you are on your own! Occasionally a fish may surface in front of the other angler and it is only polite to gaff the other guy’s fish for him,but do not miss-gaff your pal’s fish,because the verbal abuse is most unpleasant — both ways.

That said,I have always preferred gaffing my own fish and so does Joos; this comes from the old days when one had no choice.Besides,it is far easier to present the fish to gaff the way you want to.We always gaff the fish we

wish to keep in the middle on top so that the fish is well presented for the head blow without trying to give it an upper cut as one does with an upside down fish.

Catching billfish in a small boat is an entirely different story.The highlight of our last adventure was the marlin Joos caught.We have both caught several marlin,but boy,this small marlin could fly! With each leap,we both applauded the fish with with loud shouts and laughter.After bringing her alongside we took a quick pic and she swam away happily.

In conclusion,I would say we have come full circle ...or perhaps we’re just enjoying our second childhood!

• For more reasons why fishing from a small boat might be a good idea, see Justin Paynter’s article in the January 2023 issue of SKI-BOAT.

50 • SKI-BOAT March/April 2023
Mush Nicols and Joos Solms celebrate another great day’s fishing.

Cruising the big blue on a live-aboard yacht

52 • SKI-BOAT March/April 2023 PLACES

USUALLY when one conjures up the idea of a fishing trip with friends and/or family,everything is centred around the fishing,and all other aspects such as onshore accommodation fade into the background. One often has to work hard to convince those contemplating joining such an excursion — especially spouses — that the beautiful waving palm trees and white sandy beaches override the reality of the often fairly basic accommodation and facilities.Besides,as the organisers of such excursions often say,“This is,after all,a fishing trip.”

There is,however,another option that will generally supersede

anyone’s expectations,and that is a holiday on a live-aboard luxury catamaran operating off the tropical coastline of Moçambique,southern Tanzania,Kenya or the Seychelles islands.

These trips not only provide extraordinary angling potential,but also a unique experience of onboard luxury and an array of other experiences,depending on the party’s preferences.Guests can spend their time basking in the sun, snorkelling in protected coral lagoons,fishing according to the style and pace determined by the party,and end their days watching the sun dip beyond the western horizon,all while enjoying their favourite tipple and being served scrumptious, freshly prepared meals.

After the sun sets guests can relax aboard the boat in the company of friends,enjoy the display as a myriad tiny fish are attracted to the craft’s transom lights — and are often attacked by the predatory species lurking just outside the pool of light — and even have a late evening try fishing with a flick stick before hitting the sack.

Having experienced this extremely enjoyable experience a few times off the south Tanzanian islands,central Moçambique and the Seychelles,I can unequivocally state that the

SKI-BOAT March/April 2023 • 53

experiences were unbeatable.I would even go so far as to say that a week aboard such a craft — regardless of the actual fishing — produced memories and experiences that cannot be equalled.Even the one trip when King Neptune clearly decreed that we would hardly catch any gamefish,did not disappoint us,as we were blown away by the adventures we had exploring coral reefs and vast lagoons,and enjoying African sunsets amid scenery that cannot be replicated other than on a live-aboard craft.

For those hell-bent on harnessing themselves to a rod all day,Kirsten Daniels’s write-up below and photographs alongside will convey what guests aboard Adventure Tropicale’s boats can experience if that’s what they want to focus on. There are,however, anglers who may wish to spend their days undertaking more relaxed fishing by trolling through the pristine waters in which these boats operate,where sailfish,small marlin and other pelagic gamefish abound. That’s much more relaxing and enjoyable if you ask me,but when it’s your party you get to dictate the terms.

While the main purpose of such a live-aboard adventure may be the fishing,the craft’s captain will,at the request of the party’s leader,change tactics to take them snorkelling,sight-seeing or whale watching, or change fishing tactics to comply with the style of angling preferred by those aboard.

A week spent on an adventure of this nature will provide the group with memories that cannot be replicated by fishing holidays on land;it truly is something special.

For those who wonder what the week can hold if it truly is mainly the fish you’re after,Adventure Tropicale’s Kirsten Daniels offers this taster…

It’s 14.45 and we’re awaiting the clients’arrival at Quelimane Airport in Moçambique.At our meet and greet it’s obvious the gang are pretty excited.We bail the boys and girls into the taxis and head off on a short ten minute drive to Quelimane’s port where Belle-Esprit

SKI-BOAT March/April 2023 • 55

and Belle-Mer lie in wait to take their guests on an unequalled fishing adventure.

Cold beverages are served when the guests board the yachts, then there’s a safety briefing before everyone is shown to their cabins to unpack and get comfortable.When they next emerge on the topdeck there is the unmistakable aroma of fresh Quelimane prawns on the braai as our first dinner of prawns served with Portuguese rice and green salad is prepared.

Around 5pm we throw the ropes and head down the Bons Sinais River toward the delta.This 16-mile journey takes about three hours,with the skipper ever watchful for local fishing nets and sandbanks.Meanwhile the anglers take the opportunity to set up their tackle,asking numerous questions as the anticipation for the adventure ahead climbs higher and higher.

Once we pass the white buoy we’re officially out at sea and turn for the Primieras Banks.The music is pumping and everyone enjoys a few ice-cold refreshments while they share stories of other memorable fishing trips until they retire for the first night at sea.Back in their cabins,the moans of the craft and the sound of the ocean against the hull lull the guests into a sleep filled with dreams of the days to come.

Early the next morning,as we approach the banks,the trolling lines are put out by the crew.BANG! The clients are awoken by a very excited skipper yelling “Fish on! Fish on!” Our day has begun!

As the anglers scramble for rods,they’re still in various states of disarray — some still in their PJs,some with toothbrushes still wedged firmly in their mouths,some already reaching desperately for water.Coffee and rusks are served as we move into the strike zone of the shoal known as Pantaloon1.Aqua blue waters await the guests as they prepare their popping and jigging tackle,the excitement tangible.

“Pop till you drop,boys!”is the audible instruction from the skipper upstairs.Suddenly,without warning there’s a big “boil”and an angler goes tight on a beautiful giant trevally.The rod bends almost to breaking point,the fixed spool reel screaming while the angler on the other end hangs on to the rod for dear life.

After a good battle the fish is brought alongside,landed and — after a quick photograph with the exuberant angler — quickly and safely released.Strike one,with many more to come.

As a matter of interest,the average number of species caught on a trip varies between 30 and 35,with most clients either catching their “first”of a species or a new “PB”.

The excitement never stops,with clients getting strike after strike throughout the morning session.Eventually guests sit down for a wholesome breakfast and a much needed rest, with bacon,eggs,toast,chorizo,omelettes and plenty more up for grabs.

After breakfast,feeling the effects of some sore arms and weary backs,a few anglers might opt to try their luck with some light tackle bucktail jigging for the many species of reef

fish as well as the good number of pelagics in the area like king mackerel,queen mackerel and rainbow runners.

Often curious sailfish come around the boat to investigate the disturbance of the poppers and tease the anglers into a frenzy,and sometimes we will even have a sailie hit the poppers and stick baits.The sailfish we catch here are generally of a good size,often measuring between 180cm and 250cm.

The spoils of the morning’s catch —often delicious seared tuna and salads or fresh sashimi — will be served up for lunch while the guests sit around the table discussing the day’s events over some good food and ice cold beverages. Meanwhile the rhythmic lapping of the water against the double hulls blocks out all thoughts of cellphones and emails.

Their fishing urge sated for a while,some of the clients might drop into the water after lunch to cool off.Equipped with snorkles and goggles,they’ll enjoy the unimpeded view of reef fish swimming below.

The afternoon is another good long fishing session with a lot of banter and good laughs,or else there’s time to just kick back and relax until you feel like picking up a rod again.

In the early evening everyone aboard drinks in the sight of yet another beautiful African sunset,sitting on the nets on the bows enjoying a well deserved sundowner.

At dinner time the crew will serve up a fresh fish on the grill with good old homemade chips and salads,with a nice chilled bottle of vino to boot.

After a hot shower,with full bellies and memories of an amazing day,the merry men and women head off to bed,and by 8.30pm the yacht is quiet again...

Early the next morning the shouts ring out across the water again and Voltaren are handed out like Smarties for the sore bodies,but even the aches and pains cannot dull the excitement and anticipation of what the big blue has in store for us for the day...

56 • SKI-BOAT March/April 2023
58 • SKI-BOAT March/April 2023

CAPE Vidal,December 2022,was my first ocean fishing trip.I love fishing and have grown up casting lines in rivers,dams and rock pools but I’ve never had a chance to fish from a boat,so I was very pumped to go and see what was out there.

On day one the conditions were bad so we decided to fish Mission Rocks instead.It was a lot of fun,as we landed bronze bream,blacktail and surge wrasse,but all day I kept wondering: Would we be able to launch tomorrow?

You can imagine my excitement when our skipper (Sean Burns) said we would be going in the morning.The next day we woke up early for a 5am launch,although I hadn’t slept much anyway because of the excitement.

We scrambled onto Iklwa and motored into the bay,then Sean patiently watched the waves looking for the perfect gap.Eventually we cleared the last wave and we were out.

The first thing we did was set about catching livebait,with James Burns showing me how to use the rig.

When our well was full we headed south towards the lighthouse.While motoring there a black marlin jumped right in front of the boat,but it was gone before we could get a bait out.

While we were fishing for more livebait James made us all rush across to see a large tiger shark moving

underneath us.We had to calm down quickly and balance the boat again,but I’ll never forget the sight of that beautiful shark.

At last we reached the fishing spot. Our first livebait had just been cast and the next thing we knew there a fish on! James grabbed the rod and started reeling it in,and while this was happening Becky Burns also hooked up and started reeling in.

Two more rods were rigged up and cast out,and I was handed one of them. Within seconds I hooked into my first ever dorado! The battle began,and it was tougher than I’d expected;I used every muscle I had to fight the fish.Becs helped hold me secure while I reeled it in,and after what felt like forever I got it to the side of the boat.James gaffed it and pulled it on board.

Yes! My first ever gamefish on my first ever ocean fishing trip!

I sat down with the biggest smile on my face,happy to relax for a while,but I realised that this adventure was not over yet when Sean handed me another rod with a fish on.This one felt so much stronger and I could feel the shake of its tail through the line.I have a very clear memory while reeling in looking over the edge of the boat and seeing two blue dorado flash under us;it was a dorado frenzy! After a tough fight I landed my second fish.I was exhausted but could not stop smiling.My first fish was 5.3kg cow dorado,and my second one a 6.1kg bull.

Thank you,Burns family,for patiently teaching me,keeping us safe and giving me this unforgettable experience.I cannot wait for my next fishing trip — that black marlin is calling me.

MYFIRSTLAUNCH

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62 • SKI-BOAT March/April 2023
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BUSINESSCLASSIFIEDS & DIRECTORY SKI-BOAT March/April 2023 • 63

IWROTE this story months ago in my head… the story of how I caught my first marlin off St Lucia and was crowned Queen of the Ocean with the crowd going wild at the prizegiving function,all overjoyed at my success.And then reality struck

Early in November,after months of planning and high levels of excitement, Team Aqua-Joy undertook the journey from Stoffberg to St Lucia for the Queens of the Ocean Ladies comp.With my personal skipper (my husband) and gilly (my brother),we five girls had great hopes of doing well and featuring high on the leaderboard.We were dedicated and focused (mostly) and did our best to sort out all our fishing gear the night before the comp started.It was a species comp so we had everything in place to catch whatever came our way, whether that was a ’cuda,tuna,dorado, marlin or kingfish.We were ready for anything!

Sadly the weather didn’t look good at all and Rapala Lips were starting to show at the thought of rough launches and rainy days,but we bravely bit them back and told each other we had to soldier on.We had our boat packs packed and went to bed early,praying the weather man was wrong.

We wanted to launch as early as we could,and when we arrived at the beach and saw the boats lining up it was game on — a fresh tough attitude and determination to make our mark. One of the first boats to launch through the treacherous St Lucia surf that day, we all held our breath and crossed our fingers and were relieved when our skipper got us through safely.We headed straight to the live bait points,and when our livewell was full,we set course towards Mission Rocks.So far everything was going according to plan.

At 6 o’clock we decided to start trolling in search of a wahoo or dorado. Almost as soon as all the lines were in the water we had a strike! Squeals of delight and great excitement filled the boat — Fish on! Although the sun had risen,the sky was filled with ominous dark clouds and we couldn’t see clearly, but Carmen was full of confidence:“It’s a marlin!”she shouted.

My biggest dream is to catch a marlin,and as I took the rod there were a thousand things going through my mind.Top of the list was to do my utmost to fight it and bring it in, because we needed the 40 points that release would give us.

The marlin was the perfect size for a comp — not too big — so we’d be able to bring it in quickly,tag and release it and go and get another species.

Chris,Johan and Carmen “helped” me with lots of back seat driver tips:do this,do that.The leader line came in, but as soon as the fish saw the boat it took off again.Again and again that happened.My arms were getting weary and my Rapala Lip was growing,but I was

determined not to let my team down.

Eventually after 45 minutes it came close enough for Johan to grab the leader line.We got our official signal — right thumbs up —and then … it came loose!

There was a deathly silence on board the boat.The marlin had been bill wrapped;it wasn’t hooked properly.It was no one’s fault,but my Rapala Lip quivered and I wanted to cry.

This was the second marlin I’d lost — the first time was with Team Blinkwater in the Aqua Malongane comp.That day I spent two-and-a-half hours fighting a 3.3m long black marlin. The stand-up bucket helped,but it wasn’t good enough and I couldn’t carry on.My Rapala Lip showed properly when I handed it over to Chris who fought it for another hour before we safely tagged and released that beast of a fish.

I couldn’t believe it had happened again! I gave myself a pep talk,reminding myself that I needed to keep up the good spirits,and that big fish don’t come easy,and that and giving up wasn’t an option.Deep breasths … we will try again!

A while later Lecia caught a beautiful wahoo and our optimism soared again.Yes! We were on the scoreboard and that’s all that counted.

The next day the weather was even worse,but again we bravely did what we had to do.We launched,and close to midday we had a strike or two,but lost both the fish.Nothing was going according to plan and Rapala Lips were starting to become a permanent feature,but that’s not really our heart,so we cheered one another up.

Contrary to our original plan,we didn’t end up in the top three.I laughed at Claire when she told the family that we were under the Top ten and qualified to do the next comp.

In the end we did our best and that is good enough.There is something magical about being part of a team,and not any team,but specifically a ladies fishing team.We have something wonderful in common — a great love for fishing and each other,and we had an awesome time out on the sea.They say practice makes perfect,so one day we will be in the top three,but in the meantime we love the practice part.

YOURCHANCETO GETEVEN

LADIES — are you an angling widow? Are you a frustrated crew member? Do you outfish the men on the boat and have to deal with their Rapala Lips? Do you bite your lip at the comments coming from chauvinistic male anglers?

We’re looking for new writers for our Rapala Lip column. All contributions are gladly accepted and they will appear anonymously to protect the writers from divorce suits, cold shoulders, banishments, cut up credit cards etc. Come on ladies, share your stories with us — you know you want to. Email them to <sheena@mags.co.za>.

64 • SKI-BOAT March/April 2023 Last word from the ladies
RAPALALIP
When the plan doesn’t come together...
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