May/June 2017 Volume 33 Number 3 COVER: TUNA TAMED Scott Rutherfoord with a beautiful 27.8kg yellowfin tuna. (See page 23.) Photo by Daryl Bartho.
Mesmerised in Mauritius 2017 Mauritius Billfish International — by Erwin Bursik
Yellow Fever Taming tuna on the east coast — by Daryl Bartho
In Da Bag Getting the best out of your catch — by Daryl Bartho
Desperately Seeking Tagged Tuna Atlantic Ocean Tropical Tuna Tagging Program — by Stewart Norman
Boat Test: The Explorer Evo A stable, comfortable monohull with power to spare — by Heinrich Kleyn
Grander! Cape Vidal competition delivers a big one — by Roberto Fierro
Waiting on the Wind 2017 Two Oceans Marlin Tournament — by Johan Smal
Yellowtail Secrets Revealed Part 1: Stalking brute strength — by Johan Smal and Earl Fenwick
Angler’s Paradise Exploring Bartolomeu Dias Peninsula — by Carlos Carvalho
DEPARTMENTS 8 9 55 56 57 73
Editorial — by Erwin Bursik Mailbag Subscribe and WIN! Kingfisher Award Rules Kingfisher Award Winners Reel Kids
65 75 79 80 81 82
Mercury Junior Anglers Ad Index Business Classifieds Charters & Destinations Directory Rapala Lip — Last Word from the Ladies
The official magazine of the South African Deep Sea Angling Association
Publisher: Erwin Bursik Editor: Sheena Carnie Advertising Executive: Mark Wilson Editorial Assistant: Vahini Pillay Advertising Consultant: Joan Wilson Accountant: Jane Harvey Executive Assistant: Kim Hook Boat Tests: Heinrich Kleyn Contributors: Daryl Bartho, Erwin Bursik, Carlos Carvalho, Roberto Fierro, Heinrich Kleyn, Stewart Norman, Johan Smal. ADVERTISING – NATIONAL SALES: Angler Publications Mark Wilson cell: 073 748 6107 Joan Wilson (031) 572-2280/89/97/98 ADVERTISING – Gauteng & Mpumalanga: Paul Borcherds — 082 652 5659 Publishers: Angler Publications cc PO Box 20545, Durban North 4016 Telephone: (031) 572-2280/89/97/98 Fax: (031) 572-7891 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Subscriptions to SKI-BOAT: R180 per annum (six issues). New subscriptions and renewals: SKI-BOAT Subscriptions Department, PO Box 20545, Durban North 4016. Telephone: (031) 572-2280/89/97/98 Fax: (031) 572-7891 • e-mail: email@example.com • Through www.africanangler.com, or • E-zine digital subscriptions — visit www.africanangler.com > SKIBOAT > SUBSCRIBE, then choose your option. • Click the E-zine short-cut on the magazine’s home page, www.africanangler.com, or visit www.zinio.com/SkiBoat. Reproduction: Hirt & Carter, Durban Printer: Robprint (Pty) Ltd, Durban Full production is done in-house by Angler Publications & Promotions on Apple Macintosh software and hardware for output directly to plate. SKI-BOAT Magazine, ISSN 0258-7297, is published six times a year by Angler Publications & Promotions cc, Reg. No. CK 88/05863/23, and is distributed by RNA, as well as directly by the publishers to retail stores throughout South Africa. • Copyright of all material is expressly reserved and nothing may be reproduced in part or whole without the permission of the publishers. • While every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the contents of this magazine, the publishers do not accept responsibility for omissions or errors or their consequences. Views expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of the publishers, the managing editor, editor, editorial staff or the South African Deep Sea Angling Association.
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TAKE CARE TO LOOK AFTER YOUR CATCH
ANY, many years ago I wrote an article about the way most deep sea anglers “look after” the fish they intend to keep for food. To this day I still notice that most of our fraternity direct very little effort to preserving the extremely valuable protein we take from the ocean — that beautiful, freshly caught fish or even a fillet that fortunately comes their way and which is destined to end up as dinner. At the numerous competitions I attend I witness an inordinate number of fish arriving at the scales during weigh-in. The vast majority are preErwin Bursik sented in an undignified and really sad state. That Publisher brings into question its further use as a valuable food source. Sometimes the fish are dragged up the beach through the hot sand or are left lying in an open crate on the back of a bakkie in the hot tropical sun; the net result is a dramatic deterioration of this prized food source. I touched on this aspect many years ago after witnessing ’cuda being badly handled at the fish cleaning area at Cape Vidal. “Would you handle a slagskaap carcass the way you are tossing that ’cuda out of the trailered boat on to the hot concrete floor of the wash bay to lie there until you get around to ‘dressing’ them on the fish cleaning tables?” I asked the skipper concerned. “Ag, nee, that’s not a fair comparison,” I was told. Think about it; with fresh fish retailing at prices of nearly R100 per kilogram, I personally can’t see the difference. Fresh fish is not only a valuable protein source, it is, in fact, a luxury that is often beyond the reach of normal consumers. A recreationally caught fish, be it a gamefish or bottomfish, that is properly handled from the time it is hooked until its fillets are sizzling in the frying pan can be the finest quality you will ever get to eat. That is if it is treated properly between the time it’s boated and the time it’s presented to the table. I was recently privileged to spend time at Struisbaai and witness the infinite trouble taken by the commercial fleet in icing down their catch of yellowtail and geelbek onboard during the harvesting process, and the quick transferring of the fish into cool trucks on their return to the harbour. Conversely, the recreationals chucked their catch in the fishhold and only got around to sorting out their catch once the boat had been cleaned and the socialising that invariably takes place after a day on the ocean was over. Given a choice between the commercially caught and the recreationally caught fish, I know full well whose catch I would choose. Year after year during the Guinjata Bonanza in Moçambique, the Bartho brothers present their fish to the weigh-in in a large killbag in absolute prime condition. Daryl and his brother Brett run a very successful wholesale and retail fish supply business, so it’s clear they know exactly the value of their catch — and the value in properly preserving it. This aspect of our sport is a particular “hobby horse” of mine, so I asked these top notch recreational offshore sport anglers to give us a few tips on how and why to look after your fish once it has been caught. You might be surprised to learn that even gaffing your fish in the wrong place can damage the best meat. Daryl’s advice (see page 33) is well worth noting and we’d all do well to emulate his Gone Fishin’ team’s methods. In this issue he also shares tips on how to target tuna off the east coast (see page 23), so you’ll know how to catch your dinner and preserve it. If you find yourself further down the east coast in the Struisbaai region where yellowtail is a popular target species, you’d do well to read the first part of Johan Smal’s series on catching yellowtail (page 65). As usual Johan goes into a great deal of detail about the species concerned. In this issue he gives us some background, but the July issue will have further information on catching and cooking these fish. With the gamefishing season still in full swing and the bottomfish starting to peak, it’s time to ensure these wonderful fish reach our tables in absolute prime condition. Till the next tide.
RELEASING DEEP WATER FISH Dear Editor, I’ve been catching quite a few wreck fish lately off Port Alfred while targeting copper steenbras over a deep reef of around 80-85m depth and it’s been distressing to see them struggle to get down when released. The smaller fish seem to be able to get back down pretty well, but the bigger ones (15kg+) have a real problem. I have been releasing the air with a tagging needle and have tried various methods of weighting the fish to get them back down, but I was wondering what is the best method to give the fish the best chance of survival? I know some mates who fish north of East London for coppers and they seem to think the fish survive, but they have never had a recapture in all the years and they tag plenty. Do they actually survive? Our rule is we fish ’till we each have a copper then leave the area and go do something else — troll for gamefish etc. — as I worry that catching and releasing them from that depth may just be murder in disguise. Is there any scientific study on the topic with evidence one way or another to support any specific procedure? Please tell me or, better yet, come fishing with me and show me. I hate feeling like I’m killing these beautiful fish. DAVE DUNCAN <firstname.lastname@example.org> Dear Dave, There are indeed ways of safely releasing these fish. In the March/April 2013 issue of SKI-BOAT we ran an article titled “Letting Go” by Bruce Mann and Stuart Dunlop from ORI, which gave a few ways anglers can maximise the survival rate of red steenbras, seventy-four and other deep water species. (See diagram above.) Then Gary Thompson wrote an article for the January/ February 2014 issue about using the Seaqualiser — a device that helps you safely release bottomfish. I hope those articles help. — Ed
Got something to share? Write to The Editor <email@example.com> IGFA PRESIDENT RETIRES Dear IGFA Members, Supporters and Friends, Recently, Rob Kramer announced his retirement as President of the IGFA. The Board and staff are sad to see Rob move on, but he believes that now is the right time for him, his family and the organisation. There have been many positive changes to IGFA over the last several years, and it is now poised to grow from a new firmer foundation — a foundation that Rob laid. Change is normal in the course of any enterprise, and Rob will remain fully engaged as our President throughout the next few months. He has commitments to friends, donors, trustees, and representatives around the world that he plans to keep. He is also committed to helping assure an easy transition to a new President. He will officially step down at the end of August. We thank Rob for his nearly 15 years of service and loyalty to the IGFA, and we look forward to his friendship for years to come. CHARLES “CARLOS” DUNCAN III <firstname.lastname@example.org>
THE NEXT GENERATION Dear Editor, In March I turned two. I love fishing from my “fighting chair”. My adopted dad, Nino, is a great fisherman and skipper who has been teaching me from a young age. One day I’ll be big enough to go out with him on the ski-boat. For now I love watching him launching through the surf and taking charters out deep sea fishing. KEELEY ESTEVES <email@example.com>
NO BLUE MONDAY Dear Editor, Monday mornings are normally not good for us working fishermen; it always seems like the sun shines brighter and the sea is flatter on Mondays. Luckily Tuesday 22 March was a public holiday and thus Monday was also a holiday and we seemed to trick the weatherman. I woke up to a glorious sunrise and got to go fishing with my best friend, my son James. James was always a social fisherman but loved his surfing, motorbikes and cycling more. The fishing bug has just recently bitten him and he started walking in his dad’s footsteps. After launching at Hibberdene on Monday 21 March, we got some livebait, rigged them for ’cuda, and began a slow chug in a northerly direction. James was in the front looking out for any activity and I was at the helm with my morning coffee in hand. Suddenly some bonnies were being smashed to our left and I shouted to James, “Grab that rod with the spoon and cast over them.” Without hesitation he made a solid cast, put the rod tip down and after only three or four winds he was on. As a father, seeing the joy and excitement of him hooking this specimen made me feel so proud. James fought the fish like a pro, and next thing I knew it was next to the boat. This being his first croc ’cuda on spoon, he was over the moon with excitement. What more could a father want than to spend time with his lifelong fishing buddy? The 25kg ’cuda was very tasty too. Well done my boy! PETE THEUNISSEN <firstname.lastname@example.org> SKI-BOAT May/June 2017 • 9
UATRE, trois, deux, un (four, three, two, one) ... GO! And so Captain Jean Paul Henry’s voice echoed over the radios of the 14 sportfishers taking part in the 2017 Mauritius Release Billfish International Competition hosted out of Rivier Noire (Black River), sending them off on the first day’s fishing. JP, as he is known, was comfortably placed aboard his cigarette-styled speed boat and had shepherded the fleet to the starting gate before announcing the start. With 28 diesel engines bursting into life and turbos screaming, the 2017 international marlin release tournament began. What an awesome start! Being onboard the South African team’s 85ft Mantra made it even better as this mighty craft jumped out the starting gates like the thoroughbred she is and was, within minutes, leading the fleet at 40 knots out to the purple water of the Mauritian marlin grounds. Such an awesome spectacle is hard to describe, yet being part of it is an experience that’s indelibly etched on one’s mind. Three years ago a dream became reality — the concept was to organise an international event targeting the marlin fishery that has long existed off the protected south-west corner of this beautiful island, and stage it at a level and with rules that are in line with the majority of the prestigious marlin competitions worldwide. A full release ethic was intrinsic to this. And so the 2015 Mauritius Billfish Release International Tournament was born. At the outset the committee and sponsors of this event had the arduous task of introducing a release ethic into a fishery that hitherto did not subscribe to this style of sportfishing. With hard work and dedication they did it and got local sportfisher owners and charter operations to buy into the system.
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In 2015 nine boats took part in this inaugural competition and, as I mentioned, in 2017 fourteen teams took part. It certainly is an international event, with only two homebased teams participating. The other teams are from as far afield as Russia, England, Germany, South Africa (two teams), Poland, Reunion (two teams), Switzerland, Lithuania, Slovakia and Poland. The opening ceremony where all the teams were photographed was a cosmopolitan event, strongly interlaced with the many different languages that could be heard. That aspect added greatly to the vibe both at the opening ceremony and also during each day’s weigh in and cocktail party and, eventually, the final prize giving. Anybody familiar with the island of Mauritius will know the Le Morne Mountain that majestically buttresses the southwest peninsula of the island and overlooks the tranquil bay of Black River which stretches to the mountain above Tamarin in the north. This tranquil bay, protected from the south-east trade winds, has provided safe mooring for both the commercial and recreational fishing fleets since time immemorial. I last fished out of the Black River bay in the 1980s and early 1990s with groups of South African anglers, initially for a marlin competition, then to search for broadbill, and later for a couple of Captain Morgan Grand Challenges. I was staggered at the changes that have occurred in the intervening 25 years. The two most significant changes in the sportfishing ambit are the development of the very up market marina “up the Black River” and the increased number of craft — both yachts and sportfishers — that now lie on swing moorings in the Rivier Noir Bay.
The headquarters of the 2017 Mauritius International Release Competition were in the marina where JPH Charters have their offices and where the fleet of charter boats is moored. This again emphasised the extreme heights this world class charter fishing facility has risen to. It really has to be experienced to be appreciated. I was privileged to have a close look at a number of the sportfishers at the event — both charter craft as well as those which are privately owned — and was especially thrilled to spend a day aboard one of JPH Charters’ craft Moana 1 during the competition. It was very interesting to compare these craft to the boats we chartered back in the years from 1987 to 1992. Straight off there really is no comparison — day and night is fair comment, and here I am speaking not only about the very new sportfishers, but primarily of the older charter craft in the Charters’ fleet. During my fishing trips to Mauritius 25 to 30 years ago the craft lacked finesse, the crews were (with a few exceptions) not very friendly, the tackle array was abysmal and, above all, release of billfish was not an option. The converse was true this time. Even elderly Moana 1 which I spent the day on was remarkable, the crew not only spoke English but were as professional as those on any of the charter boats I have fished aboard off South Africa and East Africa, and the tackle was 100%. After spending a week covering the competition I urge any of our readers planning on going to Mauritius to seriously consider going fishing. As with all fishing — especially marlin fishing during a competition — the final results speak volumes. You’ll thus be interested to know that the final result over four days fishing from 14 boats was 28 marlin released. (See full catch log and results in the table on page 18.) In terms of marlin fishing in the Indian Ocean, and this includes the entire East African Coast, the results were good. Chatting to the locals afterwards, apparently this result is on par with what can generally be expected in the waters off Mauritius’s Rivier Noir.
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Having been out at sea for the entire competition and hearing the radio report of strikes and successful releases, the picture I got is that during the marlin season from December to March the blue marlin is by far the primary billfish species caught in these waters. A few blacks are also caught though, with the occasional stripey and sailfish. What I also found very pleasing was the short distance one has to travel after leaving the marina to putting out the marlin lures. The coastal shelf is not more than one-and-a-half nautical miles off the beach and the drop off is very steep, meaning you get into very deep water — 2 000 metres-plus — very quickly. The murky inshore waters change to deep cobalt blue in the deeper area and aid the marlin hunters. Weatherwise we were very blessed while I was there and we experienced calm seas and barely any wind; the strongest wind we experienced was from the north and not more than 8 knots. The Mauritian Authorities have placed FADs (see chart on page 18) in this deep water essentially for the local small boat commercial fishermen to fish around for tuna. Billfish and other gamefish are also caught around the FADs. During the competition each and every strike was reported as a position on a numbered block as indicated in the above mentioned chart. This was naturally of interest to the competing skippers as it showed where the action was hottest. On the last day, while sitting with Captain Thomas on Mantra, we noticed that in the hot area we were working — we had four strikes and released two blues — the thermocline appeared to rise up a fair amount and the water temperature was about half a degree warmer than other areas. Significant? Who knows, but it was working for us. As with all marlin competitions, levels of expectation rise and fall as boats either get an early strike or one hears on the radio that other craft are getting strikes and hookups while all you are doing is watching “plastic” being dragged through the ocean all day!
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However, luck usually turns and just when you think you’re in the wrong area and using the wrong coloured lures, a fin comes up behind a lure and, as the elastic band snaps and the reel screams and action on the deck hits fever pitch, you know you are in the game! On the first day when six marlin were released the Russian team, Vivax, aboard Moana 2 started their climb up the leaderboard with two marlin and then went one – three – one on the following fishing days to amass a grand record of seven marlin releases which entrenched their position at the top of the leaderboard. Eugene Novozheev was the overall top angler, catching four of his team’s marlin. Four teams — Reunion, South Africa, Slovenia and England — all ended the week with three marlin each, but in terms of rules and the point scoring system the Les Bourbonnais team accumulated 3 270 points to attain second place. Team South Africa aboard Mantra came a close third with 3 250 points,
team Reel Men fourth with 3 070 points and Essex Boys fifth with 3 000 points. In the overall statistics it was pleasing to see a wide spread of catches among the 14 participating teams with only two teams not managing to catch a marlin. I reiterate what I said earlier, that the true international spirit of the event with so many anglers of different nationalities taking part and the obvious language differences ensured that the cocktail evening was vibrant to say the least, proving beyond doubt that a strong bond exists between those that hunt mighty marlin. It was interesting to note the great variation in reported estimated weights of the blue marlin released during this competition. From what I saw and heard there were a number of marlin in the 100kg class and in the 200/250kg class with one reported big fish of about 350kg. On the boat UglyFish team Pulsator’s captain, Les Johnston, hooked into a
SKI-BOAT May/June 2017 • 17
big mama almost alongside Mantra. Veteran marlin charter captain Allan Myburgh who has seen many big blue marlin from his home base in Madeira classed this fish as being 800 lb-plus. We watched the fight from a fair distance and were devastated when the big fish dived deep into the 2 000 metres of ocean and could not be lifted. The line eventually gave under the extra force being exerted as the crew tried to handline the fish to the surface after radioing to Control to voluntarily disqualify their fish. The final tally for the 14 boats during the four-day tournament was 28 marlin released from approximately 60 reported strikes. For marlin fishing this is an excellent result. From a personal perspective my return to Mauritius to fish the waters off Rivier Noir was an amazing experience and I am extremely pleased I attended. The transformation is unbelievable in all respects — facilities, boats, tackle, crews and the
18 • SKI-BOAT May/June 2017
marlin fraternity that we experienced. Pascal Henry and Albert Unienville and their team — under the watchful eye of “doyen” Jean Pierre Henry himself — executed a flawless event that easily compares with likestyled events held worldwide. Congratulations on a job well done. TOP SIX TEAMS 1. Russia 7 marlin 2. Reunion 3 marlin 3. South Africa 3 marlin 4. Slovenia 3 marlin 5. England 3 marlin 6. Bavaria 2 marlin
7 820 pts 3 270 pts 3 250 pts 3 070 pts 3 000 pts 2 100 pts
22 â€¢ SKI-BOAT May/June 2017
Taming tuna on the east coast
The author with a 29.8kg yellowfin tuna caught on a Roosta 135. SKI-BOAT May/June 2017 â€¢ 23
A good haul after a day out on Gone Fishin’.
By Daryl Bartho
T was back in 1997 while fishing with my buddy Shaun Steyn off La Mercy that he asked me if I had ever hooked a dolphin. I gave it some thought and replied with a definite no. The reason for his question was that a pod of dolphins was racing up from behind us. We were trolling on my first ski-boat, an old 14’6” Olufsen Ski-Vee that my late grandfather had helped me buy. No sooner had I told Shaun that I had never heard of anybody hooking a dolphin, than the port side reel started screaming! I distinctly remember thinking, “How could there be one dolphin in that pod so determined to prove me wrong?” The line continued to peel off the reel at pace, and just before I ran out of line it went slack. My heart sank as I tried furiously to retrieve the slack, hoping that this fish had just turned and was swimming towards us. Shaun naturally assumed we had just hooked one of the dolphins, but I wasn’t convinced even though the speed and power of the fish on the end of the line had me second-guessing. A few months later we were spearfishing off Aliwal Shoal. It was mid February and the Umkomaas was spew-
ing out chocolate brown water. The launch was cheeky, but after negotiating a few waves we raced out to the northern pinnacle in search of the warm blue water and summer ’cuda. As our GPS signalled 500m to go, I realised that it was not going to be the perfect blue water from top to bottom as reported the day before; there was now a half-metre of brown water that was hiding the perfect blue water just a few feet below. Sometimes you will see the clean and brown water getting churned up in your propwash during the summer rainfall months. We decided to jump into the water anyhow and see if we could get a few fish. It can be a bit unnerving breathing up on the surface in zero visibility, but the lure of the shoals of ’cuda and clean water below somehow made it worthwhile. On my first dive, as soon as I had made my way through the dirty water, everything opened up and the water was blue and gin clear. It took a few seconds for my eyes to adjust. From my left a huge pod of dolphins approached. Mesmerised I lay there admiring how effortlessly they swam ... and then the distinct black barrel shapes with yellow streaks appeared! Yellowfin, and big ones at that! Following the pod of dolphins was this
huge shoal of big yellowfin tuna. I took aim and slowly squeezed the trigger, but nothing happened — my safety was on! I quickly turned off the safety and locked my sight on one of the other tuna. I aimed at the head, but by the time my spear made contact it was 20cm away from its tail. After a long battle the tuna managed to work its way free and I was left cursing and gasping for air in the dirty surface layer. SOLID ASSOCIATION Over time we gradually began associating pods of dolphins with tuna, but it wasn’t until we were regularly using braided casting lines and surface poppers that we started seeing the full scope of targeting tuna along our east coast. Now that we have been fishing specifically for these bigger tuna we are definitely starting to see patterns emerging and have a better idea of what tackle is needed to tame these brutes. Unlike anglers who fish the waters of the Cape, we are targeting our tuna in depths from 8m to 50m and the fight can vary depending on the depth. We also have to contend with the ever-present Tax Man which adds another dimension when you’re trying to successfully land these fish. SKI-BOAT May/June 2017 • 25
BIG TUNA FROM A FISHING SKI I always get excited when the winds start backing off at the end of October, because that’s when I start getting my tuna outfits out and make sure they are serviced. We generally fish the north coast off Durban from Salmon Bay/Ballito up to Blythedale in the north. It is imperative to launch as close to first light as possible and catch a few mackerel or mozzies before paddling slightly deeper in search of the screamers. This past season the tuna seemed to be coming in a lot shallower than in previous seasons and we had a good number of large fish hooked in the 1218m depths. My trusty Hook-4 fishfinder unit from Lowrance not only helps me find the bait, but also gives me an idea of where to start looking for the tuna. When you locate the bait balls on your fishfinder you can be sure that the tuna won’t be far away. You will see that tell tale tuna showing as the shoals cruise from one bait ball to another. This year there were more red eye sardines, mackerel and mozzies than the balls of sprats we saw in the area last
season. When the sprats arrive you will often see big smash ups as the tuna, kingies, bonnies and sharks all get in on the action. I started the season using my normal ’cuda rods, but after having a few 90 minute battles with large, unwilling tuna I decided to go back to the drawing board. Ideally you want a reel that is going to allow you to free spool with the ratchet on when drifting with a livey. We all know the benefits of having braided line on a spinning reel and how much easier it is to land a fish with a higher drag capacity, less stretch in the line and a shorter fight time. I looked at numerous ways of trying to use my BG 4500 spinning reel on my ski, but eventually loaded my Saltist BG50H multiplier reel with 16kg Maxima Ultragreen line with the Daiwa 1.7m Sealine Xtreme rod and found this was the perfect rig for targeting these large tuna on the ski. The heavier monofilament still had a bit of stretch, but you can pull a great deal harder than with the 12kg line and the backbone and power tip of the Sealine rod kept the fish coming in the right direction. The less time you spend fighting
these slabs the less time the Tax Man has to find you. A shorter fight also gives you more time to target a couple more fish. It’s always a good idea to have a popper on a casting outfit ready should the dolphins swim past or you happen to come across a bait ball getting smashed. I always have the trusty Halco Roosta popper 135 ready at hand. I’ve hooked a good number of 2530kg tuna after paddling in from the ’cuda grounds at Zinkwazi to see the dolphins feeding on the backline inside the shark nets. Hooking a big tuna in the shallows is a totally different fight and they seem to swim haphazardly across the water instead of eventually settling down into the pinwheel action. TUNA ON THE BOAT These days many ski-boat anglers simply pack a few popping sticks, surface lures, load up with bait and start running in search of a pod of dolphins. This tactic can prove very costly considering the high price of fuel but, even worse, if you fail to find the dophins or shoals of tuna, it can leave you feeling like you haven’t even wet a line all day.
Modern fishing skis can hold a lot of fish, just make sure your tuna is dead before you put it in the hatch.
SKI-BOAT May/June 2017 • 27
Above: Two ways of rigging your bait. For the front-rigged mackerel we used a 2/0 Mustad 36330NP treble hook; on the other bait we used the back-to-back Hoodlum 3/0 hook set up. Left: We often use Mustad Hoodlum 2/0 hooks rigged back to back. The curved point of these Hoodlums gets better purchase in your livebait as well as in the tuna once you set the hooks. My brother Brett and I have discussed this topic at length and have decided that when we go fishing we want to feel like we’ve spent our time constructively instead of just taking a few livebaits on a joyride and then enrolling them in an involuntary relocation process! We try to fish areas that the pods of dolphins might frequent. The bait marks in the Durban basin are always a good bet as the dolphins like these baitrich areas. Most mornings they seem to race in from the deep; it makes you wonder whether they feed on squid and fish attracted by the lights on ships at night before returning inshore to feed at the various bait marks. Beaches that have shark nets also seem to attract pods of dolphins and you will often see the pods working the area just inside or outside of the nets because the shark nets provide shelter for any baitfish trying to hide from predators. BE SAFE AND CONSIDERATE We’ve witnessed absolute chaos when boats, jetskis and kayaks all start pursuing a pod of dolphins. It simply isn’t fun and it can be quite dangerous when skippers leave their steering wheels and the chaos of trying to pitch a bait
or popper ensues. Be considerate; take time to see if any other anglers have lines in the water before rushing in to make your cast. A happy pod of dolphins usually results in happy accompanying tuna, but boats and jetskis that cause the pod to dive or deviate from their course will result in few or no bites. Our best days have been when we locate a pod of dolphins and run well wide of them before setting lines and letting the tuna intercept our livebaits. This way the pod will not feel boxed in and will generally continue their same pattern. We normally have just one motor in gear idling to keep the baits from backtracking; this also gives you an idea of where your bait is sitting. Idling means there is no prop wash or wake and the pod normally swims right up behind you; your bait is sitting perfectly in the strike zone. This method also allows you to cast a popper or surface lure while having your baits in the water. Another method that works quite well is to approach the pod from the side but not get in front of it. Dolphins use highly advanced sonar to locate baitfish and they seem to pick up boat wash and turbulence from far away. Slowly driving up near enough to cast but not close enough to cause them to
dive is what you’re after; this way you will be able to pitch livebaits or poppers without causing the pod to divert. RIGGING LIVEBAIT When pitching a maasbanker or mackerel we generally insert the hook between the dorsal fin of the bait and its tail. This allows the bait to be more aerodynamic when casting and your cast range increases tremendously. It is vital to cast your bait as accurately as possible and rather take a few seconds to aim where you intend casting before jumping the gun. Not only will you get more strikes this way, but you will also save a lot of bait because reeling the baits in backwards after every cast eventually kills them. The better condition your bait is in, the better the chance of getting the bite! Once we have cast the bait into the strike zone we leave the bail arm over until the bait is picked up. This can be anything from a few seconds if the bite is hot to a minute or so. Make sure you do not have any tension on the line when the tuna strikes as they often drop the bait if they feel any resistance. When the line starts peeling off the spool as the tuna picks up the bait, we let it eat for a few seconds before flicking the bail arm over. SKI-BOAT May/June 2017 • 29
If you are casting a bait with the intention of continuing with a slow idle then I’d recommend rigging your livey with the hook through its snout. This method of rigging will allow your bait to maintain a lively wiggle while being pulled slowly just under the surface. Some anglers prefer to bridle rig their baits when using circle hooks but I find this a bit unnecessary and time consuming, especially if you are having to change your bait every few casts. When I’m drifting on a fishing ski or ski-boat and I want my bait to swim down a few metres, then I generally rig it between the dorsal fin and tail. I have found that rigging the bait through the snout in windless/current-less conditions often results in the livey hovering for shelter just a few centimetres from the boat/ski instead of at the desired depth. Rigging the livey between the dorsal and tail often results in the bait trying to swim down and away from where the tension is coming from. We always use our Lowrance units to locate where the gamefish are holding. If the readings are lower in the water column then we try downrigging the bait with an elastic band and lead sinker, as you do for ’cuda. The only challenge here is that you can’t use a heavy sinker while keeping your reel on free spool with the ratchet on. TACKLE We have been using the Daiwa Saltist 10’6” popping rods. You can cast a mile with that rod as it has a responsive tip, but it’s the enormous backbone of the rod that helps you turn the tuna and allows you to apply the pressure and get the fish to settle down. Braided lines have no stretch and it’s vital that the rod you use has enough action to absorb those massive headshakes from big tuna. There has been plenty of heartbreak on our boat when a friend, new to taming tuna on poppers, loses a big fish because he didn’t keep the pressure on the fish. The added leverage that the popper creates in the water makes it easier for the tuna to throw the hooks if the tension isn’t maintained at all times. We have been matching the Saltist 6000H reel loaded with 65 lb J Braid to the Saltist 10’6” rods. The smooth yet powerful drag of this reel ensures that you very seldom have to worry about getting spooled as the reel comfortably loads 300m of the 65 lb braid. Another combination we have had a lot of success with is the Daiwa Exceler 7ft rod and BG4500H spinning reel. We use this set up for casting the smaller Roosta 135 poppers and livebaits. I’ve put this combo to the test with amberjack off Zinkwazi, tuna up to 30kg and a lovely sailfish off Durban. The Exceler is a super responsive rod that has the perfect power curve for fighting tuna. I 30 • SKI-BOAT May/June 2017
find the longer 8ft rods with the longer butts put a lot of pressure on my lower back and the slightly softer, shorter rods make life a lot more comfortable when I’m putting pressure on the fish. The latest tuna combination we have been using is the 5’6” Daiwa Jigging rod with the BG 6000 loaded with 65 lb J Braid. This short stick allows you to pump and wind once you have hooked up, but it definitely tests your casting skills! This rod is all about power, and once the tuna starts pinwheeling you can work the fish up with some good leverage. Some of our other favourite rods are the Pesca 6ft and 7ft rods. They have an awesome power curve and can load the rod without fear of it snapping under pressure. LURE SIZE A lot of people insist on throwing the biggest popper or surface lure that they can to try get that big tuna bite. I don’t disagree and have also had a lot of success with the larger poppers. My favourite popper has to be the Halco Roosta 135 — conditions dependent of course. The Roosta 135 is ideal for days when the sea is relatively flat. If there is a bit of wind on the ocean then you just need to make sure that you are casting downwind with this mediumsized lure. This lure casts a mile provided you have the correct rod and a reel spooled with 65 lb line or less. Your first goal when popping is to get the lure into the strike zone. Secondly you need to ensure that your rod and retrieve action allows the popper to stay fixed to the surface instead of jumping and rolling head over tail. Tuna generally like a very slow action and you don’t need to pull your arm off by trying to make the biggest splash and pop. Rather use the rod to create controlled sweeps with the tip of the rod. After each sweep of the tip you will then use the reel to retrieve whatever slack line there is. The popper will propel forward through the water, leaving a bubble trail. When the popper stops it resembles a wounded baitfish and this is generally when the tuna hit it. When the wind is up and the sea is choppy we bring out the bigger Halco Roosta 160s and Haymaker 195s. This allows you to cast into the wind and the larger poppers tend to hold the water in rough conditions better than the smaller ones. Be sure to keep your eyes on the popper at all times so that when the fish hits the lure you are ready to wind in whatever slack there is and set the hooks as quickly as you can. Catching big tuna on livebait is fun, but nothing can beat the sight of a 25kg-plus tuna smashing your artificial surface lure, and witnessing the fish rocketing 2m into the air with the lure in its jaws.
BACK TO BASICS
IN DA BAG Getting the best out of your catch By Daryl Bartho
OTHING frustrates me more than seeing anglers not looking after their catch. Our grandfather always taught us that it wasn’t only a privilege, but also an obligation to look after whatever we harvested from the ocean. GAFFING The first step in looking after your catch is gaffing it properly. When it comes to gaffing your tuna don’t rush it — unless of course there is a 400kg Zambie on its tail. Generally tuna are quite predictable once they have pin-wheeled and are within gaffing range. There are, of course, exceptions to this rule — seeing your Mustad 1/0 hanging on by a thread being one of them. We always try gaffing the fish just behind the eyes and from above. This area of the fish seems to have the best purchase for the gaff hook and leaves you with no meat damage. Ensure that the person on the gaff puts the gaff behind the leader, as a miss-gaff can result in the leader tangling with the gaff and leave you on the boat watching your prize fish sinking off into the depths. The other positive about gaffing the fish just behind the eye is that you now have better control of the fish; the thrashing tail normally helps the tuna propel itself up and over the gunnel. We quickly pacify the fish once it’s on the deck by giving it a couple of sharp blows above the eyes with the shillelagh. Once you have done this it is easy and safe to remove the popper or hook from its mouth or throat. ICE, ICE, BABY The sooner you get your fish on ice the better it’s going to taste. In summer the temperature can reach more than 40°C and fish lying in hatches with no ice for even an hour can start to turn. After doing a few trips to north-west Australia with our mates we soon realised how much more effort the guys over there put into preserving their catch. Each trip to fish in Oz saw us buying a couple hundred kilos of solid and flake ice for the trip. Granted, this ice was also used to chill the beers, but the culture of caring for your catch was hugely evident. We never launch without ample ice in which to store our fresh fish. We are passionate about preparing good quality fish for the table and this starts with how you look after
A correctly gaffed yellowfin tuna. SKI-BOAT May/June 2017 • 33
your fish once it hits the deck. A few years back Brad Kidd started importing killbags from the USA and they are really useful. We purchased a bag from Brad and started seeing the results immediately. Instead of storing our fish in our insulated fish hatches we started packing them in the killbag, topping up with ice as the bag had more and more fish in it. As the ice melts in the killbag it makes the perfect slurry and brings the core temperature of the fish down to about 4°C. We found that having the killbag lying across the boat, from port to starboard resulted in the fish still looking pristine when we returned home. The fish were no longer getting bruised and battered in the hatches while we ran to and from the fishing grounds. Our imported killbag started looking a bit tatty after a season so we looked into purchasing another bag. The only problem was that our poor Rand was suffering and the strength of the US dollar meant that the cost of these bags was astronomical. I decided to look local and get someone to make them for me in Durban for a fraction of what the imported ones cost. Since then we have not looked back and now have a good stock of bags for our boats. The beauty of the bags is that they roll up like big sleeping bags and fit in most cabins or hatches. Our fish hatches have now become ice hatches, and when we land the fish they are quickly placed into the killbag and covered with ice. Most boats on the market these days have adequate fish hatches, but many will battle to hold a ’cuda bigger than 25kg. Not only do the insulated killbags chill your catch, but they also provide a cushioning effect resulting in your catch looking like they have just come out the water even after a full day at sea. You will also notice a great improvement in the quality of your fish fillets. These bags are best for loading your pelagic fish in and each bag can hold about 80-100kg of tuna, ’cuda, queen mackerel, dorado or wahoo. I have a few mates who manage to sneak in early morning fishing sessions on their skis before work and they are loving the killbags. It means that they can fish for a few hours, load their catch into the killbag with ice and head straight to work without having to fillet or even gut their fish until they return from work in the evening. Most of the guys have also commented on how much easier it is to fillet the fish after it has been cooled to the correct temperature. The flesh is firmer and this makes filleting a breeze. The other plus is that when you put your fillets into the fridge or freezer they are already chilled, thus extending its shelf life.
Using a killbag and lots of ice — instead of just throwing your catch in a hatch — will greatly improve the quality of the meat. Nothing is cheap these days and ice is no exception, but when you have the ability to catch beautiful fish for the table, do yourself a favour and spend a few bucks on the ice. TO BLEED OR NOT TO BLEED There are many theories out there about what is the best way to handle and prepare tuna once you have landed the fish. I guess it all boils down to two factors — firstly how much effort you are willing to put in, and secondly how
practical it is to do the suggested preparation on your boat. With regard to the first factor, if anglers applied just a quarter of the effort they put in to actually finding and catching a fish to the handling and prep of their catch, then I think they would have the best fish in town after a day at sea. The second factor is more complicated. Here in KwaZulu-Natal most of our fishing is done from smaller skiboats in the 14-20ft range. These vessels are not as well equipped to deal SKI-BOAT May/June 2017 • 35
The dorado pictured above was correctly gaffed. Below you can see what happens to the dorado’s flesh if you gaff it in the middle of the fillet.
This top quality tuna was well gaffed, properly iced and carefully prepared. 36 • SKI-BOAT May/June 2017
with the tuna processing as the bigger Cape ski-boats and commercial boats are, so sometimes it’s just not practical to try to bleed the fish on the boat. We also have to consider our escalating shark problem, and bleeding or gutting tuna anywhere near our fishing grounds is going to give the sharks even more reason to follow the boats. In my opinion bleeding tuna on a fishing ski is ludicrous and would be a major safety concern. When I catch a tuna out on my ski I gaff the fish in the head, hit it with the shillelagh until it is dead, remove the hooks and slide it into the hatch. Putting a lively tuna in the region of 20-30kg into your fishing ski hatch could result in a disaster should the fish start thrashing around and damaging the fibreglass. I have heard many stories of guys having damaged hatches after tuna have thrashed around, the solid tail acting like a mallet. My brother Brett and I have tried bleeding the tuna by severing the two major arteries that run just under the pectoral fins, but to be honest this made a huge mess on the boat and did not really improve the quality of our fillets. After years of trying all the techniques the commercial and longline vessels use we came up with the following procedure which works well for us: 1. Gaff the fish in the head. 2. Humanely dispatch the fish by using a shillelagh to deliver a couple of blows to the brain area. 3. Rinse all excess blood from the exterior of the fish. 4. Place the fish in the killbag and cover with as much ice as possible to get the body temperature down as soon as possible. 5. When returning from sea we head and gut the fish before we slurry it for a few hours to get the core temperature to as close to zero degrees as possible. As I mentioned, this is not the way the commercial fleet operate but it’s what suits us best while still resulting in some world class quality tuna. If we had a much larger vessel and if our fish were in the 60-100kg range then we would certainly follow the procedure the Cape guys have adopted. It goes without saying that it will take a lot longer to drop the core temperature of a 60-100kg tuna than say a 30kg tuna, once iced up, just like a 340ml beer will cool down much more quickly than a larger 5L keg if they were put in the same icebox. If you’re able to quickly kill and cool the fish then you’re well on the way to having world class sashimi, poke, seared tuna or even tuna meat balls! In the July/August 2017 issue of SKIBOAT we’ll share details of how the Australian commercials bleed and prepare their tuna catches.
Please support the Atlantic Ocean Tropical Tuna Tagging Program By Stewart Norman
N June 2016 the International Commission for the Conservation of the Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) initiated the Atlantic Ocean Tropical Tuna Tagging Program (AOTTP) funded by its members and the European Union. The target of the program is to tag a total of 120 000 tunas in the Atlantic Ocean within five years â€” the largest tagging program ever attempted by ICCAT. The information gained through the tag-recapture data will help improve and update scientific advice and determine appropriate conservation and management measures in
order to achieve sustainable management of coastal state tropical tuna resources. Here in South Africa the aim is to tag approximately 6 500 tuna. ICCAT has contracted the scientific observer and marine consulting company Capricorn Marine Environmental (CapMarine) to work in association with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) to tag tuna in South African waters. CapMarine has extensive experience with large-scale tag-recapture projects, having carried out the Indian Ocean Tuna Tagging Program, where over 260 000 tropical tunas were
tagged over two years in 2006/7. South Africa was chosen for the AOTTP since yellowfin tuna over 90cm in fork length are regularly caught in our waters and are not that common in the equatorial areas of the East Atlantic. The tagging and recapture of tuna this size will greatly contribute to the gap in the scientific knowledge. The tagging of tuna in South Africa started on 1 February 2017 and will continue until the end of April 2017. The experienced CapMarine tagging team ensures that the tagging process runs smoothly with minimal stress and harm to the fish. The tagging team was issued an explicit capture and release
SKI-BOAT May/June 2017 â€˘ 39
Above: Tags ready to be deployed. Right: A tagged tuna is measured before being released. research permit by DAFF to carry out cruises within a 100 nautical mile radius of Hout Bay in order to tag yellowfin, bigeye and skipjack tuna. At the time of publishing a total of 89 skipjack and 25 yellowfin tuna had been tagged with yellow or red spaghetti tags. This may seem like a slow start, but the violently strong south-easter winds only allowed the tagging team to fish for 19 days in February and even fewer days in March. Even the Cape Argus Cycle Tour was cancelled due to these winds. But fingers are crossed that they will have enough time on the water to tag more fish, for you, our readers and anglers, to recover. DIFFERENT TAGS Four types of tags are currently being deployed during the program: • Yellow conventional or spaghetti tags — these tags are inserted on the left hand side of the fish adjacent to the dorsal fin. In some cases fish will be “double-tagged” (left and right side) in order to measure tag
shedding rates. This is the most common type of tag deployed. • Red spaghetti tags (chemical marker) — only 10% of the fish caught for tagging will be tagged using red tags. Fish with red tags are injected with oxytetracycline (OTC), a chemical marker that, once recovered, will allow scientists to precisely calculate how fast the fish grew (between tagging and recapture) by looking at the amount of calcium carbonate deposited on their bones. • Red spaghetti tags (internal electronic archival) — in addition to the chemical markers, tuna with the red tags will also have internal electronic archival tags surgically implanted in their body cavity. These tags can record up to 600 days of data such as depth, temperature and salinity preferences of tuna to help understand how tuna survive in the vast pelagic environment. • Pop-up Satellite Archival Tags (PSATs) — these are surgically fixed adjacent to the dorsal fins of large yellowfin and bigeye tuna and are
attached in such a way to minimise any effects on the fish’s swimming performance. The PSATs are preprogrammed to detach from the fish after a set number of days. The tags will be fitted with a buoy in order to enable them to float to the surface and, once there, they will begin relaying data via satellite. If these tags are recovered then valuable additional data can be uploaded from the tag itself. The Awareness and Tag Recovery Program team at CapMarine and DAFF are seeking tag recovery information from the main ports and landing sites in South Africa, as well as catch reports from the commercial, recreational and charter tuna vessels. The success of the AOTTP is dependent on the reporting of tagged fish once they are caught by commercial and recreational fishermen. CapMarine has already been hard at work spreading the awareness of this campaign throughout the coastal fishing towns of the Western Cape, up the Eastern Cape coastline and into KwaZulu-Natal as well. SKI-BOAT May/June 2017 • 41
If you or your crew find a tagged tuna or hear of anyone who has, please sms, WhatsApp, or phone +27 63 634 2503. This is a dedicated line for reporting tag recaptures. After providing information about the code number of the tag, the length and the area or exact location where the fish was caught, the tag finders will receive AOTTP T-shirts or caps and also a cash reward of R140. The rest of the crew will also receive T-shirts. If you give permission, your name and the name of your boat will also be published in a monthly pamphlet that is being distributed at local boat and ski-boat clubs and at launching and landing sites. Fish tagged with red spaghetti tags are bought from the fishermen at market prices and biological samples are harvested from those fish. In the case of a recreational angler recovering a fish with a red tag, that individual need not be concerned with the legality of receiving a reward for the return of his fish as the fish is being used for scientific research. In many cases it is the fish that have been chemically tagged that are recovered and that chemical tag is applicable to ageing studies. VERY IMPORTANT Please note that all fish tagged with red spaghetti tags on the left hand side adjacent to the dorsal fin will also be tagged with chemical or electronic tags. We
42 â€˘ SKI-BOAT May/June 2017
therefore need the whole fish back in order to get the full spectrum of biological data. SKIPJACK ARE THE WANDERERS In the equatorial areas of the eastern Atlantic tagging operations have been taking place since June 2016. Data from the first seven months of the program has been collected from over 4 500 tag recoveries. After being analysed and interpreted by ICCAT, this data has revealed some interesting preliminary trends in tuna migrations and population dynamics. During this period over 30 000 tags were deployed, of which 15% of the tags were recovered by commercial, artisanal and recreational fishermen in Senegal, the Ivory Coast and Ghana. It is anticipated that the AOTTP will improve our understanding of skipjack, yellowfin and bigeye tuna and, in particular, their population sizes, growth and mortality rates and movement patterns, which will lead to better management of these Atlantic Ocean resources. So far the tagging data showed that bigeye tuna travelled over twice the distance per month than previously found, and skipjack almost three times the distance previously noted, with these species averaging approximately 1 200 and 1 500 nautical miles per month, respectively. Yellowfin tuna did not travel as extensively compared to previ-
ous findings. They averaged approximately 800 nautical miles per month, which was only half the distance that they were expected to travel. APPLYING THE KNOWLEDGE I was fortunate to be invited to present at an Otolith Ageing Experts Workshop at the Centre de Recherches Oceanologiques, Abidjan, CĂ´te dâ€™Ivoire, at the beginning of March2017. Also in attendance were representatives from the South Pacific Commission (SPC) and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) who were there to share their knowledge and techniques for ageing yellowfin, bigeye and skipjack tuna. The aim of the workshop was to bring together the best tuna ageing tools in order to develop a standardised ageing protocol for the AOTTP and share experience with developing laboratories. This goal was achieved and will help to ensure harmonised and comparable ageing studies across the Atlantic Ocean. Ageing studies have now started in Senegal and the Ivory Coast and once we have tag recoveries from South Africa it will begin here too. For more information on this project visit <www.iccat.int/AOTTP/en/>, email <iccatrecover email@example.com>, phone 063 634 2503 or follow our Facebook page: South African tuna tagging program.
X-RATED! The X-28 Walk Around by X-Boats
The X-32 Walk Around
by Heirich Kleyn
T had been quite a while since I last had the opportunity to test a new boat so I was pleased when Shaun Lavery from Yamaha contacted me to say they were launching a new Explorer Evo 19ft monohull boat and he wanted me to put it to the test. Needless to say I grab any opportunity to test a new boat and also to spend some time with good people and friends on the water. The Explorer Evo is built by Grantley Read and I was not surprised to find him waiting with his new baby when I arrived at the Durban Ski-Boat Club. This is the first time I’d laid eyes on the Evo and, to my surprise, it was fitted with two 70hp Yamaha fourstrokes. To my mind the motors looked a little too small for the boat, but I decided to reserve judgement until I saw her on-water performance out at sea. Ryan Hansen from Durban Yamaha, someone you can always rely on when you need a helping hand, was also waiting on the beach with the camera boat 44 • SKI-BOAT May/June 2017
to assist Erwin Bursik while I put the new Evo through its paces. We hooked the trailer on the front of the tractor and, with Grantley Read and Shaun Lavery onboard, we were pushed into the water in front of Durban Ski-Boat Club. Shaun took the steering first while I chatted to Grantley about the new design. He informed me that this was the first time the Explorer Evo had been put on the water and tested. Talk about confidence! This just shows how gutsy Grant is and how much belief he has in his product; not many people will put the boat in the water for the first time on the day it gets tested by a lot of different people. This was going to be a very interesting test. The sea was fairly calm and we headed out towards Blue Lagoon. Shaun was running both engines at about 4 500rpm and she was f lying over the water. Eventually I had to remind Shaun that I needed to have a chance to steer her because I was supposed to test the boat and write this review. When I got control of the Evo I could understand Shaun’s reluctance to
hand her over to me because she’s very exciting to skipper. As I mentioned, the sea was fairly calm and I thought I would have to make her work hard to get her to perform in the calm sea. Much to my surprise she was very lively and the outthe-hole power with the two 70hp Yamaha four-strokes was amazing. Even though they haven’t played with her to ascertain the correct propping and transom heights that are needed to make her perform at her best, her performance was still very good. In fact, it’s so good that you would be able to do surf launches with her set up as is. The performance of the two 70hp Yamaha four-strokes was surprisingly good; I had obviously underestimated the power that these engines put out. The throttles were very smooth into gear and out of gear. I made my usual figure-of-eight move to get a feel for the turning circle and to test for cavitation of the engines. I felt no cavitation even when I accelerated in the turns. The turning circle was very small to the left and to the right, and I managed to make a perfect figure of eight which is a clear
indication that the engines were mounted correctly. Bear in mind that these were new motors that had not yet been run in and were still a little bit stiff, but despite that the pull away was very impressive for a 19ft boat. I was actually under the impression I was testing a 17ft boat until Grant informed me itâ€™s a 19ft craft. Performance-wise she has a great new design. Her stability is something that is difficult to explain, but my opinion is that because she is wide and flatish in the transom area the stability could be felt clearly when we were running at full throttle as well as when we were doing a slow troll. There is obviously a big difference between this monohull and any catamaran hull, and I find that I just seem to enjoy the monohull ride much more these days. I could not find any fault with her performance no matter how critical I was; her performance is flawless. When it comes to looking at the physical attributes of the boat the Explorer hull has been changed in the front so that when you run at full throtSKI-BOAT May/June 2017 â€˘ 45
46 â€¢ SKI-BOAT May/June 2017
tle the water is deflected away from the boat and downwards. This means that little to no water goes up to create spray that would make it uncomfortable and wet on the boat. In the hour and a half we were on the boat I did not get any spray on me — not a drop. A lot of thought obviously went into designing the layout of the Explorer Evo because it is very creative as well as economical. There’s a lot of fishing space on the boat and a lot of storage space too. This layout was created to suit both the serious fisherman and the family man who spends quality time with the family on his craft. To facilitate family fun time there’s a false transom with a roll bar, rod holders as well as a ski-rope mount at the back. On the side there’s space to load family or friends if you are taking them out to ride a tube or do some wake boarding. This platform with retractable steps also creates a lot of space for the serious fisherman and is great for those who enjoy light tackle boat fishing. The batteries are situated in a storage hatch in the middle of the false transom. On the left hand side there’s a storage hatch that could be used for a
cooler box or just to store some towels or tackle. On the right hand side there is a livebait well with a small window in the front that makes it easy to keep an eye on the bait and to see that the pumps are running. It’s enormously frustrating when you spend ages scratching around for bait, then get to your fishing ground, prepare to hook up a livebait and discover they are all dead! Both sides of the boat are fitted with below-gunnel rod holders, and the height of the gunnels is perfect to lean against. They are also padded so that your knees do not get hurt while you’re jigging or when you’re fighting a fish. There is more storage space for rods on top of the aluminium T-top. The centre console set up really impressed me. In front of the console there’s a seat, but if you lift this seat you’ll discover a huge hatch that opens up the whole console. This could be utilised for many things — as a fuel hatch or a normal storage hatch, or even as a space to install a porta-potty. Between the console and the bow there is a fish hatch in the f loor; although this hatch is not very wide, it is deep and very long. You would be
SPECIFICATIONS Length – 19ft (5.8m) Beam – 2.25m Draught – 900m Fuel – 75-100 litres Hull weight – 780kg Power as tested – 2 x 70hp Yamaha 4-strokes Recommended power — from 2 x 60hp 4-strokes up to 2 x 100hp 4-strokes Buoyancy – foam filled 1840kg
able to fit a 25kg ’cuda or yellowfin in easily. In the bow there’s another seat with a hatch underneath that is big enough to contain all your extra gear and safety equipment. Life jackets take up a lot of space, but you would have more than enough room to pack them away in this under-seat space. This hatch could also be used as a platform for flyfishing. Right in the front there’s a huge anchor hatch. Grantley mentioned that there are a couple of changes that could be made to suit the customer, so if you’re looking seriously at this boat feel free to chat to him about your preferences. A couple of days after the test I phoned Grantley to chat a bit more about the Explorer Evo 19ft and to hear his ideas behind the design of this light and very neatly built boat. Apparently Yamaha wanted to add a 19ft monohull craft to their fleet and the Explorer’s design was the one best-suited to being tweaked to ensure it would suit the serious offshore angler as well as the angler that enjoys freshwater fishing. Furthermore, the Explorer is also well-suited to having a single engine on the transom; it can be powered by anything from a single 100hp four-stroke up to a 200hp four-stroke. This will suit the guys that want to use the boat for fishing and skiing or wake boarding. There’s even enough space in the hull to fit an inboard motor if that’s what you prefer. If you’re happier with twin engines you can choose to power the boat with anything from 2 x 60hp Yamaha fourstrokes up to 2 x 100hp Yamaha fourSKI-BOAT May/June 2017 • 47
strokes. Although we tested the Evo with 2 x 70hp Yamaha four-strokes, Grantley assured me that twin 60hp motors would be big enough to push this hull. As I suspected, the reason she felt so stable is because one of the changes they have made to the hull is to flatten it out at the aft transom area. This makes the boat more stable and helps to get her on the plane faster. I was very impressed by the quality 48 • SKI-BOAT May/June 2017
and design of this boat as well by the amount of storage space that has been incorporated — and the amount of fishing space that’s available. When I was assessing the ride and performance of the Evo, the first thing that sprang to mind was that she’s a very dry boat. Her ride at full throttle and at trolling speed was perfect. I could not fault her handling in the surf and on open water; the Evo is certainly one of the more comfortable and soft-
est riding boats I have tested. She arrived on a single-axle galvanised breakneck trailer and the offloading and loading on the beach was done with ease. This is a good boat to look at seriously if you’re in the market for a monohull. My personal opinion is that this new Explorer Evo 19ft will do very well, but if you want to take a closer look at the Evo yourself, contact any Yamaha dealer.
RIVIERA 525 SUV:
HE word SUV conjures up visions of rugged automobiles built for functionality, strength and stability, often paired with strapping good looks. Love SUVs? Then you will love this range of Riviera yachts because it’s owners like you from whom they draw their inspiration. Here at Boating World we love Riviera’s motor yachts for the same reason we love a great SUV — because of their outstanding quality, structural strength, ease of use and luxurious, elegant finishes. The Riviera SUV range of boats embraces the ultimate in utility, meaning they are great all-rounders, built for the sporty and adventurous, and providing water-lovers with the best of both worlds in a boat. The Riviera 525 SUV is an incredibly good-looking boat for the young-at-heart who love nothing more than spending their days fishing, diving, playing, entertaining and just getting out on the water. In this one exquisite motor yacht you will find the perfect blend of high-performance motor yachting, wide-open spaces for entertaining and wellthought out functionality for sporty days on the water. The Riviera 525 SUV is perfect for days spent escaping the world with your lover, laughing 50 • SKI-BOAT May/June 2017
over some beers and enjoying some recreational angling with your mates, or taking the family for a day exploring and cruising. This sleek and stylish Riviera really lends itself to those days spent enjoying the high-life. The aft galley area offers all the conveniences you could want from an apartment-style cooking area including dual-element cooktop, premium microwave oven, overhead LED lighting, Corain tops, plenty of storage space, and drawer-style fridges and freezers with built-in lockers for storage of bottles. A touch-of-the-button sunroof, opening side windows and brilliant 360 degree tinted windows allow an endless amount of natural light into the interior while a large aft window and sliding door opens up onto the cockpit area, offering seamless entertaining from inside to out. The interior lounge area offers a hi/lo table which allows you to conveniently convert your dining table into a coffee table and an L-shaped couch with slideout ottoman also converts into a daybed for an extra passenger. Step outside onto contemporary teak decking and a welcoming threeseater lounge on the transom beckons. With under-seat storage, an undercover wet bar area that houses built-in
twin electric barbecues, a sink, rubbish bin, icemaker and additional storage, this casual outdoor area is perfect for those relaxed alfresco lunches. The sporty fibreglass hardtop offers plenty of shelter and shade and can even be extended further for additional protection from the sun with the addition of an optional stainless steel and acrylic canvas awning. Swing-out doors on either side of the transom area lead to the 450kg hydraulic swim platform that doubles as your tender/jetski lift. If it’s a dedicated sportfishing vessel you’re after then Boating World can swap out the lounge for a super-convenient central livebait tank which, if the fish aren’t biting, makes for a great coolerbox or can act as storage for dive, swimming and snorkelling gear. A reinforced alloy plate means you can easily fit a fighting chair or custom rod holders into this expansive, selfdraining cockpit area. State-of-the-art outriggers and a gamefish spotting tower are available as optional extras. The large fish hatch in the cockpit floor with pump-out capability is just waiting for your catch while a handheld hot and cold freshwater shower is fitted into the cockpit area to make for easier clean-ups. The Volvo IPS drives offer silent,
BEST OF BOTH WORLDS
smooth running and a smooth wake which makes your lures more appealing to marlin and other gamefish. If you are sailing short-handed then the standard skyhook feature controls the drives, allowing the skipper to hold the boat in one position with the simple touch of a button. Wide walk-around side decks with well-placed hand rails will lead you safely to the foredeck where additional storage is offered in the deep anchor lockers. The optional sunpad built for two is the perfect place to dolphins frolic around your Riviera. Salt- and freshwater washdown faucets are also situated at the anchor locker. Your fishing or cruising guests will get a good night’s sleep on the Riviera 525 SUV in the customisable three staterooms and will enjoy the use of luxury facilities in the two bathrooms. The master stateroom which comes equipped with its own gorgeous ensuite can be located forward or aft depending on your personal preference. The walk-around queen-sized bed with twin bedside tables, 26-inch LED TV and home theatre system are akin to what you would find in your favourite hotel room. The elegantly appointed guest stateroom also has a walk-around queen-sized bed and his
and hers hanging lockers. Bypass the laundry centre, cleverly hidden in beautiful functional cabinetry, and you’ll reach the third stateroom which features twin-sized beds and its own opening porthole. Digital junkies and lovers of good tunes will be impressed by the cuttingedge twin Volvo Penta Glass Cockpit 15-inch multifunction display navigation screens, AV system complete with LED TVs with their own dedicated storage compartments and movable systems that allow for easy viewing from any saloon seating position. There’s also a stereo system with separate indoor/outdoor zones, docking station, easy iPad connectivity and programming for WiFi. In addition, Riviera’s own fully integrated digital switching system allows for easy touchscreen control of all onboard systems, including lighting, pumps, batteries, entertainment systems and appliances. The three pre-programmed modes (entertaining/cruising/dock unattended) can be customised to your liking. An optional FLIR thermal night-vision camera is perfect for cruising after dark while the AIS transponders are state-of-the-art for safe cruising. When it comes to cruising, the Riviera 525 SUV can easily get you to
your fishing area with an impressive 30.5 knot top speed, while still maintaining excellent economy. The large captain’s chair with sports-inspired steering wheel provides the comfort and stability of a large motor vehicle, while an easy to operate joystick at the helm and an additional cockpit joystick makes manoeuvring the Riviera an absolute pleasure. Volvo Penta’s Inboard Propulsion System has twin pod drive units with an excellent power-toweight ratio. Each unit turns independently, allowing for simple manoeuvrability in addition to the improved fuel efficiency, reduced environmental impact and quiet operation that this system provides. For your peace of mind, Riviera also offers a five-year limited warranty on helm station controls, multi-function displays, steering, propellers, pod drives and engines, so you don’t have to worry about a thing when it comes to your new toy. • To get in touch with Boating World and order your very own Riviera contact Derrick Levy on <firstname.lastname@example.org>, 082 881 2607 or 0861 324 754. Otherwise visit <www.boatingworld.co.za/riviera>. SKI-BOAT May/June 2017 • 51
We had a bright and early start to the first day — we were up at 3.30am sorting out boat lunches and final preparations on the boat before heading out to sea at 5am. We set out the lures and fished most of the day straight off The Point at a spot known as the Honey Pot. This productive spot varies between 200m and 320m of water and has produced many marlin over the years. We managed to raise a marlin around midmorning but the fish was not interested in our lures. At midday we had a striped mar-
By Roberto Fierro
HEN it’s your time it’s your time. Two weeks prior to the 2017 Cape Vidal SkiBoat Club Marlin Competition there was a possibility that Eye-Tie would not be part of the competition. At that stage we only had a team of two — Steve de Ricquebourg and I, although I guess you could call “autopilot” the third crew member. I gave Steve a call and we made a decision to fish two up. A week prior to the competition Steve’s brother, Bully, committed to fishing with us — a commitment he does not regret making! Bully’s son, Shaun, who was out from Fiji also joined us for the first two days — the game was on. The week started with our traditional pre-lunch at Barraca Restaurant in St Lucia. The restaurant serves the best chicken, prawn and calamari combos. We sat around the table drinking 2Ms and discussing tactics. There was a lot of talk about how I, as the skipper, had to pull up my socks and not let down the crew. After a good lunch and a short trip to Cape Vidal we met up with all the teams for the briefing.
I shouted out,“It must be a grander!” Then I told myself, “Calm down now, you are really over excited.”
On the fifth day the weather had changed and we were back to a full day’s fishing. We headed out to sea with fingers crossed. We hadn’t seen or heard of much action for most of the day. We had a strike on the red and black Stripey Tickler with a bird in front of it out on the Japan. Bully was in the chair, and 40 minutes later we released a magnificent blue marlin estimated to weigh between 500- and 600 pounds. This was Bully’s first marlin — a great start to marlin fishing in anyone’s book. Friday night we sat around the table discussing tactics for the final day of the competition. We had released two fish and the leading boat, Kellys Eye, had released three fish. We had to hook up and release two fish in order to take the lead. We were back on the beach at 5am the next morning, highly motivated. We’d decided to change from our usual Honey Pot spot to deep off Half Way/ Vegetation. We set out the lures and fished from deep to shallow in an east to west direction. For whatever reason I decided to put a different lure into the
lin hookup which Shaun fought for five minutes before the hooks pulled. The next day we launched at 5am, again heading to the Honey Pot area. By mid-morning we had hooked a striped marlin at our usual spot. Steve was on the chair and we successfully released a striped marlin after a 20minute fight. This fish was caught on a blue and white Stripey Tickler by Pulsator. On day three we managed to raise two fish but had no hook ups. The following day the sea was on its head; we fished for half the day then threw in the towel. SKI-BOAT May/June 2017 • 53
spread — one I had never used before — a red, black and purple Marlin Magic by Marlin Parker, known as the Ruckus. Claude Boardman on My Son had just gone past us travelling in a south to north direction and he had hooked up a fish about 400m away from us. I decided to try a similar line and travel from south to north, heading towards Leven Point, fishing slightly deeper on the 300m mark. Not even five minutes later we had a hook up. Steve was in the chair, and after a 40-minute fight we successfully released a blue marlin of about 400 pounds. Once again the fish had taken the red and black Stripey Tickler with a bird in front of it on the Japan. All was going according to plan. We had released this fish by 7.30am and still had the whole day to fish. During the fight Steve retrieved the line like a pyramid so we had to sort that. We set out two short lures and proceeded to let out the Stripey Tickler 400m behind the bird in order to retrieve the line evenly. I told the boys that we’d made a small mistake by letting out a lure that far, and hoped that we would not get a strike out there! My instructions to Steve were to wind the line back as quickly as possible. While Steve was doing that, my eyes were fixed on the red, purple and black Ruckus which was smoking five metres away on the starboard short. Two minutes later I saw a massive marlin come up and swallow the Ruckus. We still had 200 metres of line out on the bird! The marlin took off and wrapped the line twice around itself; there was pandemonium!
54 • SKI-BOAT May/June 2017
IN BRIEF Boat: Eye-Tie Skipper: Roberto Fierro Angler: Bully de Ricquebourg Crew: Steve de Ricquebourg Fish’s weight: ±1 245 pounds Length: 148 inches Girth: 82 inches Tail: 24 inches Lure: Purple, red and black Marlin Magic Ruckus by Marlin Parker Depth: 300m of water Place: Cape Vidal South Africa Spot: Deep Vegetation Duration of fight: 2 hours Tackle: 80 lb Shimano rod and reel The fish come out of the water numerous times and we were in awe at the size of this beast. I quickly grabbed the rod that was 200 metres out and managed to untangle it while the beast was jumping 300 metres away from the boat. We finally cleared the deck and Bully jumped into the chair… the fight was on! During the fight we thought we had lost the fish twice, because there were times when it swam towards the boat at such speed that my twin 140hp motors could not get away from it. Then all of a sudden the fish would turn, take up the tension and the fight was back on. Two hours into the fight the marlin jumped out the water about 20 metres from the boat. That was the first time we got a really close look at the size of the fish. As the skipper and the leader man I was terrified because of its size; I had never before leadered such a massive fish and politely asked Bully to keep on fighting. I went and sat behind the wheel and gave myself a pep talk about how I was going to leader this fish. Twenty more minutes had passed and the fish was eight metres below the boat; the leader was within reach. Ver y concerned, I made my way to the back of the boat and grabbed the leader. On my first attempt at grabbing the leader
the fish pulled away with ease. I let go and a few seconds later I managed to grab the leader again. I told myself it was now or never, and I put everything into pulling up the fish. This time she popped up to the surface. We were all amazed at the sheer size of the fish. I shouted out, “It must be a grander!” Then I told myself, “Calm down now, you are really over excited.” We finally got the subdued fish alongside the boat. After the long fight she was tired and lay there motionless which gave us a great opportunity to measure her properly. We just used the rope that we had on the boat to measure her, tying knots at all the measurements; we did that three times just to make sure we had all the measurements correct. After checking all the measurements we successfully released the fish. We radioed beach control and let them know we had released a massive marlin which we had estimated to be around 800-900 lb. The radio was alive because of such a big call, and a lot of questions were being asked. We continued fishing, not realising the exact size of the fish. Even though all went according to plan, we still ended up second as Kelly’s Eye released two fish on the same day. At 2pm it was lines up and the end of our competition. When we got to the wash bay Claude Boardman produced a fancy tape measure which gave you estimated weights of a fish according to the length and girth. Claude held one end of the rope as I started to walk back with the rope and tape measure in hand. It went past the 600-, 700- and 800 lb marks with ease and there was still a fair amount of rope in my hand. I went past the 900- and then the 1000 lb mark. There was a lot of excitement, but Claude put a damper on that by saying that not only was the length important, but also the girth. The length of the fish was 148 inches — seven inches longer than what a grander would be. However, in order for it to truly be a grander the girth had to be bigger than 74 inches. With great anticipation we measured the girth and it was a staggering 82 inches! We had one more measurement — the tail. The tail had to be over 20 inches and our fish’s tail measured 24 inches — a definite grander! According to the international calculations a fish of those measurements would weigh 1 245 lb. What a fish! Was it one of the biggest blue marlin ever caught in Africa? Was it the biggest to be caught in 2017 so far? We couldn’t be 100% sure, but according to the measurements it undoubtedly was a monster. What a privilege.
SKI-BOAT May/June 2017 â€¢ 55
Kingfisher Award Application Form I hereby apply for the Kingfisher Award in the category:
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. Signature: .............................................. Meritorious Fish Species: ................................................ Weight: .................................................. Date of Capture: .................................... Where Caught: ...................................... Skipper's Name: .................................... Outstanding catch Category applied for (tick appropriate box): 3:1
Species: ................................................ Weight: .................................................. Line class: ............................................. Date of Capture: .................................... Where Caught: ...................................... Skipper's Name: .................................... Digital emailed photographs should be high-resolution.
56 • SKI-BOAT May/June 2017
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) The Kingfisher Award - Meritorious Fish To satisfy the requirements for this award, anglers are required to catch a fish included in the list detailed hereunder, equal to or better than the nominated weight. Tackle used is of no consideration here, the RULES: 1) There is no restriction on the number of awards which can be applied for. 2) Award applicants must submit a photograph of the relevant fish with the application form, preferably a photograph of the angler holding the fish. 3) SKI-BOAT reserves the right to use the photograph as it sees fit. 4) Entries must be on the official form which is included in all issues of the magazine. 5) Entires must be received within 45 days of capture. 6) Certificates awarded will be as follows: Meritorious Fish - Gold Outstanding Catch 3:1 - Bronze; 5:1 and 7:1 - Silver; 10:1 - Gold 7) 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. 8) A selection of award winners’ names will be announced in future issues of SKIBOAT, along with relevant photographs. 9) Award applicants should allow 30-45 days for processing of applications. 10) There is no charge for Kingfisher Awards.
fish's weight being the main criterion. The different eligible fish and their corresponding minimum nominated weights are as per the list below. A gold digital certificate will be awarded for this achievement. Complementing this section is the second award category: 2) Kingfisher Award - Outstanding Catch To satisfy the requirements for this award, anglers can catch any recognised fish and the weight of that fish must equal or exceed 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: Barracuda Dorado Kingfish (Ignobilis) Garrick (Leervis) King Mackerel (’Cuda) Black Marlin Blue Marlin Striped Marlin Prodigal Son Sailfish (Pacific) Spearfish (Longbill) Spearfish (Shortbill) Tuna (Big Eye) Tuna (Longfin) Tuna (Yellowfin) Wahoo Yellowtail
NOMINATED WEIGHT: 15kg 12kg 20kg 12kg 15kg 100kg 100kg 60kg 15kg 25kg 20kg 20kg 30kg 25kg 50kg 15kg 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 on 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 Award Page of any of the billfish species nor GTs other than those that are released.
Submit application to: Kingfisher Awards, PO Box 20545, Durban North 4016 or email email@example.com
Osprey’s black marlin prior to revival and release. 58 • SKI-BOAT May/June 2017
By Johan Smal
S we quietly stood staring into the distance, everyone momentarily occupied with their own thoughts, the long awaited dawn brightened up the sky sufficiently for us to soak up the details of the magnificent picture unfolding before us. For me personally this particular scene is one of Agulhas’s most spectacular panoramic views imaginable, especially at daybreak. In the forefront the structures of the crowded and bustling Struisbaai Harbour fused neatly into the picturesque bay’s cobalt water stretching away into the early morning glow. Further along white sandy beaches blended seamlessly into the large, snowwhite sand dunes beyond, now neatly edged against the blurred distant green mountains. “These tranquil contrasting hues are picture perfect,” I thought for a second, but immediately realised that no camera would be able to properly capture and reproduce such excellence — God’s own creation I celebrated! What a start to mark the first fishing day of the long awaited 2017 Two Oceans Marlin Tournament (TOMT).
CAPTAINS’ BRIEFING At the captains’ briefing held in the Suidpunt Deep Sea Angling clubhouse the previous evening, the cards were already on the table. Monday seemed fishable,Tuesday and Wednesday looked to be total blowouts, with Thursday, Friday and Saturday looking promising at that stage. Subject to final confirmation the next morning, a provisional green light was given for fishing to commence on Monday. The enticing prospects of chasing marlin on the first day of the event almost catapulted the excitement levels of the already pumped up 125 anglers beyond threshold levels. However, during the briefing officiated by Mr TOMT, Paul van Niekerk, and
Mr Marlin Control, the effervescent Andrew Perrins, the ambiance appeared to be rather aloof. Carefully scrutinizing the facial expression of several attendees thoughtfully listening and cogitating over the procedures and requests, I realised that their guises in fact portrayed very stern attitudes. There was no mistaking it, these people had come for a single reason and that was to catch marlin. Against the backdrop of the 2016 event which only yielded one marlin — and that after the event had to be extended to the Sunday — it all made sense. Whilst thanking the local NSRI, Station 30, for their continued support, solid backing and quick response when needed, Paul also introduced the Station commander, Reinard Geldenhuys, (Manager Protection Ser vices at Overberg District Municipality). Reinard used the opportunity to share the station’s accountabilities, operations and response procedures. This address was long overdue and well received by all, particularly Reinard’s advice on how to deal with potentially serious incidents and injuries at sea. A WINDY START As the crews milled around amongst the logjam of boats parked inside the parameters of the harbour — with the queue once again backing up well into the entrance road and beyond — the excitement levels were almost palpable. However, due to a fresh south-easter breeze pushing onshore substantially stronger than had been forecast, the prospects of launching were certainly at risk. The weather pattern was threatening to become a blue print of last year’s event when frustrated participants were forced to sit it out until the Friday. The thumbs-up was eventually given by the safety committee and about 75% of the 27 participating craft launched — straight into the teeth of a still
obnoxious but gradually calming sea. As the boats scattered in different directions, the constant flow of radio calls confirming pax numbers and requesting permission to leave the harbour were unceremoniously blown away into the crisp morning air. Then the long wait started with some exciting hookup reports echoing intermittently over the radio. They turned out to be mostly nice sized yellowfin tuna or some of those dreaded taxmen. Le Boss even reported a blue shark taking a marlin lure — the first of its kind ever hooked during these events, as far as I’m aware. The largest craft in the fleet, Piet Faber and Koos Pretorious’ 45ft Bill Edwards built Osprey, fishing near the Alphard Banks, eventually hooked into a black marlin which was reported to be a large fish. As Big Ben’s bells tolled that afternoon at 4pm announcing the end of the first day’s fishing, the total score was still stuck at one marlin. Following the normal chilling out, sightseeing and team building excursions over the next two very windy days, Thursday eventually arrived with all 27 participating boats taking to sea. Despite having the luxury of the second slip available — it was cleared and declared usable beforehand — the harbour was still unable to satisfactorily cope with so many boats, particularly with the local sportfishers and commercial boats also competing for launching rights. By midday Woes Lekker, Jaco Pienaar’s 21ft Butt Cat, had hooked and successfully released a striped marlin near the Alphard Banks. This eventually turned out to be the only billfish catch for the day. On Friday, the last day of the event — Saturday was also a total blowout — Paul van Niekerk’s 25ft Two Oceans Magnum Salti, fishing the 12 Mile Bank area, hooked and successfully released a black marlin, the last fish of the event. SKI-BOAT May/June 2017 • 59
MARLIN FASCINATION Observing the event from shore as it unfolded, I was once again confronted with the realities of marlin fishing. “What makes this perfectly biologically engineered noble oceanic masterpiece such a pursued quarry, that it attracts investments worth billions of dollars worldwide, only to be challenged at the end of a delicate section of fishing line before being released again?” I wondered. And why does the prospect of catching that single marlin so successfully mesmerise myriad level-headed human beings to such an extent that they actually engage in pursuing them? Is it perhaps the thrill of the chase? The quest for that sudden hi-octane adrenaline rush brought about by the loud, whining sound of a fast spinning reel as line is ripped off at an astonishing rate; the loud shouting and chaotic actions of the crew frantically clearing the deck whilst the angler settles in for the exhilarating mêlée; that pure triple distilled adrenaline deluge whilst getting into
the fighting chair working the brute strength of this elusive animal. Perhaps it’s the thrill of witnessing the most fascinating ensign of this majestic sea creature in a lit-up condition; perhaps the awe of fighting back the overwhelming feelings of immense pride and fulfillment as you unhook, revive and release this marvellous creature. Or maybe it’s for those jubilant high fives all around celebrating the cherished catch and watching it swimming away alive. CELEBRATING ACCOMPLISHMENTS There is no doubt that the answers to these questions would differ substantially from one angler to the next, but it might be food for discussion over a couple of frosties. Whatever your reasoning, I would like to share some accomplishments observed during the tournament which, in my opinion, solidly underpin the ambiance of the event. These new milestones are systematically and surely stretching the bounds of this annual event. An interesting observation to kick-
81-year old veteran Bob Busby (centre) received second place honours from Paul van Niekerk while 11-year old Bernardt Pretorious looks on. 60 • SKI-BOAT May/June 2017
off with is that over the eleven events since inception in 2007, a new champion stepped onto the winner’s podium every single year. We are still eagerly awaiting the first repeat winner. We seldom take note of age-related indicators, but the general age of participants in the past was between 18 and 75 years. This year, however, 81-year-old sea dog and veteran sportfisherman Bob Busby, and 11-year-old greenhorn Bernardt Pretorius (Koos Pretorius’ son) fished together off Osprey. It’s really heart-warming to see that marlin fishing has no age restriction, still hypnotizing both young and old regardless of that large 70 year age gap! Renowned as one of the foremost fishing events on the southern Cape’s angling calendar, the TOMT has always been patronised by anglers who are prepared to travel from afar. In acknowledging some of the 2017 long distance travellers, accolades must go to Tokkie Hugo, a Sodwana resident. Erwin Bursik travelled from Durban while Louis Le Grange and his crew
The winning team proudly pose with the 2017 TOMT winners’ trophy.
towed his Nova 220 Sportfisher D Stress all the way from Pretoria. This year, however, another record was set — Nedko Nedev from Sevlievo, Bulgaria, flew all the way to South Africa to join skipper Andre Swart on Kinda Magic to participate in the TOMT. Also worth celebrating is that Osprey’s black marlin, estimated to weigh between 275kg and 300kg, is the biggest marlin ever caught during these events. We remain convinced that those bigger specimens are still lurking in the depths out there, just waiting for a hook-up. Another major achievement by Osprey’s crew — although unconfirmed — is the “unofficial All Africa record” for catching and releasing six striped marlin on one single day (eight in total for the week). Although this was not achieved during this event, it’s the factual fallout of the marlin mayhem we experienced during the 2012 TOMT, the first year Osprey entered and won the event. (See the May/June 2012 issue of SKI-BOAT Magazine.) Osprey now
also owns the bragging rights for achieving all three podium positions in such a short timeframe since joining the TOMT for the first time in 2012. Having participated in only four events over six tournaments, they took first position in 2012, third in 2014 and second in 2017. On a sad note we report the passing of Tony Doult, one of the TOMT’s longstanding contestants. Tony was killed in a vehicle accident in the Democratic Republic of the Congo during December 2016. We wish to express our sincere condolences to his relatives. His absence during the event left a void and we’ll definitely miss his camaraderie in the years to come. However, with the introduction of the Tony Doult trophy, awarded annually to the person who made the biggest contribution towards the TOMT, Tony’s legacy will continue to be celebrated during these events. Congratulations go to Gawie Bruwer, the 2017 recipient of this worthy award.
TRAIL OF AGULHAS'S MARLIN Wanting to learn more about the migratory patterns of marlin in Agulhas's waters, the TOMT has joined the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) project collecting marlin genetic (DNA) samples for analysis. The aim of the study is to identify the worldwide presence and geographic location of different striped and white marlin populations in particular, as well as the extent of mixing between these populations. Unfortunately due to the absence of striped marlin activities in our area over the last couple of years not many samples could be collected. Although we’ve experienced a 100% collection rate during this event, only one of these samples came from a striped marlin and was submitted by the Woes Lekker team. Although we’re sad to have missed this ideal opportunity to get some provisional indications, we take solace from knowing that filling a barrel of precious wine starts with that single drop of juice forced from one grape.
There was much pirating around at the Suidpunt DeepSea Clubhouse.
SKI-BOAT May/June 2017 • 61
The local NSRI Station 30 team. The study will soon come to an end and a detailed report will be shared as soon as more information becomes available. CONCLUSION During Paul van Niekerk’s speech at the prize giving on Saturday night, he paid special tribute to all the sponsors for their generous contributions, without which the event wouldn’t be possible. He also acknowledged and thanked the small core of organisers and especially the support staff for their valuable contributions behind the scenes. With only three marlin caught compared to the 47 and 36 during 2012 and 2013 respectively, it was a somewhat disillusioned bunch of anglers that congregated for the prize giving. Despite that many pledged to be back again next year; “things can only improve”, was the general consensus amongst all. Based on the TOMT’s rules that a black marlin earns more points than a striped marlin and that the last fish counts the most, the winners with one marlin each were declared as follows:1. Salti skippered by Paul van Niekerk. 2. Osprey skippered by Mike Gilham. 3. Woes Lekker skippered by Jaco Pienaar. During the latter part of the closing ceremony triumphant participants received a variety of prizes. After celebrating the achievements and burying the failures, the curtains were finally drawn on the 2017 TOMT, but we’ll see you again next year. 62 • SKI-BOAT May/June 2017
Salti flying its winning flags.
GAMEFISH By Johan Smal and Earl Fenwick
HE meridian 20° east of Greenwich — the longitude line that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, through Europe, down the African continent and then separates the great Atlantic and Indian Oceans before finally reaching Antarctica — cuts squarely through the heart of this article’s focus. Agulhas, at the southernmost tip of Africa, is aptly referred to by Piet Smit, the Afrikaans gospel singer, as “Waar Afrika doodloop in die see”. Located in the Overberg region this is the place that some of us blessed anglers proudly call home and where we target one of our favourite quarries — yellowtail.
THE OPERATING THEATRE Neatly squashed between the Hottentots-Holland and Riviersonderend mountains on one side and the
Atlantic and Indian oceans on the other side, this region epitomises South Africa’s undiscovered, unexplored and underestimated destinations. The abundance of fresh air, wild f lowers and breathtaking sea- and landscape scenery is real food for the soul. However this is not just a good spot to put up your feet and watch the sun set. With a rich marine life and strong emphasis on farm produce, Agulhas has long been considered the breadbasket of the Cape — a place of plenty. In total contrast to the undulating countryside which is covered in swathes of yellow and green patches of canola and wheat fields during the winter months, the seas that pound the Overberg shores, although enchanting, are some of the most treacherous. The 130-odd shipwrecks which lie scattered along the coastline and which date back as far as 1673 bear testimony to this graveyard of ships. And yet these treacherous but captivating waters also provide
recreation, adventure and sustenance for thousands. The continual mixing of the icy north-flowing Benguela on the west coast and the warm south-f lowing Agulhas currents hugging the east coast generates one of the five richest marine ecosystems in the world. These radically different marine environments also shape the terrestrial ecosystems and human settlements along the coast. Agulhas has been synonymous with fishing for millennia, and Arniston (called Waenhuiskrans in Afrikaans) and Struisbaai with its quaint little harbour are two of the few remaining line-fishing communities along the Cape’s east coast. They’ve become major tourist attractions frequented by thousands and the area has become a very popular attraction for anglers from afar. The abundance of fish species in the area, especially during the period from October to April, fuels the zest of the region’s fishermen. This is when
Part 1: Stalking brute strength
Earl Fenwick with an 11kg yellowtail caught on the Vlak Bank off Struisbaai. SKI-BOAT May/June 2017 • 65
The Agulhas and Overberg region is filled with contrasts, from beautiful yellow and green fields of canola and wheat to fishrich aquamarine oceans that beat up against treacherous rocky shores. the mighty Agulhas current ascends along the Agulhas Banks to swathe very large inshore areas with some generous warm eddies, spiraling directly from its sharing heart. This manifestation heralds the annual time of plenty which so many dream about — especially those whose livelihoods are entirely dependent on the bounty of the sea. Most of the offshore anglers make use of the breakwater launching facility at Struisbaai harbour, but launching from Arniston presents a specific — probably unique — challenge to skippers. Because they have to launch directly from a concrete slip into the surf, boats are required to have special wheeling modifications enabling them to cope with these rodeo type take-offs. (See SKI-BOAT November/December 2007 for details.) The potent combination of unique launching challenges, strong winds, wild seas, unpredictable undercurrents and rocky inshore make this part of the coastline difficult to navigate; it’s advisable for inexperienced crews or unsound boats to stay away.
Notwithstanding all that, this region is often referred to as having some of the best fishing waters in South Africa. Located on the Agulhas shelf, the area offers relatively shallow fishing grounds and copious quantities of a large variety of linefish species are lifted from these very productive waters each year. Although remarkable quantities of geelbek (Cape salmon), kabeljou and red linefish species are taken, the yellowtail enjoys the lion’s share both in terms of being targeted and yields. As we all know, numerous factors influence catch results, even on an hourly basis, so the estimated yellowtail catches coming from these waters cannot be quantified. However, compared to the meagre catches experienced over the last two years, especially this year, some astonishing yields of several hundred tons of these green and gold beauties have been taken in years gone by, both by commercial and sport fishermen. During the high season it is not uncommon for most anglers to return to shore with their full tally of the allowable ten fish per person, whilst a
single commercial boat carries upwards of three tons at times. THE PREY Our subject of focus, the renowned Cape yellowtail, is probably the most prized quarry along the entire seaboard of South Africa. The yellowtail is a very robust, fast swimmer; in my books pound-for-pound the strongest adversary in the sea! Those sudden, vicious strikes followed by lightning fast take-offs and long, very hard runs have resulted in many unwary anglers losing their precious gear to Neptune. In these shallow waters, if you happen to stay in control during these adrenalin-loaded moments and manage to terminate that line stripping run, you’ll probably still get snagged on some underwater structure. The large specimens in particular are absolute masters at choosing the ocean floor as their defensive zone and, whilst playing foul, will fight to the bitter end. Fishing methods include using drift baits and trolling or casting with livebaits or lures. The yellowtail’s habit of
The Struisbaai harbour (left) offers a breakwater launching facility but at Arniston (right) skippers have to launch directly from a concrete slipway into the surf, a much more challenging exercise. SKI-BOAT May/June 2017 • 67
A boat executing the so-called “Cowboy Launch” off the Arniston slipway. It can be a hairy experience if the sea is rough. driving baitfish up against the shore makes casting from the beach possible at times too. Very good catches are regularly made from the Rooikrantz rocks at Cape Point. Sadly, despite an ever growing keen interest, I’ve never had the chance to explore its biological makeup, taxonomy and persona. However, following some flights through cyberspace and especially with the assistance of Belinda Swart who did her doctorate in genetics, I’ve collected some very interesting information on this species. THE YELLOWTAIL The Cape yellowtail (Seriola lalandi) — related to the amberjack (Seriola dumerili) and the tropical yellowtail aka the longfin amberjack (Seriola rivoliana) which are also found in South Africa — is known worldwide as the southern yellowtail. It is also referred to by some as the albacore, yellowtail kingfish, yellowtail amberjack, Californian yellowtail, hoodlum yellowtail,Tasmanian yellowtail or gold-striped amberjack. Occurring in tropical and temperate waters in various locations around the globe, it actually consists of three subspecies — the Southern yellowtail (Seriola lalandi lalandi), the California yellowtail (Seriola lalandi dorsalis) and the Asian yellowtail (Seriola lalandi aureovittata). See the distribution
chart below from Swart et al (2016). A recent phylogeography (the study of historical processes responsible for contemporary geographic distributions of different fisheries by using genetic analyses) by Dr B L Swart et al (2016), discovered that although the yellowtail is still classified as one species, three genetically distinct groups corresponding to the three subspecies can be found. It turns out the Cape yellowtail is a different stock to the Southern yellowtail found in the South Pacific. These subspecies are the direct fallout of the unique distribution of these different fisheries, hence the absence of interaction between them. Being a pelagic schooling fish, the yellowtail belongs to the Carangidae family, a diverse family that includes fishes of ecological and economic importance and includes jacks, scads, trevallies, pompano, amberjacks and queenfishes. Members of this family are found in all three major ocean basins — the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans — and are generally fast-swimming predator y fish that hunt mainly in waters just above reef structures. Contingent on lunar cycles, the yellowtail preys during varying times of the day predominantly on small fish, invertebrates and pelagic crabs. Yellowtail have been described as having torpedo-shaped bodies with very small, smooth scales. The combination
Distribution ranges of Seriola lalandi subspecies: S. l. dorsalis (USA), S. l. aureovittata (Japan – JA), S. l. lalandi (Chile – CH,South Africa – SA, Australia – AUS, New Zealand – NZL) (Smith-Vaniz 1986; Smith-Vaniz et al. 1990; Martinez-Takeshita et al. 2015).
of its body shape and carangiform locomotion (there’s very little effort of the head whilst movement is concentrated in the very rear part of the body and tail which results in rapidly oscillating tails) make the yellowtail kingfish a very fast, strong swimmer. Although the Cape yellowtail specimens taper out at around 25kg, the species can grow up to 2.5m in length and weigh up to 70kg. Juvenile yellowtail are rarely seen but are apparently often found far from land where they’re associated with floating debris or weed which provides camouflage. Seasonal migratory shoals generally consist of several hundred smaller size fish (under 7kg) which are found close to the coast. The larger fish tend to prefer smaller aggregations and becomes more territorial and less migratory as they grow bigger, with especially the 15kg-plus specimens being more solitary. They are commonly found around deep reefs and offshore islands. MIGRATION AROUND SOUTH AFRICA During my research into the Cape yellowtail’s migratory route around the South African coastline I realised that information about the species in general is rather scanty. Fortunately some of the old-hands kindly shared their knowledge and know-how gained over many years. These are some of those leading ironmen, individuals who are still walking around with seriously scarred hands — injuries resulting from deep cuts caused by years of fighting and finally wrestling those strong and heavy squirming yellowtails over the gunnel, mostly using >120kg rated handlines. Dr Swart also referred me to a very interesting news publication produced by the Oceanic Research Institute (ORI). In their Tagging News report published in July 2012, which summarised the 2011 tagging results, they noted a single Cape yellowtail’s mission up our east coast. According to the abovementioned report, during 2011 a total of 557 active members tagged 10 262 fish of 167 different species. Only 697 recaptures SKI-BOAT May/June 2017 • 69
Ruan Smal with a 23kg yellowtail caught on a small reef off Arniston, and (inset) Johan Smal with a 16kg yellowtail caught at the Alphard Banks.
were recorded for that particular year. The Cape yellowtail did not make the top ten tagged species, but 521 specimens were tagged. One of them was tagged and released by Warwick Leslie off Dassen Island on the west coast on 20 August 2011. Just 38 days later, on 19 November 2011, this fish was recaptured by Greg Defilippi off Stiebel Rocks just south of Hibberdene on the KZN south coast. In this short time this 6,7kg swam an amazing 1 746km — an average of 58km per day. Despite having heard many negative comments over the years about the low recapture rate of tagged fish — some allege the rate is so poor that it’s simply a total waste of funds, time and energy — I’ve always been a keen supporter of this initiative. Yes, the low capture rate is fact, but surely the intrinsic value emanating from even this single result is absolutely priceless. REPRODUCTIVE BEHAVIOUR Information relating to the spawning patterns, population fecundity and egg and larval production for yellowtail in the wild is almost non-existent, it seems. We do, however, know that spawning normally occurs during the autumn and summer months — November to February — and happens when the sea water temperature rises to around 18°C minimum. Traill Witthuhn, a Struisbaai resident 70 • SKI-BOAT May/June 2017
and one of Agulhas’s pioneering commercial anglers has been fishing the area since 1972 and also walks around with scarred hands. He says he’s been privileged to observe some natural spawning behaviour of yellowtail but only during the early years whilst stocks were still in abundance with very large shoals massing in the area annually. Sadly, as the stock was decimated to a fraction of its original biomass, this particular event has not been seen for many years now. “With shoals consisting of both females and males closely packed together and slowly swimming around in circles, spawning occurs near the surface. On a calm day you can actually clearly see them circling just underneath the surface, but that’s only possible if you succeed in getting close enough to the display without spooking the shoal. You can actually witness the colour of the water around them turning white as spawning commences. In very clear water one can sometimes actually see the small white puffs as individuals ejaculate their life-giving mixtures,” Traill said. Bony fish commonly reproduce by broadcast spawning, meaning an external method of reproduction where the female releases many unfertilised eggs into the water, while males simultaneously release sperm to fertilise these eggs. The strategy for survival is to dis-
perse the fertilised eggs away from the coast, preferably into the relative safety of the open ocean. Less than 1% of these fertilised organisms are destined to survive this treacherous journey and eventually end up as reproductive breeding stock again. It is interesting to note that the eggs contain a drop of nutrient oil that provides buoyancy and sustains the embryo as it develops inside the eggcase. As the eggs float and drift away in the current they become an integral part of the zooplankton component of Mother Nature’s unfailing marine food chain. To survive, these tiny creatures must then become miniature predators themselves and feed on plankton before migrating to more substantial rations provided by baitfish species. Finally, the youngsters encounter others of their own kind to form aggregations and learn to school. What about the yellowtail’s culinary qualities? Indeed they are very tasty, and in the July/August 2017 issue of SKI-BOAT we will discuss some of the methods used to catch them off Struisbaai and how to cook them once you’ve landed them. One of South Africa’s legendar y Western Cape Springbok sports anglers, home-grown chef and co-author of this article, Earl Fenwick, has offered to share his secret yellowtail braai recipe with us. You won’t want to miss that.
SKI-BOAT May/June 2017 â€¢ 71
A RECORD-BREAKING DAY by Marja Penninkhof (13)
T 8am on Saturday 18 March we were on our way to go fishing off Struisbaai aboard my dad’s boat, Carry Cat. We headed out with high hopes of finding some new spots and species. Our day started off very well and we managed to catch and release several good sized red stumpnose. Then the radio came alive and we heard of a couple of boats starting to catch a few kob. After a quick discussion among the crew we decide to move to the area where kob were being caught. We had no luck, so my dad decided to head toward the Oesterbanke. On arrival we immediately got into some action and had soon landed and released a few small kob. Dad decided to head closer to the shore, and after finding some good structure we anchored. Things were pretty quiet for a while and then all of a sudden my rod almost got jolted out of my hands. I immediately realised that I had hooked into a large, strong fish. Dad informed me that it would probably be a bronze whaler shark, so I prepared myself for the battle. I moved towards the front of the boat and started to fight what I thought was a shark. Half an hour later I was tired and wishing the “shark” would bite me off. Uncle Morne came to sit in the front of the boat too to give me some moral support. Finally I gained some line and Dad decided to join me with a gaff — just in case. Thank goodness for the gaff! “Kob!” my dad shouted. “No, shark!” And then finally confirmation, “Kob!” I had moved back towards the cabin
to give them some space, but with my dad confirming that this epic fight was indeed with a kob, I moved closer to have a peek. I could not believe my eyes! I could see by the expression on my dad’s face that “shark mode” had turned into,“best you do not stuff this up” mode. He was poised with the gaff and eventually I felt the tension in the line release and knew my catch was secured. When I saw the size of the fish I completely lost it. I was so happy, so grateful, so sad, just utterly humbled by this amazing fish! Throughout my life I have been fortunate to fish with amazing anglers and their advice started rolling through my head:“First see your catch before you claim it to be a shark”,“enjoy the fight”,“remember, someone’s fighting for their life”… To my crew, Morne, Arrie and Frikkie, thank you for an unforgettable day. To my mentor, Uncle Daniel Hughes, I stayed calm, enjoyed the fight and fought it to the end. Thank you, Uncle Moelas, for introducing me to Struisbaai’s waters. Thank you to all the boats and anglers that congratulated me on the VHF once we confirmed our catch. To my hero, Dad, thank you for teaching me to fish and thank you for your patience, I love you! Back on land, we confirmed the weight at 19.94kg; it is believed that we broke the WP and AA record for kob caught by a junior on 6kg line. Special thanks to Uncle Earl Fenwick for assisting with the scales and necessary documents for me to claim my record. Tight lines and see you all on the water.
74 â€¢ SKI-BOAT May/June 2017
ANGLER’S PARADISE Exploring Bartolomeu Dias Peninsula
By Carlos Carvalho
WAS first introduced to the paradise that is affectionately known as BD Point in Inhambane, Moçambique, when I was invited for a two-week stay at Club 15 in May 2013. The area made such an impression on me that I made BD Point my home in July 2016 and I recently brought my Ski Vee 500 Sport from Maputo to enable me to make the most of the deep sea fishing opportunities every good weather day. Bartolomeu Dias Peninsula is an all round saltwater and mangrove fisherman’s paradise. In the last seven months’ fishing I have covered most of this incredible area, from the southern T-Junction where the ancient Govuro River leads into the BD Lagoon to the northern-most
SKI-BOAT May/June 2017 • 77
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species makes for uninterrupted, yearround fishing. To the west of BD Point you’ll find extensive mangrove forests which shelter monster river snapper, spotted grunter, rockcod and many species of ray. BD Point is only accessible on the low tide by driving 28km on the beach towards the north of Inhassoro. A beach driving permit must be bought from the Inhassoro Port Captain at a cost of 1 000 meticais per vehicle. Lulas Paradise Lodge provide great self-catering accommodation. Its jetty on the lagoon has become very popular because many species of fish congregate at its pillars, thus providing snorkelling and fish feeding opportunities for the kids. For further information contact Jakkie on +258 84 583 3210 or email <firstname.lastname@example.org>. If I can be of any assistance do not hesitate to call me on +258 84 617 9110.
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80 â€¢ SKI-BOAT May/June 2017
SKI-BOAT May/June 2017 â€¢ 81
VERYBODY has a story or three about the big one they caught; you know the one that you can’t explain how amazing the hookup was, how big the fish was or how long the fight was. Some fishermen’s stories are really hard to believe, but for the fisherman it doesn’t matter if his buddy adds an extra 10kg or 10 inches to his story, because we are all fishermen — or women, in my case — and we all take turns doing the same. For some of us fishing is a way to relax, to become one with nature, and to leave our hectic lives behind. For others, fishing isn’t just a pastime, it’s a way of life. Deep sea fishing has always provided a rush of excitement for the adrenaline junkies of the angling world, and that is how I see this sport. Like any half-decent angler I too have a story — about the one that got away. December holidays in our house are all about fishing. The kids fish, the extended family fish, the friends fish and if we can’t go fishing we talk about fishing and make plans to get the big one the next day. On this specific day, the boys (The Husband, The Friend, The Son and the Son’s buddy) and I woke up at 4am to get going. It’s quite a ride down to the beach with the boat and tractor and we like to be on the water at first light. It hardly ever works that way, but we try. When we eventually got to the beach the sea was so flat it looked like we were launching in a harbour. The Husband wasn’t happy at all. You know how fishermen all have funny superstitions, like if you take a banana on the boat or eat eggs on a boat you won’t catch anything that day? Well, The Husband believes that when the sea is as flat as that, with not even a ripple in the water, we might as well stay on the beach. However we were already there, and the rest of us wanted to go out, so we launched into the pond. Before long the first reel screamed like there was no tomorrow. Everybody on the boat knows their jobs when that happens, and soon our first marlin was hooked, the boat was cleared and the angler was in the seat. After a few minutes the fish came off and we started all over again. The Husband’s Rapala Lip was beginning to show and he was grumbling about how he knew we shouldn’t have bothered to launch in the calm conditions. Throughout the day we caught a few dorado which are great for dinner, but they’re not marlin. Then we got the silent hour — that hour when absolutely nothing happens, when everybody’s polished off their boat packs and got quiet, and your mind just drifts away to the horizon thinking about nothing. 82 • SKI-BOAT May/June 2017
Last word from the ladies
The Husband always says I am the best angler from my back — I chase him out the “living room” (cabin) because he has an autopilot so there’s no need to be at the steering the whole time. Once he’s out the way I throw down a towel and get some shut eye, but you can bet I will be at the reel first when it starts running.
On this day I was just about sinking into lala land when the rubber band broke and, for a split second, we all paused, waiting to hear the sound that we all love. The sound was louder and faster than ever, and everyone sprang into action clearing the boat, getting someone in the chair and fighting this beautiful fish. The sun was blazing down and the fight went to almost an hour, but then we saw the leader coming through the clear water. The excitement as tangible — we were going to see this big fat mama for the first time. We were amazed at her size — she was huge, the biggest blue marlin I have ever seen. But she wasn’t ready and still had a lot of fight in her so we let her run one more time. The fight started all over again, and eventually — after a few bottles of water and half a bottle of suntan lotion on our angler — she came closer and closer. The leader was coming up again. The Husband (also The Leaderman) got the gloves while I took the steering and we all waited patiently for the last stretch. She came closer to the boat, more tired than the first time, and The Husband leaned over the gunnel to take her bill but she was just out of reach. Then it happened — the line broke! A few words came out of our mouths that I dare not repeat here. After that it was like there’d been a death in the family nobody said a word. We just sat there in silence looking at the water in disbelief — Rapala Lips on every face. A few minutes later someone on the radio called in for help; they were busy with a marlin and the skipper needed more hands as it was only him, his wife and their small children on the boat. We were close to their position so — still in silence — we drove off to help them. The funny thing was, the only person on our boat that could help them was The Friend — at that stage a very tired, sore and not very happy man who had just lost the fish he dreams of every night. He swam over to give them a hand and we drifted slowly away, waiting to pick him up after they got the fish. We decided to take a swim in the big blue while we were waiting and the atmosphere changed almost immediately. Within minutes we were having a ball jumping off the boat and enjoying the cooling-off session after a very hard but exciting day. All the Rapala Lips vanished in the beauty of the ocean around us ’Till today we all dream of the fish that got away, but one day when it’s our time to land the grander it will come. Until then we enjoy every fish we catch and release — or lose.
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Since 1985 Ski-Boat magazine has been providing deep sea anglers in South Africa and abroad with top quality content. Articles cover all asp...
Published on Apr 30, 2017
Since 1985 Ski-Boat magazine has been providing deep sea anglers in South Africa and abroad with top quality content. Articles cover all asp...