End of last year i was lucky enough to be invited with Brad Arthur to go film a top water Popping show in Cape Town by former Protea cricketer Justin Kemp to join his team aboard Big Catch and go in search of the Monster Tuna that frequent the cold Cape waters.
Now with filming fishing shows you need pretty much the best conditions to get everything right and as we all know the Cape weather is very temperamental and so we were on standby for a week while Justin an his team checked weather and wether or not the tuna were biting.
Everything aligned and we got the call on a Sunday night to fly to Cape Town Monday morning to be out fishing Tuesday morning. Well my excitement levels were through the roof and i couldn’t sleep for the next two days! I have edited a show from a previous trip out with Justin were the boys were catching the tuna with bait chunks on Shimano Stella coffee grinders and jigging sticks, so i kind of knew what we were in for but this time we were aiming at getting them on surface poppers just to add to the excitement.
We get to Hout Bay Harbour early on Tuesday morning and board Justins beautiful 32Ft Two Oceans Marine Magnum boat Big Catch and we head out for the Canyons! Depending on the weather the Canyons are a two to three hour trip out but along the way you come across the longline trawlers and can catch the long fin Tuna that follow these boats but we had our eyes set on the bigger brother the Yellowfin Tuna.
Big Catch Charters
We get to the Canyons and you can see the commercial boats all lined up drifting the canyon, so our skipper makes a few radio calls to the commercial guys and we find a space to slot in and start our drift. Now to get these Big Monsters up the guys chum, but they chum boxes and boxes of sardines and there is a dedicated deckie who’s job is just to chum and his job is vital in getting the tuna up and keeping them there!
So our chum has been going for awhile the boat crew than put out a chunk which is just a piece of sardine on a single hook on big Shimano Tiagra gear and what this method does is to put the chunk into your chum line and let it drift an waft in the water until eaten. While the crew is putting out the chunks Brad picks up his rod and launches a big popper straight into the chum line, he pops the lure about three times and then there is just an explosion and Brad is holding on to his rod for dear life while getting buckled over the side of the boat! The topwater hit was like someone had taken a small car and dropped it in the water, just mental i had never heard a Shimano Stella make this kind of noise while it screamed off! The fish eventually comes up and its a buss of about 85kg’s plus!!! After this first one the boat just erupted into chaos as everyone started getting bites!
The boys managed to get 10 Tuna on Poppers all above the 60Kg mark, the team were so shattered that during times each guy had to go sit in the cabin and have a rest, Justin even managed to destroy a popping rod to the point were he was just holding the butt end with his Stella!! With all the boys now in pain but not wanting to stop I got the call up! I was going to do it on the Tiagra setup just to be safe and so you put on a harness called a Blackmagic which is for stand up fishing with the Tiagra setup and uses more of your legs to do the work than your arms.
So my bait chunk goes in the water, line is released to let it drift and then boom!!! Wind the line tight and then boy OH boy hang on!!!!! I get pulled straight against the gunnel so much that i can’t move and line is peeling of the Tiagra like i can’t believe! Now with the Blackmagic you do a sitting action and then wind up and so on, well i thought it would be easy! I was wrong very wrong and ten minutes in my legs are burning my arms are burning, I’m getting dragged around the boat and even had to have the crew hold me so i never got pulled over, while the fish is still taking line! I am now huffing and puffing, I think to myself i am fighting on heavy gear and am strapped into the rod where Brad an Justin were catching them on poppers and coffee grinders!
Brad’s 85kg buses
The fight carries on for almost half an hour and i am sweating almost at the point where i could hand the rod over to someone else, then this buses comes up and you see the big silver glimpse of the monster, but thats not the end as all these big fish do is turn put there head down again and pull more line!! I am broken and the fish eventually comes next to the boat and we had made the decision that we would keep my fish to braai later.
Smile Says it all
We get the fish on the deck and i want to get my picture with the fish, but just picking up the tail as was a task and i struggled to lift it! But i got the picture and had the biggest grin on my face another fish of a life time and a day i will never forget, the whole experience was incredible and too see these monsters and the number of them is awesome to know we have a world class fishery in Cape Town and should definitely be on any fishermen’s bucket list.
As you may know, The Fishing Freaks are big on the whole “hunter gatherer” vibe and one thing we love to do in season is dive for crayfish!
This dish is a great bargaining tool when trying to get some time out of the office and time in the water. No one can resist a delicious Risotto. Once you’ve mastered this dish you’ll feel ready to take on Top Chef!
The ingredients and directions below are intended to serve two. For more just double the ingredients, cooking times remain the same:
1 Cup Riso Superfino Arborio (Risotto Rice)
Couple Spring Onions
The directions can be a little daunting so read through this carefully..
Butterfly your crayfish, cut them down the belly from the top of the head to the tail. Clean out the organs, that brown stuff and weird sticky white stuff, don’t forget the poop line! Now carefully break off the two parts of the head making sure you leave the tails with all the meat on. You will use the heads to make a broth with the vegetable stock.
In a large pot add 2l of water and bring to a boil. Now add the crayfish heads and their legs with a desert spoon of the veg stock. Let this boil gently away while you prepare the onions.
Finely chop half an onion and pan fry with a little olive oil & garlic. Not too hot, you want them to become translucent not burnt. Now add the cup of Risotto rice to the onions and mix them together in the pan. Now add half a glass of wine. It is recommended that you fix yourself a full glass of wine, this meal takes some time to make.
Once the wine has been absorbed and evaporated add one ladle of crayfish broth. For the next 20 minutes or so add one ladle of broth at a time (keeping the broth at a gently boil), waiting for the last ladle to be absorbed. With a wooden spoon mix and stir the rice getting all the starch out.
When you’re half way through add finely chopped spring onion to the rice mix. By now it should have been on the stove for around 15 minutes. With 15 minutes to go before the rice is ready on a separate pan add a large blob of butter. Remove the meat from your crayfish tails with a tea spoon and place the meat onto the melted butter pan. The tails should only take 10 minutes max to cook. With a spoon keep scooping the butter back onto the meat and turn. Your stove should be set to a medium heat.
Back to your rice, don’t let it burn, make sure you are constantly adding broth to it and massaging the rice with the wooden spoon. This will get all the starch out and make it rich and creamy. By this point you should be taste testing the rice, you want it to have a little hardness to it still to avoid it going soggy. Add your last ladle to the rice and before it has all been absorbed take it off the heat and cover.
Get your plates ready to serve. Add the rice which should be sticky but not soggy and your crayfish tails. The end result should look something like this:
Tuna Tune | tju:na tju:n [noun] the sound your reel makes when a tuna smashes your lure!
Thunnas Albacares | The yellowfin tuna, one of the many pelagic species found in our waters off the Durban coastline AND one of Wez and Dick’s favourites to target. They can be caught on live bait, trawled lures or the ultimate, surface lures!
In this episode The Fishing Freaks head to one of the most frequented fishing holes on the East Coast of South Africa, Umdloti. With all the current bait activity their goal was to cash in on some snoek (queen mackerel). The reason Umdloti is so popular is the variety of pelagic species to target and the array of ways in which to do so.
Enjoy this weeks action packed episode, it’s a long one!
There are many different lines on the market and many different theories to go with them, so I thought I would let you know what I have bee using for the past year on my Shimano Torium trawling setup.
When I first got my Toriums I wanted to spoil myself and put on some fancy monofilament to go with my awesome new multipliers and I had just finished editing a show from the Transkei where the boys were Rock an surf fishing and had been using the Double X Extreme abrasion monofilament line and I was really impressed to say the least, not only did it handle catching big sharks but it could even withstand getting dragged along the rocks and mussels with big fish on and even handled getting rubbed on by braid with a fish on! So I knew straight away that it was strong line.
Now having used the line for the last year I can say that it is the top monofilament in the market and having spoken with the Rapala men directly, the Double X extreme abrasion is the highest spec monofilament line in South Africa!
I use the 43lb 0.50mm diameter on my toriums in the Camo colour and I love it, very very strong and doesn’t get nicks or line damage and I have never experienced it breaking while fighting a fish, it definitely lasts longer on my reel, as i found with other line I was changing every 6 months, it has Extreme knot strength which is 20% stronger than any other mono so you can bully your fish knowing your knots are safe and it also has Extreme low memory which i believe makes it last longer than other mono line. I love the camo colour as it becomes full “Camo” in the water and i think thats awesome as the fish can’t see it!
All in all Double X extreme abrasion line has the greatest tensile strength vs diameter, and without a doubt the strongest line you can buy, it is a little more pricey than the standard mono line but with it lasting longer and it being EXTREMELY strong i believe it is worth it, so next time you looking at line for your trawling rods have a look at the Double X Extreme abrasion and i bet you won’t be sorry.
Getting back into the swing of things for us Freaks and we thought it would be a good idea to talk a bit on what tackle we are using, today Dick is going to run us through his trawling rod setup and what he uses.
Kayak fishing is and will always be hard on your tackle so when purchasing or looking at reels and rods you have to keep this in mind as you don’t want to spend your hard earned bucks on tackle that can’t last a month on your ski and believe me we have all been there and shed the tears over tackle.
So for me now having been kayak fishing for the last 7 years I have got to try a lot of tackle and have tweaked it to what i am comfortable fishing with. On a fishing kayak we normally fish with two trawling sticks and a flick stick and bait stick, my latest trawling setup and my favourite to date is the Shimano Torium 30 HG reel paired with the Shimano trevala 6’6″ heavy Jigging rod, a lot of kayak anglers have two different trawling setups for there kayaks as for targeting different species, i have found that with these typically jigging rods that i have a perfect all round rod, light enough to trawl for snoek and small lures but also heavy enough to turn a big tuna around and show him who is boss! For anyone who has fished with the Shimano Trevala flick stick the jigging rod is pretty much the same fantastic rod just made for overhand jigging with stronger eyes, they have awesome oversize handles which i love as you can really grip the rod and work it when you fighting a fish, to me without a doubt the best all round trawling stick for a ski.
The New Torium 30 HG from Shimano has a high speed gear ratio of 6,2 : 1 which i find handy when you have a fish on the one line and need to reel the other in makes it just that much faster, has a cross carbon drag making it flipping strong when fighting tunny and you need to put the pressure on the fish, it comes with E.I which is an Anti-Corrosion Surface treatment from Shimano, so it can handle the rough conditions experience on a ski, its light weight and compact which i also love as it fits in the hatch easy leaving more space for fish.
As i tell all fishermen who ask questions on tackle, be comfortable with your gear cause as soon as you have doubt in your tackle you will always second guess yourself and you don’t want to be second guessing yourself when you fighting a fish of a lifetime! Like i said this setup is what i have fined tuned to my fishing and it may be very different for you, if any of you guys have any question regarding tackle or kayak fishing in general send us a mail or leave a comment and we will help out as much as we can.
Being a cameraman for FreeSpool i have been lucky enough to travel to some exotic destinations, however as with most of these international trips they are quick in & out get as many shows as possible and then on the plane home with me hardly being able to pick up a rod! My most recent trip to the Seychelles we were lucky enough to have been invited on a yacht to sail to the island of Platte and fish there for 10 days, now i only need to make 4 shows out of 10 days in the Seychelles so i knew i was definitely going to wet some line on this trip!
Nkalindau – our home for 10 days
Island Platte waters
About a week before the trip my boss Brad Arthur asked me what fish i wanted to catch on this trip and i replied without hesitation that i wanted to catch a GT on popper and i wanted a picture of the GT on my lap! Brad said ok sounds easy enough we will try get that for you Dick! I have never caught a GT, closest i got was on my ski but unfortunately the rod broke an i lost it.
Sunrise over Ille Platte
We get to the Island of Platte and it is like you picture in your dreams, the island is about 3km in size has a population of 5 people on it and then there is nothing but ocean to be seen! We moor the yacht in the lagoon for the next 10 days and fish off a 32ft Yeild cat for the duration of the stay.Now the way the fishing works is in sessions and you get a morning session and an afternoon session with teams of 4 going on each session with a team that goes on an afternoon session than get s the next morning and vice versa… so on our second session which was our second day in the Seychelles and just after i had filmed the most insane GT session i have ever witnessed, were the boys got 9 GT’s in an hour all in the +20kg range, Brad catches his last fish does an awesome release for the camera an then turns to me and says “Dick gear up get a bucket and gloves” and then hands me his rod! My excitement levels are through the roof and I’m like an e type carrot, launching a pencil popper we had nicknamed the “Sun burnt Zebra”, casting into the surf zone and then retrieving back to the boat with a quick bouncing action, my 8th cast i launch a rocket got good distance place the rod in my bucket an start the bouncing retrieve when all of i sudden i see a flash of silver breaching on my popper and then a big explosion with a tail trashing in the air and then the unforgettable screaming Stella and me hanging onto the rod for life!! The power of these fish is just incredible and the battle that took place for the next 10 minutes with me running round the boat, arms burning getting pulled side to side with the occasional run from the fish and making sure i don’t loose the pressure on the fish as i really want that photo!The Boys on the boat screaming words of encouragement, when this slab of a fish comes to the surface and your heart starts pounding even more as you know you have got him! We load the fish onto the boat and the boys help me get it on my lap for the pic and as i grab and put him on my lap my thumb slips into the GT’s mouth and he clamps down and won’t let go, my adrenaline is still running high so i don’t even feel it until Brad tells me to move my thumb for the pic and i say i can’t its stuck! Anyway after awhile i get my thumb out and get the pic, give the fish the biggest kiss i have ever kissed a fish, thanked him for the fight and threw him back an as he swims away i let out the biggest scream of just absolute stoke!! What a rush! By far the most fun fishing ever!!! Brad turns to me and says ” Don’t say i don’t let you catch fish now hey!”
The ‘Sun burnt Zebra’ popper
Later that evening Brad starts telling me the stats on GT fishing and he says that a GT of that size is on average 1000 casts! I got mine in 8!!! Thinking back to that fish while writing this i still get goose bumps!
Definitely my fish of 2015 and you can see by that smile on my face!
With a favourable weekend forecast after a good few days of much needed westerly winds, the water temps would have returned to “normal” and the couta should be on the bite. With no plans for a Friday night, here is a simple yet effective Couta Trace you can make at home.
3 Months shy of 2 years ago was the last blog post from The Fishing Freaks.. So you might be wondering, “what the hell happened to those two, passionate about fishing, crazy nuts??”
Well, wait no more, from the horses mouth…
“Ever since we blanked at Vidal filming for our TV pilot, the wheels came off for the Freaks and our show took a major backseat. We needed to pay the bills and we both had to focus on our careers and real jobs!
Both of us really wanted to further our passion in film and we found ourselves branching into different fields within the industry. Wez started his own production company with his Misses and I landed my dream job as the editor for FreeSpool.
For me, going to work for a fishing company has been a fantastic journey! I don’t even see what I do as work… I get to spend my week in a tackle store checking out all the new products, chatting to top anglers in South Africa (and the world). Plus I get to spend a lot of time on the water. I have been lucky enough to travel to some of the top fishing destinations in the world! The only downside I could say is that with me being behind the lens, my fishing has taken a bit of a backseat… with this being said I still get just as excited filming the bite as I would getting the bite myself!
With throwing myself into work the Fishing Freaks kind of became a forgotten memory… Wez and I would still go for a paddle together but we simply haven’t had any time to film or edit The Fishing Freaks.”
Yellowfin PB from the deep!
Which is bigger, Dick’s grin or that reel??
Great start to the season!
“In January of 2014 on the first day back at work with a massive grin on my face I handed in my resignation. After 5 years of producing The Big Breakfast at East Coast Radio, waking up at 4am Monday to Friday I had reached my limit. Whilst I will always be grateful to ECR and every opportunity that was given to me, the idea of owning my own video production company, and working my own hours, with the ocean just next door, was all too motivating.
And so…. The Shank Tank was born.
With “all” this time on my hands I had big dreams of fishing 8 days a week, pushing The Fishing Freaks to new heights… Well, boy was I mistaken! Suddenly bunking work and missioning to Cape Vidal was a distant memory. The new “boss” was a bit of a hard ass!
My new business, The Shank Tank; a Video, Photography & Audio production company, took off like a 30 kilo wahoo!! Unexpected and with PACE! Soon I was filming weddings every weekend and corporate work during the week. Needless to say, before I knew it I was working through the night and there was zero chance of getting out of bed at 03h00 to go paddle 20kms.
With Dick also manically busy at Freespool, the two Freaks just didn’t have the same amount of time to paddle together, film and edit…
As the year started winding down and summer approached, that deep inner desire to paddle the deep blue heated up. Soon, season was upon us and seeing the daily Facebook posts of record tuna got us both super amped to fish again. So with a bit of work streamlining, and a sleek new Stealth Pro Fisha 575 aptly named, Rasta Bomb, I was back on the water with a new PB!
Around mid 2015 my wife and I made the most of a cold winter in Kloof and are expecting a little fisher girl early March 2016! So needless to say, the future is looking very exciting. Over the past 2 years, Dick & I have been only too eager to revive the Freaks. Well now that’s happening…”
And for my next pose…
The new Yellowfin Tuna PB of 28.5kgs
Over the past few months our inbox continued to receive fan mail asking for more Freak action… And with the continued support and encouragement from fellow kayak anglers and from you our “fans” we are working on getting our show back up and running. We have found not only are our old videos still getting fishermen excited, but the amount of guys wanting to start kayak fishing because of us is incredible. It makes us realize that what we were doing was good (and pretty much the reason why we started the Fishing Freaks in the first place). We never wanted to be the best anglers, we just wanted to show everyone how much fun two best friends can have kayak fishing! So we are excited to be working on bringing the FREAKS back to life!!!!
We want to hear from you… How does this make you feel and what would you like to see from the Freaks… We’re hoping with more fishing and filming experience under our belts, that The Fishing Freaks will be back better than ever, but don’t worry you can still expect the same usual antics on Video, in our blog articles, recipes and of course the odd Comic Caption…