My First GT
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.”
“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…”
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…
Does your wife think you’re having an affair? Do you always come home blank after blank, no proof you’ve been fishing? Then it’s time you fit your kayak with a fish finder!!
“Fish Finder” is a miss leading name, suggesting you can simply FIND the fish. The finder is used more for determining the depth of water you’re in, if there is reef and structure below your kayak, water temperature and to find bait. The last point is key, having the best baits in the water will improve your catch.
Once you’ve installed your finder and using it, remember to look after it. They take a beating out in the sun and salt for hours on end. Wash it all down with fresh water, let dry and spray silicone on the exposed bits.
Here is an old pic with my finder (got a nice couta that day).
Time to install your newly purchased Fish Finder. Brett aka Chally, from Stealth Kayaks demonstrates just how simple they are to fit.
2014 has been a slow start for the Fishing Freaks as both Wez and I have made big changes in our work careers and have been finding it tough to fish together and even finding time to fish! And then when we do fish we BLANK so to say that our 2014 Summer has been a bit of a disappointment is an understatement!
However we are determined to get Fishing Freaks back in action and we are making sure we get on the water more and fish together more! So the opportunity arose one Wednesday Afternoon when i had an avid fan and newbie to kayak fishing Alain Tardin from East Coast Radio come into my studio and say “Come Im calling Wez and we going for a paddle!” Alain has just got his new Stealth 525 from Brett so he has been itching to get on the water, I then told my boss that i am ahead of my work so im going for a fish!
An hour later and we were on the water at one of my favorite fishing spots on the Kwa-Zulu Natal coast, Umdloti and it was a cracker of an afternoon with a bit of swell but the water looked amazing with current lines and small bait balls! I wasn’t going to mess around and put couta baits out straight away and headed for the drop off with Wez and Alain in tow! It was quiet we had seen one small snoek jump and also one lonely bonnie and that was it, Wez and Alain tried to find the snoek but i wasn’t wasting my time and stuck to my plan and continued to the drop off.
I got to the drop off checked my macks which were still clean and perfect,so I put them back out and started puzzling what i should do next, just ahead of me was a small bait ball going bananas on the surface so i took a slow paddle up to them to see what they were and as i came close to them i could see these big fish swimming underneath my ski, it took me a few seconds to realize but it was a huge shoal of Kingies!!!! So i drop my Onda down and let it sink to the depth the fish were and jig it back slowly a few came and had a look but none had a go! So i changed over to the Williamson Slick Jig Olive colour knowing that the bait ball was small sprat so im trying to match the hatch, I cast it into the bait and let it sink for about 10 seconds and start a quick retrieve jigging style and within 3 winds BAM!!!! ON and my reel was screaming!!!!! WOOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOO i started screaming calling Wez and Alain over, i get the fish to the kayak and its an awesome little Black tip Kingfish my first on a Kayak and new species for me!
Wez gets the pic for me and i release the kingy pick up my flick stick and throw again into the bait ball let it sink click over the bail arm 3 winds and BOOOM ON AGAIN!!!! YESSSSS PLEEEEASE!!!!! Woooooooooooooo man it was a JOL!! Now Wez and Alain are trying to find the right lures to put on in a hurry as they can just check me bending and screaming!!! For the size of the fish these kingies have power and just too much fun to catch! Get this fish up next to me pick it up out the water and its a beautiful Threadfin Kingy, another first and new species for me so im grinning from ear to ear.
Alain then goes on and he starts shouting with excitement, turns to Wez and i and goes this is how you make a fishermen happy!! I release my Threadfin and cast again into the bait ball let it sink click over 3 winds and ZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz on AGAIN!!!! 3 out of 3 I could not believe my luck Wow what a jol , all this time poor Wez is still trying to find the right lure and get a hookup, i then get the fish up after a good 8 minutes and its another Black tip Kingy, I was really blown away at the strength these fish have they really know how to box.
As the sun went behind the hill they went off the bite and we paddled in, what a great afternoon on the water and some new species to tick off my list. Its amazing how catching a fish can change everything for a fishermen, just having a fish on the line and having it peel line off your reel! This is why we fish and this is how you keep a FREAK happy.
It has been a while since Season 1 of The Fishing Freaks. The doldrums of winter felt permanent, there are only so many traces one can make to pass the time. But then Dick and I remember where exactly we live on Earth… A mere 6 hour drive from the rustic Ponta Do Oura, Mozambique.
“Dude, you busy next week? You keen to hit Moz up?” To which Dick responded, “HELL YES!”
And that’s all it really took. Well that and convincing our friend Rat (who has a Landy Defender 110) to come with.
The Fishing Freaks were lucky enough to be invited to stay at Tartaruga Maritima in Ponta Molongane, Mozambique. From Durban we took the N2 north till Hluhluwe, then hang a right onto the R22 and follow that road all the way to Kosi Bay. From the Kosi Border, Ponta Do Oura is a 12km drive through soft beach sand roads. Tartaruga in Ponta Molongane is a further 5kms along the same sand road. 4×4 Is essential!
The Moz Series is a two part Series, part II continues with “The Bet” and Dick’s Day Of Redemption.
Every fishing trip starts many months (sometimes years) before the actual trip. First you have to dream up a destination. Second you have to convince your wife a little “rustic” adventure on white sandy beaches is a good idea (can be a challenge) and thirdly.. Err is there a third? Oh that rights, the planning! Duffed step 3..
The Plan (should have done this better)
Our plan was to spend a week in the elephant Reserve in Mozambique, camping at Ponta Dobela. Our friend Rat & Dale were going to head up to Dobela 3 days before Dick, Dane, Kerry, Stace & myself (Wez). There were 3 cars in total: Rat & Dale in a Defender 110, Dane & Kerry in an X-Trail and Dick, Stace and myself in Dick’s Lada Niva.
Given the limited packing space, we loaded Rat’s Landy with as much as we possibly could. All our food, all our spearing gear, tools, heaps of water and juice, sleeping bags, tents, generator and more!
Confident in modern tools I “Google Earthed” the place out and found a great intersection in the sand roads where we would meet up on the 26th December (3 days after Rat & Dale arrived).
Our plan was solid, we’d spend Xmas with family all the while Rat & Dale setup an epic campsite and catch us some fresh dinner.
Day 01 (day 3 for Rat & Dale)
Dick, Stace and I leave Durban at 02h00 packed and ready.. Meet up at the Umvoti Shell with Dane & Kerry. Before we kick off, this was not even a month after Dick bought his Lada…
Ready set go!
We took the Sodwana/Kosi turn off from N2 as the pitch black of night slowly started to break. Giving Dick just enough light to notice the massive speed bump a mere 20m ahead! BOOM!!!! The roof racks rip the steel gutters of Dick’s new Lada right off! Our two kayaks come smashing back down still strapped to the roof racks creasing the roof inside centimeters above Stace’s head.
We pulled over to asses the damages, it was NOT pretty.. There was no gutter left to re attached the now semi broken racks. We were not even half way to the border (weep weep). From this point on until we got back to Durban a week later, Dick and I had to literally hold the front roof racks down by HAND! One arm out the window as every bump along the way tried to double bounce our yaks to the road.
“To hell with it, we’re still going to have a jol!” Coz that’s how the Freaks do it..
We got to the Kosi Border only to meet another 100 000 South Africans eager to get to the promised land. “DOH!”
Eventually we got through the border (arms out the window holding our precious yaks) and headed straight to Sunset Shack in Ponta Molongane for a well earned 2M beer(s).
Beers down, back on the sand road to the Elephant Reserve.
“Oh $#!t!” Said Wez… “What?” replied Dick.. “I have no clue where the reserve is!! I only have a GPS mark for Chemucane.”
And that’s where the real fun started.
After serious delays with a smashed roof, busy border, Sunset Shack beer and getting lost, we finally found the Elephant Reserve. When we signed in we noticed Rat had signed in to camp at Chemucane and not Dobela as agreed back in Durban.
We set off through the beautiful and remote jungle of Southern Moz. Still in our convoy of two (Dane & Kerry in the X-Trail) we set off to get hopelessly lost. As the sun started setting we continued our drive north until we reached the Maputo bay.
Now completely pitch black we tried in vein to follow my fishing GPS to the only mark I had, the Chemucane campsite (which I pulled off Google Earth).
We had totally missed our meeting time with Rat and had no clue where we were going. In the distance we saw a cars headlights. Our spirits were immediately lifted! “Rat has come to look for us!” But, as with most events on this trip, it wasn’t meant to be.. Instead we intercepted a VERY drunk and VERY lost family with GP plates.. As they came screaming past us on the 3m wide sand troff called a road his car slammed into the side of Dick’s “new” Lada. That poor car took such a pounding on this trip.
After hours of darkness and failure we decided to pitch a tent right on a hill. Absolutely shattered we slept, hungry and lost.. in the wild.
Morning of magic. All was reveled in the morning light. We woke up to a bright orange, pink and purple sunrise. We trooped on only to get the X-Trail stuck in some very soft sand a few meters from Lake Maundo and a rather curious hippo.
We finally reach Chemucane after 2 days of traveling. What do you know, no Rat! Instead we met a very weird guy on the beach with what looked like a crew of slaves. We high tailed it out of there and headed to Millibangalala (campsite 2 of 4).
Milli was jam packed with only one campsite left. We set out on foot through the campsite & beach to find any local knowledge of Rat.
Still no Rat so we setup camp with the few items we had between the 5 of us. Time to eat, Dane & Kerry had brought 2 spatchcock chickens but between us we had no grill..
What followed was our discovery of our new best friend, Doug.
Dane had brought his dog poop spade, which I spent the better part of the afternoon scrubbing with beach sand in the shorebreak. Doug became our grill, pan, stove top and poop management scooper. The spatchcock chicken was cooked to delicious perfection and quickly scoffed up. Between Dane, Dick and myself we knew we had to provide food from the sea via our kayaks the following day.
We launch in perfect conditions. Past backline and the wind had picked up. Not a pull all morning 😦 First launch and our first blank.
We decided to continue our search for Rat. We NEED food and comforts!! The next campsite on our list of 4 potentials was Ponta Membene, one stop north. No Rat to be found! We left a note on a tree and headed back to our campsite in Milli with emptying fuel tanks (and empty stomachs).
By now the westerly blowing was up at about 30 knots! Impossible to launch we decided to paddle a bait out and fish from the beach. Our local neighbour told us of a fish that often hangs around the mid break reefs called a Matahari. Delicious to eat and no steel needed for the trace. Our mackerel baits were now well defrosted and stinky!
I drew the short straw and had the task of launching. After dropping the bait past backline and drifting very far north very quickly I tried to get back to the beach. Instead I got slammed by the pumping surf!
On the beach we soon got bored of holding the rod as the bait drifted down wind at a healthy walking pace. An hour later, some kilometers up the beach the reel finally started screaming “Dinner is ready” zzzzzzzzzzz.. And in that moment I got bitten off! “You don’t need steel..” was repeating my now fuming head.
If losing a fish wasn’t enough that humping west I mentioned brought with it buckets and buckets of rain! Remember Rat has our tents and sleeping bags.. That night Dick slept in a wet hammock, Stace and I in the X-trails boot and Dane & Kerry in their small tent.
Wake up ready to slay a few fish in the tail end of that cold front. Fishing was slow, with no bait left we jigged till our arms fell off. The disappointment continued..
Back at camp, our cars almost dry of fuel.. Our friendly neighbour offered to take us 4kms south to Dobela, the last campsite (which might I add was considered BANNED at the Reserve Entrance).
Along the way there to Dobela from Milli was a small “shop”. We scratched together 10 Rand and bought 1 cold coke which got shared.
Enter Dobela. WOW what a beautiful spot, right up against the river from Lagoa Piti. “Rat, RAAAATT!!” No one was there. What we did find was an old smoking fire and Landy tracks out of there! “DOOOOOOH!” We had just missed Rat & Dale, by an hour or two.
Back at camp the realization that there was not going to be ANY comforts we decided we’d leave the following day.
No Spatchcock chickens left, Dick and I hit the beach in search of Ghost Crabs. Let me save you the effort, to full up on crabs you’d need to catch no less than 100 crabs each and boil them in water only to suck a microscopic amount of meat out and onto your tongue only to have it dissolve before reaching your empty stomach.
Get our sad faces out of there (if we can get the Lada started). The one and only piece of electronics on Dick’s Russian beast was the immobilizer. And what do you know? The rain had totally destroyed the button..
Eventually we were back on our way in convoy, Dane, Kerry, Dick, Stace and I (the Lada fuel gage bearly above empty). Somehow we got out of the Elephant reserve and were now in full search petrol.
Believe it or not, we found a hand pumped “Petrol Station” somewhere I’ll never be able to find again. We paid about triple the price of fuel but would have paid more just to get back to South Africa.
Arms out the window still hanging onto the kayaks we crossed the border back into South Africa. Many Rands were spent at the Kosi Steers. I can’t tell you what we ate, but we ate a lot of it!
You would think the story ends there.. but it didn’t. We were busy fixating on the things we’d enjoy back home when Dick’s Lada started slowing down and jerking.. We were about 5kms from the Tugela off ramp. “DOOOOOOOOH!!!!!!” we ran out of fuel.
Now what? The sun was setting, we were sitting on the side of the N2 in what I called a “%$#$ing dodgy area!!” We called the last person you’d expect to be able to help us.. Yip we called Rat!
As it so happened on his return home he stopped by our friends backpackers, Sensayuma, in Tugela. He was road side within the hour with the spare fuel WE had packed in his Landy.
We arrived home late that night. Not a peep between us..
Soft girls entered Moz that trip but returned as masters of survival. And as for Dick and I.. we returned as Freaks!
It’s funny how as time goes by I look back with fonder memories of our Milli adventure.
Moral of the story: Always bring Doug