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.
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!
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.
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.