Busses of the Deep

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.
Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 10.30.55 AM

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!
Tuna bite

Surface Explosion

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

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.
dick1

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.
dick 2

My PB Yellowfin 60Kg +

Advertisements

How To Fit A Fish Finder

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).

My view on my old kayak

My view on my old kayak

Time to install your newly purchased Fish Finder. Brett aka Chally, from Stealth Kayaks demonstrates just how simple they are to fit.

Moz: Series II

ponta-malongane

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.

Enjoy

Don’t Forget Doug

Milli

Milli

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.

“DOOOH!!!!”

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.

Setup camp in the middle of the wild

Setup camp in the middle of the wild

Day 2

Day 2 wake up

Day 2 wake up

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.

Stuck in the sand

Stuck in the sand

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..

“DOH!”

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.

Dick cooking up a storm on a spade..

Dick cooking up a storm on a spade..

Day 3

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!

Westerly humping

Westerly humping

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.

Note the severe lack of TENTS

Note the severe lack of TENTS

Day 4

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.

Dinner for the very hungry

Dinner for the very hungry

Day 5

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

Moz: Series I

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 will be out next week.

Enjoy

Open Water Carnage

Cape Vidal

The Fishing Freaks are truly blessed to live in such a beautiful area. The East Coast of South Africa is warm through winter, hot in summer & teaming with pelagic gamefish. Being in Durban puts us just 2 hours south of the breath taking, Cape Vidal situated in the Isimangaliso Wetland Park.

Every year at the start of summer (November) the warm Mozambican current flows strong and close to the launch site bringing with it Mahi Mahi (Dorado), Marlin, Sailfish, King & Queen Mackerel, Yellow Fin Tuna and much more all within paddling distance.

With this constantly in the back of our minds, it’s tough fighting that urge to just jump in the car and take the 2 hour drive north. So we did it!

Cape Vidal does come with a paddlers WARNING! The current is extremely dangerous especially when the North East wind is blowing as this pushes the North to South current even faster and stronger, but this also brings in the fish. Only fit and experienced paddlers should dare launch Vidal. Vidal is best fished in a fresh South Westerly wind after 3 days of North Easterlies.

On that note, the conditions were just that and the fish were on the bite! Wez had two live cigar scads out on a simple steel trace with a single #2 lead hook and a #4 treble in the back with a shiny skirt on. After trying in vain to down rig the one livie with a 4oz sinker and very brittle elastic bands, Wez decided to leave the one (on his right) 6 feet from the back of his ski so his baits didn’t swim together and knot his line… The results? Well watch the video!

Salt Rock Kayak Comp

1044689_295818130562269_1455532924_n

In 2013 The Fishing Freaks were lucky enough to crack the nod to the 3 biggest kayak fishing events on the east coast of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. The Salt Rock comp is one of the most eagerly anticipated fishing events.

The Salt Rock Kayak Fishing Comp is sponsored by Ballito Toyota amongst many others, and they have put up for grabs a brand new Toyota Hilux! HOWEVER, there is a “catch”… to be in line for that awesome vehicle you have to catch a king mackerel (couta) over 28 kgs (62lbs).

A special thanks to Shaun Reid and Fishing Corner for hosting such a fun and well supported fishing event. The Freaks look forward to the 2014 Salt Rock Fishing Comp.