SANTA MARIA 2020: BY CHARLES STEWART
Our yearly trip to Santa Maria got off to an eventful start when we launched at Club Navale in Maputo. During the December holiday the Triton had developed a problem with the steering system and this had been sorted out by the agents. After launching however, Stefan immediately realized that there was a problem. When steering Left, the boat turned right, and vice versa. We thought that we might have to go back in, but then noticed that the hydraulic tubes going into the cylinder had been connected in the wrong around. Fortunately we could change the pipes around, bleed the system and get on our way.
On our first day out, there were amazing shoals of baitfish. Eastern Little Tuna (also known as Jub-Jub’s) where everywhere… as well as Torpedo Scads and Rainbow Runners. We quickly caught a number of live baits and spent the next few hours swimming various live baits at different levels without success. The absence of big fish surprised us and we eventually called it a day.
We had heard that one of the other boats had been quite far South the previous day with some success. Traveling South the next day we didn’t see any birds working and hoped we had made the right decision. The sea was beautiful, but we encountered no baitfish. We opted to spend some time trolling and it wasn’t long before I had a strike on the Speed pro. A few minutes later we had a sleek Wahoo at the boat. A little while later, Stefan had a hookup and the fish took line at rapid rate. It was another nice Wahoo, bigger than the first one. We spent some time jigging the various drop offs in the area without much success.
The next morning, there was a light breeze and lots of birds around. They weren’t feeding, and like us they were looking for fish activity. At one point we found some birds working and decided to cast some spoons into the activity. Stefan had opted to throw a jerk shad minnow on a bucktail jig. The next minute he had a pickup and from the hookup I could see that this was a proper fish. The fish took about 200m on the light spinning outfit and then sounded. After about 20 minutes the fish was no nearer the boat and we had to encourage him not to apply too much pressure. Eventually the fish started to tire and he was able to lift him slowly. After about 45 minutes he had the fish at the boat, It was a beautiful Yellow fin Tuna of 18kg. We continued with the spoons and awhile later, after seeing no more activity, we decided to move to one of the jigging spots. On my third drop I hooked a fish that fought with a jerky, erratic motion. When I got it to the surface, I saw that it was a Rainbow runner. To me, this is one of the finest table fish in the sea and in my hurry to boat him, the hooks pulled through the fishes soft mouth and he was gone. Fortunately, a few drops later, Leon also hooked one which we boated and our delicious supper was secured.
We were out again early the next morning, but there seemed to be very little activity. There were a lot of small Couta close inshore, but we decided not to fish for them. Whilst travelling to one of the jigging reefs, Leon spotted something floating on the surface. When we got closer, we saw that it was a plastic bucket and there seemed to be some activity around it. Leon made a cast with the spoon and hooked up immediately. We were surprised to see that it was a Triple tail (Lebotes). Finding this species far offshore was strange as usually they are found in and around Estuary and river mouths.
We caught some baitfish the next morning, but after some time decided to head to one of the jigging reefs. Last year jigging at this reef I got a GT of some 25kg plus, and we were hopeful to repeat. On about my tenth drop, I hooked a strong fish in about 40m of water. The fish ate the jig about 15m off the bottom, and I was determined to keep him away from the reef. For a few minutes, he would take a couple meters, and I would slowly win it back… all of a sudden, the fish took off running and pulled drag! Knowing that I would have to stop the fish, I jammed the spool and 50lb Japanese quality braid parted. That was a fish I would have loved to see.
The next day we spent time trolling for Marlin over the 400m to 500m mark without success. The next two days, not from a fishing perspective, were rather eventful! But that is a story for another time!
Thank you to Charles Stewart of the Fishing Pro Shop for yest another interesting and informative piece from his fishing adventures and travels to all over the place.
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