Captain Duarte Rato fires up the Inhaca Island blue marlin hunt 2020
Captain Duarte Rato of FishBazaruto.com, spends every March plying the deep purple waters out the back of Inhaca Island, off Maputo, in Mozambique. Hunting the infamous blue marlin that frequent the fabulous underwater topography off the island, this time each year. This is just after Duarte has spent the previous September through November, chasing the huge grander black marlin, in his home waters off Bazaruto Island.
Marlin fishing off Inhaca Island
Marlin at the boat off Inhaca Island with Captain Duarte Rato
Duarte actually grew up in Maputo, and as a teenager, ran marlin fishing charters for his Dad, during the war! That was in the mid-eighties and just no-one has built up the thousands of hours it has taken for Duarte to be considered the very best there is.
Duarte and his clients, are out for big fish. Really big fish. Duarte has tagged more granders (1000lb marlin) than anyone, and annually wins the top tagging honours.
However, sometimes these fish get tail-wrapped and they just don’t make it. You can watch the following video for such an occasion, when a grander blue succumbed after two and a half hours. It’s very sad, and nobody was thrilled – but the fish fed the village, and DNA samples were taken and submitted to Duarte’s research partners in Australia. Who compare DNA’s of the different populations to determine their interactions or lack of them.
It’s actually one helluva video, produced by talented angler/videographer – Rian Chalmers.
Although Duarte and his team are fully booked right now, for the Santa Maria and Inhaca blue marlin season, we are taking bookings for next year. The slots are filling up fast, so click on over to this link and get in touch. We do have access to more boats and accommodations if we get even busier. We also have different options, at different levels, on how to get out the back of Inhaca, to her deep blue treasures.
Just click on the following link, which will take you to a page filled with pics, video and information. And a super easy form to get in touch with.
Okuma Metaloid on promotion right now. Click HERE. To check it out the imagery and to learn more.
Stay in touch with us at our website at http://fishingproshop.co.za/. Join as a subscriber and benefit from all sorts of special offers and VIP treatment.
Deep-Sea fishing: the most important rod on the boat
Deep-sea fishing: The most important rod on the boat, is not what you might think…
Having been through a lot of tackle through my fishing life, I learnt one BIG lesson through all of it…don’t get too attached to your fishing tackle.
Things happen! Rods and reels overboard. Stolen. Borrowed. Or simply, destroyed by my charters. And so…I started buying middle-of-the-line equipment, as opposed to the expensive kit. It seems that products in the middle of the range pricing wise, benefit the most from technology, quality and price.
And the rod I use the most on the boat. By far. Is da spinning stick aka flick stick. Since it is primarily meant to catch the super high-quality game-changing live bait needed to break records, win the event, or just make your day out!
Like a little bonnie when chasing ‘couta. Or a big shad. Or a baby yellowfin? Or a wolf-herring? Or a rainbow runner? Or the very best…a shiny brand new stripey skipjack tuna?
And these rods really get to work. All day long. In an ideal scenario, we have two rigs upfront casting out each side as we drag lures or baits. And it’s the splashing and flashing of these lures coming in towards the boat that attracts the eye of outlying gamefish that would not have seen a thing otherwise. They then come into the wake and see the spread. Bang!
Sometimes, when sight-chasing baitfish on the surface like we do, you may as well not even put lures out the back, as the finicky tuna or bonito or skipjack will only be fooled by the reactionary bite – as the flash of metal mimics the flash of a baitfish, on some days. In the chaos and turmoil of a baitball, this is how you will get your livebait, every time. As opposed to lures out the back.
So, these spinning sticks need to be lightweight and easy for anyone on the boat to pick up and have a throw. They are really just over-sized bass rigs. Or estuary rigs. And when spooled with 20lb or 30lb 8x casting braid, you can put a lure over the horizon. Anyone can. They need to have a bit of drag, but not too much since we are just catching bait and are using small hooks. Metal alloy gears. A bunch of ball bearings. Forward sloping eyes on the rod. Rods about 8 or 9ft fit on most boats just fine.
And this is where the Okuma Metaloid rod range comes in. The blanks used in their construction have been really good to us. The right amount of grunt, but lively and responsive in the tip. Making for enough power to turn a stubborn GT or screaming yellowfin, and yet enough sensitivity to make your lure behave exactly as you want it to. And they cast beautifully, without any effort. Just a flick and you are in the game.
They look real cool too. The ones we have been using on our charters are decked out in shiny red and black. Which looks amazing with our little Okuma Ceymar coffee grinders – which we also favour big time.
The range of these medium priced rods is wide too. From ultra-light tinies sporting 12lb and less, to heavy 9 footers and up – built for 50lb braid and more, and HUGE casts. Heavy lures. Heaving fish. They are still manageable and easy to wield, however. Anyone can pick one up and have a go. Even these heavy models.
The finish is really slick… and design is top-notch. Forward angled guides reduce air knots and improve casts. The winch and grips flow together beautifully.
And so, all you need is a decent coffee grinder, also in that selection of the overall price range. Some braid (8x wound is really worth the extra few bucks for an extra few metres and less chance of the dreaded wind knot). A spool of leader line and off you go. This type of thinking puts you on the water and in with a chance, for R1500 upwards. At R3000 you have that yellowfin in your sights!
To harp the importance of these spinning rigs, even more! They can also be used to catch fish from the shore or rocks. In estuaries. And even inland to tackle outsized barbel and other freshwater monsters. And anyone can use ’em!
The Fishing Pro Shop has a bunch of Okuma Metaloid rods available on their website and in-store.
Click the following link for the rod of our choice right now. It is on promotion!
Okuma Metaloid on promotion right now. Click HERE. To check it out the imagery and to learn more.
Stay in touch with us at our website at http://fishingproshop.co.za/. Join as a subscriber and benefit from all sorts of special offers and VIP treatment.
This is what happens when your freshly gaffed dorado misses the hatch!
Dorado! Magnificent in character. So keen to smash your live bait to into pieces and devour it. All lit up. High speed. Agility. Strength. The strike is explosive always resulting in an ‘aerobatic’ dance that only a dorado can perform. Cartwheels. Tailwalks. 180s and 360s. Lightning changes of direction.
A real challenge no matter who you are!
And so this beautiful Thursday morning dawned still and colourful. Clouds were pink and orange. A super keen Shaun had driven down from Johannesburg yesterday, and was at the gate dead on 4h30 bells.
Shaun was here for his first dorado. And things were on his side. Yesterday we caught two fish. On live red-eye sardines. That video is taking a little bit of time, but will follow shortly. Dorado are really funny feeders, and demonstrate some weird quirks, as they did yesterday.
The day before
We had gotten ourselves a live mackerel each. It took ages to find the little guys dodging around our usual reefs. We also had a mozzie or two, and a pinkie. I had caught two razorbellies in the estuary a few days ago and they had been waiting patiently in the freezer, just for this chance. So the spread was well populated when my Dad nabbed a good sized and frisky red-eye sardine, as we were slow trolling along the well-formed water line.
As the live sardine hit the water, we got our first dorado of the morning. There were only the two of us so the video really comes out dodge. Then twenty minutes later, Pop got another one. Which I rigged in seconds and seconds later I was vas again. Again the video is really abstract, with only the two of us out there. Camera person required!
After another fun-filled launch, we (Sean, Shaun and Brian), headed back to the bait spots. Where we found bait. A lot of bait this time. We loaded about 20 mozzies, one shad, a few pinkies and not one mackerel?!
But it sure was enough to go on, and soon the Niteshift was heading north to the start of our patrol. The water was 26 degrees again, but it had that Cape Town green tint to it, and was filled with sediment and things. Not really couta water, like it had been the day before.
Anyway, we got a strike straight away, and typically enough, the fish bit through the nylon leader meant for dorado. Does happen a lot when you use nylon to target dorado specifically, and then a toothy comes along and bites you clean off. And so we rigged again and headed back along south with the current. Towards Port Shepstone, where the fish were the day before.
Luckily the fish were hanging around and soon Shaun was fighting his first dorado. Which typically tail walked and jumped all over the other lines! Which were quickly sorted out and Shaun and the dorado squared off lekker at the front of the boat. For a good fight.
The gaff went in and the fish seemed calm and subdued when all hell broke loose. The wily fish had flipped over and gotten itself clean off the gaff and was now dorado wild on the deck! I got tail smacked once properly before I was able to literally sit on the fish, grab it, and get it into the opening in the hatch! That fish almost jumped clean out of the boat!
The tides at the moment meant we couldn’t really stay out too much longer or risk touching sand on the way back in through the surf zone. And so we packed up and returned to base. Where Shaun was to start up a whole new chapter of fishing. This time we were focusing on the estuary, and the monsters that lurk therein.
Shaun had quite a few species on his target list for saltwater. He has literally caught all the freshwater challenges on offer. Even fishing abroad for catfish and other exotic looking fighters. And so the notorious rock salmon and the inimitable Zambezi shark made it onto our priority fish list for the next few days.
Stand by for that chapter!
Post by The Sardine News. Stay up-to-date with the fishing conditions and seasons on http://thesardine.co.za. Check out http://umzimkulu.co.za for more information and pics and vids of the Umzimkulu Marina down in Port Shepstone. Port Shepstone is only a half a days drive from Pretoria so we get many anglers coming in on Friday, and leaving back for work on Monday morning real early, getting into JHB before lunchtime.
A fantastic weekend away that the family will really enjoy too. Blue flag beaches. Shopping malls. Banks. Restaurants. Even a golf course…is a few minutes drive across the river bridge.
And fishing are options are all over and exciting. Shad and karanteen at Grannies Pool in Umtentweni. Gamefish out deep-sea. Kob and garrick off the Sandspit. Grunter, perch and rock salmon in the estuary. Catfish and tarpon up near the new bridge. Or just enjoy fishing right out the front of your chalet.
Pomene 2019: There are definitely still fish left in the sea
Sitting at the sea edge in Pomene, early December 2019, we are right now surrounded by my favourite birds. Terns. Thousands. Or hundreds of thousands. They have moved on over to the point here, from the estuary and sandspit side of Pomene life.
Well. Firstly. It’s the whitebait!
This time of the year, these silvery attractive and tasty little guys pop. By the billion. They love the estuaries and benthos areas. And they love the surf zone. Where they feed on what is being brought down by the recent summer rains.
And then come the kingfish!
And then every other gamefish in the sea, that also, like us, love to eat whitebait.
Nyakuse is what they are called here, and luckily, there are literally millions of them, each year. These inshore areas host a few species of fish that can escape the Chinese trawl nets and lines out the back. They are simply too small or too sparse to make any commercial sense.
That said, in no way is this an invitation to the poacher style renegade fishing gangs, to come up here and plunder. Like what happens in Port St. Johns. This is subsistence fishing here, done by grassroots and poor communities, who live this way. Rant over.
The story then…
Chad from Lalaland, in Tofo, and I, had camped out at Pomene a while. We are very busy with The Sardine News‘ Plastic Fantastic Tour of southern Africa. But this day, we were very distracted by the arrival of my favourite sea birds – the terns – out front. It was soon apparent why, as pockets of terns flew off in formation, and found their own baitball of hapless whitebait to terrorise, just behind the backline.
But these delicious little silver shiny beautiful miniature sardines are not only favourites to man and bird. No ways, these guys were also at the very same party!
Kingfish. All types.
When I proclaimed to Chad that surfing was over for me and I am now going fishing, the terns were going berserk right on the point. I grabbed the minimum. Bag of tackle and extra lines and leader. One rod – a 30lb 9 footer. Water, sunnies, and my phone.
Half-way to the point, I had to break formation and run. It was too much. I could now see the damn fish. Smashing into the baitball – I got my sprint on.
Up the rocks and over to the top! An amazing sight to behold as acres upon acres of birds and fish were at it.
I finally got a nice little big eye kingfish, but as I hoisted him up the cliff of the point, the fish bounced on a rock and the hook flew out. I release literally all the fish I catch, so this was just fine, as the crowd around me on the point here, do not release fish ever. And get really angry actually, if you release fish in front of them. Yip. Subsistence fishers. This is their only source of protein really. Other than a few domestic animals in the village, there is nothing else. Absolutely nothing. Trust me, when camping here, no amount of money will find you some bacon or beef.
The next morning was far more beautiful, without the beasterly easterly blowing, or screaming into my face, I was looking forward to casting a lot further with the light offshore to assist. But I never even had to. On my very first cast this delightful solitary morning, I had our breakfast. A cool little bludger that could have been the one I lost the night before.
We ate that gorgeous little guy fried in garlic flavoured batter.
The sun is generally too hot for surfing, fishing or drinking beer here, in the daytime. From 6am the sun turns up the heat and is relentless until about 4pm. And this day was no different, except for the southerly wind which had come up to about 15 knots, and is directly offshore here. Making for some huge casts.
But, there was some cloud cover coming through slowly, and from our campsite a kilometre away, the birds were calling me again. I could not resist the sound of my favourite sirens. I really love these birds and the sounds they make. There is nothing more delightful in the world to me, than that chirp-chirp sound all around me.
My gear was ready to go. I had water, and no excuses. Leaving Chad to tender camp, I set out for dinner.
It was hot. Like over the top hot. The sand had gone quicksand and my feet were disappearing down a foot with every step. Torturous. But as I got closer, I could see the gamefish again. They were much bigger this time!
I got to the staging area finally. Ace out. And the most wonderful scene unfolded for my nearly snow blind eyes. For as far as I could see south, there were fish and birds. And they were coming my way!
The sun blazed through, making the water iridescent and alive. I could see right into it with my polaroids. And see into it I sure did. The absolutely perfect visibility revealed an underwater world of excitement and chaos inside every wave. All the gamefish were here now. King mackerel using set waves to ambush from. Bonefish too. The tuna out the back were getting bigger and bigger. Some monster attacks were happening just out of my reach. Luckily. I only had 30lb tackle with me.
So, on my own, I happily absorbed this all in, grabbing some video and stills which will be on YouTube pretty soon. And then proceeded to cast, with the wind, and way over the one metre high waves peeling across in front of me.
The fish were very distracted, and my retrieve was too fast and excited as I watched 4 and 5 kingfish at a time chasing my spoon together, turning away at the last millisecond. I love the fast retrieve with my Mydo SS Spoon as it flails about jetting water up into the air and projecting bubbles down below the sea surface. It’s like a much more lively gt ice cream plug. And the fast retrieve always gets the first strike, but the minute I threw a slow retrieve, using the carefully engineered bend in the spoon, making for a very side to side up and down motion under the surface, I went vas! But this time was different.
This was a dog I could feel it from the strike. But I felt my 30lb had a chance. Except for my 9 ft rod (too short), which gave me trouble keeping the fragile braid up and away from the ledge in front of me. Fortunately, the strong fish swam south and out to sea, and way away from the razor-sharp rocks. For ten solid minutes, we argued. I don’t like to hurt fish so I had my drag up to maximum pressure as a set came in. I got him caught in the second set just in time as I felt my braid touching the ledge. A horrid feeling.
Now he was on the ledge in about a metre of surging sea water. A GT! Maybe ten kilos. Maybe more. I had to now clamber down the razor sharp cliff to get to him. Just as I started the treacherous descent, some slack water gave the fish a chance to shake his head and the hook fell free! A forced release, my favourite since I never even had to touch the little guy. Shaking like a leaf with adrenalin and with a sore arm (the fight lasted about 20 minutes), I casted again.
Unbelievably, I felt a knock, and then another. I struck but there was nothing. But then another bite? So confused until I saw, that I had entangled one of my favourite birds. And I really don’t like to hurt seabirds or any animals like this.
I gently reeled the tern in, fighting against the stiffer south wind. I got him to calm down, but on my own, and with my bag 10 metres away, I was really alone all of a sudden. My only choice, to not hurt the bird, was to grab him. He bit me straight away so I pinched his beak closed and off we clambered to my blades. The braid was all around the little guy, and I was real stressed. My favourite bird. How could I do this? The truth is there were millions flying about in front of my every cast and it was a luck that I never tangled more of them.
It took me a few minutes to both hold down the feisty and surprisngly strong aviator, untangle, and remove the braid. As I got the last piece free, I had a split second to admire the sheer beauty of this, my favourite bird. I let him go into the south wind.
He rejoined the melee in an instant, happy as could be, with one helluva story for his mates.
Tying my leaders up again, got me casting just in time to see Chad walking the walk, in the sun, surfboard under arm. The waves were cooking. My isolation had further been replaced by the usual crew of kids who fish the sea here for food and a living. They all use Mydos now!
As Chad paddled out into the action, a huge whale shark came by. Sending the kids scurrying up the rocks to perceived safety. As it turms out, these local crew, don’t know the difference between a tiger shark, a great whilte, a zambezi, or a whale shark. They literally burst up the cliff?! And when Chad nonchalantly paddled out right next to it, they shook their heads in wonder.
My slow retrieve worked again, and my second little bludger kingfish was on it’s way to becoming fish paella. Chad caught a bunch of waves. More locals came by to get their due of a fish or two for dinner.
It’s refreshing to see the sea in such splendour like this. But, the species that were there, were inshore species that c an hide from the plundering Chinese boats fishing these waters extensively now. They are right up and down, fishing legally with licenses from the corrupt, and basically against the local communities, who rely on the fish here for their living.
True subsistence fishing communities like these need all the protein, and protection, they can get!
Just like us! Ha ha no, we only needed one or two of these little big eye/bludger kingfish, to survive just fine. Fried fillets, fish soup and fish paella on the menu.
It’s Black Friday with The Fishing Pro Shop and this is what is going on!
Firstly, we will match any advertised price on Black Friday and the following, Saturday if we have the stock in hand. And if we believe it to be a genuine advertisement.
Then, we have a bunch of really top-spec Shimano rods that we will be doing a less 20% off marked price. Everything with a yellow dot is less 20% and we have over R300 000 of this stock on the shop floor!
All this is clearly only while stocks last!
Rapala X-rap box with the real deal colors.
A whole shelve of top popping and jigging rods on special!
Kaibutsu R2599 less 20 That will be a lot of rod for R2080 Got 8 different ones!
Top spec shimano Oceas popping rods – Oceas range from 3995 to 5750 less 20 percent That is a hell of a deal! 15 different shimano oceas models to choose from. Got some shimano terez rods at 2290 less 20. And some awesome Shimano talus too.
Shimano grappler jigging rods at R2995 less 20 Even found two wild romances in the store at 2795 less 20 On the lighter side we have some ‘green’ Trevalas at 1595 less 20 That is r1280 for an awesome rod. Even being naughty with some Curado rod models at 1995 less 20
Shimano fireblood… they go for 6k… we are doing them at R3995 less 20. That is R3200 a rod!!!! We have a bunch of Techniums at r1250 less 20. That is a 1000 bucks for a top-spec Shimano rod!
And you know, we don’t play… we don’t advertise a special and then only have two or three rods at that price. We have stock… R300 000 worth for black Friday and we will run it for a bit… but when it is gone it is gone…
And so the sale is ON! Today and tomorrow Saturday!
Have you ever seen a Red Terez? At R1895 less 20….
You know the sketch… we are possibly the only shop in Gauteng that has reel servicing people and rod builders on site… And one of the widest selection of Shimano reels
For the deep sea fanatics…
Pakula, black Bart, ilander, bahama, pulsator, marlin magic…
And lets not forget the carp guys!!!!
Lets not forget the baitcasters…
And widest range of duckets you will find on this continent…
And still the widest selection of fly tackle…
Did we mention costa?
Buy a set of costa sunglasses and get a costa cap for free…
We shall see you at The Fishing Pro Shop all day today and tomorrow until 1pm!
This couta might have gone way over 30, or even 40kg’s. It was sharked whilst fishing out of Linene, just south of the Bazaruto Archipelago and park.
It ate a halfbeak in a skirt on the troll for sailfish. And was caught by Wickus Strydom, and ardent Fishing Pro Shop regular.
The waters outside of Linene are renowned for monsters, and this is the second unfortunate taxing that I have seen there recently. There are some distinguished pinnacles running along a north-south line, and jumping in, it really is refreshing, to see it teeming with fish. Gamefish and reef fish swim together top to bottom in this place. Which obviously means one thing…
Mainly highly spirited Zambezi models, being hustled from all angles by Bronze Whalers and other food chain competitors. They are aggressive and keen to pick a fight with anyone. They have been busting up tackle here for 50 years, and have really come to know the dinner bell. Whci goes off as soon as we slow down to fight fish. They come in from all angles in this place!
But ok, it’s a sign that this place is really healthy for now. But I am not sure how much longer it will be though?! Check out how foreign trawlers are raping this place, as we speak. Legally?! Government selling fishing rights.
And another couta sharked, at the same place…
And so the chances of getting these big couta out are quite dismal on lighter tackle, and even heavier tackle, as Dean Taylor pictured below, found out, fishing the same as area as Wickus was, for his fish. He was still on GT drag when his outsized monter was spotted by a guest flying in from the bow just uner the surface. Imagine seeing that! Dean’s dropshot was 3 metres under the boat at the motors when the huge fish slammed into his lure. Literally taking Dean with it, at GT drag! Luckily we held on to Dean and Dean held onto the fish, but it wasn’t 3 minutes and the line went slack, and Dean winched the head of the couta in.
It’s rather sad when this happens, but what can you do against that marauding pack of sharks, who, incidentally, follow us around when we troll lures for bait in this place, knowing that they are in for a free meal as soon as we hookup! We know this since we started trolling with cameras set in the wake to see what was going on.
It’s pretty scary!
And a final treat, some underwater footage of a pack of couta hammering away at a live bonito, in the same area, just a bit north.
Full underwater observation story can be read here, pics and all.
Lazarus Bank dream fishing trip: Andre Kelbrick, avid angler and patron at the Fishing Pro Shop in Pretoria East, recently went fishing. BIG!
Enjoy the story by Andre…
I recently rewarded myself with a once in a life time deep sea fishing experience. After countless hours of researching charted fishing trips, trying to determine whom is the best of the best, I was introduced to Lucky Strike Fishing Charters. They offered me the opportunity to accompany them on a trip to the pristine waters of the world renounced fishing location, Lazarus banks in Northern Mozambique, Pemba.
Geared up and ready to go, we started our adventure in Pemba. We set out on the yacht called Bom Dia, and tackled the journey to Lazarus Banks. At first I was nervous to journey 150km into the sea, but my mind was quickly set at ease when I observed the capable and professional staff on the yacht. I knew I was in safe hands seeing as safety was the captains first priority. It was clear from the get go that this is definitely a well-oiled seasoned fishing charter.
Catching monsters was the aim of the game and Lazarus did not disappoint. We gave it our all every single day, utilizing every fishing method including popping, jigging, trawling and light fun on our flick sticks. At the end of the day the knowledge and experience of the captain is the factor that made the big difference. We hooked the giants as was promised. We were almost pulled overboard by some big Dogtooth tunas. I stood astonished trying to proses what was happening. I never thought I would see a rod snap like it was a toothpick or a Shimano Stella being spooled to the point where the real was too hot to touch. Unfortunately the monsters were victorious as I was not physically nor mentally prepared for this immense battle. We were all speechless realising what monsters were lurking below us.
We managed to land some fish most people can only dream of. Some of my favourites included the nice sized GT’s and extraordinary Wahoos. The Yellow fin tuna’s was everywhere we looked. We also encountered a pack attack of Dorado’s. Over the course of the trip we had a tally of 16 different species of fish. Definitely any fisherman’s dream.
This was truly a great experience and I urge every fisherman looking for the fight of their life to join me on my next trip with Lucky Strike Fishing Charter. I pledged to return to these untouched waters to show I am worthy of the true Monsters of Lazarus.
I’m looking for more avid anglers to join me for my next, If you would like to join or want further details, feel free to contact me.
Tight lines. Below are some photos of our trip and other monsters lurking in the depths of Lazarus.
Thank you Andre Kelbrick for the story and inspiration! – Xona
The KZN Natal summer gamefish season is almost upon us. And after a reasonable sardine season, and plenty baitfish about right now, we’re looking forward to the annual visit of wahoo, king mackerel, dorado and billfish. And other suspects.
Early adopters of the warm summer conditions are the dorado and billfish. It is actually smack bang in the middle of the big black marlin season right now. Although sailfish and blue marlin will also be popping up all over, it’s mainly about the big blacks. The big mommas. 1000 pounds is the magical mark. Every attempt is made to release these fish by true conservation minded sport anglers. Even though the commercial fleet is catching and NOT releasing, we need the information gathered from the tagging programs urgently. The magnificent and angry striped marlin usually come only in February or later. These exciting billfish swim together hunting in shoals?! Beware the double or triple header!
As soon as the rains hit Natal, and hard enough to bring the ever-important brown water down the rivers and into the ocean, where it’s alkalinity helps balance the acidity of the sea, the dorado arrive. It’s like clockwork, as soon as that clear line between the brown and the deep blue forms, it’s on. Especially after or during a stiff southwester. The same conditions that bring the sailfish and marlin. It’s quite a spectacle from up high on the cabin roof, looking down as shoals of dorado swim past and into the spread, annihilating everything in their path.
Still later into summer, and actually almost into winter, come the ‘couta. We used to get the first fish in November. Now they have moved their visit way to after New Year. Sometimes they only pitch as late as April. Their spawning season here, bringing the huge crocodile couta that the KZN coast is famous for. Some of over 50kg’s have been taken over the recent years. This is most certainly the breeding stock of these prized fish, and the amount of ‘sport’ fishing events through the season targeting these fish, is really worrying. All these events should be, could be, run in the name of conservation and sport, rather than killing fish for prize money.
The baitfish like shad and mackerel can be found marauding around the inshore reefs all up and down this fish rich coastline. They move around all the time so as long as you are in the right area, they will find you. Chuck one of these precious items on a decent live bait trace, set the drag to about 2kg’s, and wait for that sound!
Bass fishing with Divan: Seasonal changes and effects
To help the reader better understand Bass and Bass fishing in general, we need to look at the basic fundamentals. Finding them first. I enjoy analogies! Let’s start with one; most of you reading this have probably hunted an animal of sorts, so when you went to shoot the animal, did you start firing random shots Into the Bush hoping that you might hit something? I don’t think so, so why do we apply the concept to fishing then? Back to business! We could categorize the basic understanding into two divisions namely: location and presentation. First, we’ll discuss location and in a later issue, we’ll cover presentation. Location in itself can be broken down into two subdivisions; small ponds or farm dams and larger reservoirs. The obvious difference between the two is their size. Due to the different dynamics of each, they can’t, and shouldn’t be seen as one and the same. This was abundantly clear when I first made the transition from farm ponds to larger impoundments. If I have to be honest, it took me a full season to truly understand the whole concept of fish movement and positioning. Even if someone had taken the time to try and explain the whole business to me, I still doubt that I would have understood the concept without actually being faced with it. The only way for me to learn and retain that information was the hard way, trial and error so to speak. Let’s do small waters first; This is where everyone starts off… a pond on the family farm, commercial venues or whatever. These waters vary in size from tiny mud holes to impressive irrigation reservoirs the size of 2 or 3 Rugby fields. On these types of waters, I place heavy emphasis on cover, to a lesser extent structure and bottom composition. Cover is the presiding factor that will determine where, and how bass position themselves. Obviously certain criteria comes into play here; the 3 C’s – cover, comfort and chow. Ask yourself: is there cover?, is the water a comfortable temperature at the target depth? Are baitfish relating to that area? If you can tick all those boxes, great! You’re on the money! Bass will relate to the entire depth column in ponds for the majority of the year. Winter bass fishing is tricky, bass need stable water to retreat to during Winter, deep water offers stability, most farm ponds aren’t that deep… do you see where the old adage “ bass don’t bite in Winter “ comes from? Without sufficient depth to retreat to, bass will effectively become dormant, unresponsive and unwilling to waste any energy until optimum conditions presents itself. Bass have a preferred temperature band that they like to operate in relative to the area. Northern and coastal waters will differ from highland reservoirs due to the average daily temperature difference. So in essence, bass don’t migrate to the full extent of the word in small waters. Decent holding areas are limited on small waters and a fish might become resident in an area or on a specific piece of cover and, will be reluctant to give it up unless conditions force it to do so. How it’s positioned on or in said piece of cover depends on many factors: light penetration, depth, water clarity, fishing pressure, water temperature etc. Daily movement is something to consider, but this happens on a smaller scale and won’t have a profound effect on success. It may come down to a morning or afternoon bite depending on conditions, they seldom move far, but they definitely switch on and off (feeding vs feeling sorry for themselves). This is the case with the Florida strain especially. Thankfully we have the Northern strain to fall back on. The majority of farm ponds are small enough to cover in a few hours. If you’re having difficulty getting a fish, take it on the chin and change what you were doing. There’s always one that’s willing to eat somewhere. Often in the past, I would throw baits that I enjoyed fishing with, instead of baits that I know would be better suited for the scenario, but took more effort to present. Don’t get stuck in your ways, be flexible! Larger bodies of water have a different dynamic. The annual cycle obviously has four seasons. Three of these seasons have blurred lines with the exception of winter. What I’m saying is: you can be in 1ft or 30ft on the same body of water and still catch them through all three seasons. Let’s get more specific… were currently in Winter so that’s where we’ll start. Winter starts with fish migrating to deep stable main-lake areas. Old river beds, main-lake points, defining landscape features if you will. When I say fish I’m referring to the majority of the population, not rogue fish or lost pockets. They will remain deep until the days start to grow longer. When conditions allow, male bass will start moving shallow and can be caught in great numbers. The bigger females remain slightly deeper whilst waiting for the males to start construction on bedding sites. Under precise conditions, the female moves onto the nest, they conduct their business and the female moves off whilst the male stays behind to guard the nest. The female doesn’t go far, she needs to recover and start feeding so she’s not just heading straight back to deep water, she’ll stick around for a couple of days. We’ll cover the spawn in more detail in a later issue. Now the blurred lines… when the majority of fish are done spawning, they return to business as usual. This entails the obvious: cover, comfort and chow. With this being said, know that you might still find fish in all three stages of the spawn, ex: pre spawn staging fish, bedding fish and post-spawn recovering fish. The staging and recovering fish use the same lines or areas to operate in, condensing them and making them easier to find. These areas are normally the first dramatic depth change or definitive cover break. These areas don’t pertain to the spawn specifically, and Bass use these throughout the year if conditions are favourable. When summer arrives in full fury, fish tend to avoid super shallow water in the absence of cover. Cover, in turn, offers comfort and chow. Remember I’m referring to the majority of the population, and depth counts as cover! For example, on Loskop: fish avoid the shallows in high summer and early winter due to lack of cover, but Rust de winter has enough shallow cover to keep them from shifting off to the real deep parts. One has to have perspective here! Deep on Loskop is 50ft, deep on Rusties is 15ft. So, in reality, one can fish the same zones from early spring to early winter and still be presenting to the bulk of the population. Deep winter is the only time that fish will make a noticeable shift in location. If you want to be successful, you have to follow them deeper or suffer the embarrassment of an empty sack come weigh-in. If you find them stacked up, the bite can be more prolific than the best early season days. I hope this has given the reader a better insight into bass fishing and fish movement. Don’t sweat the small stuff! Put a bait where they live and the rest will take care of itself. See you on the water!
Johan Wessels of the Fishing Pro Shop in Pretoria East, got himself as far-flung as possible last week, in his quest to catch that tarpon. All 150lbs of the beast fish!
But it wasn’t ALL about the flash tarpon fish that Johan and crew were after. The jungle waters of Nicaragua teem with the most pretty of species.
Over to Johan’s running commentary…
[21:42, 17/10/2019] Johan: Been out fishing the jungle and throwing small spinnerbaits and rapalas at the submerges trees… Here are some pictures [21:42, 17/10/2019] Johan: Rainbow bass on small spinner bait [21:42, 17/10/2019] Johan: Bluegill sunfish on small rapala [21:42, 17/10/2019] Johan: Also managed this snook [21:42, 17/10/2019] Johan: Here is a short video of the jungle [21:42, 17/10/2019] Johan: Lots of small fish, amazing fishing in all that flooded structure and easy to see why it holds so many fish
After the team took a well needed break they started preparing for another day in the wild jungle. Fishing Nicaragua style!
[14:05, 19/10/2019] Johan: So the fishing is done and we start heading back this morning. Yesterday’s jungle fishing was a bit of a dud fishing wise, but the jungle is indescribable… we would be travelling on a small creek, hardly big enough for a small johnboat to travel through and then it opens up into a lake big enough to rival most of our inland waters…. We did set out for a last tarpon session and i finally hooked up on fly and staying hooked up for 10 m before straightening yet another hook… The take was ferocious and i have blisters on my fingers to prove it… [14:06, 19/10/2019] Johan: So from here it is Cesna back to costa rica, followed by an afternoon flight to London and the tomorrow evening home to Jozi…
What a trip! Not to mention two days of travelling home!