King Mackerel

King Mackerel: also known as ‘couta, are a favourite gamefish

Shaun-Begg-fishing-for-dorado-off-Port-Shepstone

Deep-Sea fishing: the most important rod on the boat

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.

Deep-sea fishing: live-bait is just the most thrilling way to catch marlin - but it all starts with catching a live-bait! And a flick stick, or spinning outfit, is by far the most effective way to catch the right bait.
Deep-sea fishing: live-bait is just the most thrilling way to catch marlin – but it all starts with catching a live-bait! And a flick stick, or spinning outfit, is by far the most effective way to catch the right bait.

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.

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Post by The Sardine News.

There are still fish left in the sea

Pomene 2019: There are definitely still fish left in the sea

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.

Why?

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 NewsPlastic 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.
  • King mackerel.
  • Queen mackerel.
  • Skipjack.
  • Bonefish. Huge.
  • Bonito.
  • YFT.
  • Cobia.

And more…

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.

Pomene - this is one good spot for chasing fish!
Pomene – this is one good spot for chasing fish!

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.

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Post by The Sardine News, get in touch if you want to go fishing like this!

Wickus Strydom's huge couta sharked at Linene

Huge couta sharked: paying hectic tax at Linene

Huge couta sharked: paying hectic tax at Linene

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.

Wickus Strydom received a huge tax bill and got sharked badly at Linene with this couta recently
Wickus Strydom received a huge tax bill and got sharked badly at Linene with this couta recently

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…

Sharks!

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.

Captain Dean Taylor had his big couta sharked too, in the same area
Captain Dean Taylor

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.

Post by The Sardine News for the Fishing Pro Shop.

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