Fishy Feature: Shad

We decided to start a new ‘series’ on our blog- “Fishy Features“. Watch out for this monthly feature on a fish species of our choice- featuring a few fishy facts, some targeting tips and a little bit of general information.

In light of the opening of the season this morning, we decided to begin our series with the well-known SHAD.

screen-shot-2016-12-01-at-3-51-32-pmscreen-shot-2016-12-01-at-4-04-57-pmscreen-shot-2016-12-01-at-3-55-21-pm

Why we are in love with Costa del Mar, and why you should be too…

A lot of time and effort goes into planning that perfect fishing trip to an exotic location or even just a short weekend getaway. Even the smallest of details are planned months in advance – the best lures, lines, rods, and reels often get packed and unpacked a hundred of times before the date of departure eventually arrives! The one thing however that most people often overlook which should probably be considered one of the most important for a good trip is excellent optics. A bad set of sunglasses can cause loads of frustration and missed opportunities. It is important to note that good pair of sunglasses not only protect your eyes from harmful UV rays and glare (as well as flying lures or flies – let’s be honest, we have all seen those disturbing images on the internet) but also play a crucial role in assisting anglers in spotting fish and identifying structure.

When it comes to optics anglers are confronted with the challenge of choosing from a wide variety of products from a number of manufacturers. However, from a personal perspective and years in both the commercial and recreational fishery, there is only one brand which is in a league of it’s own… Costa del Mar! Their mission was “to create the clearest sunglasses on the planet for life’s great adventures” and working along side skippers and fishermen, I think it is safe to say that the mission has been accomplished. However, it is important to note that this brand offers a wide array of products perfectly adapted to suit a variety of conditions so be sure to pick the right tool for the job!

What to consider when building (yes, thats right – you can order glasses to your specifications through the Costa online store – another reason why we love this brand)  or choosing a set of Costa sunglasses suited to your needs:

Lens colour:

Costa de Mar have six different lens colours on offer, each adapted to suit different light intensities ranging from extremely low light conditions to blinding glares. The infographic below, taken from the Costa website) provides a more detailed description of the different lens colours and what they are suited for. However, it is important to note that your eyes may prefer a different lens to another due to varying sensitivity. I have extremely sensitive eyes, and find that my BLUE MIRROR lenses are often my go to pair of glasses. Whilst these are labelled by Costa as being more suited to the offshore fishing environment, I can highly recommend them for shore-based fishing activities and would highly recommend them to anglers looking for an all-round pair of glasses. Living in the desert, often means long overcast days during winter, and this is where the COPPER lenses out perform the BLUE MIRROR. The copper lens is better suited to lower light conditions as they increase contrast and colour on even the dull days. However, I would not classify this lens as suited to an all-round pair of glasses, especially for those of you suffering from sensitive eyes. I often find that during days of partial sun and partial cloud these lenses can become a bit bright during moments of sunshine resulting in squinting.

screen-shot-2016-07-02-at-10-37-32-am

Infographic taken from Costa del Mar .

Plastic or glass lenses? 

Once you have selected your lens colour, you will then need to choose whether you will be opting for the glass or plastic lens – each of which has its own advantages and disadvantages. The scratch resistant 580G, Costa’s glass lens, is considered to offer the highest level of clarity. However, if you are opting for something a little cheaper or are just prone to clumsiness the plastic lens will not leave you disappointed. The 580P, Costa’s plastic lens, is considered to be a light, highly impact resistant lens. Their special C-WALL coating prevents water, dirt and oils from sticking to the lens, preventing those irritating marks from spoiling your view. Both the 580G and the 580P are top quality optics and provide 100% UV blockage and 100% polarisation meaning that your Costa’s will always be offering quality protection that your eyes deserve. Personally, nothing ruins a good pair of sunglasses more than a few scratches and this is where the slightly heavier glass lens wins in my opinion.

Frame style and size: 

With over 60 different styles of frame on offer as well as four different size categories, your pair of Costa’s can be selected to suit your style and needs. Having owned a number of different frames there are two things which I can recommend you take into consideration when choosing frames:

  • The rubber lining found on frames such as the BLACKFIN, can often part from the nylon frame, a source of great frustration! Carlos is generally considered to be one of those people which puts a products lifetime to the test however this seems to be a common problem. In order to avoid it I would suggest choosing an alternative frame.
  • The metal Costa decal found on frames such as the SEA FAN can develop green corrosion spots. If you are living close to the ocean, I would suggest investing in a pair which lacks this metal decal to prevent your investment from looking scruffy.

In conclusion, why choose Costa del Mar?

Having tried and tested a number of brands over the years this is one that we would without a doubt recommend to anyone looking to invest in an excellent pair of optics. The lens technology (varying light sensitivity, light-weight lenses) and option to customise (choice of lens, material, frame style and size etc) is what makes this a desirable product to all fishermen and women around the globe. What makes Costa del Mar even more appealing is their ‘backed for life’ policy. Costa del Mar has a lifetime warranty to protect consumers against defective materials and workmanship. Should you feel that your purchase has not lived up to your expectations a claim can be submitted.

Another reason to support the brand is their participation in a wide array of environmental and conservation efforts such as their ‘Kick Plastic’ campaign, Project Guyana and more.

The circle of trust…

One of our favourite fish to target are kob (also known as kabeljou, mulloway, jewfish). In my opinion, very few fish hit a lure as hard as a kob. While targeting any of the kob species you always stand a chance of catching that 100b fish you have been waiting for, as it is not uncommon for large fish to come out in-between a shoal of juveniles.

kob-circle-spoon-4

The one problem that makes targeting kob species on lure a challenge is their love for structure, as we all know that structure equates to snags. Attempting to catch these fish on lures often ends up being a pricey exercise. But there is a simple way to reduce our risks of turning that kob into a rockfish – circle hooks!

Spoons rigged with circle hooks take some getting used to as one often finds themselves falling into the trap of striking when you feel that bite. It is important to note that in order to increase your chances of a perfect hook set a slow, steady retrieve is required. Once you have felt that distinctive tap at the end of your line, maintain your constant, steady winding until the fish is on – it really is that easy! Another thing to take into account is the type and size of the circle hook you choose to use. I personally prefer the Eagle Claw Billfish L2004ELG-7/0 as to date they have resulted in the best hookup rates (they are also not so heavy on the pocket) – a smaller hook is better than a larger hook. Furthermore, we have found that by replacing your traditional split-ring with a homemade piano wire ring, one allows the circle hook free movement to do its thing – your hook is therefore more likely to be in the right position when the time is right.

circle-spoons

Once you have mastered the technique you are bound to reap the benefits. Advantages of fishing with spoons rigged with circles include:
1) Your chances of getting stuck between the bricks is significantly reduced, allowing you to fish your spoon at a slower speed with more confidence.
2) You are not only limited to kob. Since using this technique we have landed a variety of “by-catch” using spoons rigged with circles, including leeries, shad, yellowbellies as well as a 50kg dusky shark.
3) Circle hooks are easier on the fish than J-hooks. Your chances of a successful release are therefore significantly increased when using this technique. Fish around the globe are under increasing threat – remember by letting them go, you let them grow.

So, next time you tempted to target a kob, take a leap into the circle of trust and give this method a try.

Reel Maintenance

Today we are covering a topic which is so simple but is often neglected by majority of anglers – reel maintenance. Any individual with a basic set of mechanical skills can carry out this task. However, here is a simple guideline to do a basic maintenance and cleaning “service”. Prevention is better (and cheaper) than cure!!

(Please note that full services should still be carried out by a professional – your local tackle shop should be able to point you in the right direction).

What you will need: A screwdriver with multi-bits, a non-abrasive rag (e.g. mutton cloth), cotton buds, fishing tackle protector, TG’s rocket fuel liquid grease and oil, multi-purpose lubricant (preferably WD40), marine grade lubricant (grease).

thumb_IMG_0103_1024

Step 1: After giving the reel a spray with some fresh water, allow it to dry. Remove the spool and handle and give each component a light coat of multi-purpose lubricant.

thumb_IMG_0104_1024

Step 2: Using the mutton cloth and cotton buds, give the entire reel a proper wipe down – be sure to get into all the nooks and crannies (this is where the ear buds come in handy).

thumb_IMG_0108_1024

Step 3: On most new reels there is a screw/cap that allows you access to the bearing in the handle. Add a few drops of liquid grease. The handle knob takes a lot of strain and is often one of the first components to pack up – a few drops of liquid grease will help to prolong the lifespan of your reel handle.

thumb_IMG_0110_1024

Step 4: Ensure that all salt residue is removed from working parts, in the handle, by giving it a decent spray of multi-purpose lubricant, wiping it down and then applying a light coat of grease. Be sure to apply some grease to the thread as well.

thumb_IMG_0120_1024

Step 5: Remove the handle screw cap and handle and apply some liquid grease to the bearings on both sides of the reel.

thumb_IMG_0116_1024

Step 6: Apply a few drops of liquid grease to the main shaft of the reel.

thumb_IMG_0123_1024

Step 7: Apply some grease to the thread of the shaft.

thumb_IMG_0124_1024

Step 8: Add a few drops of oil to the roller bearing and work it through by rolling it with your fingers or a piece of line. Wipe off the excess when complete.

thumb_IMG_0125_1024

Step 9: Give the reel and spool a light coat of tackle guard, wipe it lightly and re-assemble. Your reel is now ready to be stored or fished!

A few extra tips:

– Perform this basic service on your new reel before use, this will prolong your reels life by at least 40% by reducing the risks of corrosion. When the factory assembles any reel, minimal lubrication is used.

– Be sure to always tighten your drag before hosing down your reels. By tightening the drag you compact your drag washers which eliminates the chances of water from entering the drag assembly and later creating a sticky drag. After the hose down, be sure to loosen the drag and spin the spool freely before storage – this prevents the drag washers from sticking together.

– NEVER submerge your reel in a bucket of water, it is the worst thing you can ever do to it!

Mad Mullet

The use of soft plastics in salt water fishing has exploded over the last few years. A wide variety of plastics in differing shapes, sizes and colours is now available in most tackle shops. You then have the option to have a scented plastic, a glowing plastic, a vibrating plastic, something from a tiny sand lice plastic to a behemoth squid like creature – think of it and you pretty much will find it somewhere. But all that means nothing if you don’t have the right jighead to match your plastic.

Shaun Murphy Mad Mullet

Shaun Murphy, from Mad Mullet, with a Cunene kob.

The importance of the jighead is often overlooked. But what makes up a good jighead? Weight is probably the most critical factor. Coupled with that is the need for a thin, sharp, super-strong hook. Luckily for us, Mad Mullet has taken this all into consideration and has created a jighead for every application.

Mad Mullet logo

Frustrated by the lack of jigheads and the costs associated with imported jigheads, Shaun Murphy decided to take matters into his own hand and started to produce jigheads for his own use. It didn’t take long till friends came knocking on his door and over time he realised that the product had the potential to expand. Clyde Hare came in with his technical expertise and together they created a product ranging from 1/4oz up to a 10oz in a variety of styles such as bulletheads, arrowheads, shad heads as well as their own weedless design. Together they created a product range ‘made by fishermen for fishermen‘.

What makes Mad Mullet standout is the increase in 1/4oz increments from 1/4oz to 2oz. There is a big difference between a 1 and 2oz jighead – the 7 different weight options below 2oz, provided by Mad Mullet, allows you to fish as light as possible at all times while maintaining a feel for the bottom. By fishing lighter you get the most movement out of your plastic however sometimes when in strong winds or current you need to up your jighead weight accordingly. Rule of thumb when fishing for kob in an estuary or along a sandy beach – If you are feeling the bottom throughout your retrieve – your jighead is too heavy, if you are not feeling the bottom – its too light.

A common flaw in most jigheads are their hooks. Too thin and they straighten under pressure, too thick and you can’t set the hook. Mad Mullet makes use of only Mustad hooks – providing a super sharp, trustworthy hook allowing you to have the best opportunity you can have at successfully hooking and landing fish.

Every jighead which leaves the Mad Mullet workshop is personally inspected by Clyde – quality control is therefore nothing other than a top priority when it comes to this team.

All in all, Mad Mullet is a world class product… produced in our country to target our fish!

ProudlySA_Logo_Corporate_Reverse Black copy

*** LOCAL IS ALWAYS LEKKER ***

 

Breakaway at the Breede

Breede River Lodge

In March, after applying for our visas, we had a few days to spare. It had been a long summer season at the lodge and we were desperately in need of a break! So, we went fishing!! Our destination, the Breede river – a first for myself and Chenelle. Rotten with flu, I missed most of the drive there, lying with the rentals seat as flat as it could go.

After booking into the Breede River Lodge (an awesome spot, with super helpful and friendly staff, which we would recommend to anyone) we made ourselves a comfortable bed infront of the fireplace and the TV and settled down to watch some T20.

The following day we had allocated to late lie in’s and lazing around. After a hearty brunch we headed down to the marina to book ourselves a boat for the next day. Your’s truly had no copy of his skippers ticket so we were limited to a 3m dingy and a 15hp. After a day of R&R and an afternoon prepping our tackle, we headed over for a braai and catch up with one of Nelle’s friends, Sarah Halse. Sarah is currently based at the Lower Breede River Conservancy (breede-river.org or on Facebook). After a great supper, lots of chit chat and too much wine, we were off to bed.

At 5am the next day we got up and got ourselves sorted. Before 7am we were on the river on our ship (which later earned itself a name) – The Electric Ray. We started by drifting downstream off the NSRI between the kayaks which were partaking in a comp on the river that day. After a few casts we noticed some surface action closer to the lodge. We moved up as fast as we could, which was only slightly faster than a determined kayaker. On arrival we witnessed some leeries hitting small baitfish, which had now decided to seek refuge below our vessel. In situations like this you are extremely grateful for Costa’s.

After not a single follow on a surface lure we decided to change over to my “go-to” lure – a bucktail jig! First cast, three tweaks and ON! This carried on for about 2 hours – all that was needed was to locate the baitfish and the leeries were there. We never managed to land anything big but a leerie is a leerie, and on 8lb braid and a light rod, it’s always fun! We must have landed in excess of 20 fish between the two of us whilst surrounded by kayaks which seemed to be oblivious to the happenings on the Electric Ray. In between all the action we spotted a pair of humpback dolphins, we didn’t think too much of it as they are spotted regularly at Flamingo, however we later learnt that this was not a common occurrence.

Leerie reflections

As the tide began to push we decided to go have a look up river – what an amazing body of water! The guys which get to fish this river often are definitely nothing less than spoilt! Nelle managed to the leerie of the day after spotting some nervous mullet. By now the south easter was blowing a steady 20knots. Over the course of the day I had occasionally experienced the odd tingle from the tiller arm but took little notice. Heading back, into the chop, the motor got drenched. Needless to say the little tingle turned into a heart-stopping jolt which sent Nelle into hysterics everytime it gave a kick! We managed to work out a plan with a Shimano Terez and a cooler box, which allowed for minimum contact.

By now the wind was howling and spotting fish was impossible. We handed the boat back and decided it would be best to report the shock! After an office full of laughter it was revealed that they were aware of the problem and had forgotten to warn us – a good laugh was had by all!

Thank you to the Breede locals – Keith Tait, Paul Anderson and Mike Dolhoff who all steered us in the right direction allowing us to get the most out of our limited time on the river. It was also great catching up with my old friend, Arno Dames, who was spending some time on the river with his family.

Breede

A lot of upset was caused with the implementation of new rules on the river (i.e. no night fishing and no trolling of lures) but I honestly have to say well done to the people that made this possible. The Breede is a truly special place and should be looked after.

Our estuaries in South Africa are under severe fishing pressure and it is up to all of us to try and educate our fellow anglers of the importance of catch and release.We all need to play our role in ensuring healthy stocks for the next generation – each and everyone of us makes a difference.

Romantic getaway…

From my experience of dating a fisherman, there is no “romantic” getaway, only a masked fishing excursion. On our fishing holiday in Mozambique, Carlos suggested that we take two days off from marlin fishing to go spend some quality time together, just the two of us…well, and Antonio, our very friendly skipper.

A boat ride across clear waters to set up camp on the secluded peninsula of San Sebastian -I was sold!

At 5am, whilst I was still lazing in a comfortable bed (because it was my day), Carlos was making a hell of a racket! Upon stumbling out to see what all the commotion was about, Carlos was standing surrounded by fishing tackle – all packed and ready for “romance”. Jigging rods, popping rods, surf spinning rods, light spinning rods, bait rods – you name it, it was there! Being a (soon to be) fishwife, I thought it was a bit excessive but as I had never fished on that side of the continent before I was keen to get a few species under my belt!

We loaded the boat, climbed aboard and set off for a night of solitude. But first we had to stock up on some fresh carapao which meant a quick stop at all the local fishing boats. We then had to drop off Antonio’s cousin on Paradise island. A slower start than expected but the clear water,thousands of garfish, dolphins, turtles, birds and the isolation that one can experience out at sea, made it all worth it!

Upon arrival at San Sebastian, we grabbed our spinning rods and headed across to the seaside of the peninsula. We managed a few wave garrick and black fin kingies but the GT’s eluded us. After setting up camp, we put out a few baits which saw us land a sandshark and black tip reef shark. We called it a night, lit our fire, drank some wine (out of stainless steel mugs) and had a lovely beach-spiced braai. Whilst enjoying my sandy steak, I noticed a rather peculiar amount of (what I classify as rather large) crabs surrounding us and notified Carlos about it. But not a problem, Carlos assured me that the tent was crab-proof!

Mozambique

After too much wine we made our way to the tent.. only to discover that the zips were non-existant. Even though after previous use (which was 4 years before) “everything was perfect”!  We climbed into our tent, propped up the entrance with bottles and attempted to sleep – Carlos was out within seconds whilst I lay awake listening to what seemed like millions of pincers grabbing at our tent in the few seconds of silence, between snores. However, the fresh air and excitement from the day eventually got the best and me and I drifted into a solid two hours of sleep only to be woken by a crustacean attempting to make its way into my sleeping bag. Needless to say, I could have set records for the potato sack race with that sleeping bag. After having the intruder removed from the premises I was interrogated as to why I had so much fear of something so small and harmless… not something a woman wants to be lectured about at 2am in the morning, after very little sleep, whilst under constant crab attack. After a few minutes of heated debate, and after securing all entrances to my sleeping bag, we drifted in and out of sleep between crab removals.

Sunrise, (at 4:30am) and the instant heat that came with it, saw us pack up our campsite – after a lovely nights rest, and head back to the boat. We both attempted to be enthusiastic about the day that lay ahead of us – targetting the reefs for a few decent pulls. But the lack of sleep, coupled with a grand total of zero fish for the morning, saw the last of the enthusiasm disappear rapidly. We secured the tackle, zoomed “home”, showered and had the most amazing sleep on the most comfortable bed in the world!

Whilst our romantic getaway was not exactly what I had envisioned, I would not change a single thing… Life is too short for uneventful holidays and a few spanners in the works. The few new species on the catch list also had its role to play in preventing our getaway from turning into a nightmare.

IMG_1806.JPG

PS. We said good riddance to the tent upon packing up to return back to South Africa. Antonio, I hope you will grow to have fonder memories of that tent than me.

 

Lobito…

Everybody has a “place”, for me it has to be Lobito, in Angola. There is just something magical about the place. I don’t know if its the name, the scenery or perhaps it is because it is without a doubt the best billfishing destination in Africa!! For the past 10 years Lobito has hosted its now famous Lobito Big Game Tournament. I have been fortunate enough to have taken part in some of these tournaments, with mixed results.

In 2009, we hooked 8 blue marlin, one of which was a grander, and never scored a point.

In 2011, a tiny impeller cost us the tournament and saw us arrive late for the weigh-in with a total of 5 sailfish, tagged and released, which was the most fish in a single day in any tournament in Angola (at that time we were the first team to practice bait and switch in Angola). We came back strong and managed to place second.

2012, I had fishing clients and was unable to compete and my team won – maybe I am the Jonah? Up until 2012 I had the honour of fishing with the greatest teachers, gentlemen and all round nice guys- Dr Iain Nicholson and his brother Cam, on the Marlinheiros team.

2014 was my debut as a Captain in the tournament. By now the other Angolan teams had fished the World Champs in Costa Rica and Mexico and had improved their methods and adapted to suit them to their local waters. Amongst the fleet we had the FIPs-M World Champions, the IGFA World Champions and five of the top ten anglers in the world!!! Quite a line up. We arrived with our tiny 28ft Butt Cat with high expectations but knowing that we were fishing amongst the best. Practice days saw us attempt to establish our rhythm and master our techniques- as we had never fished as a team and were trying something entirely new- swimming baits for sailfish as the days of bait and switch were over. The first day of the comp, everything came together and we ended up with 11 sailfish caught. We lost some points at the jury due to videos and ended up tied first. Second day was disaster for us and from there on it was all downhill. I wanted a top ten finish, we managed seventh so I was sort of happy with it but I know we could have done a lot better. We ended up with 28 sailfish for the competition, with a total of 480 billfish caught amongst 40 boats in 4 days fishing.

2015 saw me fish with a new team. Due to charters we only had one practice day. Fishing was slow for us but we managed to find a small pocket of fish as we were about to up lines which gave us confidence for the first day. After the binimy start majority of the boats headed north, we however (along with a few others) decided to make our way south. We just set out our full spread and in come a sailfish – 1 from 1. in these competitions full points are rewarded for fish which are tagged and released. As we tagged the first fish, the tag stick broke, so no tag = half points! With the spread out we immediately raised 2 and hooked 2. Now we had to make a plan to tag! A bit of improvisation with a leatherman and a piece of wire saw us tagging those two fish but our adapted tag stick cost us valuable time as we had to bill each fish. A quick call over the radio to Iain resulted in a new tag stick. The day carried on in a blur, making baits, tagging, releasing, shouting, high-fifing, more shouting, more high-fives and so it went on until lines up. The last half an hour saw us fighting hard to land just one more fish, which unfortunately did not join the cause. We ended the day with 19 from 26, setting a new daily Angolan record. By far my most special offshore tournament day.

Lobito 19

The rest of the competition did not go so well for us and we managed to place fifth, however day 1 made it all worth our while. A staggering 993 billfish were caught over a period of 4 days by 40 boats. All fish were tagged and released, besides the 6 which died during fighting or for world record purposes.

Lobito Prize Giving.jpg

Due to a busy charter schedule we were unfortunately not able to fish Lobito in 2016 but you never know what the future or the deep blue holds! Lobito will forever remain one of my favourites.

Small but vital…

Today we are reviewing something that is so small but is a vital component for anyone throwing lures, which is often overlooked by even some of the most experienced of fishermen – lure clips!

Get a bunch of fishermen together around a fire, with a couple of beers, and soon enough everyone will be debating about what which braid, rod, leader etc is best. No one is wrong, yet no one is right. But the one thing that everyone always seems to agree on is the importance of lure clips!

There are hundreds of shapes and sizes but for us there is only one… this quick release clip is made by Dennis Swannell from the Eastern Cape. Each clip is hand made to suit the high standards of Dennis. From the tiny 0.8mm right up to the 2mm clip, Dennis ensures that there is a clip available to every type of lure fisherman.

Clips have many advantages and come to think of it there is not a single disadvantage to this tiny piece of tackle. Its provides a quick and easy way to change lures. Saves you time and effort on replacing ever-shortening leaders and provides better lure action all whilst protecting your knot! Lets not forget to mention how easy it makes it to stow away lures whilst travelling, saving unnecessary damage to rods and reels. The list of positives is never ending when it comes to lure clips.

Lure clips 4

Matching a clip to a lure is critical.. it is senseless to make use of a huge 1.6mm clip, on a small surface lure, whilst fishing for grunter in an estuary or to tackle up with a 1mm clip on 80lb braid whilst popping for GT’s. Make sure that the clip you pick matches the type of fishing, with the wide range available there really are no excuses! That being said, it is important to always try use the smallest (yet most suitable) clip possible – these clips are incredibly strong and are highly unlikely to be the weakest link in your gear. From experience, 0.8mm clips is suitable for braid up to 30lbs, 1mm for braid up to 50lbs, 1.2mm for braid up to 65lbs, and 1.6mm for braid up to 100lbs – this is just our rule of thumb and not cast in concrete at all.

lure clips 2

One last bit of advice, remove split rings on small swimming/bass type lures. There is essentially no need for split rings on the front of the lure when using clips. The addition of split rings inhibits the ultimate advantage of these clips – ease of lure change!

Dennis Swannell provides a wide range of accessories for fishermen, ranging from quick release clips, snaps, corkscrew, slides etc which are available in most decent tackle shops around South Africa.

Lady luck?

The morning of the 11th of April 2015 began just like any other morning, waking up to the sound of the ocean lapping the shore and the cat meowing for food. Carlos and I were in a bittersweet mood- happy to be heading back to South Africa, for a week or two, to see family and friends but sad to leave our home and our kitten. It was about lunch time, whilst packing our bags, when we heard Rod Haestier shouting frantically for assistance. Carlos poked his head out our door to see what all the commotion was about… only to find Rod with a buckling rod and near empty reel attempting to get his camera out of his room. Carlos then began bellowing. I ran out only to get shouted at and sent back to get my rod. A massive, shimmering bait ball had gathered on our doorstep and was getting smashed by a shoal of leeries.

I raced down to the beach, and started trembling with excitement. My first cast was nothing other than a total disaster, it was as if I had two left hands! I managed to land my plug nowhere near the bait ball that was stretched out for at least 50m in front of me. A little story on the side, whilst learning to cast properly the only way I got my rhythm was by singing to myself (Lana del Rey was the hit!). I knew I had to get my nerves in check so I reeled like crazy, took a deep break and started singing. From here on, everything happened in slow motion… my plug flew perfectly landing just behind the bait ball. Few quick winds and my ‘Flamingo Special’ plug was skipping along happily. The next moment a massive bow wave started coming from behind, then the biggest explosion I had ever seen. This repeated itself over and over as the leerie was so aggressive he couldn’t get the plug in his mouth (or I had stopped singing, lost focus and was winding like a crazy person!!). Just as I thought I was running out of water my plug disappeared into a massive mouth, not even 15m from my feet. My rod jerked, my Stella started screaming and just like that I was on!

Meanwhile, Carlos had managed to land Rod’s fish. After a few quick photos, the leerie of about 20kg was returned to the sea. Now all of a sudden I had a lot of ‘expert advice’. The fight lasted for about 20min. The flat, clear waters and my new set of Costas made it possible for me to see the fish for the entire fight- something thats etched into my brain forever! After a few tense moments, Carlos managed to tail the fish. Only when he picked it up and passed it into my trembling arms did I realise what a beauty I had just landed. Once the moment had been captured, I waded waist deep into the water, held her until she was ready to kick off. Feeling the fish kick out of my hands and seeing her swim off strongly was even more satisfying than catching her!

Chenelle leerie.jpg

As our fisheries are under immense pressure all over the globe (even in a remote area like Angola) it is very important that we all do our part. Every fish released helps the cause, especially those big breeding females.

Quick tip: always have a camera ready before you land your fish as it wastes valuable time fetching it once the fish has hit the beach. Fighting a big fish takes a lot out of it and every second spent out of the water reduces the chance of a successful release!