We have all had those days… The day when nothing goes right… The day everything goes wrong! If you combine this with a blanking streak then fishing becomes… not so lekka! All the tranquil and out and about in nature talk goes out the window and you become a depressed fisher person.
Luckily, mine ended after a gruelling month and a half of eating noting but steak en tjops! Life is hard ;)! Whenever you go through a bad patch just stick to what you know and persist, somewhere somehow things always seem to click at the right moment and then Bob… well, he’s your uncle again! Schweet like a lemon!
Last weekend we set of to Struis on a Steenie mission. Well, for me anyway, it was more of an I’ll catch anything that bites mission. That was my first mistake… If you go fishing, don’t just go and “gooi ‘n lyn in die water”… you have to plan and target a specific fish. In the good old days of brandy specials in Finlays, you knew that if you try to target all the girls in the bar you end up alone at 3:00, dancing with the cleaning mop on “all by myself” from Celine Dion! If a dog chases 2 hares, he will catch neither… If you fish, just to fish, you normally end up watching TV all day long!
Targeting certain species gives you an edge. I was “inbetween” last week and before I knew it 5 Steenbras was landed (biggest 7kg), and I had to settle for a lucky fat gallie. But, as I always say… make sure you learn from every experience. I learned that fresh bloodworm is king (Hy moet so vars wees, as jy hom probeer hak, moet hy sy stertjie wegdraai van die hoek af). I learned how to properly stitch a worm so it doesn’t slide down your line towards the hook. I learned that I cast way to short and that for a Steamer your 14ft rod is a must if you want to reach those sand banks. And, last but not least, I learned that your hook snoot must be at least 60cm long with an even longer sinker line, so you can clip your worm to get that extra 30odd meters when casting.
SO, after the previous month’s blanks and with my new expert knowledge on Steenbras I started following the weather on the Struisbaai plaat. It looked better and better and when Mr D said we should go this past Sunday, I was already standing with my gear in my hand. We tried to get some fresh bloodworm but ended up with some old almost rotten worms. They smelled so bad I thought it must have died twice! Really terrible potent stuff, even the bloody seagulls wouldn’t touch it, and they eat everything!
Apart from the king of baits that was a little off, at least we had prawn, mussel and some wonder worm as well (You can never have too much bait). We arrived at our spot at 7:00 and with the temperature a fresh 2 degrees I couldn’t wait to start the long walk so I can warm up and get to the water. The biggest fun was getting those decomposing black sticky worms onto a hook, and then try to avoid bringing your hands to close to your face. Lighting a fag was fun! I can actually still smell them while I’m typing this, and I feel like I have to go lie down…
Lines was in about 8:30 and the wait started. Me and mister D was in a deep discussion about how much line the bigger Steenbras really runs off your reel when they go on a steamer. “No more than 30 meters” was our collective decision and we abandoned the chat satisfied that we were right… Right! All of a sudden… boom, zzzz zzzzz zzzzz zzzzz zzzzz, Mr D’s rod was double and his reel screaming like a wild boar. He made a quick sprint and when he got to his rod he struggled to get it out of the pipe from the shear force of the fish on the other side. This fish was mad and just kept on going! By the time D had the rod in his hand there was only about 100m of line left on the reel, and that disappeared in no time. When he got to 50 he thought he was still ok because the fish should be tiring and turn soon… With 30 m left he gave a little giggle and a sweat drop appeared on his forehead and rolled down onto his cheek, almost like a tear… Mister Big on the other side though couldn’t care less and he was still going strong. With 10m left D decided it’s time to try and stop this brutal assault and like a pro he gently pushed his thumb onto the spool to have better control over the beast. He thought he had him won, when, all of a sudden his rod jerked back and it was gone baby gone as the hooks pulled. He’s caught plenty fish in his lifetime and more than enough Steenbras and he says this fish must have been in the double digits. Who knows and who would argue after seeing something like that!
All my TV watching was becoming a long boring horror movie. I didn’t have a bite the whole day. At some stage I even threw 3 overwinds in a row. I thought this will be one of those days again. In the meantime, Mr D caught a small gallie and a nice kolhol. By 14:00 I was ready to leave, ready to take the looong walk of shame home, but, I had a tap and that motivated me for another couple of minutes. Then, another tap-tap, which gave me at least another hour’s hope! I said to D that we would have to leave by 16:00. At about 15:30 I was hitting a slight depro and philosophising about life and the meaning thereof… when my rod tip quickly bent forward… It was almost surreal, I had given up, this was the last minute of extra time and I was soooo far behind the game that nothing could save me… Then, the rod tip came back for a brief second, just to shoot forward again… and the ratchet started playing some funky music!
I can’t remember much of the fight, a little tug of war, he gaining and giving and then me gaining and giving. I struggled to get him over the lip but with a nice set coming through I had him won and all I could see was that familiar dorsal fin sticking out! Man what a sight! A lovely 70cm silver slab of happiness! I was still japping about my day that was all of a sudden made, when rod nr 2 bent over as well, unbelievable, another 5 minutes later, another Steenie was on the side… A smaller feisty specimen of 60cm. He was qiuckly tagged and released with a “lied in my hart(song in my heart)”!
I am absolutely stoked, all I wanted to do this year was to catch another Steenie, and although this wasn’t one of those BIG fish it made my week. I’m in love with the Stoomtreine(steam trains) of Struis! These fish must be one of the most aggressive hard fighting fish an rock & surf angler can catch. The way they take and steam off is incredible!
As I walked back it dawned on me that I had learned another lesson, the most important one of all. A lesson the majestic Steenbras has taught me, in fish and in life, in the way they came to save my day and in the way they fight… Never ever give up! Even when you think all hope is lost and you are down and out, there is always hope and you should hold on for just 5 more minutes… Things can change very quickly and then all is hunky dory! What a day what a privilege!