Catching Witsand Kob

What a place!
Early morning is the best time for Kob

The early morning silence was broken with the high pitched screams of a Stradic 5000. It’s amazing how quickly you can forget about old rugby injuries and all of a sudden become a Olympic sprinter. I did the fifty meters towards my rod in no time at all, by almost walking on the water. My 9 foot rod was bowing towards the river as I grabbed onto it. The head shakes on the other side of my line made my whole system go into attack mode! This was a Kob for sure and I immediately developed a slight shakiness in my manner.

I don’t know how many fish you have caught on light tackle and especially with braid, but I promise you, you feel every little movement. Braid amplifies the “feeling” on the rod and the head shakes, combined with the fish quickly changing direction feels exactly like the hooks just pulled. Your heart stops for a second, you just know he’s gone, but then the fish turns and swims away and you feel alive again.

The fish took line at will and at a fast pace. Then paused, shook his head as if to say, “NO NO”, and then he was off again. My body almost went completely numb when I saw the flash of gold on the surface. I almost couldn’t hold the rod. The fish stopped in the channel and just hanged there for a couple of seconds before taking me for a brief walk to my left, then he turned and came right. This zig zag swimming continued for a while with me steadily gaining line.

We went into our 15th minute with me, weak in the knees. I didn’t know how much more of this terrible pleasure I could take!  When the golden beauty breached again about twenty meters out, I could see that he was almost done. Just a couple more minutes and meters and he would be mine.

He went for a final short burst, but after that turned sideways and I walked him onto the river bank. What an absolute beauty!

My PB, lovely 12kg fish that gave me some stick!
101cm & +-11kg

Witsand is the place to catch Kob, no doubt about it! I grew up devouring every piece of fishing literature that I could lay my hands on. In those days all we really had was the Stywe Lyne. I couldn’t afford to the magazine, so I used to go down to the local corner cafe and carefully paged through the magazine. I remember standing in awe of all the colourful lures and flashy fishing equipment and thinking it would be nice to own  a couple. It’s probably why today I have so much gear! Shame man, every time I buy a lure I try and fill the hole left by the desire I experienced as a little boy (Somehow the hole never seems to fill up).

The gear was nice, but the fish and fishing pictures was fantastic. Over the years there has been some enormous Kob in the magazine, some were caught in Gouritz, but most were Breede River fish, Witsand fish. Now that we have the internet, and loads of literature (including a wonderful book called “Gooi Los!”), can we actually see the extent of just how many big Kob came out of the Breede River system, its crazy! Can you just imagine the fishing we would have today if only half of the hundred pounders were returned…

Not all is lost though, there is still plenty of Kob in the system. I believe that the new rules and regulations installed the last couple of years will have an positive impact on the Kob population (if enforced). You are not allowed to troll any lure behind your boat (or anything that floats for that matter) anymore and night fishing is also disallowed. On a recent trip to Witsand we got stuck into plenty of juvenile Kob, I’m talking 30cm fish and smaller. Somewhere in the deep dark river there must have been some serious bumping uglies.

I started off fishing the river with only lures but because of my impatient nature I decided to try something else. Throwing lures is fun, but you can only throw so many times without getting stuck into something. I changed tactics and started using live bait. After a couple of frustrating experiences at the river, eventually I got stuck into a fish and have since caught plenty.

Kob spots marked in pink.
Kob spots marked in pink.

All along the river there is a bank followed by a sudden drop off. The bank can be sand or sometimes even rock, or reef, it depends on where on the river you are. With high tide the water push onto the bank where smaller fish like mullet and stumpnose come to feed. With low tide all these small fish is forced from the bank into the deeper channel where the predators lie in anticipation.

IMG_4384
Your lines have to be in the water when the sun rises.

In my opinion the best time of day is early morning and late after noon. The half hour before sunrise and sunset isn’t referred to as, “the  golden hour”, for nothing. In summer this means you have to hit the water not later than 5:00! I know this is very early, but believe me… Early worm catches the bird(or fish)!

Getting livies is easy early morning. Its usually still dark and the fish is close to shore. With a head lamp you can easily spot and throw them. I have experienced that Kob eat any size mullet, from the smallest to the biggest. Just make sure your hook size matches the size of the mullet. A big heavy hook on a small fish will influence his natural swimming ability and the smaller mullet tend to die quickly with the extra weight burden. If you don’t get mullet you can also use other smaller fish like Gorries.

Be ready when the sun starts going down.
Be ready when the sun starts going down.

Because you fish in the river and there isn’t much snags you can afford to go light. Reels in the 4000-5000 range loaded with 10-20lb line and a couple of 9 foot rods will suffice. I usually have 3 rods with me. Two rods loaded with live mullet and an extra rod with a paddle tail or surface plug. Having the extra rod helps to burn a bit of time when you get bored, waiting for a pull. You can also quickly convert the 3rd rod and throw a few prawns to catch Grunter. I once caught 10 different species in a session using this 3 rod tactic.

The first one, after a year of trying.
The first one, after a year of trying.

All reels are filled with 10-14lb braid with a 2-3 meter flouro carbon leader of 20-30lb. I use a sliding sinker trace that is made up of 60cm, 50lb flouro carbon line, snelled onto a circle hook and a 40cm, 20lb sinker line. I prefer using a 2oz bottel sinker because it retrieves easier through the thick water grass, that can sometimes be an issue. It has happened that on a particular day I will get runs but keep on missing the fish. I then revert back to the old two J-hook setup.

Couldn't leave the mullet alone.
Selfie!

You don’t have to cast far. You literally only have to get your mullet into the channel. I will usually wade up onto the edge of the drop off and just flip the livie into the deeper water. All that’s left to do is sit and wait…

On a super windy early September day.
On a super windy early September day.

Of course not only Kob eat livies and you can get some serious by catch. Whilst waiting for Kob we have caught, Garrick, Shad, Blue Rays and Diamond Rays. Believe me when I tell you, hooking into a Diamond is a challenge and a half on a 9 foot rod and 12lb braid. But its still tremendous fun.

Serious by-catch!
Serious by-catch!

That’s it from me. Hope this helps and allow you to get some pulls. Guys please try and return the bigger fish. Its your fish and and your choice and you can do with it what ever you want, I know. But, wouldn’t it be lekker to share the same experiences your having with your youngsters one day?

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7 Comments

  1. pierretheron

    Hi there – dig your stories!

    What is the maximum legal number of rods/lines you are allowed to have in the water please? I see most beach fishermen have 2 in rod holders and alternate checking one then the other…

    Like

  2. Gary Haigh

    Hi Blik,

    Thanx once again for an awesome read, loaded with advice and inspiration. Look forward to another trip up that way and will keep your advice in mind when we get there. Nice catches, that’s always the inspirational part for me, to be blessed with a catch like that someday. Cheers my friend and regards to the family

    Liked by 1 person

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