We have all heard the legendary stories of the “Rietbul” (Afrikaans name for a really big Kob). The epic, almost mysterious tales of the monster Breede River Kob is the stuff of legends. Stories of hundred pounders tickles the fancy and is told next to camp fires, braais and in small coastal town bars. Of course the longer into the night, the later it gets, and the bigger the fish tends to become, but that’s all part of the legend. We’ve seen the old black & white pictures and we’ve all thought, one day, maybe!
I have heard the stories, I have read the stories and I have dreamed of big Kob for years. So when I got invited to go fish the Breede on a boat a couple of weeks ago, I jumped on the opportunity with both hands, arms and legs. Before this past weekend I have never been on the river and venturing upstream is something that I have always hoped to do, because that is where the “rietbulle” go the graze.
Saturday morning we were up and running at 4:00. The boat hit the water by 4:45 and after a little struggle we got a few livies and took the cruise up to the fishing spot. The fishing was amazing, we had our quota by 6:00. The kob were going crazy and since we started running out of livies I decided to gooi the biggest harder we had over board.
I gently hooked him through the top lip with an 8’0 Gamakatsu circle on a 60cm, .55mm flouro carbon hook trace. This is tied to a single power swivel followed by a soft glow bead, a 1oz ball sinker and another soft glow beat. My weapon of choice was a Shimano Vengeance 8ft rod with a Stradic 4000 loaded with 14lb Fireline and a 6 meter 30lb flouro carbon leader. I always use a bimini twist on the braid and then join the leader and braid with a 5x figure of eight on the braid and a 3x figure of eight on the flouro. I couldn’t cast the heavy load with my “light” tackle, so I just sort of flipped the mullet over the back of the boat. Then I let a couple of meters of line out and I put the rod in the holder.
River boat fishing is awesome! You sit and fish, and can even have a kip if you feel like it. I was a little tired from the previous evenings 2 hours sleep, but I resisted the cabin all day long. I wanted to take in as much as I could, you never know when an opportunity like this may come along again. You can even have a sarmie, or braaivleis and drink a beer. Not that we did, I’m just saying, if you would like to live dangerously, you could! (it’s not allowed on the river)
My rod went down and almost folded double as the fish suddenly swam off to the bottom right. I almost choked on a braaibrootjie when I picked up the rod and felt it, it was really heavy. At first the fish just swam to the right and sort of hanged in the deeper current. I said to the guys I don’t think he knows that he’s hooked because he didn’t seem to be bothered. He was calm for something with a hook in the mouth, that’s for sure. My words wasn’t cold when the head shakes appeared. Then line started peeling off my reel at a rate of knots, fast and ferocious doesn’t cover it.
My yellow backing braid appeared in no time. Because the Shimano reels doesn’t have fantastic line capacity I use +-100 meters of Fireline with 15lb Gator braid as backing. I join the two different braids with a bimini twist on each and then tie them together with a cats paw. I trust my knots, but somehow I always get a little nervous when a reel goes into backing. By this time all the other lines was out out of the water and my fellow fishermen had become spectators, and commentators. Comments like “oppas vir die haai” and “gee die stok jy lyk moeg” didn’t go down well!
The fish felt really heavy. I don’t have anything to compare it with since I’ve never hooked into a fish of this proportions. I have hooked and landed Diamond rays in Skuitbaai of 30kg and this felt something like that. I knew this fish was something that will take everything I had and would test my tackle to the maximum. Isn’t this what we all dream about? What’s the point of using oversized tackle just to pull a fish into the boat within a couple of minutes? I tried to tap into every second of fighting experience I had and hoped and prayed that everything would stay in tact..
Five minutes into fight, I gradually started gaining line and I felt a little better when the Fireline started spinning back onto my reel. Then a couple of head shakes followed by a little pause and then he was off again. He would start running, then go into another gear and then some more, faster and faster the further away from me he got. It was insane! All I could do was giggle because I realized I came to a gunfight with my pocket knife.
With the clock ticking the tenth minute the fish was under the boat. Not because I reeled him in, but because he decided to swim towards us. Now the anchor rope came into play and with the tension on my braid I tried to avoid it with all I had. Luckily the fish stormed off to deeper water and away from the obstacle. Another small little victory.
Fifteen minutes into the fight he was about twenty meters out and I could see my leader knot appearing above the brown water. Visibility was no more than 20cm and you had to get the fish right to the top to actually see what it was. The glimpse of the leader knot was short lived as the fish decided its time for another sprint.
We started talking of lifting the anchor and driving until on top of the fish so we can see if we could land it quicker. The longer he stayed in the water the more things could go wrong. But every time we wanted to go after him he decided too come to us. I must have slow pumped and reeled a thousand times during the fight. Every time we got him to the boat I was convinced we had him won, but he just seemed to get stronger.
Twenty had passed and he was next to the boat again. This time I actually got the leader knot to the tip of my rod before he stormed off on another run. By this time I started doubting whether it was a fish at all. From what I have read Kob isn’t suppose to go on so many runs. They usually tire after the second or third run, and then they come easily. Not this fish though, he was feisty! It made me think that this could be a Diamond ray or maybe a Smooth Hound. I’ve caught them in the river before and they fight like this, they just don’t give up. Then those determined shakes of the head came through and I was convinced again, it’s a Kob.
Twenty five minutes later I was feeling more optimistic. Although keeping deep, the fish was right next to the boat and I even had some leader line on the reel, which meant he couldn’t be more than 6 feet away from surfacing. Next moment this enormous golden flash appeared next to the boat (I literally just got goosebumps again as I’m typing this). It was definitely a fish and in the murky water you could just see the outlines of an enormous golden Kob. The thing was gigantic, huge, humongous! We all just laughed at the sight of the fish.
Then, he was off again, unbelievable! Probably the sixth of seventh run. I knew I just had to keep patient. Do what I do, wait till the run stops, then gently start pumping the rod and reeling in without making my line slack. I was incredibly calm considering the magnitude of the situation. I’m like that, quick to shout and scream, but in really tough situations I turn completely quiet and calm to have the ability to think straight.
Thirty minutes later and almost all my line was on my reel, including my leader. I kept the tension on and the fish started lifting slowly. Next thing, the glow beads, ball sinker and swivel appeared above the water. This was followed by the huge golden kob flash again. He was so close I could almost smell him and was just about touch him. I reeled in the slack line for one more slow pump and then…
My rod jerked back and he was gone! It was that sudden.
All I could do was utter a very loud pirate AARRRGGGHHH!!! As the fish sunk below visibility I just fell back into the boat. My eyes welled up with tears and I almost cried (I said almost, I don cry easily, only at the end of The Notebook, the first seven times I watched it). I still don’t really have words to describe how I feel. Since Saturday I played the whole scene over and over in my head, and I still don’t know what we could have done better. Sometimes they just don’t have your name on them…
Golden Kob 1 vs Blikkies Gerber 0 – One battle lost but the war now, has only begun! TBC… Soon!
I don’t have a clue what he could have have weighed. I reckon in the region of 30kg+, maybe more. In the photo below he is about 10 meters from the boat, it is also difficult to judge since their is nothing to compare it against. Overall the fishing over the weekend was great. If only I could land that beast it would have been FANTASTIC!
Saterday: 10 Kob landed, 3 kept, 4 tagged
Sunday: 15 Kob landed, 3 kept, 6 tagged