I planned a big fishing holiday. It would start with the December Iron Ore Competition in Saldanha. Then, throughout the holiday I would target Stumpnose in Saldanha from the Peperbaai harbour wall, Elf in Langebaan and Kob and Leeries in the Berg river. Some evenings and early mornings I would even see if I could get stuck into some Kobbies at Jacobsbaai. If I had time left I would drive up to Die Lapa at Dwarskersbos and try to get some of those flat fish on light tackle.
In the end, for the whole holiday I spend a total of 6 hours next to the water fishing. In no particular order, beer, braai, family & friends, krismis lunch, trifle and afternoon naps all seemed to interfere with my plans and I succumbed to all the pressure!
The December Iron Ore Comp was on the first Saturday of my holiday. In December 2014 I took some shots when a fellow angler gave me a proper hiding with live mullet. On that particular day I was throwing all the lures I had but only managed to get big fish following my lures and then turning away at my feet. It was a very frustrating experience. This time however I was prepared and wasn’t going to be outdone!
I was awake by 2:00 and at the water by 2:30. With my first throw I had a net full of live mullet and was off to the gate to register. I couldn’t wait to get stuck into a Shad or a Leerie and in my mind I was already standing with a bent rod and a screaming reel. We were allowed entrance just before 6:00 and I was off to my favourite spot, the inside of “Die Dam”. I hooked a livie through the top lip and flipped him into the water. I took a wide legged stance and prepared myself because the water would explode as a predator hit my bait, any second now…
Two hours later and nothing! It was strange, conditions seemed perfect but no fish was hungry enough to have a nibble, that’s fishing for you. I later moved to another spot to see if I couldn’t maybe get a Steenbras or a Stumpnose, it was a Stumpnose competition after all. So I changed one rod and baited up with prawn but persisted with a livie on the other rod.
No one was catching fish. Apart from the odd lonesome Stumpnose and Das nothing was going on. I reeled in the prawn just to see it was still untouched. I considered quieting and going home when my livie rod bent over. The fish was strong and gave me a proper pull. He took some line and then swerved back quickly with superior speed. I was convinced that it was a Leerie just because of the speed the fish had. To my surprise it turned out to be a 141cm Smooth Hound. Not my target species but at least I had some action. I re(live)baited and dropped the mullet not more that 10 meters from the side.
As I walked back I heard my reel screaming again. From the moment I picked up the Penn Regiment 10ft I knew this fish was bigger and I was in for a serious tug. He must have ran at least 100m off my Stradic 5000 FK when I decided to start running after him as well. I was afraid I might get spooled. The Regiment & Stradic is my new setup and I couldn’t have asked for a better fish to test it to its limit.
I had an idea that this might be another Smoothie so I tightened the drag further and hoped that my leader knot stayed intact. The drag didn’t bother this baby one bit and she just ran even harder. There is no better feeling, that feeling when “something” starts running and you think it should be tiring and then it goes into another gear and line starts peeling even faster. All I could do was give a nervous giggle.
It took me at least 15 minutes before I could confirm my suspicions. The fish just showed itself for a brief second before taking line again. She got close and tried to cut me off on the numerous oyster beds that sits right at drop off. I had to go and stand right on top of one of these beds just to have enough height on the fish. I thought I had her won more than a dozen times but every time she just took of again. I don’t target sharks at all and I don’t have any experience catching them, but this thing was just unbelievable. The fight can probably best be summed up as, majestic brutality. I have read that Smoothies are pound for pound one of the best fighters you get. Well, I can now confirm that it’s true!
Probably 20-25 minutes later a fellow fisherman grabbed her and picked her up before passing her on to me. Picking up is one thing but holding on is a total different thing. They spin and try and wriggle their way out of your grip and believe me they are strong. I got Smoothie rash on both arms and legs. I carried her to the bakkie to measure, don’t know if I was just tired but wow she felt really heavy. She measured 172cm. What a fantastic fight and fantastic fish! After a quick pic she was tagged and released her back into the lagoon.
(When taking photos I picked up the fish by the tail. I was advised that this could hurt them and that it is better to rather offer some support in the middle so all the weights isn’t on one point. Luckily both fish swam away strong.)