I can hardly type this morning. My fingers are bruised, scratched, stiff and full of pain. To pick up a page from the printer (that’s about 10 meters away) took me almost five minutes. My back is aching, my shoulders sore and I can’t step onto my left foot because a Breede branch punched a hole in my heel and its a little infected. It hurt like a mother fluffer and I was forced to walk on the toes of my left foot the whole weekend. Of course, now my left calf has gone into a spasm because of the extra tension and I have a limp like the Hunchback of Port Beauford. I reckon this is what being an old man must feel like…
My body might be hurting but my soul is bubbly (read somewhere this week that there is no angry way to say BUBBLY…). You see, my “hurt” is only physical and you know what they say… “Pain is temporary, but memories last forever”! I’ve had the privilege to experience some amasing trips over the last couple of years to Witsand, but I don’t think anything can topple this past weekend. Everything just seemed to come together and it turned out to be a feast of bent rods and screaming reels.
The routine before a weekend on the Breede is always the same. From Monday all weather sites is monitored three times a day and the tide table is checked at least once, daily (as if its going to change). I usually start packing the Tuesday already and my stuff is stacked by Wednesday morning. Ready to roll! From Wednesday old photos starts flying around through WhatsApp, followed by random “ZZZ, ZZZZZ” texts at obscure hours of the morning. By the time it gets to Thursday night, one can hardly sleep. Thursday nights insomnia is countered with recorded episodes of “Jo-Jo-Jo” or Inside Angling. Then while watching this you hit a cold sweat because you forgot to buy some of those “orange” paddle tails.
The Friday morning the WhatsApps start flying again and that orange paddletails are organised chop chop. The day is one serious drag. I can never understand how a day can take sooo long when you have some serious fishing to do. You steal 15 minutes from work to leave early and brake a few speeding records on your way home. Everything is packed hastily and off you go. Grabouw, Caledon, Riviersonderend, Swellendam takes long, but not as looong as that last 37km after the turnoff. When you arrive things are thrown into your fishing cave for the weekend and a rod is grabbed followed by a mad dash to the river…
I don’t give to much thought to fishing conditions. I just don’t have the luxury to go fishing when the conditions are perfect. Unfortunately I have to fish when I have time, like most of us, and that is usually over weekends. I do however have a look at the weather the week prior to a trip to see what conditions to expect. For the past weekend I couldn’t help but notice that the wind was pumping on Friday, but that it would almost completely drop over night towards 5:00 on Saturday morning. Also, the barometer would be climbing from 1008 to 1018 by 19:00 on Saturday evening. From 5:00 to 8:00 alone it would rise by 3 points to 1011. On Sunday overcast conditions was predicted with a bit of rain. When we arrived at the river I also noticed that the river had a darker colour to it, almost as if it had had a mini flood. All of the above positive fishing conditions coincided with Spring tide being only a few days away.
To get livies was a mission. Usually it only takes a few throws and you would have enough mullets to last you a week. Not this weekend it was bloody hard work and every 5 casts would produce 1 small little bait fish. Not even chumming helped!
We decided to put our rods in so long and then we would continue looking for more bait whilst waiting for a bite. From the moment the livies hit the water we couldn’t sit down until well after nine, there wasn’t even time for a fag! At about 14:00 the wind started picking up and we were literally blown off the river at 17:00. By the end of the day we each caught 8 Kob over 50cm with the biggest being a very nice fish of 84,5cm that was returned with a number plate. I also caught two medium sized Grunters. Although we kept some fish we both ran out of tags, something that doesn’t often happen…
On Sunday we followed the same protocol and again struggled to get livies. The Kobbies seemed to be off the bite but the Grunters were loose and we caught a few. We discussed if a Grunter would eat mullet as well. You catch them on “klipvis” (river Goby) and I have heard of his bigger cousin, Steenbras taking live mullet. So, I took my one Grunter rod with a 2’o Mustad demon fine wire sircle on a 12lb hook snood and hooked a really small livie through the top lip and made a short cast to just behind the drop off.
My Stradic 2500 loaded with 6lb Fireline started whispering. By that time we heard the sound so many times that screaming turned to whispering and running turned to walking. In Afrikaans there’s a saying that goes, “As die muis vol is, is die meel bitter”, it basically means that if you are full, food doesn’t taste as good. Or in this case if you already caught so many fish, your not as exited about the next one. I have to admit that I only approached my rod with a hastily limp because of the fear that my gear might get pulled into the water.
You just know when you pick up the rod and the fish continues to run that something better is on the other side. I could feel some more weight as well. After the first run the fish hanged in the channel for a while and gave himself away with amasing head shakes. I couldn’t put too much pressure on him and for the first couple of minutes I let him loose so he can run out all of his fighting spirit. He gave a really lekker fight on the light tackle and gave a couple of nice runs. After about 5 minutes (maybe more) I landed a beautiful 87cm golden Kob. My weekend was already made the previous day, but this stunning fish just made it perfect!
The Breede is a fantastic place to fish and you will always catch something if you are prepared to put some effort in. But, if everything comes together it can rival even the best destinations and you can literally fish till you drop.
Over the weekend we caught 23 Kobbies over 50cm with the biggest being 87cm and 10 Grunters over 40cm with the biggest being 55cm. Just think about that for a second, its insane!