On any given Sunday

Die oumense het mos geglo, visvang op ‘n Sondag is sonde! Op die sabbat mag jy niks anders doen as kerk toe gaan, eet en slaap nie. Toe sê my pa mos een keer hy gaan darem bitter teleurgesteld wees wanneer hy eendag in die Hemel kom en uitvind dat vis vang op ‘n Sondag nie sonde is nie. Ek het net daar besluit ek vat nie kanse nie…

I got picked up at 4:15 and after a quick coffee and some tactical talk we were off to De Mond. Since my first visit about four years ago I have had about twenty trips with mixed success. Some days you are lucky and on others you can’t buy a bite. I have to say though that I have never driven the road back to Cape Town without humming a happy song about Heuningnes. Leaving the Overberg you always feel a little happier than you were earlier the morning. It’s a magnificent part of the world and if you are prepared to walk just a couple of kilometres you can be lucky enough to experience it. When you stand on a deserted beach with the sun about to rise and all you see is ocean, sand dunes and waves you most certainly feel closer to our Maker than in any religious building. It is Church right there!

After a walk of about 2,5 km we got to a spot that had a sandbank in front of us with a nice gully at the back. The water was coldish and didn’t have much colour so the prospects didn’t look great. But we were there and all we could do was to make sure that we get a line in the water. It was low tide and the water seemed to be pushing already since there was regular waves running over the bank. This meant that we had to wade up to the crown jewels to get our baits into the gully. We started to set up our tackle.

My weapons of choice were a Assassin Beachmaster Medium with a Spheros 10 000 and a Poseidon HMG Ultra Light with a Stradic 8 000. The heavier outfit would be my Steenbras stick and with the light outfit I would target Galjoen and other smaller edibles. We had a good selection of bait, wonder worm, mussel, prawn, tjokka and some old frozen blood worm form the previous season. Since we would be targeting Steenbras we decided to load our heavier outfits with some of the old blackish blood worm.

My line was in the water first, like always, followed by Quinton’s a couple of minutes later. We started walking back to our bags to bait our lighter sticks when all of a sudden I saw Quintie doing a mad dash towards his rod. Line was peeling of his reel and his rod was bent almost horizontally. At first he thought he was in with some sort of shark because the fish didn’t have much kick. But after a couple of minutes we saw a flash in the water from a fish with vertical stripes. I ran forward and grabbed a nice Steenbras of 72cm by the gill plate. First cast first fish, Quintie was ecstatic! We were still taking photos when my rod dipped. This was a smaller fish of 60cm but he at least he also managed to make my reel scream for a few seconds.

On Quinton’s second cast he was in again. This was ridiculous! We never catch two or three nice Steenbras in a row. Would you believe it, a couple of minutes later another fish of 68cm was flapping on the side. We couldn’t believe that the fish was taking our old bait, they must have been really hungry. My second cast didn’t produce anything so I rebaited and made my third.

Usually, I never pray for a fish! You might already be a sinning just for skipping church and now you are praying for as fish, on a Sunday… It just doesn’t seem right! Also, doesn’t God have enough prayers to answer already? Its not life threatening if you don’t catch anything. Its not as if you will die if you don’t have something to post on Facebook. No, ill rather give up my selfish fish-prayer spot for someone that really needs it and spend my time praising and saying thanks for the privilege of being able to have a rod in my hand.

I don’t know if it was the cover version of Bette Midlers “From a Distance” that played on the radio that morning or if it was just my desperation to catch something decent after a very bad blanking spell, but I suddenly felt the urge to pray for a fish. “Please Lord let me catch something decent today”, it was little soft prayer, one of those that you mumble in your head. Then I just said thanks for being strong enough to be able to walk to this amazing place.

My rod must have been in the water for more than an hour. The current washed my line to the left and every time the water drew back it kept on pulling my rod down, making me ready to run, just to slowly release the tension with the next incoming wave. I decided to leave the rod in for another couple of minutes before I changed my bait. This turned out to be a great decision because next moment my rod was flat flat flat!!!

The fish took off with a enormous roar of zzz zzz zzz! The fish of dreams could be a reality in the making and I was holding on with pure delight. By the way it took line it certainly seemed to be something special. Line was peeling of my reel and the first run must have been at least 100 meters or so. He then stopped for a brief couple of seconds before going on another run. Wow, this was a heavy fish and he had some fight in him. My soft prayer of earlier turned into a loud “asb liewe Jesus laat hy aan bly, moenie dat ek hom verloor nie, asseblief Jirre”!

He continued swimming left with the current and took me for good 400m walk down the beach. I gained some line but would then give it up again as the fish used the current to his full advantage. Luckily he started tiring and I gained more and more line on him. It must have been a good fifteen or so minute fight when I first saw the fish. I had no idea of the size but could see that it was a Steenie from the dorsal fin and tail breaking water. I made sure my drag was loose enough just in case he decided to go on another run in the shallow water. Then I slowly started walking backwards with each incoming wave that pushed the Steenie closer and closer to shore.

Eventually the last bit of water drew back and left a silver slab of happiness on the wet sand. I was standing way back on a sand dune and could only see a silver fish flapping on the side and had no idea of the size. Another set of waves came in but luckily Quintie ran in and grabbed him by the gill plate and dragged him to “safety”. My prayers were answered! There is no words and a photo certainly doesn’t give justification to the beauty of such a fish! Pretty and beautiful just doesn’t cut it, majestic, magical or maybe even more appropriate… Heavenly! We took a couple of quick photos. I gave him a number plate (tag) and then ran towards the water to release him. The fish was very tired and I thought that we had lost him but luckily after a while I saw his gills and pectoral fin flaring and I knew he was ready to go. He gave a strong kick and swam off strongly!

On any given Sunday, anything can happen! All you need to do is make sure you are at the sea and that you have a line in the water (I’m not saying go fish on a Sunday, don’t put that on me!). I don’t know if it’s a sin to fish on a Sunday or not, but I can tell you one thing, I haven’t felt as rested and more ready for life as I feel right now. “Thank you Lord for the health and strength and privilege to be able to fish and thank you for allowing me the experience to catch one of your greatest creations, Amen”.

 

The fish measured 99cm total length and weighed in the region of 15kg. It’s a new personal best, bettering my previous best with 7cm. It’s also the biggest fish I’ve caught from land.

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14 thoughts on “On any given Sunday

  1. Hi Blik,

    Thanks for another great read and well done on tagging such a beautiful fish. How did it compare in size and fight to the beast of a steenie you caught in witsand a while back?

    I’ve never caught a big steenie and would love to try, but wondering if you need such heavy tackle or would a 5000 size reel be able to cope?

    Like

    1. Howzit Gareth! A 5000 Shimmy will get the job done, the problem however is distance and line capacity. You wade for 50-80m and then need to cast another 100m to make it to a sand bank or gully and then you walk back to your rod stand. It could mean 200 plus meters off your reel. Then if a big fish picks you up you could run out of line… You just dont get the distance required with the lighter shorter rods as well. Having said that, there are times when you dont have to cast that far and then a lighter setup will work.

      Like

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