Die oumense het mos geglo visvang op ‘n Sondag is sonde en dat jy niks anders mag doen as kerk toe gaan, eet en slaap op die Sabbat 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 Struisbaai. Since my first visit to Die Plaat about four years ago I have had about twenty trips with mixed success. Some days you are lucky and on others you can can’t buy a bite. I have to say though, I have never driven the road back towards Cape Town without humming a happy song. Leaving, you always feel a little happier than you were the morning before. It’s a magnificent part of the world and only if you are prepared to walk a couple of kilometers will you 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 sea gulls, you feel closer to our Maker than in any religious building. It is Church right there!
I never pray for a fish, especially not on a Sunday. You might already be a sinner just for skipping church and now you are on your way to go and fish and then you still pray for a fish as well… It just doesn’t seem right! Also, doesn’t God have enough prayers to answer already? Its not life threatening if I don’t catch something, its not as if I will die if I 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 hands.
I don’t know if it was the cover version of Bette Midlers “From a Distance” that played on the radio or if it was my desperation to catch something decent after a bad blank spell, but I suddenly felt the urge to pray for a fish. So I did: “Please Lord let me catch something decent today”. A little soft prayer, one of those that you mumble in your head.
We arrived at our spot just after seven and started setting up our tackle. My weapons of choice were a Assasin Beachmaster Medium with a Spheros 10K and a Poseidon HMG Ultra Light with a Stradic 8K. The heavier outfit would be my Steenbras rig 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 frozen blood worm form last year. Since we would be targeting Steenbras we decided to load our hooks with some of the old blackish blood worm.
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 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 just get into the gully.
My line was in the water first, like always, followed by Quinton 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 on 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, Quintie was ecstatic! We were still taking photos when my rod dipped. This was a smaller fish of 60cm but he still 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 nice Steenbras in a row, but would you believe it, a couple of minutes later another fish of 68cm was landed. 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.
The rod must have been in the water for more than half an hour. The current washed my line to the left and with the water drawing back, kept on pulling my rod down to make me ready to run, just to slowly released the tension with the next incoming wave. I decided to leave the rod in for another couple of minutes before I change bait. This turned out to be a great decision because next moment my rod was flat flat flat…
The fish that takes of with a zzz zzz zzz that we all dream of was a reality and I was holding on with delight. 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”!
He continued swimming left with the current and took me for good 500m 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 ten 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. I made sure my drag was loose just in case he decided to go on another run in the knee deep water. Then I slowly started walking backwards with each incoming wave that pushed the Steenie closer and closer to shore.
When the water drew back it 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. Another set of waves came in but luckily Quintie ran 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 more appropriate, Heavenly! We took a couple of photos, I gave him a number plate (tag) and then I ran towards the water to release him. The fish was very tired and I thought that we had lost him. Luckily after a while I saw his gills and pectoral fins 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 its a sin to fish on a Sunday, 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 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.