My dad, my uncle and a friend were off at 4:30 towards Struisbaai! The excitement was immense. A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to get stuck into a proper Steamtrain and since my companions wanted one as well I was selected as the designated guide for the day.
On our way we reminisced about days gone by. My grandparents had a farm in Vryburg called Leeurand. To my grandmothers disgust we used to catch her beloved goldfish with a piece of thread, bent over pins (koppie spelde) and earthworms. In between we caught plantannas (a flat frog) and even turtles, where they came from is still beyond me. Luckily they were all returned unharmed, apart from the odd scar or two. This one red goldie lost an eye and became known as old cyclops. Grandma never found out it was us, and went to her grave blaming the “Blou Reier” (blue herron).
We were greeted with one of the most beautiful sunrises I have seen in some time. As fishermen we are privileged enough to see the odd sunrise from time to time. It never gets old, the purple sky that turns into brilliant oranges and reds and then into bright blue, as night becomes day. All of this while you stand with your rod in your hands and the only thing you can hear is waves breaking.
We probably started fishing at eight and low tide was at ten which was perfect. We believe that the two hours before and after low is the best time to catch the Steenies. Some guys also like low tide because this gives them the opportunity to wade a little and then be able to reach the far out sand banks at the back. We have actually had most of our success fishing right behind the drop off. It’s true that you need a long cast sometimes, but we have caught fish no more than 30 meters out on low tide. You just need to be behind the drop off.
Nothing happened for the first couple of hours and my dad predicted that the fish will come on the bite at 12. Would you believe it, just after noon his prediction came true an I caught the first fish. My rod had a slight bump followed by a light pull down. I picked up the rod and quickly reeled in a beautiful and healthy looking Steenie. The fish of about 50cm posed for a quick selfie before he was released.
It wasn’t long before I was in again. He gave a good account of himself and after a brief fight I landed another little one that must have been from the same school as the first fish. The fish was on the bite and every one was on high alert. At any moment their rods could be pulled down. Maybe another half an hour and my uncles rod dipped. He was in with something and while I was concentrating on helping him my dad shouted that my rod was on its way to the south pole.
A mad dash towards my rod followed! As I picked up my rod my reel was screaming and I knew this was a bigger fish. I gave a load “whooohooo” to the tune of “zzz zzzzzzz”! If you have had one on you will know, its pure pleasure. With each surge forward the rod tip buckles and the reel screams, then the fish slacks off a bit, for a second, and then goes into another gear, running off even more line.
My buddy came over and quickly took my other rod out to my left because the fish was swimming in that direction. It’s always better to have as little obstructions as possible. I couldn’t believe I was in again with something that could be a Steenbras… You never know! To my right I saw my uncle landing another Banjo (lesser sand shark). I was really hoping he would get stuck into one of these striped wonders.
The fish went on two big runs but after that he came easily. I didn’t struggle to get him over the drop off but it was as if the shallower water made him mad. I tried to pull him slowly with the incoming rolling waves but he countered with speedy left and right zig zags. It’s impressive to see a fish squirting water in all directions as he runs for his life in the shallows, but also nerve racking. You know he can pull the hook at any stage. Luckily for me, it was my day and I was about to hug and kiss a Pignose Grunter. It’s true love, I tell you!
Unfortunately the fish was badly hooked and couldn’t be revived. Although sad, this meant that we had some fresh fish for the evenings braai…
On our way back I was jokingly interrogated by my companions: “How was it possible that you caught three fish and we only got Banjos?” I would like to think it is skill, but the brutal truth is, it’s pure luck. We used the exact same bait and threw in the same place at the same time. It just seemed to be my day. Of course I answered that it was probably because I had to work so hard all day to keep them happy…
At home we lit a fire, had a few cold ones and braaied some Steenbras.
It was a day of family, friends, fishing and food.
a perfect day