We haven’t been to De Mond in ages I said to my fishing partner while we reeled in our last unsuccessful cast for the morning. And you know THERE is always something happening, I added. We were taking off our reels when we decided that if the weather holds and the conditions just somehow resemble anything fishable that that would be our mission for the coming weekend.
Blanking (the fisherman’s term for catching nothing) is an ugly thing! It sneaks up on you. First you catch nothing, then again, and again and before you know it you’re considering rather staying home and watching the Bulls playing the Sunwolwes… Net ‘n grappie julle! No but seriously though, fishing has a lot to do with confidence, and with anything in life if your low on confidence you’re low on success. If there’s one place to regain some self believe it’s the Overberg and more particularly Struisbaai.
All week, every day we were on all the weather apps. Personally I don’t pay too much attention on conditions, I really don’t. As long as its fishable, I’m keen. Of course I know if the South Easter has been pumping for a few days, you have to be at the water the day it starts to drop off. Then again it doesn’t help if you don’t know exactly where South-East is… I know the sun comes up in the East and sets in the West, that’s about it.
The weather looked ok, the swell wasn’t too high and it looked like we would be able to make a cast. Bait was sorted and consisted of bloodworm and prawn as well as some wonder worm for those mother Gallies that frequent the sand banks. During the week reports started rolling in of the odd Kobbie making a showing so de decided to pack a tjokka tube as well, just in case.
Now we always say that you don’t catch fish in picnic weather and that was exactly what we got. A stunning bright morning that was slightly overcast and no wind what so ever. When we came over the last sand dune I had to pinch myself not to think I’m on some tropical island. The water was that clear, gin is an understatement! What can you do? We just drove for two hours then walked through thick sand for another thirty odd minutes to be met by the main beach in Mauritius. The only thing missing was the topless babes in bikinis.
On the Plaat there’s no structure where fish can hide, so we looked for white water. A nice working sandbank. The sea was flat and there was a deep gully running parallel with the beach. Here and there some sand would kick up now and again with a bit of white foam for a second before it vanished into bright turquoise again. I saw a spot that looked as if it had more working water than the rest of the stretched out beach and decided to get a bait in the water ASAP.
I made my first cast with a juicy bloodworm dangling at the end toward the only piece of working water I could identify. On my other rod I had a wonder worm and prawn combo. After about an hour of nothing happening my partner decided to walk about four hundred meters to my left to see if he wouldn’t have more luck. Sometimes it helps to move around a bit, just a couple of meters left or right can make all the difference.
My blood worm rod was in for about two hours. It was dead quiet and I was thinking of moving. Then it happened! My rod jerked forward and bent my sand spike almost at an 45 degree angle. I ran forward and took the rod out of the stand. As soon as I had the rod in my hands I knew this was it. This was the fish I was rolling around about at the late lonely hours of night.
He came a bit and then the Shimano made that familiar choo-choo sound as line was peeling off. To get the fish out of the gully and onto the sand bank was a bit of a struggle. I was using a new grapnel sinker and the wires refused to clip over which meant it got stuck the whole time during the fight. After a few heart stopping moments he was in the shallows and soon enough on dry land. The fight was over and I ran forward to pick him up. But, Steenbras never give up…
As I was about to grab him on the gill plate and drag him to safety, a small little ankle deep wave came rolling in. The wave pushed the fish out of my hand, I panicked, grabbed at it again and missed. This was just what he needed and, on his side basically shoot around my legs and into deeper water. At that stage I looked like a contortionist on Britians Got Talent. I was bending in ways that is inexplicable trying to grab the fish, but he was gone! I threw my rod down in disgust and in a last gasp effort pulled on my my slacked line.
Would you believe it the slack picked up and a new fight started with me hand lining the fish to shore. This time I didn’t take any chances and I dived on top of him and secured him with both hands before carrying him baby-cradle-like to dry sand. With shaking hands I put him down and just stared in awe at the absolute beauty of this 85cm silver magic! The adrenaline was still pumping and I had to double clutch two fags in succession to calm down.
My partner didn’t have any luck and decided to come rub off on some of mine. He set up a couple of meters to my right, made a delicious tjokka pilchard combo and made his cast towards a nice working bank. I didn’t see the fish take, nor did I see the fight. But all of a sudden when I looked to my right there was another fish flapping on the side, a beautiful winter Kobbie.
With the tide going out there was some of the sand banks further to our right that started working nicely and we decided to see if there wasn’t something that’s hungry. I persisted with the bream baits whilst my buddy decided to throw a tjokka bait for the predators. It wasn’t long and he was in with a Elf (Shad). We were both surprised. We’ve heard of the odd Shad coming out on the Plaat from time to time but it wasn’t something we thought we would catch.
I persisted with my worm baits. But then another Elf was on the side, and then another. I couldn’t help myself and quickly changed the wonder worm rod to a tjokka rod. With my first cast I got a proper pull and striked, but nothing. I couldn’t believe that I missed. Apon reeling in I noticed that my hook was gone. Something had bitten right through my hook snoot. Shad are toothy critters and without steel or long shank hooks you’re lucky at best if you land one. Especially the bigger fish, they have no respect for the cotton thread fishermen use to tie their hooks on with.
I tied a new hook onto the thickest line I had in my fishing bag. At that stage my buddy had caught five Eleven already. The fish was biting and I felt like an amateur trying to land one. I made another cast and again got a proper pull. But this fish was not fooling around, he bit off both my hook and sinker line. Imagine that!
I started again, new terminal tackle, new bait… no bite! The school was gone and the fish was off the bite, WTF! Now that I was eventually ready to roll, I had nothing to roll with. Luckily though it didn’t take long for them to return and eventually I was lucky enough to land one. I got a proper hiding with the Shad and my , but with each failure I learned a little more. You never know when your experience and new knowledge might come in handy.
After my Shad-whispering buddy caught his sixth fish we decided to call it a day. It was getting late and we had to take on the long walk to the car and then the two hour drive home. Time flies when your having fun.
A day that started out slow, ended with a “Steamtrain to Seven Eleven”! (drum roll please…)
Saturday 21 July 2018