I don’t remember my first fish. It’s probably because I caught it before I could start to remember anything. I do however remember my first Shad very well.
Myself and the old man was fishing on the Wilderness side of the Kaaimans river mouth. There wasn’t much happening but eventually I had a little tug on my line and managed to catch a small “mal Elfie”. When I tried to unhook it my dad warned me with, “pasop daai ding byt”. Of course I didn’t believe him, what does he know anyway?
I continued on my own and all of a sudden the little fishy snapped and bit me. Blood streamed from my index finger as tears started flowing from my eyes. To this day my dad tells the story with a poet’s flair. I walked up to him held my finger out and said, “pappa was reg, die ding byt…”
After the success from the previous weekend we were on a high. Conditions again looked like we would be able to make a few casts. The week dragged on and we tried to concentrate on our daily routines of work and family life.
“They” say that men think of sex every five minutes. Well, let me tell you “they” didn’t come past me when they compiled the stats because all I can think of is fishing, and this particular week all I could think of was Shadding (…not Shagging… for those that didn’t get it ;)). How to outfox (or out-tailor) them. What bait, tjokka or sard? What trace, with or without steel? Should I use flotation, inside or outside the bait? How big was the fish that bit me off the previous weekend? Will the weather hold? …By Wednesday I was so worked up, I had to have two doubles just to fall asleep.
Saturday was another stunning wind still day. The swell was up a bit from the previous Saturday which meant there was much more working water around. The best looking spot was about 500 meters to our right. There seemed to be white water all the time and the foam stayed constant which meant more hiding, or hunting place, depending your size.
I made my first cast with a nice fresh pilchard tail. As I was walking back I felt a bump on my rod but thought it was my imagination. Then again and then it was quiet. After a minute or so I reeled in and saw all that all my bait was stripped from the hook, not even a piece of bait cotton was left. I rebaited with pilchard and made my second cast.
Last week I learned something. I always say it doesn’t matter if you blank or struggle to get a hookup, as long as you walk away with something learned. My fishing buddy showed me that if you feel that first nibble from an Elf, you should start reeling in slowly. This really irritates the Shad and almost always they will ferociously grab your bait and swim away. Most times it’s not even necessary to strike.
I proceeded to use this technique and my second cast produced the first fish of the morning. My third cast the second and my fourth, the third. The previous weekends roles were reversed. Now it was my teacher that was having the shakes and struggling to get a bait into the water. By the time I had caught 5 he was still in the “bush” (in die bos), scratching in his box.
I missed the first one but after that I made seven casts and caught seven fish in a row! By this time D had also started to climb into the fish. We were enjoying a Shad smash in Steenbrasville. The fish were all in the 1,5 to 2 kg size and every now and again there were signs of other bigger things lurking in the white foam.
I hooked into a fish that felt heavy. He turned sideways in the current and then started giving me Kob-like head shakes. This got me really exited… But, unfortunately I can’t tell you more because the hooks pulled. To make matters worse it was my last piece of pilchard so I couldn’t even rebait in the hope that he would come past again. Earlier the morning I only packed 5 Pillies for the day…
The tjokka didn’t get much attention, but now and again a Shad would take it as well. My partner had one Pilchard left. He had a proper pull and when he reeled in his hook was gone again. All day he was fishing without steel, only with a long shank hook and shared with me that this was the fourth or fifth time he’d lost tackle. I offered him one of my made up bite traces. He accepted and made his last cast, with pilchard that is.
I heard a loud scream! It sounded exciting but also kind of panicky at once. When I looked around I saw Dmitri shuffling towards the sea. His rod was bending like crazy and he held on for life to something big. This fish put up an amazing fight and the way the rod tip move forward and backward every time he set off on a short dash will be printed in my mind for ever. It was a sight to behold.
At first we thought it was a Kob. The head nods combined with the size of the shine in the waves made us believers as well. But it turned out to be an Elf, a proper “blou elf” (the name they give to the big ones). Photo’s actually doesn’t do the fish justice. He was a lot bigger than it looks in the photo below and made our other “big” fish look really small. He measured a total of 75cm and is a new personal best for Dmitri. Usually we would let a fish of this size go, but unfortunately this bugger had swallowed the hook and was bleeding badly from the gills.
It was another crazy amazing day. When we set out we were hoping for something close to the previous weekend but in the end we got so much more. We caught seventeen Eleven and a Twelve!!!
Saturday, 28 July 2018