Fishing here is hard. Getting to the spots needs a combination of mountaineering skills and pack-horse stamina. Landing a good size fish off these rocks can be very difficult as well. Many fisherman have injured themselves, or worse, trying to get a large Kob or shark out of the water, or just trying to free line and tackle caught up in the rocks.
Most of the local fishermen (and women) that fish this stretch of coast have had some sort of injury on the rocks here. It’s usually our own fault. Not looking where we step results in a slip, Packing too much down the cliffs in one load without at least one free hand (Remember guys, you always need a free hand to land on – landing on your fishing rod can spell the end of the session for the day)
Weather this morning (03hoo): cool and cloudy with a fresh breeze blowing. With wind from the East, the sea unsettled and a bit dirty. Ideal Kob conditions perhaps. Getting to the rocks in the dark is always harder than in daylight, but wait until sunrise, you may as well stay in bed. But with the aid of a good headlamp, I got there – 3 Rods, enough bait for the day, refreshments and the inevitable tackle bag loaded down with heavy sinkers. (talk about a pack-horse – a donkey or a mule would come in mighty useful here).
Looking at the sea, a Kob (Kabeljou) was definitely on the cards, so with that in mind the first order of the very early morning was to get some live baits, which proved a bit of a challenge. Eventually I hooked a Streepie (or Karanteen). Leaving it to rest in a clean tidal pool, I dropped a 9oz grapnel sinker in a likely looking hole, and allowed the thing with its wire anchors to settle while a slide trace was prepared, and a second coffee drank to warm the body.
Then the Streepie was hooked up, and released on a slide – I could more than likely have throw-cast the bait as the hole was not too far out, but I really like using slide tackle; live baits last longer, no doubt because they suffer much less trauma from not being hurled through the air. And if the sinker lands not exactly where you want it, recovering it and relocation is just a lot easier (and no damage to the bait).
With all the rocks around one might think a slide is more likely to get caught up on its way out, but the trick is to get up high as soon as releasing the slide. That way the angle is much steeper, and keeps the line away from the rocks.
So bait out, rod firmly placed in among the rocks, and attention turned to getting more live baits. Another couple of Streepies in the pool, and check the live bait – all fine; still alive.
Time to relax and grab a snack. And inevitably that’s when the live bait starts getting agitated. So grab the rod, and gently unlock the spool, tighten the drag, all the while keeping thumb control on the line. Surely enough, the bait got taken. No sudden rush, just the feel of a fish slowly moving off with its meal in its mouth. Keeping very light pressure on the reel, let the fish take line. Then it started moving off with more intent and I knew the bait had been swallowed. Set the drag, let the line tighten up. Hook set.
I have recently started using Circle Hooks more often. These require a different style of fishing which takes some getting used to. The thing is not to strike, but to tighten up and let the hook set itself. The big advantage with Circle Hooks is minimum damage to a fish, so the fish has a better chance of surviving if released. Even when the fish swallows the bait, a Circle Hook will nearly always set in the corner of the jaw. When I started using these eco-friendly hooks, I lost a lot of fish because I was instinctively striking, but eventually got used to the idea of letting the hook set itself, and now hook ups are nearly as often as with normal old type straight hooks. It just requires more patience.
Reward: a small dusky Kob of about 80cm, Over the legal limit, and a nice size for eating (the big ones are not so good, the flesh gets coarse and lacks flavour). The wife will turn this into pickled fish, oh yeah, nice. For those who don’t know our local species, here’s a photo (courtesy of Fisherman Mike).
This one is a real beauty, Mike informs it weighed 32Kg after cleaning, and was caught at Cape St Francis (where we are going to be this weekend).
Thanks old chap for permitting all fishermen to use your fishing pics – ‘stywe lyne!’
So that was the one permitted Kob for the day. So instead I changed tactics and put out a large bait – half a small yellowtail on the slide.
Dawn has broken, although the sun is not yet up. Too overcast to see it anyway.
Leave the big bait out, and prepare a rod for an elf or 2.