Deep water is only a short cast from the rocks when fishing Mazeppa Bay in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. Whether an angler is looking for large sharks and rays, or a deep water edible species, Mazeppa Bay can be very productive at times.
Fishing Mazeppa – Day 2
Day two at Mazeppa began with a nice early start – the wind had changed direction to North East during the afternoon of day one, becoming so severe by late afternoon we decided to break from fishing and do some sightseeing instead. By 2.30 AM no-one had much interest in sleeping any longer. During the night the wind had dropped off completely, so off we headed to the ledges, determined to get baits in the water as soon as possible.
Over the suspension bridge to the Island with tackle packs and a full set of rods; Today I intended to catch something… Jen started looking for live-bats while I prepared the heavy tackle with 9oz grapnel sinkers and set the lines in deep water ready for slide baits to be attached and worked out, then started rigging a yellowtail head with a 14/o circle hook and nylon coated multi-strand wire.
In the meantime Jen had caught a couple of pinkys – too small for the big fish we were looking for, but kept in a 20l plastic container with air-pump ready for first light and an edible or two.
I had barely worked the slide out when it got picked up. Letting the fish swim off with the bait, then tightening up and holding on for the circle hook to do its thing. The previous day I had discussed landing large fish from the island with some local fishermen. Their recommendation is to work the fish into the bay, then get to the beach to bring it to land. Easier said than done in the dark, at half-tide. Unfortunately (or fortunately perhaps) this was no monster, just a small grey shark around 20kgs, which I managed to steer into a gully on the right (bay-side) of the rocks, where in the shelter I could release it while Jen held the rod.
Success and time for some refreshment. The first sign of dawn was visible on the horizon, so another slide bait was shaken out. This must be a strange sight to those who have never seen an angler working slide tackle – rod held high and shaken vigorously to get the non-return clip to the end of the line. Rods in holders and on to preparing lighter tackle for an edible.
Fish on!!! A good hard pull heralded the first edible of the day. My cocktail of squid, crayfish and a strip of elf flesh got eaten by a poenskop. Joy of joy – deep water fish right close to the shore, and what lovely eating this species makes. Would it be big enough to keep, it was. Supper taken care of I decided to change tactics again, and switched the end tackle on this rod to a larger hook with the head and belly section of the elf, casting only about 50m from the rocks.
Ten minutes, twenty, thirty, then an hour and no interest shown. Bait retrieved and cast out for the third time, on the bay side of the rocks. Then a bite. Off the fish went, steady strong pull taking line. This felt like a flatfish – typical behaviour. As it was swimming away from the rocks I let it take line against light pressure, and started clambering over rocks, wading (and swimming) through the water to get to the beach. two hundred or so metres from the rocks, hold on and give maximum pressure on the 12.5kg breaking strain line.
Keep the fish coming, don’t let it sit in the sand and dig in. pump and wind, pump and wind, and there in the waves, a nice size ray could be seen.
Work it through the surf, so close now don’t want a break off. Use the wave action to bring it into the shallows. Wade in knee-deep, and get a hold on the lip and walk it to the shore. Keeping the ray in the water to protect it from damage. A duckbill in the 25kg class
Hook cleanly in the lower jaw, but through the cartilage. Jen come hold my rod please, where are you? Oh right behind me – thanks Jen. Tag placed. Hook removing pliers and some persuasion and the fish was free. Take it back into swimming depth – is it still strong – allow water to pass through the gills – yes it is. Off he goes. What a great sight, a magnificent fish swimming strongly away after giving me a good energetic challenge.
Ray the Fisherman