The year of the crocodile couta
We were on Protea Reef off Shelley Beach, earlier this year, when the trap stick out off the nose screamed that scream. Our guest was on it in a flash, but the fish just kept going and going, the little TLD 25 just holding on. Eventually it stopped, and I saw that big couta shake – down at the end of the line.
We were going away now on the tuna sticks so we couldn’t leave our chum slick. Getting all that line back proved to take too long, and soon the thud thud of the taxman was heard knocking at the door.
Heartbreak. It was a really big fish. The shark got everything!
A few drifts later, we crossed paths with the Posthumous team – Louis and Shawn, fishing with Noel Allchin. They were super stoked to have got a 32kg couta – a rare good sized, on Protea Reef.
However. Noels fish proved to be just the start.
In an unprecedented year, more crocodile couta came out, than EVER before…well certainly within my thirty five years of chasing big couta.
After Noels fish was caught, more and more in the thirty kg class size were weighed in, climaxing with the 37kg beast that Andre caught during The Hibberdene Couta Classic this year, to win his 4th boat out of 5 competitions.
Then, the weekend after that comp, the Posthumous gang headed down south and made the best catch of couta of all time…6 fish, smallest 24, biggest 37!
And then this fine fish by the infamous Kistin Moodley…reported in at 40,1kgs!
The smaller dart sized fish have not made an appearance at all. Well it’s great for fishing. Almost everybody got a crocodile thus year. Especially those down south.
In the Transkei. At world renowned Redsands. The beasts swim here. Not that they dont swim by Protea and Aliwal, Mtunzini and Leven…but they seem all to be destined to meet up on the wild coast. Its a small area, and the hot spot is even tinier. A thin sliver of reef that petres out into nothing as you drift south. Its hard to get bait down there, so time in the morning, closer to Port Edward, is gambled away in search of mackerel – the number one bait for crocodiles.
When Andre caught his 37, he was way down on the south end, far from the overcrowded pinnacles along the strip of rock. He couldn’t get bait that lucky day -and luckily stopped off on his way to the launch, and picked up some frozen mackeral, just in case. The reef was crowded out on his slightly late arrival, and so he wandered past the crowd and put his anchor down at the very end of the reef.
If anyone down there hooked a decent fish, they would have to fight and land it (30 mins), motor back to Port Edward (60 mins to trailer), and then head up to Hibberdene (60mins), to make the weigh in cutoff time of 4pm.
Just after high noon, Andre heard that scream. As a winner of three boats previously, he just knew straight away, that he had it. And when he saw it in the waves, it was confirmed in his mind – this was a crocodile of note. As the fish landed on the deck after the gaf went in, the tiny treble that was holding everything together just fell out onto the floor?!
Fourth boat for Andre!
However, to take a more cautious perspective…or scientific approach to the phenomenon of these huge fish coming out in such numbers this year…
“The last animal of any species, on it’s way to extinction, is the toughest, biggest, wiliest survivor of them all”
The last elephant…
The last rhino…
The last lion…
The last crocodile…
Let’s hope this is not the case with our beloved Scomberomerous Commersoni (King mackerel, couta, tanguiguie, spanish mackeral, narrow-barred mackeral…), but it could be…and we need to start thinking about this happening to all of our fish species, before too long.