After having driven from Port Shepstone to Vilancoulos, and then back to Pomene, we were pretty worn out travellers when we made camp somewhere down on the Pomene estuary..
But waking up to that glorious scene – the ocean to the East, and the estuary to the West – in a bright red sunlit morning, made all the creaks and squeaks go away quicker than coffee on a fire can do the job.
The tide was a bit high still, and the waves a bit low, so the four of us undid our tangle of rods and reels, and headed out to the nearest channel within the estuary. Abu – our guide and translator, Supergirl (Sharene Berry), Gareth Powell and me, spread out along the channel and started casting into the clear slow moving blue water. Pure magic.
Once the chatter had settled down, the silence left us completely alone in our new world. But what was that? Some wierd crashing sound every now and then. A very watery sound, a very exciting sound. But we could not figure it out.
So we moved in it’s direction – across the vaste sandbanks and into the offshore breeze, towards the main channel, where it unfolded before us. The sound was that of baitfish being smashed up against the side of the channel and onto the shallow sandbanks where they were being picked off by other members of the gang, all taking turns. KINGFISH!
Sound travels for miles over water and plains, and by the time we got there (going knee deep into some of the quicksand like patches on the sandbank), we were exhausted. But Supergirl, Gareth and I staggered up to the edge and cast…!
Bang, bang, bang…the three of us vas at the same time. Gareth was ultra light so he took off down the sandbank towards the ocean frantically trying to keep pace with his fish. Supergirl took a stand with her stronger outfit and soon subdued and released her first kingfish of the day. She proceeded to catch more, luckily only the smaller ones went for her lure. I, on the other hand, had hooked what felt like a bus when it hammered my little white dropshot. No change in speed or direction – just bang, and vas! I had a brand new Shimano Calcutta and Nexage with 7kg line, so I dug in deep and an epic battle ensued. I tried to keep him inside the estuary but he slowly dragged me down towards Gareth who was still trying to show some muscle with his 4kg bass outfit. Ha ha!
Time dragged on and Gareth and I crossed paths a number of times, passing encouragement and cheer all the while. Supergirl kept catching more smallies, up to about 5kg’s each, and releasing them quick sticks, as she does. Neither Gareth nor myself had seen our fish and we were speculating GT’s when all of a sardine, Gareth’s line popped! Luckily he only had a small dropshot head and plastic with a short leader, so he fish will have survived the forced release just fine. My fish however, started to slow and next thing I was getting him back up into the estuary, where it had just become slack water, he had no more current to use against me. Then I saw him – yellow – but big. He did not like the look of me and tore away again. Supergirl caught and released yet another kingfish to add to her tally for the day.
Abu saw some sense in the situation and ran back to the cooler in the camp, for beer. We were gonna be a while! Gareth was onto another, luckily one he could manage easily enough with his newly tied leader and flourocarbon trace. At one stage, I walked in about a metre deep fighting my fish and was soon surrounded by angry kingfish of all sorts that had chased Gareth’s lure right into the shallows. Many times, there were fish shallower than us – it’s how they hunt, their mates drive the baitfish up the banks where the rest of the gang devours them. Sometimes they even swim on their sides! In inches of water.
A crowd had quickly then gathered on the other side of the channel. They were enjoying the sport as much as we were, shouting encouragement until…my fish finally gave in and came to see who I was. I steered him into the shallows and jumped on the poor guy. He was beat. So was I! Luckily the hook came out easy and I took him into the channel of swift moving water for revival. He was a big, strong fish and the gentle current soothed his gills and with a wave of his tail, was gone free.
When the crowd across the river realised that I had voluntarily let him go, they became mildly annoyed, shaking fists and hurling curses at me, for allowing all that good food to go free…
A few great shots by Branko Milonovich, taken at Pomene on a more recent trip…All rights reserved.
There is a new lodge in Pomene – on the north bank…perfectly situated for fishing these crazy waters…click here for more information and photos.