“It’s been a while since we were able to get back out on the Umzimkulu and fish for salmon again. Fortunately the water cleaned up and Dejan Vujevic, out from Europe, timed his charter down at the Umzimkulu Marina in Port Shepstone, KZN South Africa – really well” – Xona
We started out on Sunday. Preparing the boat. Remembering everything that it takes to make a proper fishing trip. We loaded the skottel, the coffee, the snacks, the fishing dog – Chelsea our fishing Jack Russell was over excited at losing the no fishing withdrawals and soon it was time to set sail.
Dejan (from Serbia) had come over from Germany (where he works), and we had talked about doing a two-day trip on the Umzimkulu River, in Port Shepstone. We had already caught a few barbel and eel together in the brown run-off water from the heavy rains a few weeks previously. And we had fished the Paddock Bass comp, where Dejan got to know his first bass or two.
But we needed a good fish. Something to remember the experience of fishing Africa with.
The small kob, up to and around 5kg’s, were the main target, and we had everything we needed to get them. Lures of every shape and size. And a bucket with some live bait therein. So with the outgoing tide we sailed, our heading towards the Sandspit, where we would try. And try. And try. With about 100 casts each under the belt and no result, we headed back to the boat and launched back out into the river, this time dropping our QE2 sized anchor just inside the bridge to greet the incoming tide. We chucked out a bait each and continued our spinning frenzy, cast after cast, lure after lure, colour after colour, action after action. This is what it takes. Sheer effort.
Soon the fish came through, there was action everywhere. Boils and attacks and all sorts. Baitfish jumping, it just felt so right. We had our beautiful baits and lures but nothing to report, and so with a slacking tide, we kind of passed out under the beautiful moonless sky, stars holding our gazes until the snoring competition started. A few hours drifted by and soon the boat had turned again, and the river was running out gently with the tide change.
Chelsea had us out of bed and scrambled within seconds of the ratchet! Dejan’s bait had been picked up and line was melting off he reel.
I cleared the decks for Dejan to enjoy fighting what was definitely not a kob. I dared utter the name rock salmon as I hold these fish in such high esteem, but the way that fish rocketed past us and up river said it for me. Dejan did a great job and finally maneuvered his trophy fish close to the boat, where after a few more dogged runs, it lay still. The hook was deep down and the rockie was bleeding so Dejan took home his very first Rock Salmon, to be utterly appreciated on a braai, with his family in Umtentweni.
So, very stoked we lay back down on our comfy mattresses, and hardly drifted off when my out-sized livey started the same blood curdling scream. I burst up again, grabbed the rod and force fed the fish as it swam off with my bait. I let it go, but it was headed towards the mouth area, so I put the brakes on and bang I had a really heavy fish on the end of my line. But it was not to be – I was too soon (as usual), and what I got back was eye-opening! Something with real sharp and large teeth had crushed my live baits head right in, with a clean cut on the one side. I hesitate to say shark, except that it characteristically ran for the mouth, as they almost all do. Rock Salmon head up river almost always.
In the morning we tried the Sandspit again, threw another 100 casts each, but it wasn’t going to be this time either.
And so we prepared for the next night. Some sleep, another shopping run…and back to the river. This time we went to the bay under the ghost house up river of the lodge, and found a spot where our anchor rope was long enough to reach the bottom. It’s a good 12 metres deep in some places, in that bend, with pinnacles and all sorts of features in the bottom. And there we fished the night through. Some crabs gave us a few slow runs, and there were fish all around us all night. Big fish. Some huge attacks, but no action on our offerings.
And so we resorted to the galley, and in a fun few hours, came up with the most uncannily delicious mutton curry, with which to replace some energy and heat.
And so it came to be that we returned to land and reality, with just that one fish. But. It was a rock salmon and a fish that Dejan will never forget.
Book your slot now, choose your weekend carefully. Ask JP Bartholomew for advice on when to fish. He still is the undisputed champion, with 8 gamefish on lures, in just two sessions?! Check this link for more on that interesting story.