We’re going tagging and releasing this 2019

We’re going tagging and releasing this 2019!

Captain Rob Nettleton measures up Gavin Naude's Umzimvubu Zambezi Shark, before it got a tag and went free again
Captain Rob Nettleton measures up Gavin Naude’s Umzimvubu Zambezi Shark, before it got a tag and went free again

When Rudi van de Elst first approached us way back in the 80’s, to assist with his and ORI’s new born tagging and releasing initiative, we were all very curious.

Straight off the bat, we changed one of our league competitions, to tag and release. We were fishing 6kg line back then, and in order to qualify for Southern Natal colours, you had to do really well in the light tackle league. Then you would fish for Southern Natal, at the regionals. Then you would do really well at that level, you could nominate for a berth in the full Natal blazer. A huge honour, as it still is today.

Tagging and releasing garrick off Umzimkulu River mouth in 1987
Tagging and releasing garrick off Umzimkulu River mouth in 1987. Karl and Roosta are now 40yrs!

Anyway, fishing on the original black Niteshift, we headed to The Block, off Port Shepstone, to target garrick that particular day. Whilst everyone else in the fleet headed to Protea to battle the tuna away from the sharks.

We got so lucky that beautiful morning!

Garrick are tough. Tough fighters too. But they really don’t mind a tag. In fact they were all really still angry and fighting fit when we chucked them back in.

We would pop out a kilometre or so, and catch a few pinkies. Then rig them with a single hook through the nose. My Dad as dedicated skipper, would then head straight for the beach at Port Shepstone, during a lull, taking care not to hit any of the many submerged bombies in that bay. Then he would turn hard at the shorebreak, aiming us back out to sea. And watch for waves. At this point we would chuck our pinkies almost onto the beach, and then weave back out through the waves. Hitting more than just a few.

On this particular day, we were hooked up whist still battling the surf zone!

We tagged 38 fish that day. We never kept one.

At the end of the session, I jumped in with goggles, to see what was going on. It was wall-to-wall garrick. Top-to-bottom. I have never seen anything like it again.

Since that fine day, my Dad has tagged hundreds more fish on his boats Niteshift (there have been four). Nothing like that garrick congregation ever again. But it became part of our operation, to care for, and release healthy, any fish that we could. With a tag in it.

Tagging then really took off. And ORIs initiative way back then, has developed into a beautifully successful project. We even tagged the first couta ever here in South Africa. That was caught by Louis Posthumous and tagged by me. On Protea Reef. It was the very first ever re-caught couta too. Four years later! Off St. Lucia.

You can catch up with ORIs tagging news for 2018 right here…


And so it has come to be again, that we are now full-time tagging fish, on all of our fishing ‘trips and travel‘ offerings.

We even have begun a program following the NZ’s, to spear tag fish too. Most billfish that are tagged after a long fight, immediately leave the area. Spear tagged fish don’t even swim away after being plugged. They just carry on normal behaviour, which is what we need.

Please pop on over to our Trips and Travel section, where under Fishing Experiences, you can research our many options. Or just click here.

Get in touch with Sean on +27 79 326 9671 or email umzimkulu@gmail.com.

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