Tigerfish caught first cast Mydo Luck Shot #1 doing the good work

First class first cast Tigerfish on the Okavango Delta

First class first cast Tigerfish on the Delta

As early as the cold dawn and breakfast would allow us, we set off on the tigerfish rich waters afore us. On our maximum fun tinny named Tuni. Captained by local guide and skipper – Julius. Staffed by Joy. Powered by Mercury.
Navigator Cameron Yates conferred with Julius as to a route, to lead to Julius’ childhood village – named Jao. There, our crew were going to interview the elders about traditional land management methods of old. But along the way, Julius would stop at one or two of his favourite fishing spots for us to have a throw.
And into the bright and brisk morning, the outboard accelerated away from our lodge, deep in the Okavango Delta.
It is hard to be anything but quiet as you try to process all the wonder and thrilling beauty you experience charging down those papyrus and lily lined waterways. Which are permanently inhabited by crocodiles. Hippopotamus. And…


We had a total of 80kms mapped out for the day. We would only get back to camp late. So fishing time was limited. I was hoping for a few quiet throws whilst the Professor and crew were taking notes in the village.
I had rented two rods earlier. From a vibrant chap named Nine. One was a beautiful outfit that I would have been proud to bring out anywhere. The other was ok, squeaky, and very short. Broken a few eyes down. But Nine also gave me some new line! So hurriedly I tied up some leaders, well double lines had to do, and savaged one of my Mydo couta traces for two short lengths of wire since I have heard all about those teeth.
Then I chose a little Mydo SS Shad 650 spoon for the nice outfit. And a Mydo Luck Shot #1 with 5/0 hook, and an orange Gummy paddletail, for the handicapped outfit. They both looked good though, with their new line and double line, and two very handsome looking lures. I already knew which rod was going to operate.
After an hour of literally flying down these serpentine waterways, the main channel appeared. A few more clicks and the channel split, one way was to Maun, the other to the village Jao, our destination.
Julius stopped the boat, and quietly pointed at the fishing rods.
I surrendered the good outfit and grabbed the underdog. Cameron had the SS Spoon, and I had the Luck Shot. I went to the bow of the good tinny named Tuni. There was a bunch of papyrus that Julius had used to keep us in one place as the water flowed past at a good few knots. So, I perched on one gunwale, found some space behind me, and flicked as best I could.
The lure landed about 8 metres into the middle of the current, so I figured let it sink and go away with the drift, and then close the bail. It all looked good and soon I got a strong bite!

“I got a bite!”, I errupted…

…everyone looked, the tiny rod buckled again and this time I had a first cast fish. Julius mentioned bream casually, and everyone else cheered in absolute disbelief. Thinking bream, I was having so much when the fish started coming closer, and then ducked under the papyrus carpet. Luckily it turned and came out.


It was my first cast tigerfish. And it was not nearly in the same class as my last and only tiger, caught in Jozini on sardine. This fish had some size! The tiny rod also had no power whatsoever but finally he jumped himself dizzy and the current let him go to us.

As I pulled him on top of the papyrus carpet, he snapped and bit a papyrus stem. His teeth went right in and held vas. But he was a metre and a half away and smack bang in crocodile country. Luckily Captain Gallop was quick with a knife and cut the papyrus stem at the boat and pulled in my first cast tigerfish.

If you want some calm, fun times fishing with your family and friends, then come with us to the Okavango. We fished a maximum collective time of an hour, over the next few days exploring and documenting. We caught 6 tigerfish. All on the SS Spoons and that first fish on the Luck Shot. We only used the 650 Shad spoon and the Moby – the tiny one.
It was so much fun! No bream this time though. They will have to wait for us a bit. We are back in September.
We have lined up boats, and we have Captain Julius’ number. Camping options close by and lodges up and down. Executive camping outfit is good to go. Land cruisers are loaded, and always ready for any adventure

Contact Sean on WhatsApp +27 79 326 9671, or better still email as we work in 2G areas mainly. I am on umzimkulu@gmail.com.

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Another beautiful Sailfish lives to tell the tale

The day the “mojo” worked: The Sailfish Interprovincial by Captain Len Mathews

The day the “mojo” worked: The Sailfish Interprovincial by Captain Len Mathews

Mydo team rider Captain Len Mathews checks in with a fantastic roundup of his teams recent success at the 2018 Sailfish Interprovincial held at Sodwana recently. It is an extremely technical and thorough reference as to what it takes to consistently catch more fish than the competition.

Congratulations Len, and thank you for the informative and totally interesting article!

Keep winning!

Hi Sean,

Been a while since I last spoke to you or contributed to The Sardine News. You asked me for a story and pics on the Sailfish Interprovincial we won recently, so here it is:

The day the “mojo” worked:

The Sailfish Interprovincial Is a yearly event held at Sodwana, in winter. The “who’s who” of sailfish angling represent our country’s Provinces in this event. This year 11 Provincial teams, consisting of salted provincial, SADSAA and Protea anglers participated in this 5 day competition.

I am sharing what our Griquas green team did to pull this off. It is in no way whatsoever a seminar on sailfish angling, a “what to do” article or any intent for this article to be of any educational value. This what we did to catch 5 sails in 2 days. Considering the other 10 boats caught 4 between them, I consider this not to have been a “luck shot” (no pun intended). (ha ha thanks Len – Sean)

My team consisted of myself, my wife and fishing partner Alta and my good mate and longtime fishing buddy Donald Finlay, We fished off Jannie Nel’s “My Lady”, skippered by seasoned Sodwana skipper Follie van Vuuren. Between myself (40 years), Follie (15 years), Donald (30 years) and Alta (5 years), we have 90 years of combined experience fishing Sodwana. This also proved to be of great value, especially in this Competition!!

I am dividing this story into subsections, to form a clearer picture of the “process” we followed with preperation and execution of our plans.


We all know proper bait is the answer to most questions. THE bait for sailfish is obviously halfbeaks, the fresher the better. On a good day a well presented stripbait also does magic, but in my book it is nothing more than a good second prize. I am lucky enough to have access to prime halfbeaks, so this is what I stick to!!

Bait preparation:

I was introduced to a good brine that my good mate and Protea angler, Paul Borcherds brought in from the USA. I had it analysed by a lab and now probuce a 100% copy of it. I brine all my baits for 12 hrs before rigging it. The advantages of the brine is tougher baits with much more enhanced colour. After brining baits, I have used the same bait for 4 days in a row, without it showing signs of excessive deterioration.

Bait rigging:

I rig sailfish baits in 3 different ways, depending on the position you want to swim it in. I rig them headless, whole double hook rig or chin weight rigged for circle hooks.

What goes where?:

I normally (take note I say normally, not always) swim smaller (head off) baits on my long riggers, 10-15 m behind my short riggers. On the short riggers I normally (….) swim larger (whole) baits, not more than 5m behind my teasers. This can either be a whole halfbeak with lure over it or a chinweight rigged halfbeak on a circle hook. On shotgun I will use any one of the two double hook rigs, mostly with a small bird in front of that. My teasers I will usually swim 20-25 m behind the boat, from the middle of the outriggers, in clear water next to the white water. In “normal” angling conditions this causes just enough commotion close to the boat, to get attention and lure the fish to the boat. This covers 5 baits. My 6th bait will be a lipped lure below and between the teasers or a normal bait behind a cupped lure running in the “dead triangle” between the long riggers and shotgun, in line with the long riggers. I use a dark lure to contrast in the little foam or white water there is. This is my “basic” spread, that works well 80% of the time.


Weather was not too good for the whole of the Sailfish interprovincial 2018. The first two days of the comp was blowouts, leaving only 3 days to fish. There was an abnormally high barometer at the time, for the whole duration of the comp. That proved to be the major decider in the end!!

Day 3 (1):

The day “normal” left the bus!!

I firmly believe that on this day, the comp was “handed” to us. 2 Fish were caught by rival teams. Reports of fish coming into spreads, appearing to be shy and skittish to attack baits and eating baits furthest away from the boat, made us fall back on experience. We als had fish pop up further from the boat than usual and showing a general skittishness to eat. It took us half a day to figure this out, but we immediately knew that the “culprit” here was the high barometer. We also realised that this was a situation of “to achieve something different, you have to do something different”. We had a good idea what to do the remainder of the competition.

Day 4 (2):

Mojo day!!

We changed our game totally!! Firstly we did not put a single teaser in the water.We believed that too much commotion close to the boat scared the fish, especially as a result of the high barometer. Secondly we only used dark or lumo lures in front of our baits and only one circle hook bait in the water. Thirdly, we also used very small baits, as the sailys were mostly small fish. Lastly, we dropped ALL the baits at least 15-20m further back than what we normally do and we slowed down our trolling speed to just enough to make the baits break water every 4-5 seconds….. Just before 08:00 we had a tripple strike. One did not stick for long and came off quickly, but 2 were vas!! 20-25 mins later, myself and Donald each released our fish and jubilation was the order of the day. At this stage we KNEW we had diled in on the mojo and this was our comp to lose. We also noticed that it appeared as if none of the other teams changed their modus operandi to suit the conditions.

After brief congrats, we put out an identical spread. We knew it would only be a matter of time………which it was. 11:50 we had another triple strike, one on the circle, long rigger and one on shotgun. I took the circle, set the hook properly and Alta took the other.The third rod was on, but also came loose quickly. Another 20-25 min later, we both released our fish. To say that a small party broke out on “my Lady” is an understatement!! We knew that for anyone to catch us now, they had to release 5 fish, a tall task is conditions like this!!

Day 5 (3):

After very little sleep, we went out to continue our “quest”, adopting the identical tactics as the previous day. Low and behold, 08:00 we had a strike, solid hookup and 25 mins later Donald released his 2nd fish for the comp. It was more or less then that we knew we had it done and dusted. The rest of the day we decided to practice our circle hook skills and had all 6 baits out on circles. That did not produce any results, but at that stage we did not really care if it did or not……………. 14:00 was lines up and……………..GOLD!!


After each sailfish interprovincial, or any competition we fish, we usually have a debriefing and summarise events in our own way and fasion. I have a saying, “I never lose. Either I win or I learn” In this comp it was more true than ever!!

We learned a lot from this experience:

  1. Experience is worth GOLD!!
  2. Never be afraid to try something different. It may just work…..
  3. Learn how to read changing conditions.
  4. Be willing to adapt to those conditions.
  5. Persistence pays off!!

Hope you find this interesting.


Len Matthews.

Wowser, what a story! Those Sodwana sailfish can drive you mad sometimes, but Len and crew seem to have it down pat. Thanks again Len

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Bananas - banned on boats!

What do boiled eggs, oranges, and bananas have in common, on a boat?

What do boiled eggs, oranges, and bananas have in common, on a boat?

Boat superstition! That’s what!

We were travelling into a head-sea, and had gotten 5 miles off Maputo, past Xefina Island and nearing the turning channel buoy, when caotain of the good ship Joker Bino Nordine shouted – “What’s to eat?”

I readily hollered back – “You want a banana?”

The boat nearly came to a dead stop as Bino hauled back the throttles, eyes widened with dismay.

“Bananas!, Where are they!”, he cried.

I jumped forward and got my food bag, and before I could react, Bino had my hand of delicious finger bananas, and threw them overboard! In a flash!

His expression came back to normal. Julio Rito, guest on the boat – was on his back, rolling with laughter. And there I stood, gobsmacked.

“Very bad luck bananas bru! We never take bananas!”, went Bino as he grabbed a cheese roll and smashed it.

And so off we went, and had a great days fishing!

Now down in the Cape, I know that boiled eggs are out. And on some boats in Natal – oranges. But wondering what other forbidden fishing fruit or food might be on the list, I did some research.

Bananas are definitely out! Boiled eggs do get a mention. Oranges turn out to be good luck. But bananas take the cake.

Turns out that in days gone by, of sail not steam, bananas were a logistical challenge for maritime personnel, to say the least. They were the first to ripen and therefore could hasten the ripening of other fruit on the ship. They stink when they rot. They carried poisonous spiders in the bunch with them and bit the crew, sometimes fatally. When a ship sinks, all it’s bananas float to the top, so when other seafarers come across a wreck site, all they find are the bananas suspiciously in amongst the flotsam! And then the dedicated banana boats – as they were termed, had to go really fast, and so could never put a line out to fish. Hence if you worked on a banana boat, you never caught anything!

To come on a dream fishing trip (with or without bananas) with The Sardine team, click on over to our tour offerings here…


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Fishing the Inhambane Estuary: Bludger Kingfish by The Frenzy

Fishing the Inhambane Estuary: Bludger Kingfish by The Frenzy

Fishing the Inhambane Estuary is completely cool. You just need that fishing licence from Maritimo, and a few cold beers for the afternoon into evening. Sunset. A light stick with a Mydo Luck Shot and jig fly combination, and another heavy stick with live bait trace completes the outfit.

Since it costs a small fortune in dollars to moor on the Inhambane Pier, there is very seldom any boats parked on the outside wall, and we have it all to ourselves. There is a fun contingent of local fishers who come down to the pier after work, to relax and chat, and of course, catch dinner. Some are in fact fishing for dinner.

Which comes happily in the form of these little Bludger Kingfish. They don’t get very much bigger than this unlucky one that fell to The Frenzies charms…

After two fruitless and exhausting episodes on the sea with the Kayak, The Frenzy was at the end of her tether. So off we went back to the city of Inhambane, to try for a bludger kingfish. We were privy to some inside information leading us here. It is absolutely wonderful fishing of the main pier out the front of Inhambane.
Parking at Pachiso Backpackers, right on the lagoon, we prepared over an ice cold 2M cerveja. Sabiki/Yozuri jigs with a Mydo Luck Shot on the end. The Luck Shot acts as an attractor and looks like a competitive fish chasing the little jigs.
Nothing happened for a while and then one of the local gangster giant kingfish showed itself in a spectacular display of anger as it smashed the living daylights out of the little sardines we were so eager to catch and put out live. The GTs here are black in colour and I have been splashed soaking wet right on the top of the jetty before! The problem is that it is nigh impossible to fight these big fish from the pier. There are just too many obstacles and we all know a GT. There are the razor sharp shell coated pylons making up the pier. Serious rocks 8m below. Endless water taxis coming and going, into the night. Anchors and moorings for the water taxis. Actually, it is impossible.
Then two humpback dolphin came swimming up the tide and also had a feast. All the while the bludgers were smashing away at the endless shoals of baitfish below us.
And then The Frenzy went away. Her rod buckling and line melting we were both convinced the Mydo had been taken and so she put the pressure back on the fish. A few minutes later and there it was, a beautiful shiny bludger kingfish. But it had taken a jig and the Mydo Luck Shot #2 was just plain gone!
How were we going to haul the hefty little bigger all the way up to the top of the pier? One chance and we took it. The fish lay still for a second and The Frenzy just hauled in one consistent motion.

And there it was! Fresh fish for dinner!

The Fish Eagles of the Umzimkulu wake lodge guests at the Umzimkulu Marina, each morning. Don't worry though, they start at a reasonable hour - fishing time!

Fish Eagle 0 Fish 1: tight game down on the Umzimkulu

Fish Eagle 0 Fish 1

Our two resident fish eagles, a pair that have been living and breeding here on the lower Umzimkulu River, for decades it feels, were circling over head. The colours of the afternoon showing no sign of the impending cold front. The sun was out. The river had swelled magnificently since the mouth started closing.

And there were fish about. As I edged along the bouncy noisy floating jetty at the Umzimkulu Marina, a bunch of mullet were startled by something 50 m down towards the mouth. The blue-tailed guys were jumping for joy (according to science), and there were kingfish-like smashes going on, sporadically, all over. The perfectly calm water making it so much easier to see fish and movement.

Then one of my favourite things – a turtle! It popped his head up down where those mullet were having a panic from before. I cast one near him, kingfish and all sorts tag turtles when they hunting, but remembering a turtle ate my lure twice before in this river, I quickly cranked away.

Enjoying the scene, cast after cast, things looking good for putting in some real fishing time. And I really am looking for a garrick, to round off my winter estuary season.

And there came the fish eagle. Locked on target. Heading for the grunter bank in the middle, a hundred metres in front of me. Picking up speed and lowering trajectory he came in like a missile. Swooping in, the flaps came on and the the highly adapted landing gear came out.

Bang! Splash! Chaos!

The fish eagle literally came to a dead halt. Whaaaaat. We have twice seen the fish eagles here kill huge otters. And eat them all day right in front of us on Dead Man’s Island. So this was unbelievable!

As much as the eagles wings were flapping like crazy – the huge bird went right under for a second. But it came back up and the battle waged on. It looked like the fish eagle was still in the game at one point. The birds wings took for a moment, and I saw the huge back of whatever it was on the bottom end, being dragged up and out of the water. Huge, like 10kgs or so. But then a violent twist and huge splashing brought the eagle tumbling back down into the water.

The eagle came back up thrashing. And then it just let go!

Fish Eagle 0 Fish 1

The fish eagle then flew off into the sun, and found a rad spot on a huge tree. And let out a huge fish eagle cry. But it sounded like laughter. And when it’s partner joined in with a chorus – it also sounded very high spirited – like – “Hey man how big was that fish dude!” Whaaahaaahaaahaaa…

True fish eagles! Having a blast down on the river in the afternoon.


Come and join us down at the Umzimkulu River…get in touch on umzimkulu@gmail.com or check out our river fishing packages at the following link:

Umzimkulu Estuary Fishing