100kg Yellowfin Tuna by Nitro off Shelley Beach
For years down on the lower Natal South Coast, a few lucky (skilled) anglers got to wear a special jacket, from Shelley Beach Ski-Boat Club. It was awarded to club members who brought home a yellowfin tuna of 100lbs or more. Only very few qualified for the honour.
There was a similair bench mark set in Durban, where very few tuna over 30kgs every made it back to base. But recently, a 50kg yellowfin tuna was weighed in there, setting a brand new club record.
And two years ago, Captain Duarte Rato fishing out off Bazaruto, got a 72kg fish. Bigger than he had ever encountered up there in Mozambique, by double almost. Also in the shallows.
Dave Phillips and I were fishing the Umzimkulu a while ago, and he noted this increase in size of yellowfin caught off Natal, over the last decade. Dave got his own 32kg fish off his ski, off Durban, and noted that many fish in this size range were being encountered. Right in the shallows too.
We both had to agree, there have been many more bigger yellowfin up for the fight, along the backline reefs and deeper too, over the last few years. Right in our home waters, this is happening.
Ok sure, Richards Bay get some big sickles. But nobody would believe anybody, who said they saw a 100kg tuna anywhere near Protea Reef back in the eighties or nineties. But they have been seen in the past, and Brian Mackenzie once lost a 2 metre long yellowfin tuna, right under the boat, when I was 15 and fishing aboard Allison Anne. Off Port Shepstone. Denise Milton, also down at Shelley, once reported a shoal of tuna over 100kgs. None of us believed her.
The thing is, we have been stripped my many, many fish, on Protea Reef, and surrounds, over the past three decades. We were always stuck with Daiwa Sealines and Penn Senators. Slow retrieve and terrible drags. None of our tackle would have been up to a 100kg tuna back then.
But nowadays, everyone seems to have a few International W’s or their ilk, packed with line, and tied up proper. Stick a Kona on one of these outfits, and you are actually in with a chance.
So, either the big yellowfin have read the Sardine news about the mackerel and bait proliferation we have experienced on the south coast over the last decade or so. Or, they have been here all along, but now people finally have the tackle to stand up to the beasts..
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And check out the Umzimkulu Marina if you want to get in on action like this.