The last Brindle Bass – will go something like this…
If only life were that simple. Do this. Don’t do that…
For most of us, living within the law comes easily enough. But what happens when our livelihood – and an honest one at that – handed down over generations – a noble and admirable occupation – gets made illegal? Due to the depletion of the very resource your living depends upon? And you never depleted it or exploited it at all, in the first place?
There is a really skinny old little guy who breezes through the Tofo Mercado every so often. I first met him on the dunes on the Tofo Point – just next to the rocks on the north facing dune. He was shivering to his little old bones trying to warm up in the scant winter sun, from his hours long, and fishless dive. As puny as this guy is, he swims on his own for these solitary hours, and hours. As I got to know him better over some years, I started recognising him out at sea. Miles out at sea. Always a smile – and hardly ever a fish. Despite the sheer physical and emotional effort. Most spearos know what I am talking about, when I say – emotional.
Since the tourism scene exploded like a bomb on certain East African havens, there has been a huge increase in the demand for protein, in those areas. Meat. This is what happens all over the world, all of the time. As the tourist dollar gets spent, the dinner bell rings far and wide – attracting many, many migrant labourers, and gold chasers. All hungry.
Our guy used to shoot as many fish as he and his family could eat. Every day. But not anymore. Now the fish are few and far in between. They have been eaten.
As a tourism mushroom blows up over a newly found East African treasure – first the close by reefs are plundered. Completely stripped of their fishy dignity. Then the destruction extends. By fin or by boat – but steadily, and like the wave from an atom bomb – it spreads and kills. Reef after reef. Shoal after shoal. Mile after mile. Ony the far reaches are not attained – 30 kms or so away.
So our hapless full time spearfisherman, who for years has been plying these Tofo waters for subsistence and survival, is faced with an interesting quandry, with which to fill his head as he swims the blue currents, all alone. Does he shoot as much as he can, when he can, braving the odd shark or current, and returning with enough to eat, and sell the rest? Making some profit. Pay his kids school fees? Or does he maintain the subsistence way and just keep on keeping on. Well I am sure our guy would choose the latter, if but one thing. Where are all the fish? They have just simply been eradicated. So he survives on pelagics mainly, and their seasonal visits. And nowadays, he shoots what he can…
Lottery vs Starving
So this is what our guy is thinking, as he forces himself on, diving to 20 metres and more, up and down, feeling dizzy, cold and very alone. Where have all the fish gone?
Then all of a sudden, a huge brindle bass swims along the side of the ledge he is plying. It’s big enough to swallow our guy whole – but it doesn’t see him above and away. It’s one of the last. A pure marine monster of the depths. A survivor. Fifty years old. A national treasure. He most likely came in from deeper waters, or a neighbouring reef up or down the coast. A hundred years old – probably had a name – like “Clive” or something. Either way, he was here now, and our guy had not seen a fish like this for a very long time. He was doing the maths in his head. How much did it weigh? At 150 Mets a kilo for prime grouper like this, even more to the Chinese buyers…that is a lot of money swimming just under the ledge.
And so our guy takes a few deep breaths. He swims away at a tangent and down, skinny legs pumping, hands checking and rechecking his gun. It’s a 1.4 m Rob Allen that I gave him a while back and is in good nick. And so is he. He is built for this shit. As small as he is. He is honestly barely 5 feet tall. He bails over the reef adjacent and around from where he saw the huge fish. And starts to edge around towards where his finely honed gut feel tells him to be. He knows this reef, and this fish doesn’t. It’s just moved in here a while to look around. Our guy edges closer, slow metres, slow seconds. He has been down a half minute now but feels nothing from his depth hardened lungs. Closer. Yes, closer.
The fish has made it’s way around the reef and, big enough to eat the man waiting for it, warily patrols toward him. Around a boulder. They practically swim into each other! The huge fish reacts. With a sound like a sonic boom, he pounds the viscosity around him and goes into a massive 180…as our lone spearo pulls the trigger. The spear enters exactly right for him and not for the fish. Under the pectoral, but angling upwards – right through the old warrior’s heart. It almost dies instantly. But groupers don’t. After a struggle, our guy subdues and ropes the dying vagabond. And with a feeling of euphoria, at the huge financial feat he has achieved, starts to drag his huge prize, home. It’s a long swim, but he makes it eventually.
He hits the beach and 8 guys help him drag the fish to the market. Like a funeral procession. It’s a protected species but those rules are never enforced here. The new lifeguards here in Tofo, in full battle garb – shoes, longs, collars and berets are right there, admiring the fish as it finally dies.
So who do we blame the demise of the brindle bass on? NOT on my underprivileged spearo friend! No ways.
You can blame it on the development of unchecked tourism in this area.
Read: another example of government incompetence and greed
Duarte Jnr at 7 yrs old release his first Mozambique Marlin
Duarte Jnr at 7 yrs old release his first Mozambique Marlin: just please don’t ask if it’s black or a blue?!
Congratulations go out to young Duarte Rato Jnr, who, all on his own, and on his spinning outfit, caught and released his first Mozambique Marlin!
At age 7!
If a marlin can live to about 30. And a human say, 75. Then that marlin and Duarte Jnr would be about the same age! Cool stuff Duarte Jnr, I’ll start changing all the search terms to you instead of your Dad!
Yip, the FishBazaruto.com team took advantage fo a super-flat and calm day, to get out there and drag a bait or two around the inshore reefs and banks. And unbelievably, Duarte Jnr hooked up and fought the feisty little guy to the boat for a good few pics and a great release.
It’s been great watching these two kids growing up. Duarte Jnr has a little brother, Dario, who was just so amped about Duarte Jnr’s fish and was super-stoked to pose along with Duarte’s third kid, this one adopted – the ever-enthusiastic newbie angler – Diogo Martins (45 yrs young)! Otherwise knows as Diablo!
Anyway, it’s a helluva team that FishBazaruto.com present during the lockdown and other recreational times – or when customers are just simply not in existence!
That said…Mozambique’s absolute and outright victory at the Covid Competition might see people heading up to Bazaruto, correctly, as a safe-haven.
Just got to wonder when those borders are gonna be opened up?!
Get in touch if you like heading up thataway for a real escape sometime when it’s possible again. Sean on firstname.lastname@example.org or WhatsApp +27793269671.
See you there!
We run a YouTube Channel jam-packed with as much video as we can make, and we are on FaceBook too.
And the annual Tofo OceanFest 2019 starts 28th of December!
As with every year, there is a jam-packed sequence of events and entertainment lined up.
Fatima’s is right on the beach at Tofo and becomes the epi-centre of the action each year. It gets real busy in Tofo over New Years. The best plan is to park your car and walk the evenings away.
Tickets are available for the duration of the festival, or night by night. Fatima’s guests are all included on the VIP list! For the entire time.
There is a lot to do in and around Tofo in the day time too. Ocean safaris and scuba trips embark all day every day, for the warm clear water and busy reefs off Tofo and Barra.
The fishing is great this time of the year, and you can spend a really interesting and fun day on the Inhambane Bay.
There is amazingly decent surf here in Tofo, even so out of season like it is now. There are all sorts of sandbanks and things to surf. For beginners and advanced alike. Enquire at reception at Fatima’s.
There is a lot of buzz and excitement about right now as preparations are made for the big show.
Sailfish in Madagascar and other stories by FishBazaruto.com
Captain Duarte Rato has a lot to tell us about the Sailfish in Madagascar. He got 105 releases in 10 days! His full report will be coming soon but in the meantime…
Back in Bazaruto waters the fishing has been really good for the usually slower winter months. Here is a video made recently by the boys at Big Blue, highlighting the sailfishing and the annual Sailfish Competition held each year.
Duarte has compiled his latest report and it is available right here…
The Sailfish in Madagascar are really prolific but luckily we also have a good run or two in Southern African waters. April is a good month, and then May through June. Then again in November and December, in Mozambique waters. This also applies to South African sailfish although you really could be surprised by jumping saily anytime really.
We use the MYDO #1 Baitswimmer to make a really versatile and effective sailfish trace. We put a few metres of 300lb nylon trace through rigged on the Mydo. You might have to work the holes open a bit with a bait needle to get the heavy diameter line through. Just tie a uni knot. Then we have wire droppers to the hooks, making sure the back hook sits right in the tail. Use an elastic band to help keep it in place. Also use an elastic band to hold the bait onto the pin and baitswimmer for high speed trolling. You can fit any skirt over the #1 head. Or a duster. Even a small kona will look and swim super.
Then these are dropped from the inside rigger lines and kept real close like a few metres behind the motors. The baits skip wonderfully with a snake-like swimming action. Then when you get a strike and the boat slows, these baits drop in and become swimbaits. Multiple strikes!
Fishing aboard Vamizi through the 2018 marlin fishing season, Captain Duarte Rato of FishBazaruto.com has won the distinction of tagging the most marlin for the African Billfish Foundation. Alongside Tarka from Kenya, and, then also got the biggest tagged black marlin for the second straight year!
Duarte has just recently compiled his latest fishing report on http://fishbazaruto.com, and it is jam-packed with news and photographs.
The table of contents reads something like this:
42 kg GT off the shore
1040 lb Blue Marlin
ABF tagging results
Big Blue Sailfish Competition
Guinjata Species Comp
And a selection of photographs from the report…
You can follow the link below to read the full report…
The season up at Bazaruto is about to fire up. The Sardine crew will be operating there after the Sardine Run in the Transkei. In August we will be heading northeast and will be operating in Tofo, Pomene and Vilanculos and all else in between. We are booked for September (Botswana) but back up to the marlin waters there the first week of October and will stay right through the season. And into 2020!
So get in touch if you would like us to arrange your perfect fishing, surfing or diving trip. You can browse some of our packages at the following link, but we can make up your itinerary as and how you want it.
We can fetch you at the closest airport and leave the rest to us. We have places to stay or camp. We have boats up and down the coast. And a network of great guides and skippers. Each are experts in their waters and target species/activities.
Underwater Observatory in Mozambique by Calum Murie
Calum Murie, when he’s not out catching and tagging huge sharks for science, can be found deploying underwater observatory style camera rigs, all over Mozambique.
Calum and his band of volunteers at Underwater Africa designed this simple but effective underwater observatory camera rig – with bait and all!
The Morey Eels love being on camera, and literally dominate the entire show, whenever Calum and crew deploy their rigs. Up in Bazaruto and Benguerra Island two huge Moreys spent literally hours trying to figure out how to get at the free bait.
Without revealing too much, you can look forward to literally hundreds of fish and other marine animals in this particularly well edited clip. Soundtrack too!
The underwater observatory work that Calum is doing up here, is the first of it’s type here in Mozambique.
You can look forward to more of Calum and crew’s phenomenal work as they perfect the art of deploying an underwater observatory in Inhambane waters. His work is constantly being refined and the cameras can now stay down longer and film more. Having developed a crew that understands the value of the results and how important it is to deploy perfectly every time, is what is producing these results.
You can learn more about Underwater Africa and their research work going on in Praia do Tofo, where they are based. Their shark tagging program has been a great success. The Sardine crew have been assisting and getting right involved. Sonar tagging Zambezi sharks, and Copper Sharks, the data is being used to formulate a plan to reduce shark and human encounters up and down this coast. The spate of shark attacks that occurred up the Inhambane Estuary towards Morrumbuene is what kicked off the project. Listening stations are deployed along the entire East Coast of Southern Africa, and record when a tagged sharks swims past.
Ultimately, proving that Zambezi (and the other usual suspects) sharks are not wanderers, that they stay on their pieces of reef and ocean, is what can lead to measures, to curb the attacks.
The Bazaruto Archipelago is where we can find many sharks to tag. On the outside however produces the best results. This is also the place where Calum plans to keep his underwater observatory operation project getting fresh materials
Calum Murie wires a hefty shark for tagging with a sonar tag that can be picked up by listening stations up and down the East Coast of Southern Africa.
When Calum and crew are not deploying their underwater observatory equipment, this is their other fun activity – tagging sharks!
Although Zambezi Sharks are on the top of our hit list, these blacktips are also featured.
Jason Morkel gets right in on the action. Zambezi Sharks don’t scare him!
If you are interested in this kind of activity and you have some time on your hands, please get in touch. We need help tagging these sharks up here, it’s not easy work, and it can be dangerous too.
Accommodation is rustic luxury and we have many boats to choose from for when we go out tagging sharks.
The Sardine is also facilitating tag and release programs for gamefish. Billfish included. But mainly targeting high value data fish that are in jeopardy and nobody has any data on them. You can see more of The Sardine’s adventure options by clicking here.
Tofo Oceanfest 2018: It’s ON again at Fatima’s Nest in Tofo, Inhambane, Southern Mozambique this 2018!
Tofo is most definitely the most happening New Year’s celebration!
Right on the beach, with years and years of celebrations behind this Tofo Oceanfest 2018, once again – Fatima’s is going to absolutely rock you into the New Year.
Daily activities and a music programme will keep you entertained all day long.
Volleyball, surf lessons, yoga and beach football will make sure!
With the beach right out front, Fatima’s hosts the Tofo Oceanfest 2018 each year, which culminates in the biggest New Year’s event. That goes to the sunrise every time! Guest DJs and local outfits blend together to create the right mood for the right time, every time!
See you there!
Tofo is the nicest little surf/fishing/diving village, right on the beach at Praia do Tofo.
The surfing in the bay is ideal for beginners. The point around the corner for when you’ve learned a bit!
Fishing is fantastic, this time of the year. Get in touch on email@example.com for more information.
And the diving…well it’s acclaimed to be amongst the best spots worldwide. For Manta Rays, Whale Sharks and Turtles.
The Inhambane Bay is huge and waiting for you to explore it’s magical and calm waters. You can hook up a dhow cruise right from the bar at Fatima’s. Seahorses and the rare dugong are first prizes on these trips. Backed up by Flamingoes, dolphins and all sorts, in and around the islands and channels. Fantastic snorkeling, beach combing (for the famous Panzy Shell/Sand Dollar) and visiting the remote but cool restaurants and resorts over at Linga Linga make up a really full day trip.
All these activities can be arranged right at the reception at Fatimas.
For October, we have Captain Duarte Rato of FishBazaruto with a marlin packed gallery featuring his marlin taming exploits recently fishing up off Vilanculos and the Bazaruto Archipelago.
Read the full story here…
It has NOT been an easy season up in Baz. The winds have been wreaking havoc with our charters. Luckily for the GTs and the inshore spots! This is the best thing about Bazaruto and surrounding waters – there is so much variety and so many different genres of fishing to enjoy! From the marlin out the back, to the gamefish in the channels between the islands and then all the very many inshore spots – you can fish in any reasonably bad weather for sure.
FishBazaruto still have a few slots left for 2019. You can get in touch with Captain Duarte Rato by popping on over to his website at http://fishbazaruto.com.
We have many other options too that you can choose from to make up your dream fishing holiday. From budget all the way on up to FishBaz. And from Inhaca to Pemba. South Africa too. Get in touch if you would like us to tailor make a trip just for you and your family or friends. We don’t focus only on marlin and Bazaruto at The Sardine. We also do estuary and fly fishing experiences. Spearfishing. Light tackle boat. Spin fishing. Rock and Surf. All up and down the Southern African seaboard. Contact Sean on firstname.lastname@example.org. Or WhatsApp +27 79 326 9671 anytime really!
Sonar tagging Zambezi Sharks: Calum Murie could have been anything. But he chose to spend his life chasing huge sharks around with sonar tag in hand, ready to abuse the first full grown Zambezi Shark he sees. In the name of science, research and conservation, Calum’s motivation for this career path runs deep and his commitment is exemplary.
And so it was that Calum enlisted the crew and facilities at the BCSS (Bazaruto for Scientific Studies) this September, to get some more tags installed in some Zambezi Sharks and other suspects. The tags are monitored by sonar listening stations set out up and down the coast between Pemba and Cape Town. So if one of Calum’s tagged sharks goes on leave and heads off for a holiday, Calum is gonna know about it.
This behavioural study of horizontal movement is aimed at supplying decision makers with the correct information regards shark activity along our coastline. Sadly, there have been over ten shark attacks in the Inhambane Estuary just down the coast from the BCSS. It’s the poor crab ladies who are getting taken the most. They are sitting ducks working in a metre of cloudy water at best.
And so Calum is fiercely chasing Zambezi’s, the prime suspect as usual. Although bronze whalers are also on our shark tagging list for being a suspicious character. Calum is also after Tiger Sharks, but we have not been successful at this as of yet. Hopefully we can find a small one somewhere!
You can actually get involved in our shark tagging exploits if you like. The success of the project that Calum is running, has opened up more funding for his studies. More listening stations are being deployed in association with the BCSS and Dr. Mario Lebrato. And we now have another batch of tags to deploy. At over $1000 per tag, we have got responsibilities!
The BCSS was built in order to facilitate research and conservation. So if you are aligned with these objectives, get in touch to join the team for a week or two. Rates are very reasonable. And you get to stay with us out here on the edge of the whole world!
Get in touch on email@example.com to make arrangements.
Fishing Benguerra: 2 Black marlin, one brown – on same live bait in same minute!
We had been catching and tagging Zambezi sharks. And recording humpback whale and calf conversations. For three weeks straight. In all kinds of seas and conditions. And so it was absolutely great to be out to tag marlin again. The core BCSS crew were aboard. Captain Bento and crew Pedro and Mario. Dr. Mario Lebrato. And me. We are all fishing mad and this heaven-sent day was just what we all needed to unwind and blow off some steam.
I wanted a marlin for Dr. Mario but when we got down to business, the sharks had eaten our entire box of 22/0 circle hooks. And we were left with our sailfish sized models. But there have been loads of small fish about, and sailfish. So when that beautiful little very unlucky skipjack found itself on the deck. I rigged it up with the small circle and let it go.It took a while to find a frigate bird way up on top, circling with promise. The bird was way above a flock of terns enjoying the action down below. And as we sneaked up on the bait ball, with action all around us, I got a solid strike. Then the fish picked up the bait and headed off with purpose. When the lines and smoke got cleared, I looked down to see the heavy shark purposed braid already melted off towards the half way mark. I pushed the lever forward and felt that almighty power as a huge black marlin took to the skies. Her bill was soooo thick. By now the reel was down to a third and it was with some relief that we all saw her throw the bait, still kicking, way through the air. We would never have turned that boat in time to give chase. But we were out for a laugh and we have been seeing so many marlin that we really, just had a laugh about it.
Then. The bait righted itself and there it was, kicking away merrily. Slowly I brought the bait back towards the boat, when bang, another strike. I was hoping it was not the same fish! And it wasn’t. A fish half the size of the first one greyhounded around us. A spritely male that also regurgetated the bait. Completely intact and still kicking determinedly we watched the unlucky skipjack fly through the again. Hitting the water with a splash we heard over the water from 30m away!
When I felt the bait still kicking again this time, I just handed the rod to Dr. Mario. Who promptly hooked a hammerhead of about 120kgs, that Mario broke the rod on, and we had to handline up. Easy job with that heavy braid.
It was super to encounter that first real big fish. She was so thick and fat. Compared to the rat that took the skipjack the second time. The reel wasn’t big enough either, even with that power braid, we would never have stood a chance. So in the end, the hook matched the tackle just fine. And it’s great that the fish got away scot-free.
Everyone else around us is also getting marlin every day. It’s an incredible scene. You can keep up by staying on top of The Sardine News’ various channels…YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter.
You can also check out Captain Duarte Rato and his marlin taming antics on their website http://fishbazaruto.com and social networks too. Duarte really has raised the bar and produces excellent results by global standards as he consistently releases marlin after marlin, species after species, up here in the waters around Benguerra Island and surrounds.
If you would like to join us fishing like this, The Sardine has many options on offer. From super budget camping and small boats. To luxury lodges and sportfishers. To live aboard mothership with 24ft gamefisher and a huge range.
First marlin for Jason Morkel: Small marlin are just the best. Especially the baby blacks that frequent the waters of Bazaruto, at around this time of the year.
The small fish, under 50kgs sometimes, perform so nicely, getting more air proportionally than their parents do. Really spirited.
And they release really cool too. Like this young marlin (video below) hooked on a daisy chain meant for bait. Luckily the 50lb line gave Jason the power to dominate right from the beginning. At at the end, we got a clean release without even having to touch the fish. He even gave us a farewell leap of thanks!
The marlin season here in the Bazaruto Archipelago has well started, but the beasterly easterly is making things difficuilt. Blowing literally every day. You can notice how rough the sea was this day – in the video. But marlin like the rough seas, they certainly seem more active when the wind is pumping.
This day we also got to see one of our live baits get devoured in an instant. By a huge blackfin shark. So quick! The BCSS (Bazaruto Centre for Scientific Studies) and Dr. Mario Lebrato, supplied GoFish cameras that we have been using successfully and it really opens things up for us. We also have a big bull dorado attacking a plastic. A Cobia (Prodigal Son) chasing and close-up inspecting and even testing. And a hundred little yellowfin tuna chasing us around. We glean so much information from this technology, and it is helping us increase strike and hookup rate phenomenally. You can see that video and read that article right here.
And if you would like to join us fishing up here in these waters, we have many options for you. From 5 star to camping, we can get you out here. Check out some of our options right here.
And a new offering on the go right now, is the mothership Catsanova and her daughter Reflection. The liveaboard Catsanova can sleep 8 or more. And has a few cool options regards range and catering. She is powered by outboards and can get you to all the real interesting places. Like Pomene in the south, and to Nova Mambone in the north. These places hold treasure. Reflection is a purpose builtgamefishing machine skippered by local pro Dean Taylor. You can see him in action in this post. Click here for more.
And in between us and them, are the really big fish.
Blackfin Sharks don’t mind deep water and they are as fast as marlin!
Fish behaviour studies include monitoring how these fast predator fish including sharks, attack.
A cobia comes in real close but does NOT like what he sees, and peels away nonchalantly.
Fish behaviour studies at the Bazaruto Centre for Scientific Studies: The accompanying video features four species of fish and their different reactions to some of our trolled baits up here in Vilankulos waters.
Some days the water got real blue lately, but many other days have been plagued by a bit of green in the water. However, we have worked out distances from camera to fish nicely – the last clip in the sequence shows a huge blackfin shark come screaming on our marlin bait, chomping the wax thread that help the tuna to the circle hook, as they do.
The first clip, is that of a real nice sized bull dorado having a go at a paddle tail. Spectacular as the fish uses it’s prolific sail in the attack sequence. One of our best shots ever (thanks to Dr. Mario Lebrato for going to all the effort to get these clips).
Then a real interesting one comes on, revealing a noisy, ugly white hard plastic noisy lure, that just outright fails to convince the spritely little Cobia that came up from out of the depths to have a look. A very close look. Centimetres behind the clanging lure. And then, unbelievably, he gives it a nudge. When it doesn’t react like a real fish, the Cobia tries again until he convinces himself that it’s not worth it. And peels away unimpressed.
Then we were going slow for some reason, and a whole shoal of cute little yellowfin tuna come into the scene. The camera was upside down at this slow speed so the video can look a little confusing.
Enjoy the fish behaviour action…
The BCSS, on Benguerra Island, has been real busy hosting a group of whale behaviour scientists right now. More about that to follow…
BUT, Captain Duarte Rato officially started his season this week, and he will certainly be doing his homework and tagging and posting for us. His latest report can be seen here -> http://fishbazaruto.com/2018/09/18/early-september-18-fishing-update/, and is a real good one again featuring shoals of yellowfin, some wahoo, and two sailfish. All in days work for Duarte and crew once again on the good boat Vamizi. Who I saw moored at Vilankulos the other day – looking beyond spectacular in preparation for the season.
Benguerra Island: Where you have to count fish to sleep!
It’s 02h00 in the morning on Benguerra Island, and I am trying to sleep again.
But I just can’t. Every time I close my eyes, imagery from the previous day’s fishing out off Benguerra Island in Mozambique, comes smashing through my mind, in 4K Technicolour. Screaming reels, crocodile couta, gas bottle yellowfin, bus sharks, acres of bait and baitballs so intense that the fish were pushing themselves out of and onto the top of the foaming ocean. And you know what that means – marlin!
But, let’s rewind and try play the day out in words…luckily we got some great pics and some video that we will also explain with.
Yesterday (Sunday 19 August Diogo Martinez’ birthday) was one of the most mind gobbling days I’ve ever had on the water…
Here goes …
Diogo Martinez. My latest victim. This guy has lost it. Completely. He even stopped partying as hard as his reputation. 6am, I’m collected. We’re both in perfect shape. Unbelievably for a Sunday morning in Vilanchaos.
Bahia Mar is where all the cool kids work and our rendezvous with our brand new ride. Reflection. Owned and operated by Hooper and Louw, she comes with a pro skipper, Simon, and pro guide, Dean Taylor. Who came with a girlfriend, Mazerine, who has also already lost it to the fishing fairies.
We collected another fishing crazy girl Lwana, from Bahia Mar, and carried our coolers and equipment down to the surreal beach out front. Dhows and Sportfishers anchored up and down.
The three of us chatted and enjoyed a thoroughly peaceful moment as the good ship Reflection, came in to get us. Soon we were at Benguerra, where we collected Keegan, of Cape Town.
There was a lively congregation gathered on the beach at Marlin where we got Keegan, on the inshore lee of Benguerra, and pro guide Dean sprang into action! Halfbeaks! And then the breakthrough idea of the day…Lula! Huge. They are called East African Squid. Or Potter’s Squid. And this one weighed in at four pounds! Since my mate in Jeffery’s Bay, Marc White, chatted with me about swimming a big squid bait down deep with a Mydo, I been very eager to swim a huge squid around here. I also have been under the heavy influence of my colleague Dr. Mario Lebrato, who says that in Europe he fishes with Lula all the time. For blue fin tuna!
We bought the squid! A few actually. And some of the biggest halfbeaks ever seen. Plus a few small ones too. Halfbeaks are the best and most hardy bait of them all.
And then…Margaruque became a reality, by about 7am. But someone told the fish there that we were coming and they were totally in hiding. But that’s Margaruque. And after a solid two hours of serious casting, we gave up, with the wind luckily. The pumping South South West had backed off and we were looking at melted plastic. But the swell was way up and the washing machine from back of Margaruque to the blue is about 10 clicks! Of bashing and bouncing.
But it’s so worth it! We got through the surf easily enough that Dean started tying the biggest squid together with wax thread. He tied the head to the body. And then stitched in a huge circle up top. Then he cunningly inserted a stinger single for wahoo. And buried it’s tip in the head so a marlin wouldn’t feel it. It’s just a 8/0 single wire hook that would rust away if left behind. Tied on with seven strand.
And here starts many stories…
One many named lure (Rapala since I was born, Halco later, and now every man and his dog makes them). One halfbeak on a Mydo. One on a pink Hawaiin eye (I am 48 and thats what they were called back when I started!) And the huge squid. No gaff. But I don’t mind fishing without a gaff, I find the fish really win, and I’m actually on their side these days.
Nothing comes along. The huge squid is skipping and slapping the water audibly from the boat. Well those brand new Suzuki 140s on Reflection, are literally silent. The huge half beak is sliding along solid. The Mydo and other thing with many brand names are down and away.
Still no fish. It’s mid-day. Mozambleak.
Then…all of a sardine…
Birds and bait. Baitballs. Action. The whales start performing. And we get close…and closer, until, spoons and dropshots away!
But the still green crew weren’t getting their range and targets right.
And then it began. The lure with many names on a TLD 25 spooled with 30lb that literally melted off the reel to the most delightful sound. After such a long morning of nothingness. I grabbed the nearest victim and she bucketed up and took over. “Put some drag, more drag!”, consented Dean, as I pushed to sunset. The lines cleared and the fight was well on. Lwana is well versed in big game fishing and she had control soon enough. Lwana has already battled a marlin! Assisted by some great driving by Simon, I thought she may have had a a chance. But what I never thought about, cost us the fish. It must have been a 30kg class animal and it had so much line out still. That, when we fought the fish with the boat, we got ourselves on one side of the 30m ledge, and the fish on the other deeper side. I saw the rod twitch and flick, I grabbed it from Lwana and started cranking. I felt the line hit the ledge again. And pop, it was gone. That’s 0 for 1 on big gamefish. And one no name R200 lure gone.
Then the next one went, a far more controlled fish this time. Skipper Simon and I, actually saw the shoal of wahoo come smashing into our wake, we were screaming. I am used to fishing without a gaff. I actually like it. I crossed the floor a long times ago. It’s risky business having no gaff. But I really release literally every fish I catch. And often, they are what I call forced releases…when the hook shakes right next to the boat. This is actually ideal scenario for me – except for getting a nice photo and measurements. But we don’t even touch the fish. It gets away scott free!
And this is exactly what happened to our second wahoo. It was green as hell and Dean hung over as far as his lanky frame could and grabbed the fish by the tail. It went mad. Shaking it’s head furiously, splashing everyone. Then the hook fell out. And the fish did a cartwheel type maneuver right out of Dean’s hands. It just twisted itself free!
0 for 2 on big gamefish.
By now people were kind of avoiding each other on the boat.
But we had found the fish, and we were on a ledge, and so the jigging sticks came out.
The first victim was Keegan. All dressed up with a 30lb braid weapon and lots of innocent intent. BANG! But it let go!
0 for 3?
But I had a beautiful rigged half beak from the mornings shopping, and it was happy to swim to the bottom in the zero wind and minimal current. And so I dropped it to the bottom. Dean suggested, “Hey man, crank that thing to the top?”
And so I started. It wasn’t five when the THING hit! And absolutely annihilated me. The first 15 seconds I had the edge of surprise, and instinctively hit the throttle. But I got pulled back down, so hard, it could have only been Ambo, GT or Garupa! The fish reefed me in less than a thrifty thirty seconds! Mydo trace gone!
0 for 4?
0 for 5 was another on off on the jigging, only lasted a few seconds.
Now Dean knows his game, and he has the drag on his huge 8000 coffee grinder as tight as it can go. It’s to stop GT’s going into the reef and cutting you off as they do. The drag is so tight that I could not pull any of the 130lb braid at all. Dean calls it GT drag.
And he had it on this setting, when all hell broke loose. I was in one back corner. Diogo in the other. Dean in the middle. Dean had the simbiri pole and 8000 with 130lb braid tied to a plastic and he was cranking it up off the bottom at hyper speed. Keegan was watching eagerly from the front and noticed a hyper huge fish come under the boat at the same hyper speed. It was going for the dropshot. And it connected with Dean, very, very hard. Right under the motors. The couta hit that lure and Dean buckled. The impact was so severe it pulled Dean a metre, almost right out of the always open tuna door between the motors. He had jammed himself between the sides for grip by the time I got to him. The fish never had a chance to turn away and run, it was trapped by the amazingly powerful drag and short line, to Dean. It just went around in hyper high speed short circles under the boat. Dean grappled over and around the starboard motor and was hanging over the gunwhale with the rod tip pointed right into the water going round and round in circles. I was hanging onto Dean. Keegan was hanging on to me.
Dean eventually got the drag off a turn. And the huge fish finally it got it’s head away and tore off towards Linene. At blistering speed. Only Keegan saw the fish so I was convinced at a huge GT. So much violent and raw power. Dean was just hanging on for life. But he also said Serra (Couta).
Then the fish stopped. The sharks got it. And we got the head back from a fish that might have gone 35kgs. Or 25. We will never know.
0 for 6.
We were all stunned, even I went quiet, after all that.
But the birds came back, the fish surfaced, and I threw my Luck Shot into the fray. Bang, I got one. I gave it to Lwana to bring home, and soon I had my favourite livebait. A jube jube bonito. I had made a two treble trace just for this eventuality, earlier on during the morning. It fitted perfect, and I dropped my beautiful little bonito over the side.
It wasn’t one minute and I got smoked. Whoohoo! This is my game and soon I had an angry couta, another really big one, at boat side. Dean went into fish tailing mode, and luckily the cameras were rolling. On the first pass, Dean couldn’t a decent grip around the fishes real thick tail. And the second and now the fish was getting angry. Only one of the trebles was holding. The other was flailing about a foot up the line. So dangerous. So Dean couldn’t go for the gills. I brought the fish around again, and Dean grabbed hold. The fish was really big, and as usual when tailing a fish, the hook came free. I knew straight away what would happen next. The fish got it’s head back into the water, found purchase, and literally blasted off out of Deans hands. It’s impossible to hold a fish that size like that. I really like fishing without a gaff! The fish escaped in perfect shape and health! Stoked!
0 for 7? Livebaits don’t count!
I realised now that we had better get a fish for the hatch. To at least remove the theatrical mombakkies we were still wearing (South African for No Fish masks).
I set lines in a more tuna like pattern, and we moved off to find the bigger yellowfin. And man did we find a big one. Diogo got on the rod. It was a double up strike. Diogo was doing real well. Keegan on the other rod too. But Keegans fish was acting strange, and so was Diogo’s. They were coming to easy, because when I saw Diogos fish, it was huge! Well for this place anyway. It looked 30kgs.
Then the sharks hit. They smoked Keegan and soon he was watching line melt off his TLD. I went into panic mode and grabbed Diogos line. I almost got to the leader when the line snapped. But, above me. Diogo had been pulling against me so hard he snapped the 30lb. But I still had the fish on, and was winning as the sharks circled below. Then Simon ran over to help and grabbed the leader, pulled too hard, and the hooks came out?!
Zero for 8?
Nobody could believe it. And everyone was facing outwards on the boat, or looking down.
Now I really felt the need for a fish.
The yellowfin came up, I got in a real good cast, cranked the handle twice and bang. It was a small guy, maybe 5kgs, and Keegan thoroughly enjoyed the tough little fish. His first ever. And Dean grabbed it’s tail so hard he left fingerprints as he triumphantly hauled our only fish over the gunwhale. The boat erupted with life.
It was far from over as we got our groove on and forced released and released a bunch more fish. The sharks were living off our live baits though, so we were mainly jigging and sight casting. We got a another lovely yellowfin, about 10kgs or more. And were drifting merrily down the ledge.
The huge squid bait from before was still intact and lolling around having fun behind the boat. A ratchet made a noise and we all looked around confused. The TLD 2 speed has a normal sounding ratchet, not like those gold reels who gurgle and gargle. It was the big stick. I sprang up and got the rod from the rocket launchers. But, I was too late as it turned out. By the time I had gotten the 2kgs of drag off – the fish had started jumping already. It had found the stinger buried in the head for wahoo. And was not going to swallow the whole lula now, so that circle hook could do it’s work.
All I could do was hold on knowing that the trace would fail. The marlin wasn’t small, and jumped three beautiful times before breaking the seven strand that was holding the wahoo stinger! Some people on board hadn’t ever encountered a marlin before, and the looks on their faces were unforgettable.fg++
The day never even ended then. The fishing still continued for hours, but after the marlin, my memory kind of just faded away! It all became a blur of ratchets, flying spoons and jigs, and fish on. Double and triple strike action.
Until 02h00 on Monday morning! When it all came flooding back at me.
Benguerra Island is a very hard place to sleep!
If you want to fish with us like this, there are very many options you can choose from – on The Sardine News. From USD to Rands and even Mets, we can get you out into these wildest waters imaginable. We have our operations, and partner operations who have been working with us for many years, even decades. We operate anywhere we have to in Africa.
It’s totally wild down there as GoFish blows it up!
Gofish Cameras. Totally wild.
When we first reviewed a bunch of underwater recordings shot with GoFish trolling cameras – of fish attack behaviour, that we made out off of the Bazaruto Centre for Scientific Studies recently – some crazy sounds came booming from out of the studio.
More and more gasps and exclamations, hoots and howls from the reviewer – until he crescendoed with an almighty bellow, “COME AND SEE THIS!”
Myself and Callum Roberts (visiting shark scientist and the reason for us targeting Zambezi Sharks as he completes some serious scientific research work at the BCSS) bounded into his office, only to be exposed to the most eye-widening imagery ever seen by either of us. Mainly Zambezis – the particular troublesome species we have been targeting for spatial monitoring and movement tagging.
But also King Mackerel – reckless and lethal as they were hunting in packs – they operate together. Amazing to see. Even the big ones. And when your livebait starts to panic like it would after a few minutes in these waters, make no mistake your bait is being stalked and charged from all angles. What was amazing is that they turn away so often. It’s about one in ten charges – that the ‘couta actually hits the bait. The pack seems to goad one of them into eventually taking on strike duty. And they all hang around and share the spoils after the striker gets the bait off the trace! Which happened surprisingly often.
The Zambezi’s were the same, as in there was never only one of them. Up to six at a time were recorded happily sitting barely two metres below the propellers, easily keeping pace with us as we dragged a dredge and a bunch of lures around behind us, at quite some speed. Obviously, as we had a strike, it was barely a few seconds and a shark would climb on.
The Cobia acted the same. And often swam with the sharks. In amongst them. Huge fish.
As did the Talang Queenfish we were lucky enough to film off of Paradise Island. We scored an unlucky flying fish that flew onto the boat. About 5 inches long. The trace we had was too heavy for starters, but a bunch of queenfish came in and inspected, mock charged, turning away every time. A custom trace with light nylon would have gotten that strike. But we did get one on spoon, which may show a relationship between strike rate and live baits in the water.
Yellowfin Tuna, at these initial stages of fish behaviour analyses, have been the most wary and sensible. The bonito and skipjack footage that we recorded in our wake following us – unbelievable. Like an over-stocked aquarium, there were fish everywhere, and going in all directions!
This particular application of video technology to our favorite past time of fishing has potential to completely shift the way we see and treat the ocean and it’s fish. It was far more of a thrill seeing what had happened as recorded and reviewed through the day than actually catching and fighting the fish.
The following video was compiled to study the king mackerel as they come in hot and fast onto the target. You will see that they definitely come in from the flank or rear, and that they go for the tail first. In this clip, one couta actually removes the tail completely with a lightning-fast strike. And then another of the three featuring king mackerel comes in and takes the bait right off the trace. But he hooks himself. And then, in a flash, he just shakes the trace free. All we could see from the boat, was a few dips on the rod tip. The fish never even took drag, since they were coming in for the strike in the general direction of the boat ie towards us! And for sure the camera was always deployed on a real stiff big gun. Tackle just too much for them. We lost quite a few cameras in the end. Sharks and other beeeeg fish we will never know about.
But basically, without the GoFish camera, we would have experienced none of the thrilling wildlife action going on barely a few metres behind the boat. It really has made an effect on us as we now are using this information to make new sfyle traces. But more about that in another article.
All the imagery we attained on our last three weeks of shooting underwater with GoFish cams, has been processed into data and video and is studies. Some of which you can see online at the following links:
Everyone is welcome to celebrate clean beaches and ocean conservation at Shark Weekend
Scottburgh 8 to 10 June 2018
The annual Paddle Out for Sharks (POFS) and World Ocean’s Day (WOD) events will culminate in the 2018 Shark Weekend – a full programme of talks, clean ups, surfing competitions and beach activities geared towards marine conservation running at Scottburgh from 8 to 10 June.
Shark Weekend has a number of interactive activities planned suited to the whole family. The full programme starts at Scottburgh Beach at 3pm on Friday, 8 June with a ‘Healthy Ocean’s Talk’ and beach clean-up. The conservation celebration continues on Saturday, 9 June from8am with a Paddle Out for Sharks ceremony at Scottburgh Beach and Backline. There will be a number of beachside activities including a treasure hunt, sand shark art, snorkelling lessons, as well as adaptive surfing demonstrations and surfing competitions.
Throughout the weekend, Scottburgh’s Premier Resort Cutty Sark will play host to a number of Shark Weekend activities including Aliwal Shoal’s Shark Photo Exhibition, the Mares Dive Gear Exhibition as well as Conservation Talks and Videos. In addition to the generous venue donation, Premier Resort Cutty Sark is running a weekend special room rate of R350 per person, per night.“The 7th Paddle Out for Sharks, in conjunction with Word Ocean’s Day on 8 June, gives us a chance to highlight the impact of human actions and how we can positively turn the tide for shark conservation and good health of our oceans,” said Shark Weekend organiser, marine biologist, shark researcher and member of Shark Angels, Jess Escobar.
“For me, the annual Paddle Out for Sharks celebration has become an opportunity for all different ocean-users to stand together and show their support for shark and ocean conservation. It is reaching more and more people every year, converting the misguided fear around sharks into a respect and willingness to protect them. I am so happy and excited to see such a great support for our sharks and ocean conservation in our area.”
Paddle Out for Sharks started in 2012 after several sharks were killed in nets along the KwaZulu-Natal coastline. The diving and marine conservation communities converged to protest against the nets in support of shark conservation. This tradition has continued every year with more voices calling for protection of sharks, an animal which forms a crucial part of the oceanic ecosystem.
Forming an integral part of the Shark Weekend programme will be an address by renowned ocean activist and founder of the NPC, Breathe, Sarah Ferguson, on Saturday, 9 June at 3pm.The former national swimmer took to ocean swimming six years ago and decided to do something more meaningful with her swimming.
“I decided to start a foundation centred on ocean conservation, so I established Breathe,” recalled Ferguson. “I then started training to become the first African woman to swim the Kaiwi channel in Hawaii which I successfully completed in July 2017.”
Her 30-minute talk, entitled ‘Swimming to Fight Plastic Pollution – Live Deeply & Tread Lightly’ outlines her passion of swimming and the global epidemic of plastic pollution.
“We cannot ignore this issue,” said Ferguson. “They recently found a plastic bag at the bottom of the Mariana Trench – the deepest part of the ocean. Education is critical to change behaviour and create awareness about this relevant and growing epidemic. Change starts with the individual and needs to come from the public as well as at government level. Together, we can all change the statistic that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the sea than fish.”
Special thanks are extended to all Shark Weekend sponsors, including Premier Resort Cutty Sark, Scuba Xcursion, Mares, Pollywog, Blue Wilderness and Made for More.
Prices are very reasonable from 75$/person/day including all (excluding some leisure items), and
include first-class cooking and catering by local Chef Fernando. Three meals a day are served.
Warm and cold drinks too. Don’t think it twice, this is a life-time experience.
Accommodation is in the real deal safari tents, or in single and double sharing rooms. The facility is built right on a beautiful beach and bay, on the north side of Benguerra Island. Views are over the channel to Bazaruto Island. A thousand shades of blue.
Volunteer activities will take up half your day, the other half you can swim, snorkel, hike, game view, fish…anything you please. There is a surcharge for activities involving boats or vehicles.
If you wanted to get on over to the very edge of the world, this is one very cool way of doing it. The prices are a fraction of what it would cost to stay on the highly exclusive Benguerra Island. And you get to do something and learn some cool things about how we can all help conserve the environment that we live in.
Bazaruto Centre for Scientific Studies
Dr. Mario Lebrato and Callum Murie taking a small break from capturing and editing
Activities appeal to all ages really, but it’s the get-up and go type of volunteer we are looking for!
Bazaruto Centre for Scientific Studies Website
The BCSS website has recently been launched. Take a look at the following link:
Use the website to get in touch. Volunteer programmes and activities can be viewed on the website.
BCSS Underwater Obervatory Project: The first ‘croc couta comes in for a real close look but turns away right the last second. There are two of the +-20kg class fish circling the live bait with piqued interest. In a flash the hapless bonito has its tail sliced off. Blood streams out. Another fish circles and bang! The couta comes from in from below and chomps into the bait. Vas! But somehow he misses the hooks and another guy comes in and finishes off.
This action is all part of the Bazaruto Centre for Scientific Studies’ (BCSS) Dr. Mario Lebrato’s long-term ocean observatory project. One of only a handful worldwide, Dr. Lebrato is set to deploy a multifaceted underwater monitoring system. Cameras, sensors and a myriad of other sampling equipment will be installed all over the Bazaruto Archipelago. For long-term data recording and analysis.
Luckily, part of these underwater observations includes predator fish kill behavior. Trolling tow cams on marlin dredges and teasers, and right in front of live baits, is opening a huge new three dimensional perspective of a mostly viewed in 2D wake and prop wash. What goes on down there is gob-smacking. So many fish come in interested, but then shy away at the last minute, and move on. In fact, the plentiful and ever-present Zambezi shark is far more careful than the aggressive king mackerel. Tuna seem to be the most suspicious so far. Cobia are also wily characters. Talang queenfish get super excited about a live bait, but will not touch it! Then it grabs a lure! Amazing revelations about fish learning and behaviour.
Wait ’til you see the Zambies following the boat!!!
The hours and hours of material recorded will go back to Europe for careful analysis and processing into data.
Are you looking for a Holiday Home in Tofo? Check out Casa Frenzy…
Casa Frenzy – your Holiday Home in Tofo
Literally hidden behind the primary dune and in the bush
Another colourful sunset saturates the scene on the way to Casa Frenzy
Casa Frenzy is a fantastic house to host parties in. Your favourite Holiday Home in Tofo
Another comfy seating area that doubles as a sleeper, with mozzie net. Casa Franzy
Shot by The Frenzy herself, from the backline way out off the front
Casa Frenzy is a super cool and big enough house for diving and surfing families – who want to take a relaxing break in a Holiday Home in Tofo
Ideally situated on the shoreline only a few clicks north of the marvelous Praia do Tofo beach and partying town. Casa Frenzy is set snugly into the indigenous vegetation directly behind the primary beach dune. It’s a 100 meter walk and you are in the warm clear Indian Ocean. Swimming or snorkeling your time away.
Then you might be prepared to hit the deep blue, and jump with the whale sharks, mantas, and dolphins that Tofo has become internationally known for. The reefs and ocean life in Tofo are rich and fascinating. There are heaps of reefs and dive spots between far Barra in the north, and Manta Reef, in the south. In between these two extremes, must be 20 named scuba spots.
Enjoy this cool video by ArtSurfer, shot by Renske Massing, with underwater companion Zito, a little while ago – in December 2017.
More about the enthralling town of Tofo…
Loads of dive centres to choose from
snorkelling or scuba
surf lessons for beginners and advanced
Island trips and dhow travels
vehicle and boat rental
Inhambane City visits
local and international cuisine
fresh seafood daily
fresh foods grown right in Tofo
Coconuts and cashews
Tipo Tinto Rum and 2M cerveja
There are really so many things for everybody to do in and around the Praia do Tofo area. The Inhambane Bay allures with it’s enchanted islands and purple blue channels. Complete peace and quiet and accessible to everybody in the family or tour group. The swimming and snorkeling at Barra is terrific and you may even become a close acquaintance with a little seahorse or two.
So click on over to our newly updated Casa Frenzy page and connect through the easy as form…
Tofo Beach, Inhambane, Southern Mozambique: Well it’s always great to be invited to ZanziBeach right on Tofo Beach. Especially on days when master creative in the kitchen and restaurant owner Rui, is working on a new dish.
Açorda de Camarão
Well prawns are prawns are prawns. Or are they?
Well the prawns that Rui and the team in the Zanzi kitchen produced this day were certainly different.
Praia do Tofo
Tofo Zombies can often be spotted at ZanziBeach
Cold, cold beer, remember that I’m right here…by The Roosta
ZanziBeach is right on Tofo Beach
The different angles of ZanziBeach
Without divulging the secret recipe to all…the healthy serving of prawns is served in a delicious stock infused prawn sauce. And comes with a raw egg right smack bang in the middle of it. Which cooks into the hot meal as it is stirred right in.
Rich and filling. Tasty and colourful.
Zanzi serves a handsome bowl for 400 Mets. Or does a three-person serving for 1000 Mets.
The beer is always cold down at Zanzi. And all the really good wines we get around here, are available. Some great Portuguese imported flavours. And the ever tasty South African styles. The smoothies and cocktail variations thereof will keep you refreshed and full of bounce.
The views of Tofo Beach right from your table are the best in town. And the Tofo Mercado is a short walk away. It’s a great spot to take your family, when on holiday, and treat them to some real Portuguese table fare.
Fresh in from Bazaruto Island: Captain Duarte Rato has been hard at all February, and rounds it all off with a fantastic trip he got together with his Dad and his son. Spanning three generations, the effort was serious enough, but with the help of Duarte Jnr’s mom Gretha, those yellowfin were really in deep trouble!
“As all who fish with us know my Dad, Jose Duarte, is a true salt, a real old man of the sea who spent his life in the Ocean, mostly on commercial vessels. He took me to sea from a very young age and, from a very early stage in my life, when my friends wanted to be Doctors, or fireman, or engineers, I knew I wanted to be a charter Captain. My oldest son, Duarte, who just turned 5, as definitely inherited the passion of the sea from us. Or should I say obsession! The boy dreams fishing, watches fishing videos as opposed to cartoons, spends huge amounts of time looking at my BlueWater, Ski-boat and Marlin Magazines and, at five, can easily identify between a Blue, a Black and a Striped!”
The yellowfin tuna have also made an appearance of Tofo recently. Acres of birds enjoying the feast of small sardine-like fishies all over the place right now. Judging by some of the smashes going on, visible over a few kilometres even, there were some big fish on the hunt. Voracious attacks on the surface!
In the backline at Tofinho were the bonefish again. They looked like they could have been spawning as every now and then one lolled over another and a flash of underbelly was occasionally seen. Very cool to see them all so tightly knit and floating along just shy of the waves. If they were not spawning, then I am not sure what they were getting up to?! And no, they were not lemonfish!
Along the beach at Fatimas the bonefish pros were baiting up with prawn and squid and getting a handful of foot longs each. These guys just seem to know exactly when and where these fish decide to show up. This was a few days ago, as a front came through.
The markets are overloaded with lovely gamefish like couta, kingfish and tuna. The weather has been crappy, but aytime the row boats get themselves out there, they bring back nice fish.
Catching Yellowfin Tuna in Mozambique
Well the biggest one caught up in these tropical waters here so far, has to be this 72kg monster, by Duarte and crew, taken on a marlin rig, a few years ago. This fish caused quite a stir, as on this same day, they were all over the place. These huge yellowfin tuna, out of nowhere! And on a mission to smash into everything they could. Luckily this fish held on right to the end. Quite a few got away!
At around the same time, bigger class yellowfin tuna were being encountered up and down the East Coast seaboard of Southern Africa. Even Durban got a fish over 50kg’s. A new club record for all the years of that clubs existence.
Traditionally, yellowfin tuna just don’t hang in these tropical and warmer waters at all. Once they reach sexual maturity, which is 35 to 40kgs, they shoot over the horizon and into the “tuna lanes”.
But, tuna, all of the species, are well known for their feeding patterns. They can stick to a regimen like clockwork, often traversing hundreds of kilometres in a day as they migrate between feeding spots. Feeding spots that these highly intelligent fish know are going to produce at those times. And they can change feeding habits and patterns, completely.
Bluefin tuna used to use False Bay as one of their spots. These fish were most likely Southern Bluefin, which we still get in quite prolific numbers, right off our coast. The Transkei Wild Coast regularly sees legal longliners from Japan, there are two of them, catching Southern Bluefin Tuna, within cellphone signal distance from shore. These ships are based out of Durban and can be monitored on any AIS app, anytime. They catch serious fish. Billfish and Southern Bluefin. but the Bluefin that vacated False Bay in the seventies – have never come back!
Weirdly enough, Bluefin started pitching up off Ireland a while back. After a very long absence. Local anglers were amazed to see these huge fish coming right up to them, as they plied their regular fishing techniques right offshore. Soon, these guys were posting online, questions on how to catch Bluefin Tuna. And sure enough, they caught quite a few!
So the influx of bigger tuna to these shallower and more tropical waters, could be seen as an adjustment to their feeding patterns. An adjustment to the adjustments made as so many variables have to line up for natural events like sardine runs to occur.
So tackle up this next season. Keep that heavy duty popper at the ready!