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Busting the Spotted Grunter on camera in the Umzimkulu Estuary

Busting the Spotted Grunter

Busting the Spotted Grunter on camera in the Umzimkulu Estuary

Busting the Spotted Grunter on camera in the Umzimkulu Estuary: after a couple of years of using these GoFish underwater cameras now, we are still learning how to get the best results…

Spotted Grunter busted!

But this past Friday saw a revelation, as we finally busted those wily spotted grunter hunting along the first bank on the incoming tide in the Umzimkulu Estuary. It took a lucky cast to land the camera (simply attached to my line) in the crystal clear water, just as the shoal of hunting fish idled past. In full attack formation.

It’s all about learning

Seeing these fish in their natural environment also makes it clear why you are not getting any bites. These fish are in position, completely focused, waiting to ambush the prawns and fry that come rushing in out-of-control, with the tide.

The water is moving so fast here in the shallows of the estuary mouth – you can see quite clearly what you need to be doing, to get these fish to take an interest, and strike.

And about conservation

In fact, as an alternative to fishing with bait or lures, I quite truthfully, enjoy this more. It’s an absolutely thrilling feeling when, after scrubbing hours of video, a gamefish comes into plain view. In its completely natural habitat. Free-swimming!

And I get to watch it over and over again!

It is much better than catching and killing the fish, to me personally. And I do think this is really going to take off and revolutionise sport-fishing as we know it today.

Slow start

The uptake on fishing cameras has been slow. I only know one other guy in this whole country (South Africa) who has one! Captain Digby Smith has been sending his camera down to the depths off Port Shepstone and has a load of video saved up for me to scrub!

However, the cameras on offer today are so smart and capable and produce such amazing pictures, that soon most guys will be sporting a cam in their box.

GoFish Cameras

The camera used in this video was my GoFish camera, which I have been using for a couple of years now. I have caught so many fish with it! Couta, marlin, tuna…actually everything by now. These clips are the foundations for most of my YouTube channels.

I use them for everything! Their size and relative toughness, make them really adaptable to any situation.

And! You can get them right here on The Sardine News. Using the link below…

GoFish underwater fishing cameras available now!

Or click on this link.

The Sardine News and the Master Watermen websites are powered by TLC for your Business. Where things get done!

More fun sites for you to check out…

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Shad attack behaviour in Port Shepstone – the movie

Shad attack behaviour recorded off Port Shepstone

Shad attack behaviour in Port Shepstone – the movie

Shad attack behaviour – the movie was shot on a shallow spot on the backline off Port Shepstone, KZN, South Africa. Near the end of the shad open season this crazy 2020. When they start to congregate to spawn.

The shad, unlike garrick or kob, are given a protected season. This was introduced decades ago when the shad were running out fast. At the end of this month, it is over for shad fishers until 1 December. Somehow this doesn’t make sense since it is the Garrick and kob that the help now. DAFF? Where are you guys on this?

Shad have many names including bluefish and tailor. And its Latin name comes straight out of Asterix and Obelix – Pomatomus Saltatrix!

Anyway, we found a large shoal moving around near the backline at Port Shepstone, and managed to get the GoFish cameras into the water with them. What an amazing amount of fun!

Firstly to have the shad in such a playful mood as they chased our lures from the bottom to the top. We got them on the surface too – like little billfish they mercilessly attacked our lures, often finding themselves cartwheeling through the air and tail-walking. Yes, out here in the blue and flat surface, shad take on a wild new character when cranking a spoon wildly across the top for them to chase.

And secondly, the video material we got out of this session, and some of what features in this video – literally blew our minds!

The GoFish cameras we recently added to our arsenal have completed the mission they were acquired for perfectly…

We can finally see underwater!

The only other people who get this perspective are the spearos and bubble-blowers. But now we can drop a camera down, and observe the goings on on and around the reef, without even getting wet!

Working with the GoFish Cameras

It is not in real-time. Wi-fi don’t work underwater. But we have a cute little computer on the boat that powers off a cell charger and its a quick card switch for us to be seeing what just happened downstairs on the reef below us. There is a wi-fi function on the cameras, however. As long as they are floating in their little life rings, and their bums are sticking up out if the water, you can then live stream in real-time the action going on. This is a very limited function but can be applied to certain limited scenarios.

Now if you buy your GoFish Cams from this here website, you will get unlimited email and telephonic support from me and us here at The Sardine News. We have been using these cameras extensively and have made all the mistakes possible. And we are still making them! Learning every day for sure!

So use the link above or below, depending on your device, to get in on this eye-opening way of working things out on your favourite reef or with your favourite fish!

If you would like to join us down here in Port Shepstone for the season, please get in touch. We are based at the Umzimkulu Marina, right in the banks of the Umzimkulu River – and we are fishing flat out!

We have deep-sea options from backline to billfish on offer. We have the famous Sandspit and The Block to fish from the side from. And then the marvelously fun estuary fishing where we encounter so many different species making every strike that much more interesting.

Please get in touch with Sean on or +27793269671 to work it out. Bookings have come back to normal luckily so think ahead in time.

We are Facebook right HERE and run a full-on YouTube Channel right HERE!

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Bass on fly tackle

Bass on fly tackle! Fly sailing is a great new way of tackling bass and practising for the saltwater! Niki Tilley with a nice South Coast largemouth bass.

Bass on fly tackle

Bass on fly tackle? To the purists and sceptics out there – it’s a great way to practise for the saltwater! – Sean

And as the southerly and northerly winds start their perennial argument, hanging out in the shelter of a tucked-away bass pond – is a great place to be. Especially along the KZN South Coast inland beat, where we are right now. And the wind is scathing our beaches and coastline. Right now as I write this, its literally blowing a gale at 30 knots plus. From the south. And tomorrow it’s gonna be the same but from the south-east. Even worse! Then it turns north. Even worser!

Luckily, many farmers from around here allow bass anglers to hunt fish in their dams. And many dont! But if you are on the KZN South Coast some time, and you want to go bassin’, we can take you for sure. Paddock and Umzumbe hold some secrets and even close around Port Shepstone there are some gems. That do not get fished very often at all.

And who also hold some lunker sized bass. Even just recently, as the bass start to enter spawning mode, some good catches have been made including one of over 4kgs caught and released just south of Port Shepstone.

But ok, a few stories that might get you amped up…the first from Coty in the States who penned up this real cool article on what it takes to bassin’ on the fly.

And this one, also sent in by Coty…

…is well worth a read as it analyses the famed Loskop Reservoir where Wayne Naude caught the current SA Record at 7 something kilos!

But ok thanks Coty for the articles, and you can visit Cotys new website at Your Bass Guy dot Com. Click right HERE to check it out. Looking forward to some more technical stuff from the old USA.

And if you want a bassin trip to remember, get in touch with me Sean on or +27 79 326 9671 anytime and lets chat it out.

Check out our YouTube Channel right here…

Catch us on Facebook HERE!

You can buy all sorts of fly fishing tackle right HERE.

The Sardine News (c) 2020

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Egg Sucking Leech?

Egg Sucking Leech by-Jason-Heyne

Egg Sucking Leech?

By Jason Heyne. Who I thought was a spearfisherman?!

Walkersons Private Estate image Nov 2011 from Estate Map site.png

Egg Sucking Leech?

When I first heard about this fly I was how could you say, hmmm, not impressed as the original use of this fly is to floss salmon (flossing is drifting a gaudy looking fly with a bright orange bead downstream in places like Alaska for Salmon swimming upstream to spawn. The idea is to cover water in the run on a 90 degree swing to downstream of the cast using the current pull to get the leader or tippet to virtually line the salmons mouth there by “flossing” the fish and hooking it as most breeding salmon are not on the feed and most hook-ups are outside the mouth) but through a trip and coincidence I found out how deadly this fly can be if used correctly in our local waters specifically Highveld and Berg impoundments and dams in late winter when the trout are in spawning mode and the Cold fronts pull through with some serious wind and cold temperatures and most fly fishers are cuddled around a warm fire!

It was late winter when I went fly-fishing for trout with a my mate Kenneth Muller for the weekend at a time share development place in Dullstroom Mpumalanga . It was a great get together weekend with kids and family present as well and as usual the promised well stocked dams were not exactly up to scratch for us die hard fly-fishermen. I did have fun in the closet dam (read pond) fooling the stockies into taking foam beetles with mixed results and wanted an egg pattern as a dropper but did not have the pom pom style eggs for tying. So I used a glass bead in the correct colour and simply glued it onto the bend of a circle hook so as not to gut hook the little stockies. It worked so well that indeed if I did not pay constant attention for a take they would be gut hooked! 

On the day of departure Ken sidled up to me and said “I am booking the self catering unit at Walkersons down the road would you like to join and head back to Jhb tomorrow afternoon?” . I had heard a lot about Walkersons through Ken but quite frankly the cost of fishing their made the mind boggle! I was running my own IT consultancy and had a cellphone (I know they are the bane of modern day fishing but do help when bunking a day off work!) to answer client calls and book them for the following day so it took all of 5 minutes to accept the offer! When everyone left we headed to Walkersons in the late afternoon with maybe an hour or two of daylight left to book in and maybe quickly wet a line before full dark.  Walkersons  was a magnificent Estate and Hotel for the well to do people from Gauteng and JHB, helipad fine dining the works (Jacket and tie for dinner like and its own trout hatchery) and Ken soon had us booked in and we quickly unpacked at the unit and headed down to the closest fishing which was a weir damn below the unit with awesome views over the valley below (see picture).  When fishing a new water or pressed for time I will forgo my usual dry and dropper (or drifting with strike indicator) and opt for a searching pattern fly the main go to fly being a cone head bunny leech pattern in olive or black (most people would use a woolly bugger) and I tied one on in the dying light and proceeded to cover some water with alternating fast strips and pauses. First two casts produced bulging follows behind the fly! So third cast I stripped faster and bang fish on! A lovely Rainbow hen of about 5lb and a game fight! We lost the light and decided to head back and hit the main dam in front of the Hotel early the next morning.

After dinner and sitting in front of the big stone fireplace to keep warm I decided to tie up a few more strip bunnies for the morning and Ken asked if he could order one or two with his choice of colours etc for the next day his choice being black with purple collar and a purple glass bead instead of the cone. I decided when in Rome follow the trend and tied olive bunnies with red collars and the same glass beads I had used for the egg patterns instead of the brass cone head. Egg sucking leeches!  Oh the blasphemy! 

The following morning after a quick breakfast and packing the cars (10am rule for the self catering unit) so we would not have to return and pack and interrupt the fishing we headed up to the main dam and waited while Ken checked that it would be okay if we fished after booking out of the unit. A head down chap with rod in hand walked past me outside the reception and upon asking told me he had fished the entire weekend without a nibble and was headed back to JHB skunked. Not great news!  By this time the wind was getting some speed up but parts of the dam where still glassed and I opted for nymphing in the weeded areas with my ¾ weight and light tippet carrying my 7 weight as a spare with the bunny leech as backup and Ken headed straight for the main deep bank with his new Xmas tree fly attached. 

The lighter tippet was to be my downfall for the 1st hour or so with screams of glee coming from Ken across the dam! I got bitten off twice (yes bitten off, no knot failure or weed bank to blame!) in that 1st hour on the light 3lb and 5lb tippet using nymphs. I saw the one fish and it made my knees wobble at easy 8lb plus! I decided to head around to Ken and see what all the fuss was about and to reconsider my strategy seeing as the wind was now starting to affect casting on the lighter rig and a scaling up of tippet was required! 

Upon reaching Ken I had to sheepishly ask what fly, although I already knew the answer! He had already hooked and landed two decent Rainbow cock trout between 6lb and 8lb! He also remarked that one beast had followed his Xmas tree fly into the shallows of easy double figures estimated at 14/15lb. Hahaha pull the other leg Ken!  No I swear he said. So I moved down the main bank about 20m away from him and rigged up with a size 10 glass bead bloodworm with 8lb fluorocarbon and a  size 12 GRHE point fly with 6lb fluorocarbon  with a stick on strike indicator. Wind at my back I proceeded to cast diagonally to the bank to my left and let the fly line drift the flies out deeper with the wind. Halfway through the drift the indicator stopped drifting and I walked backwards and lifted into a steam train! Bang 7lb Rainbow hen trout on! 10 minutes later I had her at the net. My ex Tammi was with us and she had the egg sucking leech on and she followed suit with some decent  Rainbow trout cockfish as well. This went on for many hours and plenty fish later we finally decided to call it quits and head for home. Ken landed his PB Rainbow trout at around 12lb during that session. I did not hook a single Rainbow cockfish and only landed the strong Rainbow hens up to 11lb and nothing smaller than 6lb! An amazing session with lessons to be learned. By the time we left the wind was blowing easily at 20knots and gusting to 25- 30knots not ideal trout fishing conditions at all! The cock fish all had that bright pink spawn flank colour and the hens were deep in the body and strong fighters full of roe.

Lessons to be learned 

Never toss aside what is deemed to be unsavoury fly-fishing practice in your or another’s part of the fly-fishing world! Always be open to trying new flies and techniques, you might just be surprised!

We all come from different walks of life and different backgrounds but all share the same passion for fly-fishing. What the story demonstrates is the attractor pattern and the solid nymphing technique both worked just as well on the day, and while attractor or stimulator patterns might not be for the purist they can and will catch trout and are excellent for covering water to find the fish!

The Bunny leech Zonker with the egg bead instead of the cone head worked well on the day due to the fact that it is 1st and foremost a streamer pattern and large hungry trout have been known to predate heavily on minnows and frogs which is what the bunny leech imitates (I have caught Carp, Yellowfish, Bass, Bream, Trout brown and rainbow, Sharptooth catfish and even Shad in the sea on this pattern). 2nd adding the collar puts contrast into the fly and simulates the gill area of a minnow and acts as a stimulator or attractor (check Rapala lures 70 percent at least have a red collar and they wack fish!). 3rd Spawning Rainbow trout cockfish become very aggressive towards one another and adding the glass bead represents a trout egg plus the fish like movement of the steamer fly gets them to attack it for food or for spawning reasons. 4th The hens are still there and feeding hard to sustain body weight and the roe they are producing but sit slightly further out in the holding pattern and will feed consistently all day as long as food is being brought to them ie: the wind busting was bringing a steady flow of nymphs and bloodworms to their feeding lanes out deeper and letting the wind dictate the retrieve (dead drift technique) was putting my nymphs at a natural drift and depth. 5th look for sunny late winter days with cold front approaching or passing with late winter busting wind which creates the conveyor belt of food for the trout. 6th the dam wall or deeper section will hold the fish as everyone knows but look for the bank cruisers to indicate spawning activity.  7th just because someone else got skunked does not mean you are going to be and always ask departing anglers how their session went and what was their method or flies that were used…quite often you will hear “woolly buggers only” which do work but need to fished in the correct way to produce (late winter sinking lines and depths of the dam wall!) which personally is not my cup of tea!

As always Tight Loops

TomSutcliffe - The Spirit of Fly Fishing
Fabulous image by Tom Sutcliffe – The Spirit of Fly-Fishing

Rainbow trout Cock fish in spawning colours image from Tom Sutcliffe – The Spirit of Flyfishing

Conehead bunny Zonker tying Recipe and image from

Well ok Jason I never had any idea you were not more than a spearo and I am so thankful that you are definitely not! And thank you for the article. Cheque is in the email! Reminds me of when I used to receive Mr. Jack Blackmans fly-fishing news column and pics for The Sardine News in the eighties and nineties. Fly-fishing is the game, undisputable. And it comes through very clearly in the writings of fly-fishers. Every word distinctly brimming with spirit. Keep it coming pal! – Xona

Pop on over to our YouTube Channel for heaps of infotainment and fun fishing, surfing and diving videos from all over Southern Africa.

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Video: Evan Phillips baby GT and Chelsea Dog Attack Behaviour

Evan Phillips with his Umzimkulu Estuary baby Geet about to be released

Video: Evan Phillips baby GT and Chelsea Dog Attack Behaviour

In this video shot on a morning fishing trip on the Umzimkulu River – young Evan Phillips gets his baby GT. And we catch Chelsea Dog Attack Behaviour red-handed on camera.


A few pics of the Umzimkulu Marina, in Port Shepstone, where we are based at the moment.

The river valley woke up freezing this very wintery but beautiful morning. The offshore was coming straight off the mountains and it sure felt like single figures. So when the sun showed itself, departure came about. A nice full boat of fisherfolk. David Phillips and his wife Robin. Evan. And little lady Jordan who took on camera duty all dressed in pink! We also had Arno from Fishin’s Cool Fishing School.

So with three guns firing off the bow, and three in ambush positions out the back, we followed the far channel to the top, and right over the big hole area.

This has been a great place to fish over these past few months. Rock salmon, kob, perch and kingfish of all species have been patrolling here.

Soon Evan was bending on his beautiful little baby GT. Who put up quite an argument or was just acting real good for the camera.

When the fish finally came to the boat, Chelsea Dog leapt out of her own ambush position! But Dave was too quick and she retreated in disgust. Dave got the hook out easily enough and Evan was soon posing. And then justly released the absolutely dashing young GT back into the wild. After a quick lecture about that Halco Sorcerer in Jelly Prawn outfit.

Enjoy the action…

You can buy that guy right here. Both Dave and Johan Wessels independently vouch for this particular model and colour. And I can attest to its effectiveness – we have lost all the ones Johan left for us on his last trip! Actually it was my Dad! He has been tangling with rock salmon and all sorts of bad mannered lure thieves that been lurking around here lately.

A very toothy barracuda eyes my dredge teaser in the Umzimkulu recently. This footage is shot with our new GoFish cameras. Get your own using the link at the top or bottom of this page.

The Umzimkulu Marina has a few open slots still. Weeks and weekends coming up. Please get in touch to arrange your dream estuary fishing experience. For you, your friends or you and your family – this place is great fun – safe – and there really are some good fish be caught. And released. We practice tag and release wherever possible and only take a fish for the pan, in extreme circumstances.

You can get me Sean on +27793269671 or on to get the ball rolling. We have boats for charter or for hire. Self-catering chalets right on the river.

And plenty fish to catch.

And release!

We are Facebook here and we run a kicker YouTube channel right here.

GoFish underwater fishing cameras available now!
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Casting lesson #1: look behind you before you throw

Our casting clown in full glory

Casting lesson #1: look behind you before you throw

Casting is integral to your fishing experience. And. It’s sometimes tricky dangerous. Take it seriously.

Early 2018. The Bazaruto Archipelago. Mozambique…

There is a saying…”All the gear, no idea!?”.

And so it was. I was. Cursed with one of these. He was a sponsored angler from Spain. Sponsored by some useless profit-driven corporate fishing brand (yes, another one can you believe it), a really dodgy brand that produced really dodgy copies of Penn Internationals. Terrible drags. Sound like tractors. Not uniform in character between identical rigs. And clothes made of spandex and lycra.

So this is my guy. A sun-sensitive European full of ugly tattoos and weird tan lines. Dressed in a clown suit. And knows nothing about big game fishing.

Our casting clown in full glory
Our casting clown in full glory


And yet, now here he is and he has all this sponsored gear. But he doesn’t even know what a bimini twist is?! His reels are filled with rope strength braid removing all the usefulness of a large capacity spool. His outfits are all completely unbalanced. And with no knowledge of leaders or knots required to hunt big game fish in these wild waters, huge swivels clang about on every rig.

Now. Do you know? That it is legal for recreational fishers, to sell their fish, in Spain?! So when I asked about these completely unbalanced and incorrectly rigged outfits, he replied, “We’re fishing for money, to cover the petrol cost of the boat?!”.

He goes on to say that they target small bluefin tuna miles and miles off the Spanish coast, trolling, and this costs a fortune, so they sell their fish to cover costs? And it’s allowed?!

Even in South Africa it is not legally allowed for any recreational fishers to sell their catch. This right is reserved for previously disadvantaged communities and those with relevant licenses and permits in our third world. Not for first world greedies. Sponsored greedies at that.

And so…

I’m stuck with this absolute clown show. He wraps himself up like a warring desert mercenary, cakes the rest of his sickly pale skin with petrol derived suncream, and starts to fester. His attitude is so bad. I really don’t think he enjoys himself doing anything. When he casts wrong (most times), he cusses. When he loses a fish, he goes mental, trying to blame my skipper and crew. He has cameras set up all over the boat. To capture his follies? I mean really.

And then on this particular day out with the Spaniard, something happened…

Some background to the day first…

My favourite casting rig

I had just recently received a new outfit from one of my sponsors – the Fishing Pro Shop. A 9ft two-piece. With a perfectly balanced little coffee grinder filled with 20lb casting braid. I had my favourite Mydo SS Spoon running on a metre of fluorocarbon, and now trying to ignore my guest, and in my favourite waters, I was finally in the zone!

Unfortunately, I had this utter idiot with me.

We were skirting a sandbank out of Benguerra Island. I call this one the “Bait bank”. I had my new casting rig out and was just loving the braid flying through the guides so smoothly. Not an air-knot in sight. A beautiful scenario. Sometimes a cast emptied half my spool?! But I had a good 200m and was very confident in my brand new equipment and brand new tied knots and leaders (check the figure-of-eight leader system from Mydo, right here).

Bang! Right at the boat, the couta came charging in. Full attack mode!

But the little guy missed my erratic retrieve. But it’s this retrieve that I count on to excite the water I’m fishing in. And excited this little couta was, since, as I placed my spoon in the same place on the drop-off. This time he grabbed my spoon and held on tight. Very tight!

What a strike! What an experience! It’s really like a long bass outfit I’m casting with. But it’s got guts. I chose this rod very carefully. Designed exactly for fishing these shallows. King and Queen Mackerel. Snapper. Kingfish.

The sleek little fish tore off on its first run. The tiny single hook was holding just fine. I backed off the drag allowing the fish to go. At the same time reducing all that fresh new line drag from all that speed pulling the braid through the water. We were too shallow for sharks here – this fact I was counting on. I got some line back just in time for the angry little couta to make a second dash for the horizon. The super-clean water behind Benguerra Island that we were fishing allowed us all a first-row seat into the underwater action playing out.

Characteristically, the couta came quickly after its second run. And it wasn’t a total of ten minutes before my trophy light tackle catch was on the deck. Man was I stoked! I mean I love catching marlin and things. But. A fish like this, on such a light rig…is special. Well, especially to me anyway.

Look before you cast!

As I admired my dinner for that evening…there is nothing much like a freshly caught couta in the skillet…I heard the gut-wrenching sound of my idiot clients pole, smashing right through the middle of my delicately poised 9 footer, in the rod holder.


He simply destroyed my rig. In half.

I never looked up. I just told the skipper to take us home.

The idiot never apologised. Nor did he offer to replace my rig.

But ok. I still had my fish. And this story to tell. Which I enjoyed thoroughly and hope the foolchild from Spain reads this too.


Enjoy a little collection of pics taken on and around Benguerra Island during the season of 2018…

More Sardine News can be found on Facebook and YouTube.

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Captain Matt Wainwright on the Umzimkulu

Fishing the brown water in KZN: Matt Wainwright down on the water at the Umzimkulu Marina with a fresh kob

Captain Matt Wainwright on the Umzimkulu – “It’s my favourite place to fish away from home!”

Matt Wainwright down on the water at the Umzimkulu Marina with a fresh kob
Matt Wainwright down on the water at the Umzimkulu Marina with a fresh kob

Matt Wainwright has been coming down the south coast to Port Shepstone from his home waters off Durban, for quite some time now. He used to just fish with us on the Niteshift, but soon he was towing his own little super fun and totally cool duck around with him. All over the place and to the Umzimkulu Marina in particular.
We had some amazingly fun launches on that ultralight boat with a powerful 40hp behind it. Full speed boogie band through the waves and back again. And we caught some lovely fish together.
But now Matt has upgraded and sports a real well-built and thought out cat. It’s in the 16ft class boat size and once again, is super well powered. Acceleration out of the hole is what is needed the most in surf launching, and that is exactly what Matt has got plenty of.
This last weekend Matt brought his guests back down to the Umzimkulu, where they were lucky enough to get right in on some long-awaited bottom fishing action. Just before the sardines make their appearance, all sorts of fish start to gather along the KZN coastline in ambush formations.
It is kob (daga salmon), that are making the news right now. Very susceptible to over-fishing, we need to protect these fish. By sticking to our bag limits. And kind of keeping the mission a secret – just don’t tell the other boats, let them work it out for themselves. If you help other people onto these vulnerable fish, the damage is done and cannot be undone.
Other fish that get extra active in this exciting time of the year, down deep, are black musselcracker.

A real honour to get a fantastic fish like this black musselcracker.
A real honour to get a fantastic fish like this black musselcracker.

As you can see, Matt’s guest Ziets got himself one over the weekend down at the Umzimkulu Marina.. A cracker of about 20kgs. Delectable. And endemic. Slow growing. Luckily they can really fight back and many get away. Once again, really vulnerable.
The Geelbek have been slow for many years now. They used to come in huge numbers, but fleets of ski-boats would descend on them, in their spawning mode. Huge catches were made. All of us did it. But the damage is done, that’s for sure. Even to catch just two of these delicious fighters these days would be a luck!

Dejan has also joined the Niteshift as crew and is loving it
Dejan has also joined the Niteshift as crew and is loving it. Here he is super stoked with his two geelbek salmon a few weekends back.

But it is the dusky kob that is hurting the most. These guys look just like daga salmon, but are smaller and very slow growing. Hardly any of these fish get over 1000mm, which is almost their sexual maturation size, before being caught. Very rare now, it is thought that if fishing for dusky kob was banned, it would take 40 years to restore the population.
But ok, enjoy the sardine season and let’s hope for a good showing. The red hot pokers have started to fire up with that gorgeous red colour and the waves are starting too, with the desirously warm offshore winds.

Roosta with his catch of the day! Hope he ain’t paddling around with lot in tow?!?

In the meantime, if you would like to join us, and Captain Matt Wainwright at the Umzimkulu Marina, drop us a line on or WhatsApp +27 79 326 9671. We can fish for kob outside, we can load surfboards on board and catch the low tide somewhere with nobody anywhere, we can fish the estuary at night for rock salmon, and we have the world famous Sandspit Beach for night time and lure fishing.

The very same weekend, Matt’s other guest was more into catching kob on lures, and being right at the Sandspit he rigged up took the delightful walk along that amazing beach. And look what he got!

And then another one!

Dallas with a groovy little kob at the SandSpit in Port Shepstone
Dallas with a groovy little kob at the SandSpit in Port Shepstone

More about the Umzimkulu Marina right here.

Catch winter kob or dagas on Mydo Luck Shots, available here.

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

Another beautiful Sailfish lives to tell the tale

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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No laughing matter. Surf launching is dangerous!

Surf launching is dangerous

No laughing matter. Surf launching is dangerous!

Surf launching is dangerous, especially on the huge spring tides. Coupled with an easterly swell, all sorts can and does go wrong in this crazy clip sent in by an anonymous contributor. He swears that’s not him laughing in the background.

Surf launching: analysis

Having been through many shoreys like this one, my only advice would have been to rather not pick on such a close together doubling up and crunching set of three gnarly waves, at all. I would have waited at least this set out. But being lifeguards, and some idiot might be drowning out back, sometimes you just have to go.

Luckily those boats are designed to go over and inflict as little damage on the lifeguards as possible. There is no console. They are mostly soft. Nothing to catch on. The engine is the only thing to avoid when the boat goes over. Althpough that in itself is enough!

But in this case, the boat rolls over and away from the crew, who were dumped quite luckily actually.

As the boat gets through the annihilator wave that broke literally on them, the skipper mistakenly but unavoidably hits the throttle, as all that water crashed over him and he tried to hold on. This was the tipping point well overreached. The boat comes flying up and out of the white water under power, and at the wrong angle completely.  No coming back from that.

No injuries and plenty people to help made the event just something cool to learn from.

Well survived!

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If you want to learn all about surf launching, get in touch on, and we can schedule a course.

For more information check out Advanced Surf Launching.


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JP, the Mydo SS Spoon, and the Bluefin Kingfish

JP Bartholomew fishing on the Mydo team in Mauritius catching loads of bluefin kingfish on his Mydo SS Spoon range.

JP, the Mydo SS Spoon, and the Bluefin Kingfish

JP, the Mydo SS Spoon, and the Bluefin Kingfish: Following JP Bartholomew aka Bartman, on his fishing excursions across the oceans. This time JP checks in from Mauritius somewhere. Details are scant at this stage, but stories of big bust-ups are filtering through.

The Mydo SS Tuna Spoon that JP was throwing for a really big GT, got chowed by the most beautiful kingfish of all – the Bluefin Kingfish. aka Bluefin Trevally. Latin name is Caranx melampygus. If you speak latin?!

MYDO Team Member JP Bartholomew with a magnificent Bonefish taken on a MYDO SS Spoon on the KZN North Coast
MYDO Team Angler JP Bartholomew with a magnificent Bonefish taken on a MYDO SS Spoon on the KZN North Coast

JP also snagged a real trophy on any lure – a bona fide bonefish that looks like 10 pounds! There notoriously fickle and difficult fish to catch grabbed the SS Tuna Spoon in a wave being dragged through a shoal of baitfish that the boneys were feeding on. Boneys are very hard to catch.

When JP returns, we can expect his full journal of what he has been up to. Fish by fish. But in the meantime take a look at the Mydo SS Spoon range in the catalogue at the following link…

Follow JP right from his phone at the GT Adventures Facebook page at the following link…

Or his page on The Sardine News at…

Read about the entire Mydo range:

  • The original MYDO Baitswimmer – swims a dead bait like it’s alive!
  • SS Spoon – light and lively, highly advanced
  • Luck Shot – a heavy duty drop shot that actually swims

Watch the Luck Shot in action in this video…

And learn more at

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JP Bartholomew and his GT on fly

JP Batholomew and his GT on fly

JP Bartholomew and his GT on fly

JP Bartholomew and his GT on fly is written by JP, after an incredible encounter up on the north coast of KZN, South Africa, a while back. Enjoy the well written and entertaining account below…made me want to got fishing straight away!

“My day started like no other day on the North Coast, it was Saturday 5th of September I started my morning on the Tongaat River Mouth / Zimbali stretch also known as Long Beach, plugging for Garrick. The sea was choppy, the tide was going out and there was a slight SW blowing, perfect for targeting garrick; which unfortunately bought my morning session to a close with no garrick attacking the plug. I left for home where myself and the family were staying. I thought to myself ‘this afternoon I’ll park at Salmon Bay and walk the Zimbali stretch from north to south but this time with my fly rod catching the pushing in tide’ with the hope of catching  a garrick before the day was up.

So Saturday afternoon I parked at Salmon Bay with my gear which consisted of my Shimano tackle back pack together with my 8/9wt Explore rod fitted with My 8/9wt reel with intermediate line using a 22 kilo leader fitted with a Black and Grey Lead Ass Mullet fly with a 5/0 Mustard Hook.  I started my assault along the Zimbali / Long Beach, heading south this time towards  the Tongaat River mouth. The stretch I was doing had a lot of structure with some nice deep drop off’s which, with a pushing in tide, made it that much more exciting and challenging with a nice SW slightly blowing.

I wasn’t even 200 meters when I saw some action just off a rocky ledge which formed into a nice covered bay where I always saw mullet and karratine shoals hiding away from those predatoryal game fish like GT’s,  Garrick etc… I started stripping line from my Explorer 12 Wt fitted with a Lead Ass Mullet fly with a 5/0 Mustard Hook and started my descent on the area of water where I saw the mullet jumping. Was it garrick feeding or some other species? Never the less I started casting my fly towards the rocks where all the action was happening. I slowly built up my casting distance to where I wanted my fly to land in the strike zone, hoping to pick up whatever was terrorising the mullet. I was into my 9th cast slowly retrieving the fly towards me, changing to an erratic fast action to try and catch the attention of the fish that was scattering the mullet.

Not much longer into my retrieve I felt a bump. Not sure if it was the hunter or the hunted bumping my fly. I continually cast straight into the strike zone again, happy with my cast, I retrieved quickly from the start… Bang bang I was picked up with such force I nearly had the rod pulled out of my hands. I actually didn’t realise what had just happened it was so quick. I knew straight away I was into a buster of a kingfish, which species I could not say at that point in time, as I hung on for dear life as not wanting to lose this fish that had attacked my fly so ferociously on my retrieve. This boykie was not letting up! He was pulling my line quickly, before I knew it I could see my 150m of backing starting to disappear in front of me.

Not being equipped with a heavier set up which would have been my 12 Wt, I knew it would be a do or die situation. Deep breaths and patience was going to be my strategy and I was hoping my equipment would hold up to the pressure this beast was applying on both myself and my rod and reel. I was slowly having some say in this fight, managing to retrieve some of my backing and slowly getting some of my line. My hands and back were starting to feel the pressure and I  just kept thinking ‘no pain no gain’. This could be the fish of a lifetime for me, I just bit the bullet  and kept at it.
Just as I was starting to get more and more line back what I was not hoping for happened; my 9wt Explorer locked on me, it seized, which meant I could no longer retrieve anymore line! What do I do? My equipment has failed, which was fully understandable as it was totally out of its depth with the size of whatever was on the other side of the line. Two options came to mind very quickly, give up which I wasn’t going to do or brace the moment and pull this boykie out by hand.

I quickly grabbed my line and wrapped it around my hand, thank goodness I had my Stealth hand gloves on. I started pulling slowly, moving backwards and at the same time retrieving my line wrapping it around my hand not wanting to pull too hard and risk the chance of losing this boykie, I had come too far for that. I slowly started to retrieve more and more moving up and down the beach, having a good work out at the same time. Finally the beast surfaced; it was a huge GT! My adrenaline picked up when I knew what it was and if I did land this beautiful specimen of an Ignobilis GT, it would be my best catch on fly, I was on cloud nine. Not on cloud nine yet I quickly got back into action wanting to get this boykie onto the beach as soon as possible as I was tired and I could see he was getting tired too but he still had a lot more kick in him. I just had to pick up my pace and keep up with him. I kept  pulling at him slowly and wrapping more line around my hand and walking up and down the beach stretch; I had carved out a path with the continuous up and down while pulling him in and retrieving more line each time.

I finally started seeing more and more of the ignobilis which was a good sign that I was slowly getting closer to beaching him. Finally I was at a stage where I could feel myself starting to lose grip of the line and it was as if the man above looked down and threw me a lifeline; a wave appeared out of nowhere and helped bring this buster of an Ignobilis a little closer. I saw my son,  who was with me, run into the retreating water and grab it with both hands, with the help of some of the bystanders. Finally seeing my trophy ignobilis safe on the beach, I fell backwards tired, shacking and with one very sore right hand. I just looked up and said thank you…..!! Trying to catch my breath and the bystanders shaking my hand and congratulating me, my son said “You did it, Dad, a whopper!”, as I laughed at him and thanked him for his contribution in helping me. Finally landing it safely 57min later,  according to my son is how long I struggled and battled with this exceptional GT that gave me my best fight yet.

Getting my breath back I knew this boykie would be exhausted too. I had to get him back into the water as quickly as possible and revive him so he could return to the sea healthy, but first I wanted to tag him before returning him. I got my son to get my kit from my bag while I dragged him closer to the waters edge so that I could get  the sea water to pass over his gills reviving him back slowly. I measured him quickly, measuring at a 106cm and then tagging him. My son and I got him into an upright position and carried him into deeper water holding him up so the water could pass through his gills even faster. 10min into reviving him I could feel him getting stronger, eventually his tail was starting to get movement back and in no time he was on his way back into the blue.

When we got back from our weekend up at Salt Rock that afternoon and finished unpacking and cleaning up, I sat down with my Length- to- Weight & Identification Guide to Southern African Angling Species Booklet by Chris De Vries, I went straight to the Ignobilis page to check out the size of the trophy GT I had caught Saturday afternoon. Running down the weight chart I finally got to see the  size of the Ignobilis GT I had caught, which had seized my reel and gave me the fight of my life.There it was 106 cm and the weight was my best yet sitting at 23.2 kilos of solid muscle. Wow I was amazed, I had finally conquered my most sacred fish. Knowing deep down inside I had just conquered a piece of the Holy Grail and knowing that out there there are Ignobilis’s of up to 50 kilos and heavier waiting to fight and challenge any angler that crosses his path; the fighting passion that a Kingfish of that size can give a person is so pleasurable if set free to fight another day. So remember always let the big boys go to secure our breeding stocks for the younger generations to come and enjoy the moments that you so treasure, the memories of that big GT buster that didn’t get away on that special day where you got the privilege to earn a little piece of that sought after species of the Holy Grail.

JP Batholomew and his GT on fly
JP Bartholomew and his GT on fly

Tigh Lines and let your fish roam free….

Cheers JP.”

Once again JP, many thanks for putting a huge smile on my face, as I read about you releasing such an amazing catch. And you caught it on fly? Kudos!

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Fishing IGFA with Mydo by Captain Len Mathews

Fishing Igfa with Mydo worked for Jannie Griesel here at Sodwana Bay last weekend. #3 sized Mydo Baitswimmer

Fishing IGFA with Mydo

Jannie Griesel with his Mydo caught couta at Sodwana this last weekend.
Jannie Griesel with his Mydo caught couta at Sodwana this last weekend.

Every Mydo lure made is totally IGFA compliant. But the baitswimmer couta trace, when rigged with trebles, is not.

Why do we rig with trebles? Popular demand. The treble hooks available nowadays are incredibly strong and sharp, compared to the old 2X’s that we used to get. And the fish are more scarce, making a hook up meaning so much more than it used to.

Mydo anglers were never even introduced to IGFA, back when it all rolled into South Africa, in the 80’s. The main competitions never used IGFA rules either. It took a long time before IGFA rules were applied to money comps. Trebles were the standard issue for catching couta, and still are, with most anglers.

But the rules have changed slowly and now many competitions on the circuit are IGFA now. This is great, as trebles are not really suited to releasing fish at all. Singles inflict far less damage. Captain Duarte Rato fishes single hooks wherever he can. But he still uses trebles for couta traces!

Captain Len Mathews only fishes IGFA rules. This is how he rigs the Mydo Baitswimmer.
Captain Len Mathews only fishes IGFA rules. This is how he rigs the Mydo Baitswimmer.

Captain Len Mathews has been part of the Mydo team for a long time now. He catches great fish. And he only fishes IGFA. Two Kendall Rounds, rigged nice and light. This is the reason Len reckons, that he doesn’t lose fish. Len admits to a slightly more complicated hook up, but that when done right, snags his fish as many times as trebles would. But his use of singles means much more solid hookups.

Meaning he can pull much harder.

Which is great for the sailfish and marlin, who scrounge Lens’ well-presented couta baits often. And for pulling fish away from the taxman.

According to Len – there are a bunch of good reasons to stay single!

Thank you Len!

Learn more about the Mydo Baitswimmer range of lures right here…

Len Mathews about to release a striped marlin at Zavora, Southern Mozambique
Captain Len Mathews about to release another billfish at Zavora, Southern Mozambique. Len only fishes IGFA using single hooks on his Mydos. A factor which helps in easy and quick releases for the many fish he catches.


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Umzimkulu GT in the evening

A lekker Umzimkulu GT by Yousef Jadwat

Umzimkulu GT in the evening

Umzimkulu GT in the evening: Estuary fishing is a technical art. You can’t decide to just go fishing. You got to research beforehand and time it right. So when Yousef Jadwat emailed me a while back to go fish the Umzimkulu, we had a good look, and chose 6pm high tide, with absolutely no moon – which happened upon the 27 June 2017.

Last night!

There are very many other technical variables to catching good fish in the Umzimkulu River, down here in Port Shepstone. In our lockup in Mozambique, I had been hoarding a lure. Brand new, but 20 years old. Three trebles. About 20cm. Black on top, silver below. Rapala don’t make anything hand-made anymore, but this one was. Balsa with wire through. Skill all the way. It was like a stretched out version of the infamous CD13, also defunct now. But it’s long narrow profile, and it’s gentle side to side action was exactly what we were going to need. And those colours!

So I had a Luck Shot #1 with my favourite orca 5 inch jerk tail. And my other favourite – Luck Shot #1 with a huge 7 inch split tail out too. It wasn’t a hundred metres, as we set out for the mouth, when I instinctively turned back and WHALLOP! A grey shoulder and huge fins were all I could see for the strike through the spray. It was merciless. An explosion, and the 8ft boat rod bent double, and the 50SH screamed. It was on my 20 year old lure! I was just thinking about those skinny little hooks. The drag was a bit heavy and Yousef could not get the rod out of the holder as the fish smoked line off the spool. And when I went to assist – the rod holder broke clean off the back of the boat! Where it’s been faithfully serving for 20 years too!

Well now Yousef had the rod and I had the lines cleared. I got to the drag and backed it right off – all the time worried about those skinny but sharp trebles. But Yousef did his job well and after some time we got a glimpse way down in the clear water. I had thought garrick right from the start. Those long fins haunting me. It was doing all the head shakes, short high speed runs, rapid turnarounds and staying deep. Then it popped up where we could see it proper in the afternoon light.


The Umzimkulu is renowned for it’s little kingfish on lures. Usually Big-Eye Kingfish. But we have had plenty yellow ones, and the ultra-beautiful blue-fin versions. We never take any out, they release so easy if you are careful. Just don’t touch eyes or gills, lift carefully by the body, not the hook – and use a long-nose pliers to get the hook out fast. Tag. Very quick photo and release! Too easy.

But this one was huge in comparison. If it was a big-eye, it quite well have been record sized. They only get to 7 or 8kg’s max. Most records stand at about 4 or 5kg’s. But those big fins? I was wondering still.

Yousef started winning with the heavy tackle and next thing the fish was right there. Still fiesty, the fish started to get angry as it got closer. Then GASP! I saw the hook pull and the lure turned upwards! But bang the line went tight again – the tail treble, the third and last one, was stuck in the kingfish’s head. All the others were straight. And now he was mad! Tight little corkscrews at super high speeds. Just flashes really.

I had to do something so I grabbed the tiny emergency gaff and hung out off the back. I was getting dizzy with all the swerving going on but then he did the same circle twice and I poked him right in the tail – where those heavy scales and armour protect him from attack all his life. The gaff hook held as I pulled the little guy through the air backwards and on to the deck. Where the gaff fell apart!

And when I saw that it was actually a GT!

The hook that held, funnily enough, was real tough to remove. That skin up top there is soooo strong. We got some really good shots and a sequence of the release into the serene but colourful sunset on the river. Whooohooo! 1 for 1 on GT as Duarte would say!

In great spirits we patrolled with the same spread down past rock salmon alley one, around the submerged rail and road bridge of old, across perch channel, down the middle along the long wall of features, and into the wide open basin – that presents the foaming mouth of the river, to the warm clear Indian Ocean in winter time. Water was rushing in so we anchored about a hundred metres inside. Just in front of a prefect sandbank slowing the waters for us, and making it very pleasant to fish with some ultralight tackle.

The first grunter, the only fish that came home with us, made a great show of his first run, as he set off with the tide for the sun. It was always gonna be the kids turn, and the 5 year old  Hamza accepted the rod from his Dad with enthusiasm and confidence. The drag was lekker. The rod and reel working so well. Circle hook. Not much current. And soon after some puffing and panting and pulling, there it was. A sterling example of a table-sized spotted grunter. Well pot sized! This one was going to be curry for sure.

The next rod went while we were still taking photographs, and the kid got another one! This kid has a bright future – especially with his already practising catch and release. Between the two of them, they released that lovely GT, and three grunter (plus about 5 strepies?!).

I am going to be working the Umzimkulu Estuary for the next two weeks. There are still some great slots available – get in touch on to get in on this type of fishing. Ot WhatsApp +27 79 326 9671

Click here for more estuary fishing options, along the eastern seaboard of Southern Africa


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The Daisy Chain

The Daisy Chain fished on a 30 for just in case

The Daisy Chain

Many rods actually vie for the mantle of being the most important rod on the boat. The live-bait jig sticks? The spinning stick? But there is one rig that really covers all bases and every situation – the good old Daisy Chain.

South African style. Three 3 or 4 inch feathers / min-eyes / jube-jubes / dusters…rigged in a row, about a half metre apart. Each with a single hook. I rig mine with wire…explanation to follow. But first let’s get clear that this ain’t no IGFA compliant rig. No sir! In fact, I got in touch with IGFA, and asked for clarification. Here with the cordial and timeous answer I received from Mr. Vitek.

“Thanks for the message. Based on your email, it does not appear that your rig would be IGFA legal as you mentioned that each of the feathers has a hook. IGFA rules only allow anglers to fish with a single hooked bait at a time. That said, if you were to only put a hook on the last feather, that would be IGFA compliant.”- Jack Vitek

So it seems we can fish the Daisy Chain in IGFA rules, so long as only the last feather has a hook in it.

So why all the fuss?

Billfish to bonito. That’s why. A sailfish or young marlin eagerly chooses the Daisy Chain over the other purpose rigged lures. Dorado smash them. Natal Snoek (Queen Mackerel) love them. Bonito – the pulse in our veins on any trip – devour Daisy Chains – even multiple baits on one chain sometimes. Couta of all sizes. Skipjack. Kakaap. All sorts…

In fact the Daisy Chain not only catches anything and everything, even shad – but they give you back another advantage – intel. You can glean data from the daisy chain, as to what is going on, and act accordingly. They are like feelers out there, just letting you know what’s going on at that present moment.

Daisy Chains can drag fast too – really small form factor – they kind of keep each other in the water and not flying about like a single lure rig at the high speeds we sometimes try at. Natal Snoek love the higher speeds as much as billfish do.

And now, if you rig the Daisy with an extended wire tag end that doubles over and back, to become a clip for piece of fillet, and a real strong hook with real strong wire – you have a Strip Bait Daisy Chain. I say strong wire (#8 at least) – mainly for resilience because the Daisy is normally going quite fast and is always in the white water, playing second fiddle to the tag lines and outside rigged lures. So it can’t even really be clearly seen – so it’s fine to rig up on wire. Especially since the Daisy is lying just in front of the inside konas, and right above the deep diving rattlers – and just behind the second teaser.

The middle of all the action!

The two uprights back corners are where the Daisy Chains run nicely. If the wind blows, put them flat next to the deep divers
The two upright back corners are where the Daisy Chains run nicely. If the wind blows, put them flat next to the deep divers.

These modified and wired Daisy Chains will soon be available from Mydo Lures. Look out for The Mydo range at a tackle store near you. If your local tackle store doesn’t stock The Mydo, try

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Marlin on a Coffee Grinder

Carl Jankowitz gets stuck in with his stella coffee grinder

Marlin on a Coffee Grinder

Carl Jankowitz, fishing with Captain Duarte Rato out off Cape Verde, really wanted a marlin on a coffee grinder. Well, not just any coffee grinder – his trusty Stella. Which you can also use to winch your boat up onto your trailer after fishing, if you need to!

And so, the reel filled with some high powered braid, and attached to a solid jigging type stick – the team proceeded to raise and bait a hot tempered blue marlin or two. Resulting in one very good release, as the Stella and Carl were able to put the required amount of drag and pressure.

You can read the full story on over at where updates from Duarte’s fishing adventures are posted. And bget in touch there if you want in on the marlin action, as Duarte follows them around the world – Cape Verde, Ascension Isles, Great Barrier Reef, Madeira, and of course, his favourite – Bazaruto.

And check this video out of how the guys in Cape Verde release their marlin…

Follow Duarte on Facebook at…

The show moves back to Bazaruto in September, and there are a few slots still available. Bazaruto has long been the favourite for producing new world record sized black marlin – the current IGFA record by Alfred Glassel was caught in Cabo Blanco over half a century ago…1560 lbs!

Image result for glassell world record marlin

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Video: Captain Duarte Rato in the hot seat with marlin on the Great Barrier Reef

Marlin on the Great Barrier Reef

Captain Duarte Rato in the hot seat with a marlin on the Great Barrier Reef

A great video that really captures the madness as it goes into overdrive action when tackling big angry billfish. Black marlin in this case – who carry the mantel of open ocean speedsters, reportedly hitting 127kmh! These are marlin on the Great Barrier Reef. Being chased down and tagged by the highly regarded bill fishing team aboard charter boat – The Tradition.

Check out more of Duarte’s escapades fishing around the world by clicking here. Cape Verde is his current location, and his company, based in Vilankulos, can arrange your ultimate fishing adventure also to The Ascension Islands, Madeira, the Great Barrier Reef and most importantly – Bazaruto. On the best boats available.

Bazaruto is acclaimed to be the next world record location for either a black or blue. Many have been encountered lately, some have been taken out after being sharked or tail wrapped. The biggest was aiming for about 1450 pounds before two monster tiger sharks took some serious chunks out of her.

Duarte aims to release all of his fish, and enjoys a helluva track record. You can actually delve in and read about Duarte’s many trips on his website. Duarte has diligently kept record of each and every trip he has taken – starting way back in 2011!

Read his regularly updated Captain’s Blog by clicking right here…


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Fish-eye view – the MYDO Luck Shot dropshot rig

Protea Reef Tuna are suckers for the MYDO Luck Shot Mini

Fish eye view – the MYDO Luck Shot dropshot rig

Dropshot fishing with a MYDO Luck Shot is so entertaining!

And it’s not all about luck!

This is how much technology a fish has to deal with, when faced with a MYDO Luck Shot dropshot head. The hydrodynamic design features an articulated join that allows for complete freedom of movement for whichever plastic bait you choose to use.

The results are unpredictable side to side and up and down swerves that mimic the plight and flight of an injured, fleeing baitfish. Predator fish are excitable at the sight of anything out of the ordinary, movement – and colour. Use the colour Luck Shot that suits the water and light conditions.

And change your retrieve for completely different results.

  • Crank it up hard onto the surface and it comes up blasting like a plug, and when it goes back underwater, it drags a beautiful and shiny bubble down with it, that becomes a smoke trail of air and chaos as it dissipates. Repeat.
  • Troll or wind evenly and it swims life-like and calm, like an unwary baitfish.
  • Do the twitch and variate for violent swerves and panicky actions
  • Drag on the bottom and excavate clouds of sand – just what the kob are keen on…

To get in on the MYDO action, click on over to and check for a tackle store near you. We are in 90 shops so far! If there isn’t one (unfortunately there are many tackle stores who refuse to stock our South African home grown and hand made lures for whatever reason), then just order online, and we will deliver to you sharply.

Click here for the shop and more MYDO information.

Many thanks


+27 79 3269671

JP's Dorado on Mydo Luck Shot Mini #2 dropshot fishing
JP Bartholomew’s Dorado on Mydo Luck Shot Mini #2

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Rigging your MYDO Spoon – the traditional way

MYDO SS Lanispoon Three Pack 550. 650 and 900

Rigging your MYDO Spoon – the traditional way

The new MYDO Spoon range is super versatile. The twin blade 316 Stainless Steel lures can be fished many ways, for many fish. In the right conditions, fishing just one of the two blades offers all the advantages of a super light lure for super light tackle in shallow water. Like estuaries or fishing for shad over reef.

All you have to do is change the configuration with the split rings. Split rings are vital pieces of equipment, but come in various qualities.

After a challenging and wild fight along the rocky edge of the Port St. Johns river mouth, the Umzimvubu, I saw a keen chap turn sour when his split ring failed 2 metres in front of us, and a 25kg garrick got away free. A forced release, which I love, but heartbreaking for the guy.

High quality split rings are readily available, but are a mission to deploy, with or without split ring pliers. A necessity for all lure anglers. And often, your lure comes with weaker split rings in the first place.

But when you have the time and vocation, there is a great alternative.

The traditional wire tying method.

Pioneered by the Durban greats back in the days of piano wire.

Ok here goes…

Rigging your MYDO spoon the traditional way...
Rigging your MYDO spoon the traditional way…


Right…btw, if you click on the image you get more resolution. But it’s just a guide, read below…

Grab some wire. Heavier wire can be easier to work with (#7) – less finicky than the soft stuff. 30 cm will do for a start, as you get better you can use less.

Two pliers can really help when yo start out, as when you tighten the loop, it can take some pressure often resulting in painful wire cuts to the fingers. With experience injuries get less – but use pliers for now.

So, it’s a granny knot to start. But this the first challenge and that’s where the pliers really come in. Pull each tag end until you get a neat small loop to work with.

Then you got to keep threading the wire through the loop. Round and round through the inside. Both ends, and they crossover at the mid-point, which takes concentration and serious wire manipulation to get the threads looking good and compact. Use the pliers to gain extra muscle and grip in getting the loops tight.

At the closing stage, you have to also thread one of the tag ends through the swivel/hook eye and through the lure, in order to get three loops down. This is when the knot can blow up, especially if you mistakenly unthread a loop as you force the tag end through all the holes.

Crossover one more time, and close each end with a few really tight barrels, 5mm apart.

Twist off the ends. If you use pliers, you will cut a finger or get more tangles, thanks to the extremely sharp and dangerous millimetre or so stick out of the knot.

And there you have it.

Very reliable and resilient. Can take many knocks on the rocks and not fail. Will not pull out like a split ring. Very strong yet free swinging.

Try it a few times and it won’t be long til you work out your own little tricks and methods to get this know tied in just a few minutes. A few minutes that can last a very long time.

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Fly fishing Umdloti with JP Bartholomew

Fly fishing Umdloti with JP Bartholomew

And here we have JP Bartholomew entertaining us again with tales of fly fishing Umdloti, just north of where JP lives…

A final break in the weather and I wanted to get some flyfishing in and especially to see how my right arm was doing after battling with Tennis Elbow which I had been battling with for the last couple of month’s.I hit the Umdloti stretch with my 8/9wt Explorer fitted with a Explorer Orion 9wt Reel with intermediate line using a 22lb fluorocarbon leader.The water was flat with a slight South westerly wind blowing and as always fishing on a pushing in tide.The water was a nice green/blue in colour which was perfect not clean and not dirty the stretch was mine with the odd Holidaymaker Anglers trying there luck. A lot of scattered reef along the shorebreak and open gullies made it that more interesting to fly fish. Don’t you just ever get that feeling that today is just going to be an exciting morning for you not expecting anything big but just hopping for a epic morning’s session and you just wanna get going?  Well this time I had a awesome morning’s fly fishing.

I had set up my fly set up and looked for a fly best suited to try the water’s I was going to be fishing that would attract any rock or sand dwellers in the near vicinity of where I would target the are I would cast towards.I decided to go with a Black Clouser which would stand out and throw more of a dark silhouette and attract some nice Specimen to it.I started peeling off line to begin my assault, I managed to get close to some structure and felt some nice bums on my retrieve but no hook ups so I a slower retrieve and not long a went on tight  getting a few little head shakes I was just not quite sure what it was definitely not a small kingie of sorts, finally got it to surface and I had a little beauty of a Kob I quickly got a pic for my photo gallery and removed the fly and slowly released it back into the water stokked I was on the scoreboard I continued to cast around the same structure as well as bouncing my fly off a small sand bank to my left and slowly allowing it to sink and then slowly bouncing it off the bottom to get a reaction I tried the same retrieve a few times before I went on again.
My rod went tight and this fella was giving me stick which felt so good hoping to see what I had picked up a few more runs I slowly started retrieving the line back and slowly got it to the surface it was a nice size Stone Bream. I quickly got  my buddy to take a pic for the gallery and removed the fly and slowly released it back to fight another day epic seeing how much activity happens when you fish a pushing in tide and the conditions are right and the fish species  are roaming around looking for anything which gets knocked off the rocks or when the waves churned up the sand throwing up all sorts of crustaceans and small sprats allowing anything in tvicinityity to feed freely on them.
After a few more casts I finally moved on  to a different spot as the water was pushing a little more with more white water breaking over the rocks hoping to try target for a kingfish or two hopefully.I had a couple of casts into the white water  before going tight a a nice quick peel on my line zig zaggingfrom left to right very unasual fight after a few minutes I managed to get close to it so I could identify the fish I had hooked into – Eisssh my first a Concertina fish nice size too happy with my catch I just had to get the pic in quickly and release it back as soon as possible which I did.I  carried on for a while hoping for a bigger pick up as the gulley filled up nicely and the waves were still brakeing over the rocks it was still fish able for a few more casts.I slowly started moving out slightly more backwards so I could have a few more casts in front of me towards the bay that had build up in front while I was busy fishing but to no avail.

Fly fishing Umdloti with JP Bartholomew
Fly fishing Umdloti with JP Bartholomew and his Concertina Fish

I moved out and walked more down towards the bigger bays and try for some small Geeeeeet’s hopefully I kept to the Black Clouser why change your fly when you’ve been having such good results with it. I slowly started peeling off line to begin my casting I spotted a nice little gully which came off from a sand bank and dropped off into a nice deepish pool of running white water which is always a exciting spot to target kingfish ambushing sprats or smaller Mullet in the turbulenced water.It wasn’t long before I got smoked by something that just felt like another Concertina fish and yip it was another I safely removed the fly and released it back, carring on and casting into the channel I got a chase and it it my fly but missed the hook up I could only have been a small kingie so I kept at casting in the direction of the chase I got hoping it would give Me another go.No luck after a few more casts nothing was happening so I moved further down where to more of a sandy bay with a scattered reef to see what species I could hook my fly into and attract what ever is lurking along the sandy channels.
Well this would be my final session before my turn around and start to make my way back to my car. Looking to see where would be the best option to start I saw a sandy spot just starting to get water washing over the bank that could only be to My advantage with the water stirring up the sand and exposing small Crustaceans,  Sealice , Sand Shrimp….etc and all I had to do is cast my fly towards the turmoil and white water rolling around.
I gave myself 20min to cast and hopefully catch my last fish before before heading home for some family time….!! Well I started casting onto the bank and dropping my fly down and using a slow retrieve hoping something would see it amongst the sand and white water trying to get away and smash my fly. I just kept at it eventually I felt a bump then another bump and a miss then got a proper pick up and quickly held my line and lifted up my rod to strike I was on Dad finally I got my Species that was playing catch me if you can but with perseverance I hooked the cheeky bugger not knowing what it was it was a feisty fella gave Me a nice little rev retrieving  some line back I could see what looked to me like a little Grunter which landed up being My first Grunter on fly completely stokked at my little Spotted Grunter I took the Pic and released it back and got back to casting hoping for a bigger Boykie if there was one there must be more surely.
I changed my fly to a Brown Brush Fly to try impersonat a Brown Shrimp I casted for may be 15min then totally got Smashed I really thought I had the Daddy  Grunter but landed up being a nice size Stone Bream unfortunately I had to take the Pic of My Boykie Stone lying on the sand quickly removed the fly and released it back safely I got straight back into the channel and kept at it hoping just hoping for that Big Cock Grunter.Boom I was on again and what ever hit me it was peeling line and going for it , it was stripping Me nicely best fight I had all morning.I finally started getting my line back I thought I had a little kingie on but I had hooked a nice size Wave Garrick epic I placed the fella on the sand took the Pic and released it back into the water and watched it swim of into the blue.
Well I called it a morning a gr8 one at that and started heading back to my car and just enjoyed the playback’s in My head on the morning I just had , well maybe I’ll get My kingie the next time round…Homeward bound.

Tight line’s
Happy New Year My Friends have a epic weekend all the BEST FOR 2017…..GOD BLESS….!!!
Cheers JP.
Once again JP, many thanks for sharing your fishing experiences with us. It’s really motivating, educational and appreciated! – Sean
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Real cool beach fishing trolley rolling in

Heavy duty beach fishing equipment

Real cool beach fishing trolley rolling in

Check this real cool beach fishing trolley about to hit the market in South Africa.

Made strong and sensible, these items really put you in the game on those long sessions beach fishing. Load your cooler. Your tackle box. You can put a beach umbrella in one of the four rod holders for protection. And you can haul your trophy catch back all the way in style.

Manufacturing will start 3rd week of Jan 2017 and product will be ready for delivery in  2nd or 3rd week of Feb 2017


The product name is SANDPIPER Beach Trolleys.

Price is projected to be around R3500 or, the exact details will be confirmed in 2017.

Product details as follows:

  • 25mm Aluminium frame
  • Aluminium wheel shaft
  • Size 1350mm X 500mm X 650mm
  • Inner Frame size 900mm X 400mm X 250mm
  • 13′ inch Pneumatic Wheels

The beach fishing trolley can handle a load of up to 85kg. And that can solve a lot of problems!