While scrolling through my most recent photo folders I realised that the winter of 2014 was a tough fishing season. Besides a few fat striped mullet, some sand sharks, stillwater trout and the odd winter carp, there weren’t personal catches to rave about.

All the spectacular fishing action happened on companion’s rod & lines. This past weekend was one of those outings where I had the privilege to watch other guys make the fish pay their dues to entertain us. It started late Friday night at the Breede River mouth when Chase Nicholson hooked a grunter on a kob fly. I got very excited about the whole thing because Chase had shown me the fly earlier in the evening and I discovered a big glass rattler inside it. The first thought that came to my mind was that the grunter picked up the noise in the dark, which was likely the key in inducing the strike, but when I questioned Chase about it he mentioned that the rattler broke soon after he started fishing and that it wasn’t present when he hooked the grunter. What was even more mind boggling was that the grunter was hooked with a silicone deceiver in front of an eye socket. It took us all (Chase, myself, Richard Wale and Nick van Rensburg) a while to let go of the puzzling event and we congratulated Chase on his wonderful catch.

We didn’t get much sleep that night and were up and out on the Breede mud flats early the next morning. After a nail-biting session with grunter tailing as close as 4 meters from our feet in the morning (without any luck of course), Chase, Nick and I headed back to the mouth in the afternoon to fish the channels with streamers in search of garrick. It didn’t take Chase long to cast a paddle tail out on spinning gear and he hooked up with a lovely leerie. High fives were handed out during the fight and then I got my camera ready for the mug shot.

I strolled closer to the water edge to tail his catch. As I grabbed the fish by the tail I noticed that his lure was right next to my hand. The fish was never hooked, Chase’s line lassoed its tail and he managed to pull the garrick in without the hook ever penetrating the flesh of the fish. I captured some images of the remarkable catch and mentioned how lucky he was to land both the grunter and the leerie. Chase replied and said: “I’d like to see you do that”. There wasn’t much more to say, he was right, there was no chance in hell that I’d ever pull that off.

The other memorable outing was a trip to Langebaan with Richard Wale and Matt Rich. Their introduction to sand shark fishing wasn’t great. We spent hours wading over the shark-infested flats and casting to cruising guitarfish, but the sharks were incredibly spooky and neither tiddlers nor mothers. After Matt and Rich broke their sand shark virginities we finally left the exposed flats on the peak low to search for other species in the surf zone beyond Club Mykonos.

It didn’t take Matt and Richard long to catch a blacktail each in the waves. The greedy fish took # 1/0 pink Charlies and both were hooked well in the mouth. Richard’s was the fish of the day and I could tell he was feeling the joy when he couldn’t hold it still for a photograph. Then something amazing happened. Just after Richard released his blacktail, a steenbras of over 10 kg tailed right next to us. Before either of us could fling a fly in its direction, it swam off the shallow sand bar where it hunted prawns and into deeper water beyond our reach.

It was barely half an hour later when two kob of more than a meter in length swam past us. They swam straight to the rocky outcrop we were fishing from and nonchalantly stared at us from the clear deep water. At this point we couldn’t contain ourselves any more. Rods were flung back and forth and flies travelled past our heads and dangerously close to our ears as we attempted to get a shot at the fish. The kob swam straight past my streamer and into deeper water where we lost sight of them. Although we landed some good fish that day, it was quiet in the car on the drive home. Perhaps it was just me, but it’s possible that all three of us felt a little done in after the effort we put into the day and seeing what was out there.

Leonard Flemming

Leonard Flemming

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