Persistance is Key

The start of 2017 had been a really frustrating one for me on the fishing front. I had fished in 2 league events and a couple social sessions and yet to get a bite. I was feeling rather despondent as there were some awesome fish being landed by others. Although during the week and me being busy at work, I was still green with envy.

Eventually a weekend was about where the weather played along and I called up a mate and said we are going fishing to one of the spots on the upper south coast that had been producing some fish of late. We checked the tides and decided on the perfect time to get there. We would only be able to fish for a couple of hours before we ran out of water on the beach.

Upon arriving at the area I just had that feeling in my bones that today I would get the monkey off my back. The water was perfect. We had some color and a good formation. Didn’t take us long to put the rods together and get a bait in the water. We were expecting fireworks as every angler does when conditions are perfect. Unfortunately things were rather slow and we had to work hard for the fish we eventually landed.

Mike was the first one to get a bite, sticking to his roots and using his trusted Shimano Trinidad 20DC with 0.47 double X he went on with what seemed to be a smaller fish, with a rather tricky shorebreak to negotiate he waited for the perfect moment and we grabbed the juvenile sharpnose brown skate and pulled it up for a quick picture and then released the little guy tIMG-20170211-WA0007o fight another day.

Thinking this could be the change in our luck we quickly put out some fresh baits and it wasn’t long when I got an enquiry. The fish ate very funn
y and eventually pulled me flat and the line started to peel off my Shimano Stella. I was now confident that my VMC 9/0 tournament circle had him properly and I started to apply the brakes. I didn’t pull it too hard, for once I was going to enjoy fighting this fish. After all, it was now middle of February and I’ve just had my first bite of the year. A few minutes later we had the fish in the front and again waited for the right moment and pulled a beautiful female guitarfish out the water. Quick picture and a ORI tag, the fish was released safely.

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We called it quits after that as a rather large storm was rolling in and we had decided a early start the following morning before a South Westerly front hit us would be a good idea. Alarm bells rang at 3:45 and I packed the bait box and headed off to a new spot this time on the middle north coast of KZN. Seems I was late to the party, when I arrived Mike was already on. This wasn’t for long tho as the fish managed to find a rock in the deep and cut him off.

With a big bait in the water and with the sun now starting to peek up on the horizon, I picked up my spinning rod in the hopes of catching a queen mackerel or a Bonnie I could use for bait. Another friend had joined in on this and he had the first bite on the spoon. He unfortunately got bitten off, now we know the queen mackerels AKA snoek are in the area. A couple winds into my next cast I felt the big thump, I was on! Line peeling off my Shimano Stella 5000 and my 10ft shimano speedmaster bending. This was a decent fish. I took my time and waited for the right moment to pull the fish over the ledge. As it came over Craig was there and grabbed it by the tail. First snoek of the season landed! Or maybe not…It managed to wiggle itself loose and fell into a rock pool. Luckily for me the 8117ss VMC hook was firmly in the corner. Second time round we did not let go! Lovely specimen of 83cm which was a treat on the braai that evening!

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While this was happening, the guys fishing with baits were getting smoked. Two proper fish on and both cut off. Seems like the big sea we had the week before scoured out the reef a bit. Landing fish just became a lot harder. While I was getting my big stick ready again, Craig managed to hook a Bonnie on the spoon. I didn’t hesitate one second cutting its head off and letting it go on the Shimano Stella with 40lb power pro. Within minutes I had an enquiry, an extremely slow bite. I knew from word go it was one of 2 species and I locked up on the Stella and started to pull as hard as I could from word go. The fish didn’t take much line, it did however look for every stone it could find  and had me running in all directions to avoid getting cut off. I had pulled the fish to the front and it came to the surface on the back of the ledge. Our suspicions of the species had now been confirmed. It was a beast of a ribbon tail. How this fish hasn’t cut me off up to this point was rather surprising and I’m just hoping that it doesn’t do it. With a lot of pulling and me squealing in pain I managed to get the fish over the front ledge with a bit help from a few waves.

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The fish however still needed a bit of convincing to get into the shallows and it took a fair amount of swimming to help it miss the rocks on the way in. Eventually we had this beautiful fish in an area safe enough for us to handle her with the care she deserves. A couple pictures and an ORI tag she swam off strong to go torment another unsuspecting angler one day.

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Written by Stef Germann

Upside-down Fishing

tn_63 cm grunter taken of RAPALA Skitter V

It is the season when the sun stays above the horizon the longest – summer! This means that the days are longer and hence giving us more time to spend on the water. As an early riser, I love summer and one of my favourite summer activities is fishing for spotted grunter with surface lures. I call it “upside-down fishing” because it involves enticing a fish that usually has its snout tucked in the mud (blowing prawns out of their burrows) to change its behaviour and grab an artificial lure off the surface. As bizarre as it may sound, it is undoubtedly the most exciting top-water fishing one can do. At times it can be very visual and you will see the fish come up behind lure, with its back out the water as it inspects the lure. The best strike occurs when it engulfs the lure off the surface with a huge suck. However, most hook-ups come from a strike I call the “smooch” as it rises to the surface and gently sucks the lure in! The dominant strike, called the “kiss”, can get very frustrating because as the fish comes to look at the lure it plays ‘hard-to-get’ and disappears after giving it a little kiss.

This type of fishing requires patience and perseverance but once you master the technique you will become hooked! Herewith answers to questions I have asked myself over the years of upside-down fishing.

Why in summer? Although grunter can be caught throughout the year, they appear to be more active and far more willing to take surface lures in summer. It is most likely in response to temperature, as warmer water speeds up their metabolism and they feed more frequently…… and more aggressively.

tn_Grunter on Rapala Skitter Vee

Where and when to fish?  To best place to target grunter on surface lures is over mud banks in shallow water with depths ranging between 0.5m to 1.5m. High tide fishing is best, but as long as there is water on the mud banks you have a chance of catching one. Look out for tailing fish to get an idea of where they are feeding. However, often they will be in very shallow water on the edges of weed beds. The best time of the day is very much tide dependent, but definitely early mornings and late evening (with the right tide) are the best.

What tackle to use? Spotted grunter are strong fighters, which is amplified when hooked in shallow water. Light tackle with a good drag is essential. My rig consists of a 2-piece 6 foot 6 inch Shimano crucial road, a Shimano Sustain 2500 reel equipped with 10 pound SUFIX 832 braid and a 0.45mm nylon leader.

tn_Grunter on Storm Wake Crank

What lures to use? This is the secret to success. The typical “walk the dog” lure equipped with rattles are the best lures to use, however I have also caught them on a range on small very buoyant lures, including my old balsa wood RAPALA bass lures. With time I have learnt that lures with built-in rattles are by far the best. I have tried and tested many “W-t-D” lures with rattles and the results proved that the RAPALA X-Rap Walk was dynamite. Other good lures include the STORM Chug Bug retrieved with at a very slow pace. However, the new RAPALA Skitter-V is making waves… and probably the best lure currently available for “upside-down fishing”. Recently, I have also been successful with the STORM Arashi Wake Crank, which at slow retrieve speeds produces a rattle with a frequency that the grunter cannot refuse.

tn_65 cm grunter taken on RAPALA XRap Walk

So get out there and get addicted to “upside-down fishing”.

Written by Paul Cowley