Epic battle with magnificent sailfish

2013-11-16 00:00

THE bass have been biting and biting well across the province of late. Albert Falls, Inanda and Midmar have been the sites of some memorable days on the water and with the early and gracious rains we have had, the bite should only get better.

The KZN Bass Trail final will be held at Woodstock Dam this weekend and after some good reports should prove to be an epic event.

The event will be held over two days and will see the top 10 qualifying teams from the year go head to head for the seasons honours. Reports are still coming in daily from the major dams and anglers are enjoying good fishing, mostly on the cooler overcast days because when the sun comes out, the days are sappingly hot and normally followed by a complementary storm that often makes things interesting and sometimes dangerous.

Without getting involved in all of this, I opted for a day on the ocean with my brother Sean in the hopes of boating a tuna or an early season dorado.

We hit the water early and got to work, confident that a few fish were on the cards for us, but no such luck. We jumped around and tested a few different tactics with the same result as the day wore on.

It was a beautiful day so we decided to stick it out for a while longer and fortunately so as soon after the first reel started humming as the live bait on the other end found its fate.

I let the fish run for a few seconds to get the bait down, tightened up on the drag and delivered a solid hook-set that sent the fish on a wild run. I could tell it was a heavy fish with a bad attitude, but nothing prepared me for the sailfish that erupted over a hundred metres away, greyhounding into the distance.

With heightened senses and in a state of controlled pandemonium we charged the fish down with the boat to regain some line and impart some sort of control on the fish.

I had never hooked a billfish until this point and with a medium weight spinning rod and reel, the odds of this battle were on the fish but I was not going down without a fight.

I settled in for an arduous battle that tested the tackle and angler to the max and lasted for an exhilarating hour and 40 minutes that saw the fish taking to the air countless times.

Unluckily the fish became tail-wrapped in the line. That is quite common, but severely changes the tempo of the battle and without suitable tackle, one has to basically fight the fish to the end to gain the upper hand as you are basically pulling the fish backwards to regain line.

The epic struggle finally came to an end and Sean was able to grab the fish’s tail and unhook the beast. The fish was badly damaged from the line and was completely exhausted and after an extensive revival effort just did not make it.

This was a bittersweet victory for me. On the one hand, like mine, it is every angler’s dream to catch a sailfish, but my intentions will always be to release such a magnificent specimen and in this case I could not live up to my intentions.

Nevertheless, this was an amazing experience and a day that I have dreamed of for years. The fish weighed just under 40 kg, which is large even by sailfish standards and has given me new-found respect for how beautiful and powerful these fish are.

So get out on the lake and catch some bass, and remember to release your catch alive to prolong the sustainability of our resource. E-mail me with reports, pictures and questions at zorthewitt@hotmail.com

Catch ’em up.

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