The pampered life of the freshwater angler

2013-01-19 00:00

FRESHWATER anglers lead a somewhat pampered lifestyle.

We stand on our boats, surefooted and poised on our sea legs. The boat hatches are filled with everything from a well-packed lunch and array of rods to a first-aid kit, life jacket and rain suit.

Freshwater angling comes with all of the exquisite extras that you will probably never need on the calm and subdued waters of Albert Falls. And if you don’t like your current fishing spot, you can easily make use of your overpowered motor to zoot to another one at the touch of a throttle.

Shore angling requires that you carry everything you may need with you. In other words, you will be overloaded like a pack mule while you walk kilometres to your chosen spot.

If you’re smart, you’ll remember shoes and if you aren’t, well, you’ll probably be seen sprinting down the beach towards the water so that you can cool off your scorched feet in the refreshing saltwater.

A group of friends and I were among the many who used the festive season to its full advantage and took the opportunity to travel to new places. Nine of us gathered together early on Boxing Day and set off to explore the fishing waters of two of our neighbouring countries, Swaziland and Mozambique.

Swaziland is a freshwater fishermen’s dream and is the home of a wide variety of species. We were the only guests at Mbuluzi Game Reserve for the duration of our three-day stay, and the bubbling rivers did not disappoint. An array of indigenous species were plucked from the water with a frequency that would see most artificial lure anglers in South Africa reduced to the beaming enthusiasm of a child with their father’s old rod in one hand and their first fish proudly displayed in the other.

Swaziland left us confident that the fishing aspect of this 10-day getaway in itself would be enough to make the trip worthwhile and we enthusiastically set off to enjoy similar success in Mozambique.

Our next stop, Chidenguele, is about 300 kms beyond Maputo. We were confident that we would be pulling in fish a lot faster than we were able to drive in the hazardous Mozambican traffic.

Most of us had little to no rock and surf experience and many of the men in our party had confidently splashed out on new saltwater rigs. Anyone who enjoys angling knows it is an expensive sport, but kitting up for the first time can leave your pockets jingling with the sound of lonely coins bouncing against one another as you leave your local store.

It was my first trip to Mozambique and the array of small fish swimming in the cool, clear water did not disappoint. Our prowess, on the other hand, was a cause for concern.

I walked the shoreline, bravely giving my feet up to the sharp rocks that lined water’s edge, but after being swept off of my feet I timidly retired to the pristine sandy beach to watch the fishing from a safe distance.

After six days, most of us had managed at least one small fish, but one of our group, Johan Bestel, had managed little more than a bandaged foot.

Still he persevered, often limping to the best spot. He threw spoon after spoon until eventually, on the last day, as everyone was making their way back to the 4x4, Johan decided to make one last cast. That cast made all the difference. He finally got the hit he had been waiting for. After a tough, 20-minute tussle, Johan landed a ’cuda of between eight and 10 kilograms. It was the fish of a lifetime.

Our foreign fishing adventure has been the source of many a daydream, but I, for one, will be glad to return to the comfort of a well-stocked and comfortable boat at the upcoming Annual Satellite Skins Bass Tournament being held February 2 and 3.

All sneaker, paddle and pedal-powered boats are welcome. Call Rod Freese at 082 573 4544 for details.

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