A local angler, who uses a GoPro camera to capture his experiences, fears and tricks on the surf and in the reefs, is now sharing his passion through a YouTube channel that is gaining traction and views at an impressive pace.
The channel is called “Crazy for Fishing SA” and, at the latest tally, is enjoyed by 1 370 subscribers countrywide, and some videos boast up to 9 000 views – more than decent numbers for the avid fisherman who is among the most passionate out there.
Johan Lategan, who is originally from the Free State, has been a Strand local for the past 19 years. As a youngster he enjoyed freshwater fishing, but ever since moving to the coast claims that he’ll never go back to the freshwater.
“There’s so much more action in the saltwater,” he excitedly exclaims as he prepares his gear before setting off with his rod and tackle. “Even if you don’t catch anything, you’re guaranteed not just action, but beautiful scenery.”
Lategan admits the transition from freshwater fishing to saltwater fishing wasn’t easy, as fellow fishermen can sometimes be secretive with their tips and tricks, and don’t necessarily share valuable information that can be the difference between a small fish and the catch of a lifetime.
Just two weeks ago Lategan hooked a “monster” kob – a reward that years of persistence had finally paid off.
“As most of my subscribers know, I have been targeting the kob when they start coming into the bay every year. This season started off with me catching quite a few juvenile kob and all being safely released – the tegal size is 50 cm. After about six sessions of hitting the reefs, three to four hours a session, I finally landed my beautiful size kob. Wow! What a fight! Adrenalin rushed though my veins and I fought hard to get this huge beauty by my side. With a couple of battle scars and nearly losing my rod, I eventually won the fight. This specimen has unbelievable power. What a beauty!” he shared.
The kob measured 105 cm and weighed approximately 11 kg.
“This magnificent fighter has fought a great fight and given one fisherman a tale to tell for many years to come!”.
It took Lategan a while to get used to it and learn the technical aspects. Some tricks he learnt only recently proved be the difference.
“A simple knot can get you that fish, and that’s the kind of tricks that I wish to share with especially youngsters so that they can feel the excitement I feel and enjoy this sport as much as I do. It’s way better than going to the mall or playing video games.”
Lategan initially recorded videos for his personal use, storing it on a hard drive. But friends would borrow it to view his experience and eventually it would get lost.
“I realised with YouTube the videos are stored safely; even better, I can share them with everyone and anyone. After I started the channel, people started interacting, asking questions, seeking advice and told me which videos they would like to see. I found this so refreshing and obviously helpful, and just like that, the channel started to grow.”
Lategan’s videos also encourage the practice of catch-and-release, being environmentally friendly and conservation, but mostly guide beginners and even novices to best practices.
“When people tell me that the videos helped them fish with more awareness, and they hooked a catch they never could before, it just makes me feel chuffed that I could help,” he said.
Lategan further shared the dangers of fishing on the reefs, especially when the tide comes in. “I almost drowned once, and that’s one of the reasons why it’s important to share knowledge and not withhold it.”
Looking ahead, he dreams of the possibility of reaching 60 000 subscribers to his channel.
“If I can do that, YouTube will pay me and that will allow me to quit my day job and just spend my days fishing. I don’t want to become rich necessarily, but just survive and be happy.”
Lategan advises beginners to start with a light 12-ft (1,5 m) rod, learn the tides and casually cast to get the hang of it. “Once you catch a kob, you’ll never look back,” he promised.