Houtbay to Groendamme
Who says commercial fishing can’t be fun? Tuesday evening I get a phone call from a commercial fisherman friend asking if I want to join them for a fishing trip and I didn’t need time to think about it and confirmed immediately. It’s probably been about 7 months since the last time I fished on a commercial craft and thought it would be fun for a change.
All that we know; as charter / recreational fisherman goes out the window; no rods, no fancy lures, basically if you think that there’s any glamour in it, you are far off. These men do this for a living and unlike most of us that have normal jobs in between the fishing; this is their jobs. So if the weather is foul and the fish are scarce, then they don’t get paid. They risk their lives sometimes in the harshest conditions just to put food on the table for their families and if it wasn’t for commercial fishermen on our waters, well then the recreational would have a much tougher time finding and knowing when and where the fish would sometimes be.
So finally at 5:45 on Wednesday 2 September 2015 I am at the harbor helping the crew get the boat ready and I am very excited to catch snoek again the old fashioned way. The last time I had a snoek on the other end of a line was almost more than a month ago in St Helena Bay (West Coast) when we did the “West Coast Klongs” charter. As expected they give me grieve on my Quiver Northwester Jacket and Quiver Northwester Pants asking where my oil skins are, and my answer is “I am wearing it”. Confused faces looked at me, most probably thinking that this guy is in for a big surprise getting through the jungle with a predicted 22knt southeaster.
In the water and making our way out to the fishing grounds, we entered the jungle and with only about a 10knt wind blowing, it was quite a dry ride through it. Reaching Slang kop a small town of commies was looking for snoek when we saw most are pulling anchor and with throttles open making their way towards Groendamme. We searched for marks, but found nothing that interest us and also opened up heading the same direction about 3nm out still. Again we slowed and searched on the fish finder and came across a nice mark and dropped the anchor.
It wasn’t long and the first snoek was on the boat, the smell of a fresh snoek on the boat was bringing back memories and I was longing just to put one under my arm and drop it in the boat. 3 minutes later and everyone’s mombak was removed catching the snoek on pike 22 fathoms down. I was working 2 bait lines, one at 12 fathoms and one at 18 fathoms, with another line working a lime green snoek spinner. Finally a hit on my spinner and suddenly the snoek moved top water between 4 and 8 fathoms. We worked hard for the next hour landing one after the other. The spinner was working very well for me and the next moment snoek sounded and gone.
For the next hour or so it was snoek at different depths again taking very difficult on the bait, just leaving teeth marks and not really hitting the bait and hook. I changed my setup from a 12/0 to 11/0 and this seemed to be working again, but still not easy getting them to stick every time they show interest in the bait. At 10:30 the predicted 22knt southeaster was showing signs of a rough ride and we pulled anchor with 168 snoek on board.
On our way back it was bumpy and very wet and this was the best opportunity to test our Quiver gear to see if it can handle ample amounts of water. I was sitting in the middle on the starboard side with the southeaster hitting me from the side spraying 11 degree water from head to toe without once giving me a break. I was soaked with only wearing a jean and fishing shirt underneath my Quiver Gear. My hands were freezing and my buff was wet, controlling my breath inside the buff trying to keep it warm so my face can stay warm. It worked and for the next 1hour 30 minutes this was going to be the ultimate test for Quiver. Not once did my body temperature drop and I was warm not feeling any water inside my suit. My neck and arms were closed off by my Quiver suit not allowing any water inside at all. With my Dazzne P2HD, I got some insane water footage showing the quality this camera gives at high speed in some serious conditions. I also got the footage of me getting soaked which will be uploaded soon.
Finally back on land and the commercial guys were waiting for me to get undressed (relax not that type of undressed), because they did not believe me when I told them I am dry underneath. The other 5 guys wearing oil skins were soaked and those with dry clothes in the bakkie had to change. I took of my Quiver gear and was dry, not a single drop of water on my clothes. They couldn’t believe it as I was the guy absorbing most of the water.
It was fun going out with them for a change and you learn a lot from their ways of fishing and their ways of why and when.
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