FATBOY GOES FISHING
Some people who read this might know me by my real name, Niel, but to a selected few I am known as Fatboy. That’s right, Fatboy, sometimes Fatty and if they really kind just Big Boy. Now I never thought of myself as fat… maybe a little bit overweight in certain areas, but definitely not obese. However, when I first decided to start the kayak fishing sport I felt rather out of place. Suddenly I was surrounded by surfer type beach bums, the type that burn huge amounts of calories in their daily hair raising activities, stuff that make people like Ultimate Survivor look like a wine sipping, cheese tasting, ballet teacher!
Yes that is what I did, I started kayak fishing. I always loved fishing and what better way to get close to the ocean and experience real fishing……..ja right, listen to this –
My story starts one morning in Scottburgh. With me was my best buddy Piet, a very young 64 and just as inexperienced as me, maybe just a little bit tougher. We were about to embark on a fishing morning of a lifetime. One problem though……………
As we were standing on the beach we both were watching the waves…….mothers, and not small little mommy’s either. I mean mother….mountains that looked like SA Roadlink busses speeding towards us. We had to get passed them first. Behind the backline a few eager kayakers were already fishing. Piet and myself looked at each other, trying not to show fear and make stupid small talk – like “Nice morning hey!” I decided to go first. Barely 5 meters into my journey, I felt like one of my socks in a washing machine. Water everywhere!” duh!” I hear you say “it is the ocean”. Maybe so, but still. Waves were everywhere, front, back, side’s and even from the top. Thoughts of drowning flashed through my head faster than the saltwater was entering every hole in my body. Places I didn’t even know there were holes. Sinus was no longer a problem and I tell you what – battling with constipation, start kayak fishing.
Then fortunately, just as I was about to give up, I made it through! Homerun, but drenched like a waterrat. Relieved and out of breath I slowly started to get my confidence back. At that stage it did not occur to me that behind me a completely different battle was taking place. Piet was about to embark on his fifth attempt to get through the waves, which by now, with the help of a North Easterly was looking much worse. But as I mentioned before, Piet is a tough guy. Old school,” barefoot over the Drakensberg”, type of guy. My thought of being in a washing machine seemed to be something completely different with Piet. My good old friend was riding the waves like a hungover cowboy on an untameable horse that has just been fed a handful of dagga. But Piet was not about to give up. He was going to fish today. I think the spontaneous cheers of the gathering crowd on the beach also helped because finally he made it through.
The sea’s majestic power and beauty as well as the experience that come with it was confirmed when I looked at Piet’s face when he finally made it through the hell zone.
We slowly started to paddle toward the secret spot with the help of my GPS. I always seem to get the waypoints of these spots from my fellow fisherman much easier than everyone else. I once in a bragging kind of way mentioned this to my wife. She brought me back to reality by commenting that they maybe did not feel threatened by me. That left a scar that I still carry with me today.
This specific spot was about 2km out to sea which meant quite a paddle. This morning was not a problem as the deep sea was smooth, not exactly like a mirror but pretty flat. We were surrounded by beauty and soon were surrounded by playing dolphins. At one stage I spotted a suspicious looking fin but thought better of it to mention it to Piet.
We finally arrived at our spot. The Scottburgh caravan park was now only a dash on the horizon. We immediately started baiting up. Now something that I did not mention is that this little hobby of mine costs quite a bit of money. As a matter of fact, I calculated that the very first decent sized, edible fish will have cost in the region of about R50 000,00. There is always a better rod, I can never resist the latest reel or lure. Anything that can help me catch that elusive monster.
Rigging a Couta trace is a work of art. Baiting up this trace sort of reminds me of a Bride on her wedding morning. Lots of effort goes into it. We use flashers, dusters, trace wire, beads, etc. Once the beautifully presented bait was on and downrigged it is the norm to paddle 15 to 20 paddles to get distance between the kayak and the bait right. We were trawling for Couta. Now to be honest, neither of us has ever caught a Couta but we believed that today was the day. We were paddling happily away discussing the beautiful morning when all of a sudden Piet’s reel started screaming and singing. It sounded like he had hooked the blue train. I could see the excitement on Piet’s face and then it happened……
There is still a bit of dispute between Piet and I of what really happened. Piet says he lost his balance when he tried to grab his rod. I think that because Piet is used to land based angling, when the reel started to scream he instinctively tried to run for the rod. This is really not relevant because with a big splash Piet landed in the water!
There we were, two kilometres out to sea, fish of a lifetime on the hook, reel screaming and Piet in the water holding onto the kayak for dear life.
There is another thing about Piet – he is a great recycler. He does not throw things away. On the last few fishing trips he has had his plastic ice cream dish with him which I would have thrown away a long time ago. While he is hanging on to the kayak, he noticed the little dish start to drift off with the current saying “Oh there goes the ‘bakkie’”. What I said to him, translated into family friendly language, was to forget about it and get back on the kayak. Piet stared at it as if he had just lost something of great value.
We managed to get the rod back into its holder and to my surprise with one swift move Piet was back on the kayak like a Russian gymnast on steroids. Finally we could concentrate on fighting and bringing in the Couta of a lifetime. After some minutes I realised that this was not a Couta and as it neared the kayak we could see it was a shark of about one and a half meters. Not big but big enough to take at least a toe or even a foot off!
With the shark right next to the kayak, we decided to try to get the hook out of its mouth without hurting it. But this thing was like a pit-bull trying to go for more than just our ankles. During the struggle I slipped and the treble hook got stuck in Piet’s index finger.
Picture this, a one and a half meter shark hanging on my friend’s finger or more like through his finger. Long story short – we managed to cut the trace wire of the hook and the angered shark disappeared to go and get his big brother!
We just sat there for a while staring at eachother in disbelief of what had just happened. “Bliksem” was all I could utter as we started paddling back home. There was a deafening silence all the way back to the shark nets.
Many other events took place that morning, like me getting stuck on the shark nets and Piet having to cut me loose. But that is another adventure on its own,something that Steven Spielberg can make a thriller block buster of. However the most important thing that happened was between me and Piet. We bonded like buddies in a World War One trench. Let me tell you, don’t ever underestimate an older man, they are much tougher than we believe.
Oh yes, one more thing, remember those big mother waves on the way in? Surprise, surprise – they were still there and we had to get back through. I decided to use the “Greek Captain” method and abandon ship. Another wash cycle, another beating and there we were washed out on the beach.
“How did it go?” my wife asked.