Monster Tuna Double up - Richards Bay
<p>Johan Maree, John Nel and I (Mike Laubscher) teamed up as Team Nikao Fishing Adventures to fish the Richards Bay SADSAA/Columbia Billfish Classic from 1-5 March 2011. Lots of time was spent in preparation in the weeks before, when I was taking my boat up on the 1st I was filled with anticipation for the days ahead, especially as Richards Bay had been having such a bumper Marlin season.
We launched the boat and were ready; we were all excited and waiting for the radio call at 05h00 for the competition to start, then it came and there was a mass exit out of Richards Bay harbour with about 100 or so boats all screaming at full speed heading out to sea. I felt under gunned as our boat was amongst the smallest there and we were competing against some really large vessels. Our plan for the day was to work the area between the 200m and 500m contours and by 07h00 we had our first strike, and at 07h30 we had a very large Black Marlin hooked up. To our dismay the line parted about 15m up from the Bimini when the fish was about 500m out. That was our last action for the day and later on the NE wind picked up to almost a Gale and the sea got very rough and we headed back early.
The day started up badly and we launched the boat and forgot to put in the plugs, filling up all the hatches with water. I was embarrassed as this was in front of a lot of people and if I could have shrunk myself to the size of an ant and hidden in a crevice I would have. None the less we had to finish our show and get the water laden vessel back onto the trailer and drain out all the water and then launch again giving us a late start.
We ran out to sea after that and it was not long before the NE picked up and blew hard making for a very uncomfortable morning, the afternoon was awesome, but alas this day turned out to be a boat ride.
We ran out North and deep and the sea conditions were superb, we got a miss strike from a Sailfish on the shot gun, and later the same with an unidentified fish. By this time our moral was dragging about 100m behind the boat, but this was the case for many boats in this competition as the Marlin were few and far between.
It was just John and I on the boat as Johan had to head up to Jhb to attend a wedding, and we decided to completely change tactics and we headed out South and very deep, were we ran smaller lures just to get some action. John is a guide in Northern Mozambique at Lazarus Banks, and I guide out of Durban and so it made for a very different day as both of us are used to dealing with clients on the boat and not fishing alone and kept on wanting to tell each other what to do, we had a good laugh and went about doing our own thing. It was not long before we had some action hooking up 2 Dorado, 3 Wahoo and 2 Yellowfin Tuna, and this really picked up our moral as now we were getting the results we are accustomed to.
Whilst hooking up all the fish we had also observed so large Yellowfin Tuna, and so we decided to forget about catching Marlin and the competition and specifically target the large Yellowfin Tuna, we reset our spread and started focusing our efforts and combined experience. It was not very long and at 12h30 we had the 1st line screaming, John took the rod and as I was clearing the corner by him we saw a huge explosion in the water as a massive Yellowfin Tuna hit the lure I was bringing in right behind the motor.
So there we were 2 guys on a boat and both of us fighting very large fish with no one at the controls and I can tell you these fish were angry. John's fish took 2 hrs to land and made 5 very strong and long runs and weighed in at 71Kg (156lbs), my fish took 3hrs to land and made 7 very strong and long runs and weighed in at 86Kg (189lbs).
I want to try and explain fighting a large fish like this.
Our tackle was size 50 reels with 80lb drags and lines on 80lb rods and we fished stand up, so actually light tackle for the fish we had encountered. Yellowfin Tuna box hard and you cannot even compare a Marlin of twice the size for strength in a fight, these Yellowfin fight hard and deep. With the hook up you are excited, and after a short time you get the fish onto the leader, the fish then sees the boat and when you look again you top shot is disappearing into the water and you are into your braid backing and he is still taking line, when he gets about 600-700m down you eventually manage to stop him and bring the fish back up, you get all your mono back and then you see the Bimini appear when again the fish sees the boat and is gone again for another deep run. The first 3 times this happens you are still strong, by the 4th time your muscles start burning, and then you start cramping till eventually you go numb, you are now running on pure adrenalin and your determination to beat this fish. From here on the fight become painful and you need to reach deep inside your soul to find strength and endurance to continue. After the 6th run you get the fish to the boat and you think you have beaten him when all of a sudden he goes and makes the longest and hardest run of them all, and eventually you get him back to the boat and already 2.5hrs have passed but by this time you have lost all sense of time and you get the fish back to the boat again, when he runs for the 7th time, here I pushed the drag from 12Kg right up to sunset on 17Kg and still he goes, 17Kg of drag is hectic and now the harness is digging into you, the belt so hard against you back that you think your kidneys are going to be squeezed out a nearby orifice in your body, you get the fish back onto the leader and you have had enough and so now you hold the spool and stop the fish in its tracks, for 15 minutes he just pulls and you just hold on for dear life, every time you pull to gain some line it is shear pain and you cry aloud. It is a relief when you get the beast onto the gaff, but the fight is still not over as you still need to get him on deck. Both of us were worn down and had no more strength and again you need to look deep into your soul to find the strength to do this, but once they are on the boat you have your glory.
It was a real accomplishment for just 2 of us to fight these large fish simultaneously and get them on board, for me the Yellowfin at 86Kg (189Lbs) is a new personal best by a long way and the experience is something I will never forget, I will need a few days to recover as every part of my body still hurts.
86Kg (189lb) Yellowfin Tuna
71Kg (156lb) Yellowfin Tuna
About The Author: Mike Laubscher
Company: Blue Water Charters - Durban
Area Reporting: Durban. KwaZulu Natal, South Africa
Bio: Have been fishing since the age of 7 with more than 30 years experience. Fish in both Saltwater & Freshwater Disciplines. Fly Fishing Specialist, Artificial Lure Specialist, Light Tackle Specialist. Love Fishing, completely addicted to fishing.