Saturday, September 25, 2010

My latest fishing catch...

Finally, I have something I want to write about....

I went down to the False Bay side on Friday afternoon, not expecting much because the wind had picked up a bit, but here's what happened....

Species: Bronze Whaler Shark
Location: Somewhere along Baden Powell (which came to a standstill with all the onlookers)
Rod: L&F Custom Built rod with Torium50 (heavy tip)
Line: Kingfisher Giant Abrasion line 0.55mm
Leader: 1mm leader
Terminal tackle: 16/0 Circle hook
Bait: Yellowtail head (was in the water for 3hrs)
Fight time: 1hr 10mins
Water Temp: 14degC at start of session
Gender: Female
Tagged and released (ORI tag A138940)

Pre-caudal length: 225cm
SA Shore Angling Association weight table estimate: 163.2kg

The tale: I had been at the water for just over 3hrs, having put out the slide at 12h50pm. I was just about to cast my second rod for the umpteenth time, hoping for a kob, when I heard a drag scream. Initially I thought someone was phoning me as I have that sound as a ringtone for all my fishing mates. Then I saw my first rod bending, line peeling off straight out to sea. I couldn't believe it, as I was about to bring that rod in after I had cast the other one and put it in the rod stand.

The shark headed straight out, and took about 300m of line on its first run, followed by another 100m or so on its second. That's when I discovered I have 0.45mm line as backing, which I'd forgotten about. Luckily, she did not take me into it, but almost did so four times.

After ten minutes, I was kneeling down on the sand, tiring already (hey, I've got an old body, gimme a break) and my arms were starting to burn. After 30mins Sparky arrived at the beach with Dean and Mrs Sparky (all regular fishing pals). By this time, there was a gallery forming and traffic was getting heavy with all the cars stopping at the side of the road. Not that I saw much of it at the time. At the end of the fight though, traffic had come to a standstill behind us...I kid you not. The entire beach rod had come to a standstill with people getting out of their cars to come and have a look at the shark. I felt like a porn star...I was fucked...

At the 45min mark, I was ready to hand over the rod to Sparky (I actually did ask him to take over but he declined) as my elbows were cramping big time. To alleviate the cramps I had started straight-sticking the fish just so that I could use the drag to its fullest extent and relax my arms a bit. Around then, something strange happened to the reel and I couldn't wind forward or pull any out on the drag, so I let the catch off and ended up with a small overwind. Mrs Sparky had to put her slim fingers into the line and get the small tangle out, which came out easily enough. I was just trying to keep pressure on the shark so that the hook didn't pull loose.

At around the 50min mark, I saw the shark for the first time. Up until that point, I was not sure what species I had hooked, but now I could see the familiar bronzie fins. She still ran left and right, parallel to the beach, in the gutter for another 20mins before I managed, with the help of Dean and another bystander, to bring her in on a set of waves. There hadn't been too much chance of losing her as the barbless circle hook had caught the corner of her mouth exactly as it was supposed to do.

There was a whole crowd of possibly 30 people standing around to see and take pictures of this beautiful beast. A couple of guys even ran down to the shark, touched her, and then ran away again...probably just to say they had touched a shark. There were more people standing next to their cars and some people had had to stop because the traffic in front of them was blocked.

Satisfied that she was high enough out of the water to not get dragged back, I left Mrs Sparky with my rod and ran back to the bakkie, about 100m away, to get my tagging kit and the hook remover. Hook out and tag in, Sparky took a couple of final photos and Dean, the same bystander and myself manhandled the big girl back into the surf. We didn't have to wait long, literally the first wave that came over her, had her turning back for deep water and she kicked off strongly.

The photo of me next to the shark does not do her size justice, I think. She was solid, wide, and in perfect condition for a shark this early in the season.

A good day out, and my arms are still sore at the elbows....

About 40mins into the fight. I was cramping already and this fish wasn't even looking like tiring.
After 1h10mins, this beauty was on the beach. She was measured from the tip of her nose, to the start of her tail at the "pre-caudal notch".
The business end of the shark...
Dean, getting a little close to the sharp end...
Me, stoked at having landed my first bronzie ever. Check out the traffic at a standstill in the background...
Measured, tagged and released, off to fight another day...