The Marlin and Wahoo weekend of note!

Anthony Dunne

Umkomaas Launch

A mate from Denmark, Timo Jattu, had taken me diving while I was over there in Denmark working for a month and after long pregnancy his reciprocal spearing trip to South Africa was born. He arrived on the Friday in SA and I gave him the afternoon and evening to get his act together as the next day we were going out to Aliwal with the infamous Andy Norton and crew. Andy was hoping, as always, for a cracker weekend of Wahoo hunting - he was not to be disappointed...After a typical launch at the Umkomaas river mouth that saw my mate Timo looking a little perturbed and dry mouthed as they don't have waves in Denmark or do surf launches for that matter, we (Colyn Townsend, Timo, eJohn and Andy - full boat!!) were heading out to Aliwal Shoal as the sun was peeking over the horizon. Len de Beer followed close behind us in his small boat with a mate who was going to fish while he dived.

Wahoo Everywhere

We saw nothing on the first drift but the next drift it all went wild, the water was about 10-15m viz, which was just great but a little cool if I remember rightly. About 5mins into the second drift Andy boated one Wahoo of about 20kg and I followed later with a similar sized one that I landed out of a shoal as big as I have ever seen - must have been at least 50 in the shoal! Later that drift I landed another out of a loose group that I chased for miles - it was a rather bad shot so didn't slow it down much. It swam me way out off the drop-off where I was sure I was about to lose it to sharks - this is where they hang out and we lose fish to them often, mostly big Grey sharks and Zambezi’s (Bulls) and occasionally Tigers and in winter Sand Tigers can be nuisance! Len seeing all this activity decided to join us as his mate was trawling lures around and would lose him every so often while he was diving - Len is regular crew on Andy's boat anyhow.

All Ready to go

I was lucky enough to be the last one picked up at the end of that drift so was all ready to jump as soon as the boat even slowed down!! Well, it did and I did - I hadn't even unwound my buoy line, looked down and saw two Wahoo cruising under me - fortunately I use a 5m bungee as well as a neatly wrapped up 40m buoy line (wasn't helping me much like that) so I frantically loaded one rubber of my double rubber gun and stormed on down to crash the party below. The bungee stretches to 30m so I had the space even when the fish I poked got mobile - when I said to the guys on the boat before I dived that the Wahoo were right under the boat they just laughed and thought it was just ANOTHER ant joke - wrong!! Teach them to think that I am crying "wolf" ALL the time...

Wahoo Double-up

A drift or so later Colyn performed a similar trick for the spectators only his special twist was to jump off last and drum one under the boat and call for a second gun to make sure of his shot but decided to rather make sure on a different fish - quite a feat as not many people I know have doubled up in a shoal of Wahoo!!!

Sailfish join the Party

A short while later while drifting around just off the pinnacle - the current was a light N to S, I had a gang of sails swim past off to the side of me. After a (very) quick choice of which banana I wanted in the bunch I stung one in the shoulder and soon after landed it - much to the rest of the crew's chagrin ;->> By now the northeast had picked up and the sea was getting a little messy but being the desperados we were we persevered.

30kg+ Wahoo

EJohn who had been a real back runner for the day soon found his little patch of Shangri-la and spined a bus Wahoo of 31kg!!! Made me absolutely green!! Way to go eJohn!! Colyn did another copying of the last act this time using eJohn as his example and landed his third for the day - 30kg!! OUCH that hurt!! As that was the one I wanted. Anyhow in the background of all this action Len did his usual stunt and pulled 2 really nice fish out to get his own back on those who were shooting them all around him and I scratched two more smaller ones in the dying minutes of the day as Andy needed to get to a meeting rather urgently by now. No one had seen anything for about 30mins so we guessed the day was over anyhow - we heard from others that they saw nothing later anyhow.

Scramble for a Boat

Andy wasn't launching the next day, Sunday, so I ran up my phone bill calling all and sundry to take me out on their boats (it is a "little" far for a shore dive otherwise I would have just swam out!!) After much cajoling I managed to convince good mate and long time Wahoo Diving Club committee stalwart Shane Strong to loan me his boat to fulfill my dreams of grandeur. After signing my house and car away (just jokes - he wouldn't accept my car as it was worth nothing!! - didn't stop the dark forces from "liberating" it from my clutches a week later) it was off to Aliwal once again - just Timo and I this time.

Still Plenty of Action

On the way out we spotted a pod of Dolphin wallowing around and Timo had to jump off and dive with them and get some pictures. Well after that diversion we finally got to the pinnacle to find Tim Theunissan of Tim's Tub fame and crew out on the water - they had just boated a medium Wahoo and a Sailfish earlier out of a shoal - PROMISING!!!! The current had changed overnight and it took a few drifts to find the right line to drift on but in the trying I found one lonely Wahoo that was soon languishing in the hatch. A few drifts later - we were drifting; both in the water, and chasing the boat that was drifting uncomfortably fast in the rising northeast, I found a really big shoal of Wahoo and plugged one in the tail of all places. It wriggled away and I screamed to Timo to shoot as the shoal was heading his way - he promptly did, my fish!! The rest of the shoal suntanned around me but I just couldn't get to stab one with my diving knife - so they weren't closer than 2m.... After berating him he cleared it all up by telling me all the others turned away from him and mine was the only one left so he shot it - thanks Timo. I have found that you will almost never lose a Wahoo shot behind the anal-dorsal fin area as the muscles start becoming sinews, and then ropes, towards the tail so he needn't have bothered.

The Billfish Arrive

With the floppy tailed Wahoo in hand I set off chasing the boat which was now quite far away on top of the reef but on my journey I noticed a needled nosed fish snaking along under and past me - Sailfish!! I promptly dropped the Wahoo and bombed onto the Sailie and placed a good solid shot, turned and raced for my Wahoo to catch it before it hit the bottom and the current dragged me away. Timo got the boat for me and we chased after the Sailie and boated that too - it was turning out to be another cracker of a day...Unfortunately after that we saw no more Wahoo and the water ""greened" out due to up welling caused by the now quite strong northeast wind but we kept at it with dwindling hopes.


On one drift along the outside edge I looked down into the gloom and saw a long needle nosed fish, another boat had recently seen a Sailfish in the area so I though that was it so raced down onto it. But the dorsal looked all wrong - someone or something had taken it all way apart from the first part - MARLIN!!! It looked like about 120kg and I was trying for a headshot but it kept turning away so eventually (probably about 5 seconds later) I decided to just get a spear into the shoulder and it raced off.

Snagged Buoyb = Lost Fish

Now with the wind drift being what it was I was keeping my buoy on the boat as well as my flasher to keep me near the boat, the tail shot Wahoo had pulled my buoy off the boat with no pressure so I thought it was fine - but it wasn't :-( The Marlin ended up pulling the boat backwards for quite a while before I could get to it and release my buoy. As my buoy shot past Timo I screamed for him to clip his gun onto my buoy, which he very kindly did. It was heading straight out to sea and another couple of mates on another boat pitched in to help subdue the beast - I would have needed their boat to carry the fish back to shore as it would have sunk our small tub!! After a long ride out to sea with two divers in tow the pressure on the spear was just too much and it pulled out - bummers. Would have been my first Marlin too - oh well another day then.... We did a few more drifts looking for bottom fish for supper and then headed on home as it was getting quite late by now - at least Timo had some good stories to tell around the snowman/campfire back home in Denmark. Diving buoys and fully stretched bungee,