The first game fishing trip of the year! This time fishing out of Cape Town South Africa, on the hunt for yellowfin and (hopefully) albacore tuna.
It was touch and go if we were able to get a fishing day in on this holiday – I’d booked everything last minute (as usual) but weather conditions had to be good to venture offshore. I was also trying to fit in a White Shark Cage diving trip (see pics following), that was also weather dependent.
Finally, I got the information that the coming Friday was going to be the only good day during our stay so decided to go for it. The forecast was for mild winds in the morning with winds & seas picking up in the afternoon. We fished with Captain Sean Amor’s Hooked on Africa charter company – I was very impressed with the quality of the boat, the standards of safety and professionalism of the crew. We went out on a c.30’ catamaran, in a convoy with 3 other boats – radio contact was maintained throughout the day to ensure that a wide search was made to find fish, that everyone got put on the fish & that everyone was safe. Very professional.
We started out at the dock in Hout Bay Harbour – the water temperature was a frigid 11°C! It was the first time in my life that I’ve started a fishing trip in such cold waters, even in winter time in the UK ……..! We headed offshore, in a SW direction for, I guess for 80-100km. The water temperature gradually started rising, until, after about an hour were at c.18°C and the temperature then rose more sharply until we reached waters of 20-22°C. We then started to see birds and activity – petrels and albatross, it was time to fish!
The fishing method was to put out a mixed trolling spread of skirts and plugs on heavy (50-80lb) gear. Troll, keeping an eye on the fish finder, and once hooked-up to fish from a school, to immediately start chunking to keep the school at the boat and then to drop chunks to try to catch the big yellowfin that are often associated deeper in the schools. Whilst chunking, metal jigs were also employed for some light tackle action.
We were soon picking up skipjacks, followed swiftly by a double hook-up by decent sized tuna – I pulled the hook on a good fish at the boat, whilst Siôn brought in his first ever yellowfin tuna of c.15kg.
First Yellowfin Tuna double hook-up (Sion’s first Yellowfin)
I then got my first ever albacore, a smallish school fish. Shortly after, the skipper hooked a decent fish on a jig, which I fought to the boat – a decent sized albacore at c.25kg. That fish put a lot of hurt on me and I realised I’d forgotten how tough tuna are (it’s about 5 years since my last tuna). The chunking didn’t attract anything up so we returned to trolling.
My first Albacore Tuna
We were getting regular hits from skipjack and school albacore. Each attempt to chunk up fish didn’t work and we resumed trolling. During one of the stops I got a strike on a jig but failed to hook up. Then, as we were trolling again, the skipper suddenly came running from the cockpit and grabbed a rod (he’d marked a big aggregation of fish at the surface). All hell broke loose as all 5 rods screamed and we were covered with albacore. Siôn and I fought fish after fish – one problem was that we were using big, heavy reels with high drag settings & 50-80lb line, but were only using fighting belts with cups (no gimbal), so its was hard to fight strong fish with slimy hands and keep the 50 wide reels upright. I felt like a novice and Siôn was actually doing better than me! As soon as we’d got a fish in than the skipper handed us another rod with a lively tuna on the end – we must have caught 7 albacore between us in 15 minutes and the mate also crancked one in. To add to our hurt we then got another double hook-up on 20kg yellowfin! The deck was like a slaughter house, running with blood. By this time the wind and seas were starting to pick up (my wife and younger son had already succumbed to mild sea sickness and drowsiness caused by the sea-sickness pills – they never usually suffer but had gotten their first experience of it in a rolling swell during the previous White Shark trip).
Albacore Tuna Frenzy!
Albacore Tuna in the fish box
Yellowfin Tuna double hook-up No.2
It was around 1pm and we took another yellowfin double. After these fish I finally realised that the lack of a gimbal on the fighting belts was killing us. The skipper provided us with Black Magic belts used for the larger yellowfin, but it proved to be the kiss of death – we only managed a few more skipjack after this! We fished on until about 3pm, but with little further action, and a building sea, we decided to run for home. It was a slow, bumpy & wet journey in 5m plus swell and associated chop. Once back at Hout Bay, we had a feast of yellowfin sashimi and albacore steaks, cooked in a variety of ways at the marina restaurant before returning to our hotel tired, dirty and satisfied after an excellent trip. Siôn had achieved his dream of a yellowfin tuna and I was very happy with my first albacore tunas!
Third Yellowfin Tuna double hook-up!
First Yellowfin Tuna catch initiation – Heart Sashimi ….!!
Trip Summary 5 Yellowfin tuna 10 Albacore tuna c.10 Skipjack tuna