Cape Vidal Trip Report, November 2014

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With the windy months having passed us by, and the water warming through the spring months, it was time for another trip to Cape Vidal. Sadly however we battled with booking and managed to secure just a single campsite, meaning that just 6 fishermen could join us on this adventure.

I picked up Graeme at 4:30am and we headed to Durban where we met up with Bruce and Laurence. After quickly packing the trailer we hit the road at 5am with Vidal set firmly in our sights. We stopped just twice on route, once for the maditory cup of coffee, and then again for the even more mandatory Wimpy breakfast.

The other two adventurers, Neill and Arthur, were already on route from the South Coast Fly Anglers and had agreed to meet us on the beach. Clearly they were more eager than us, and by the time we strolled onto the beach at 9am they’d already been fishing for an hour.

Bruce and I opted to head south while the rest of the boys fished either they bay or headed north. It was close to spring low and conditions were visually spectacular. They skies were clear, and the water even clearer. There were also several good channels and sandbars in the surf zone forming some great holes to target. Sadly the conditions were better for us humans than the fish and it took me around an hour to land my first fish – something that’s very unusual for Vidal.

Thankfully when the tide swung and began to push things took a turn for the better. The surf picked up and suddenly the calm gullies were awash with white water and rips. Almost immediately we started getting into fish, with both Bruce and I picking up some fantastic largespot pompano (aka wave garrick).

One of the better wave garrick of the trip
One of the better wave garrick of the trip

With the morning session out of the way we headed back to the car, and drove over to the campsite. The south coast boys had already setup camp and seemed to take some pleasure in watching us slowly erect ours.

Having traveled in a single car I was missing my trusty camping box, and soon I began to notice a few lacking items. This included my pump, which meant some very sore lungs (and that light headedness usually only associated with the 6th beer) in blowing up my air mattress. The other gents had similar issues and soon discovered that their borrowed stretchers were too big to fit into their tent – it certainly looked like they’d be sleeping on the floor.

At this point the south coast boys headed down to the beach for their afternoon session. This of course meant they’d left their tent unguarded, which was clearly a big mistake on their behalf. I seized the opportunity and quickly swapped out their two stretchers for those that didn’t fit. Amazingly this went unnoticed by them until they climbed into bed that evening and found the less comfortable replacements. There was certainly a lot to be said in the morning.

With our camp finally setup we had a quick lunch and then headed for the beach for our late afternoon/evening session. This time we all headed north at different speeds. It was close to high tide so the ledges were going to be covered, which meant targeting the surf zone or the rough water washing over the rocks. Again we found some nice gullies and were rewarded with several good fish.

Despite tough fishing, within 15 minutes I’d landed a new species on fly in the form of a sand shark (aka a guitarfish). I did admittedly false hook it, but hey, a fish is a fish. Graeme was meanwhile dominating the shad, while the rest of us were picking up mostly wave garrick and the odd moonie or stone bream. It was great to see more good holes to the north which certainly boded well for the remainder of the weekend when the tides would be more favourable.

As the sun began to set I headed into the bay behind the reef, hoping that the bait fish sheltering there would draw in the kingfish. Instead I discovered that the bay had sanded up and as a result there were no baitfish, and therefore no kingies, to be found.

Sunset at Cape Vidal
Sunset at Cape Vidal

Once the sun vanished behind the hills I climbed out of the water and strolled back to camp. The rest of the gents had already returned and had lit a fire. We cracked open a few beers and enjoyed the friendly banter that only occurs when a group of men are seated around a campfire in Africa. Arthur quickly secured his position as the most popular camper as he set about preparing plates of snacks for the group – what an unexpected treat.

The next morning we were all up before 6am and ready to go. We brewed some coffee and feasted on rusks before heading out for a morning session. The tide was pulling and by 9am the ledges would be fully exposed. Fishing was initially slow, as always seems to be the case on a pulling tide at Vidal, but we did pick up the odd fish as we headed for the bricks.

As the ledges exposed themselves the fishing took a turn for the better. Beautiful gullies would produce 10 odd fish before things went quiet and forced you to move on to the next gully. A lot of fish came out and a fun morning was had by all.

Bruce and I ended up fishing together and, after making pigs of ourselves (as Coxy would say), returned to camp just after 1pm. As we enjoyed our lunch conditions took a turn for the worse with the wind picking up to ridiculous levels. It was also an Easterly which meant that stingy things were bound to feature. Not deterred I cracked a beer, took my man pills, and kitted up for the afternoon session.

Graeme fishing some white water
Graeme fishing some white water

Down at the beach most people did the sensible thing and wore long pants. I on the other hand had not thought to pack any and was therefore forced to brave the large surf, knee deep in water, with hundreds of bluebottles on the prowl. To say this was a successful strategy is a misdemeanor as they wrapped around my legs and made fishing less than pleasant.

I headed for the launch site which was partially protected by the reef, meaning I spent less time in the water and therefore got stung less often. Sadly however, with the bay being heavily silted, fishing was less than ideal. I did pull out a few wavies and the odd moonie, but it wasn’t the bay of old and again there were no kingies to be seen.

Back at camp Arthur was being overly energetic once again and spent some time producing a large snack platter for us all. This was followed by another fantastic braai and a few more cold beers. Another great day at Vidal and a good end to our last evening of the trip.

The next morning a few of us headed out for a quick morning session before we set about packing up camp. Bruce and I once again headed for the ledges which had produced so well the previous day. The South Coast boys must have walked south as they were nowhere to be seen. All in all it was a tough (but good) final session with a lot of pompano coming to hand. Sadly time quickly ran out and we were forced to return to camp long before we were happy to.

The gents who’d decided to skip the morning session had done a fair amount of packing so the dropping of camp was relatively painless. We then headed back to Durban, sadly getting stuck in an hour long traffic jam on route which ruined everyone’s moods. That said, the Wimpy burger and shake did a fantastic job of rejuvenating us to our jovial selves before we got home to our families.

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