Nick and I, never defeated, found ourselves back in the Durban harbour on Saturday morning. Rather than wade the banks (again) we’d opted to fish off of the newly acquired boat in the hope of picking up some pickhandle barracuda in the silt canal.
I picked up Nick at around 8:30am after he’d played a little Bakers (now KFC) cricket with his nephew. After a quick stop at the Kingfisher to pick up a rod section we launched the boat at 10am and headed for the silt canal.
Immediately there was some excitement with a lot of small kingies smashing bait fish in the shallows. We threw a few flies at them and got hit once or twice, but we were targeting the big boys and our hooks were perhaps a little large for these juveniles.
When things calmed down in the shallows we drifted the drop off on the canal but it was perhaps a little late in the day for the barracuda. I got lucky while fishing with my favoured orange crazy charlie and picked up a small cape moony under one of the channel buoys. Although not a great fighter it’s always exciting to land a new species.
With our parking expiring at 1pm (the meter wouldn’t accept any more money) we headed back to the slipway to feed the meter. It was only when I was trying to load more money into the machine that I realised the reason it would only let me pay until 1pm was the parking was free after that. FAIL!
Taking advantage of the situation I popped into the Fish Cafe and grabbed us a few beers before heading out again.
The tide was pushing in fast and we spent the next few hours drifting over the centre banks hoping to pick up a Grunter or two. Sadly this was not to be. I did manage to land a pair of sand gurnards and lose a small east coast sole, but other than that things were quite.
Nick in the meantime was struggling with his floating line (geared for those pickhandle) and decided to swing things in his favour. As such he added a delicious mud prawn (which we’d pumped for Grunter fishing on Sunday) to his fly and threw it over the edge of the boat. Almost instantly his line went tight and he pulled out the most incredible little puffer fish. It wasn’t the normal blassie and we had great fun mocking it before throwing it back into the water.
We had a few other highlights while drifting the bank; firstly we saw two huge rays which may be worth scouting for with a fly in the future. Secondly we risked a short swim while drifting the banks (in hopefully shark free water). And finally it’s worth mentioning that the water was crystal clear at low tide but became instantly murky as we neared high tide. It then switched back to clear as soon as the tide started pulling again. Weird but useful to know.
By now it was nearing 4pm and we were hoping the game fish may come back on. We revved up the engines and headed for the silt canal and the mangroves. The water was alive with fish and no matter where you looked mullet could be seen leaping from the water. We gave the mangroves a short try before heading back to our silt canal drift.
It was in the silt canal that Nick hooked into what seemed to be a decent sized kingie. Sadly, amidst his exuberance, he made the fatal mistake of trying to force the fish onto the reel prematurely. As the fish swam towards the boat Nick tried to reel in the slack line on the deck whilst still maintaining pressure on the fish. As you can imagine this didn’t work too well and he allowed the fish some slack. The kingie immediately took advantage of this and spat the hook, leaving Nick somewhat annoyed (to put it lightly).
Sadly that was to be the last fish of the day. We headed back to the centre banks in search of springer and tried for a few kingies near the yacht club, but we had little luck. Not a bad day at all but a lot of work for a few fish. Time will however ultimately be rewarded. And it’s a real pity about the lost kingie.