Learning tactics in a fisherman's paradise

(Published in the July 2018 issue of Ski-Boat magazine)

By Mark de la Hey

WHEN you hear the slogan “Boats, Beers and Babes” there’s just one guy that always springs to mind — the infamous Ryan Hansen. A few months back he and I planned a short trip up into Moçambique with a few mates. In years gone by February and March have been some of our best fishing and weather months, but in more recent years this hasn’t been the case at all; the weather has been poor and the fishing poorer.
This is what led to our planned adventure, and let’s face it, who doesn’t like going on a trip up into Moz?
As it turned out everyone else dropped out the day before we were set to leave, but Ryan and I decided to go anyway. This was quite a bold move considering Ryan and I had spent no more than one day on a boat together and only just made it through that!
The chosen destination was Canda Island, a really small, secluded spot just north of Xai-Xai; far enough to be away from reality but close enough to make the drive from Durban in a day.
At 2am Ryan arrived outside my gate with his trusty Cruiser towing the Seacat 565. Brod Whittaker — cameraman and underwater specialist — and I jumped in and off we went. We decided to take the new road past the Ponto border and it was a pleasure not having to go through all the border posts in and out of Swaziland. Slowly but surely we made our way further into Moçambique, collecting a couple of speeding fines along the way. I think this was due to Ryan’s eagerness to get out on some new water.
Almost 15 hours later, as the sun was setting, we crossed the rickety bridge over the lake and arrived at Canda Island as it is known. We couldn’t wait to get on the water to see what lay in wait. At 5am the following morning, before the sun was even up, the boat was packed, food made, bean bag was in position and tea made.
We dropped the boat on the beach, pushed her in with the pole and headed for the deep. On the way out we bumped into a baitball of note; sharks, tuna and prodigal son were feasting. We had a few throws before Ryan and Brod jumped in, and Brod later said it was a truly spectacular experience even for such a seasoned free diver.
We’d been given a few marks from a good friend so we decided to start there. To begin with we put out a few deep diving nomads and started searching for that needle in the haystack. As we traversed the drop off, regularly consulting the Lowrance HDS 9 Carbon, we saw some great structure, but absolutely no showing. About two hours later the Accurate Bossfury suddenly burst into song and Ryan made his way to the rod. It turned out we’d hooked a good sized king mackerel.
We took a couple of quick pics before sending it back into the depths.
Just before we put the lures out again to begin the search I turned around and looked at the sounder. Surely there had to be something wrong with it … the showing was top to bottom in 48m of water and we were 65km offshore. Was that even possible? We decided to put out a few fresh mackerel and try a few dropshots and small jigs. What happened over the next few hours was nothing short of unbelievable; it was literally impossible to put down a jig or dropshot without getting a bite!
Rainbow runners, ’cuda, five different kingfish species, jobfish, all the tuna species one could hope to catch and a few others — we had stumbled upon Valhalla! There was nothing much more to say except that we had found a rare treasure and we knew at the time that some pretty special memories were being made.
Brod took a dive down in the showing and what he came back with was spectacular. Shoals of 200 to 500 fish at a time, all the different species sticking to their own kind with clouds and clouds of different species all shoaling around one area. It’s hard to explain why certain areas hold more fish than others, but this was on a whole different level from anything we’d ever seen.
After catching a few good sized king mackerel Ryan started to find his rhythm, so he went down with a dropshot. His line immediately went tight and judging by the bend on the rod we knew it was something special. Ten minutes later he’d landed his first GT on a dropshot — all 20kg of it. What a great fish! He let it go and went down again, this time catching an even bigger one! And so the day went on….
By the time we decided to have something to eat Ryan had finally graduated from boater to top class angler! When you get a rare opportunity to catch so many different fish in such a short space of time using so many different methods you find your rhythm and Ryan sure did. I knew I wouldn’t have to worry again when the rod went — Hansen would have it covered.
Ryan wasn’t the only one to learn some new tricks; one thing I personally learned was how to use an overhand reel for jigging and dropshotting. I used the Accurate Vallient 600N with a Nobe slow pitch 6f6 jigging rod and .26 braid. I had never been a fan of the overhand set-up but from that day on I’m a believer and I can’t wait to tackle some giants on that tackle.
Ryan on the other hand was using the Accurate SR-12 spinning reel with the 7ft Seeker Hercules light rod. He caught some great fish on it and showed that that tackle could land just about anything.
Around 3pm we fired up the Yamahas up and set the SeaCat on a course for Canda Island. Seventy-odd kilometres is a fair way to travel on the ocean, but when you’ve just discovered something as unique and special as “Valhalla” it goes by like a breeze! Brod, Ryan and I had just experienced something unique and truly unforgettable, which would explain the big grins as we headed back to shore!
We hit the beach, loaded up and made our back up the dune to our stunning beach house overlooking the sea to the east and the lakes to the west. Out on the deck we cracked open a few cold ones and looked out at the horizon. There was a stunned silence as we each thought back on the day’s events. Finally I turned to Ryan and said, “Well, that’s day one; don’t forget it, it’s the day you became a fisherman.” All three of us were asleep early, finished from a great day out on the ocean, dreaming about what “Valhalla” had in store for us in the days to come …

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