DEEP SEA ADVENTURE: The Quest For A Trophy Fish

Stellenbosch To Richards Baai

Every year a band of four intrepid anglers embark on a pilgrimage from Stellenbosch to Richards Bay for the much-anticipated Marlin Classic. This annual event marks a pinnacle for the group, a chance to chase after the elusive Marlin, a creature whose legendary status has echoed across oceans and shores.

Nestled in the prestigious locale of Richards Bay, this special occasion is orchestrated by none other than the indomitable Robin. Guiding the expedition are the seasoned skippers, Robin and Deon, whose expertise navigates the team through the labyrinthine waters of Richards Bay. Joining them is the experienced gillie, Kwagga, forming a dream team that sends shivers of anticipation down the spines of the Stellenbosch crew, who find themselves counting down the days with bated breath.

This year, the quartet of “day anglers” comprised FC, Svend, Morne, and PR. The journey kicked off with a bout of jigging, despite the weather casting a somber shadow with heavy rains earlier in the month. Undeterred, the team, alongside their captain, decided to test their luck against the elements.

With the full moon’s imminent arrival promising potential for trophy catches, the team opted to forgo trolling for Marlin on the first day, instead settling into a prime spot for jigging. And their decision bore fruit. FC’s reel sang with the weight of a 15kg Amberjack, while the rest of the crew reeled in respectable Bonitos. Svend, displaying his prowess, hooked two small Yellowfins during the jigging session.

As twilight descended and the swell began to swell, signaling the end of the first day’s adventure, the team gathered around a crackling braai, exchanging stories and laughter, finding solace in camaraderie before retiring for the night, eager for the dawn of a new day.

Day two dawned with unfavourable weather, prompting the adventurers to explore the coastal town of Ballito, briefly donning the mantle of tourists in their own homeland.

But on the third day, fueled by a fervent hunger for a monumental catch, the team set sail at the crack of dawn, determined to chase after their elusive prey. An hour and a half into the voyage, fifty kilometers from shore, a flurry of avian activity caught their attention, igniting a spark of excitement. And as if in response to their anticipation, the lines came alive.

As the boat surged through the waves, the anticipation among the crew reached fever pitch. With six rods cast into the depths but only four eager anglers aboard, they devised a system of rotation, ensuring each member had their chance to tackle whatever might lurk beneath the surface.

Morne, his eyes bright with excitement, was the fortunate soul chosen for the first round. With a quick exchange of nods and encouraging words from his companions, he eagerly took his place in the fighting chair, his heart pounding with anticipation as he prepared to do battle with the ocean’s bounty.

As the line suddenly went taut and the reel sang its high-pitched song of challenge, Morne’s adrenaline surged. With every ounce of strength and determination, he grappled with the unseen force on the other end of the line, his muscles straining against the relentless pull of the deep.

The entire crew rallied around him, offering words of encouragement and lending their strength as they worked together to reel in their prize. With each passing moment, the tension mounted, each member holding their breath in anticipation of what lay beneath the surface.

And then, with a final heave and a triumphant cry, Morne emerged victorious, his prize breaking the surface in a dazzling display of silver and blue. A magnificent Wahoo, weighing in at approximately 20kg, shimmered in the sunlight, its sleek form a testament to the skill and perseverance of its captor.

As the crew celebrated their hard-fought victory, the promise of freshly made Wahoo sashimi hung tantalizingly in the air, a delicious reward for their efforts and a fitting tribute to the triumph of the day.

After the exhilaration of their first catch, the team wasted no time in reeling in their lines, eager to cast their luck once more upon the restless waters. As the boat trolled for another hour, the men indulged in snacks and refreshing sodas, savouring the camaraderie that only a shared adventure at sea could bring. Just as FC took the final sip from his drink, the captain’s voice crackled over the intercom: “We’re on again!”

In an instant, the team sprang into action, each member assuming their designated position with practiced efficiency. FC, feeling the weight of anticipation bearing down upon him, braced himself for what lay ahead. Strapped into the fighting chair, a surge of tension mingled with excitement coursed through his veins as he prepared to face the challenge head-on. With deft skill and determination, FC engaged in a fierce battle of wills with his adversary, culminating in the triumphant capture of a 13kg Dorado, the fruit of his labour shimmering under the midday sun.

Undeterred by the fleeting hours and less-than-ideal conditions, the team persisted, hoping for a chance encounter with a Marlin. Though the elusive prize eluded them, the day culminated in yet another savoury braai, punctuated by the succulent taste of freshly caught Wahoo, a fitting conclusion to their third day’s conquests. As the final day dawned, a collective decision was made to eschew the pursuit of Marlin in favour of a more leisurely jaunt closer to shore as they still needed to catch a flight the same day. Amidst a sea teeming with Bonitos, the men engaged in spirited battles, with Svend emerging as the undisputed champion of jigging, landing a sizable Amberjack, resulting in his 15th fish of the trip.

On that fateful Sunday, amidst the thrills of the fishing expedition, another event was unfolding in the world of sports – the much-anticipated UFC fight featuring Dricus du Plessis. The members, eager to stay updated, turned to their trusted Captain Robin, inquiring about any possibility of receiving a signal. Miraculously, within moments, a solitary signal point emerged, offering a glimpse of the fight’s outcome: victory for du Plessis!

The jubilation that ensued was akin to winning the World Cup, with cheers echoing across the deck. Yet, amidst the celebration, a touch of magic lingered in the air.

Meanwhile, Kwagga, seizing the opportunity, utilized one of the freshly caught bonitos as live bait. And then, it happened.

“PR, you’re up,” came the call, catching everyone off guard. PR’s initial shock quickly transformed into determination as he realized it was his moment to shine. With adrenaline coursing through his veins, he took hold of the rod, ready to face whatever formidable opponent lurked beneath the waves.

For fifteen intense minutes, PR battled with unseen forces, the anticipation building with each tug and pull. Was it a Giant Trevally, an Amberjack, or perhaps a prized Potato Bass? With Svend’s unwavering encouragement and support, PR summoned every ounce of strength, determined to conquer the challenge.

And then, as the majestic creature surfaced, the sheer magnitude of the moment enveloped the entire crew in awe. A colossal 42kg Potato Bass lay before them, a rare and extraordinary catch. Though larger specimens of the species existed, for PR, it might as well have been the championship belt of the UFC!

As the team worked together to bring the magnificent fish aboard, the air was suffused with jubilation and champaign showers. After capturing a quick photo to immortalize the moment, the experts among them imparted guidance on safely releasing the creature back into its natural habitat.

With the memory of this remarkable catch etched in their minds, the remaining hours saw the team blessed with several more bites from prized game fish. And as they made their way back to shore, each member wore a smile of contentment, knowing they had not only reeled in unforgettable experiences but also captured precious memories to last a lifetime.

With hearts full and memories etched in the annals of their shared history, the quartet bid farewell to Richards Bay, knowing that their quest for the elusive Marlin would resume anew next year. To Robin and the entire team, their gratitude knew no bounds. “Until next year,” they breathed, eyes alight with anticipation, their minds already ablaze with visions of future conquests yet to be realized.

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