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I have been doing fishing reports for many years. The other day I
looked back at them over the last few years and it seemed to me that
the tone of these reports was becoming progressively more gloomy.

Either the wind had blown us out or the fishing was lousy or whatever.
It always seemed as if the elements were against us and if we could go
out, the fishing was declining. Last season was very poor, but for the
late autumn tuna season and the good marlin season down at Cape
Agulhas, it would have been described as one of our worst to date.
BUT, along came October 2011 and with it came reasonable weather (one
can never say we have great weather in the Cape) and good fish. The
yellowfin season has, so far been the best we have experienced since
they heydays of 2005,6and 7. The size of the fish in the early part of
the season (Oct and Nov) were exceptional. Almost every trip produced
fish of 90kg and more whilst the average size was around 70kg. This in
itself was, at the time, cause for concern as although the fish were
large, they were not that plentiful and fisheries research has shown
over and over again that just before a fish stock collapses
completely, the average size of the fish increases quite dramatically.
November came and went with the big fish still around, and then came
the best news of all. In December, massive schools of younger fish in
the 30 to 50kg range moved in and the fishing was fantastic. The
strong SE winds blew in moderation, the light westerlies pushed warm
blue water right inshore and for a few weeks there were yellowfin
everywhere. We even caught them in the shallows of Rocky Bank and SW
Reefs. (Traditionally these are yellowtail areas). It was just like
the big runs of fish we had seven years ago. I will go into more
detail under the offshore section below.

Shore Angling
The rock and surf scene has, unfortunately not been on par with the
offshore fishing. Although there have been odd periods of good
fishing, the shark guys have been complaining that the usual bronze
whaler haunts are not delivering as many fish as last year, and
although, as mentioned, there has been the odd good day, the size of
the fish being caught is also smaller. The usual sprinkling of cob and
geelbek have been caught off the Strand reefs and for a while the cob
fishing at Swartklip was OK, I suspect the lack of SE winds has
negativley affected the surf fishing, but this is my opinion only and
I am sure there are many anglers who would disagree with me and find
some other reason for the lack of fish. The mountain past Gordons Bay
has had some very good days and once again, I would ascribe this to
the lack of SE and frequent westerlies.

As stated above, this is where it all happened. The run of tuna has
been great and whilst it is all but over now, the fish stayed later in
the season than they have since 2007. I was examining my catch records
and the last time we had tuna in any numbers in January, was in the
2006/07 season when we caught fish right through the summer. I caught
two tons of yellowfin in January that year and almost a ton in
February. The most encouraging thing to emerge from this season is the
fact that there were so many younger fish around. We have not seen
good recruitment for many years and this may signal an upturn in our
yellowfin stocks once again. It has been said that much of the
commercial tuna fleet that has been operating in the Indian Ocean for
the last ten years has been chased away by the booming piracy
business. I never thought I would say it, but if this is the case,
then "Up the Pirates". The yellowfin stocks have been under severe
pressure from overfishing in the Indian Ocean and the IOTC (Indian
Ocean Tuna Commission) was on the verge of placing the Indian Ocean
stocks of yellowfin on the red list. Maybe, just maybe, there is a ray
of hope for these fantastic gamefish. It would be a sad day indeed if
the yellowfin went the same way as the bluefin and until this season,
I for one did not think they had a snowballs chance in hell of making
it. Hopefully the next year or two will prove me wrong. It would be
one of the few times that I welcome being completely off the mark. The
yellowfin fishery off Cape Point is one of the few fisheries we have
that is regarded as world class and not only would the demise of the
yellowfin be a travesty, but it would probably spell the end of our
charter industry as well. Our charter business in the Cape is already
one of the toughest due to adverse sea and weather conditions. Should
the fishing go south, so would our businesses.

Now that the tuna have left to go wherever they go in the Indian
Ocean again, we wait to see if our autumn season is going to be as
exciting as the early summer one was. The bookings are already flowing
in for April. Lets hope the fish play ball.

Cape Agulhas
As is usual at this time of the year, we are once again planning to
get Tyler down to Struisbaai for February and March for the marlin
season. It is also more than likely the last year where we will be
able to catch red steenbras. If the powers that be have their way, the
catching of these magnificent fish will be banned outright during the
course of this year. It was due to have happened already, but once
again the beaurocratic bungling of the supposed guardian of our seas,
Marine and Coastal Management (should be called Mismanagement) has
resulted in delays, debates and dissention. In this case it has worked
in our favour for a change. So if you wish to catch a red steenbras,
now would be the time to book.

As for the marlin, if last year was anything to go by, you would be
doing yourself a disservice by not coming out with us to try to catch
one. Last season we had four fish in as many trips and had a gaggle of
hook-ups, strikes, and general mayhem. We even had a full house (six
rods) strike on striped marlin. It was a sight to behold and to say
"chaos ruled" would be the understatement of the year. Five of the six
fell off, but we got one to the boat and had a successful tag and
release. I am acutely aware of the fact that we have a very poor
strike to hook-up rate on these fish and it has been the subject of
many late night debates over many beers. I say "we" meaning all the
boats that fish in that area. Some years ago, when we started catching
these fish, I put it down to inexperience. None of us had a clue what
we were doing and I ascribed the low hook-up rate to this fact. Since
then we have caught enough marlin to move up from the rank of absolute
novice to somewhere between amatuer and mildly experienced. Yet the
damn hook-up rate stays at about 1 in 6. We are still debating the
reasons and have since read many books on the subject. One day when I
know, you will all be the first to share my knowledge. In the
meanwhile, although we are having plenty of fun catching these things,
it is still rather frustrating when one spends a day out there, gets
five or six strikes and every one of them either fails to stick or
falls off after a short time. We will get to the bottom of it, watch
this space.

Lastly, the Struisbaai Yellowtail Derby and the Five Species (two
separate competitions) will be held again this year. The group of guys
that joined us on the yellowtail derby last year have booked again for
this year, but there are many days still open in the diary. Come and
join us for a day or a few. Struisbaai and Cape Agulhas are cool

Go to
{} and become a follower. I will,
in time, be doing more pictures and updates there.

Till next time, tight lines and good fishing.
Regards - The SSS team.


See you on the water.