Although a seasoned fisherman, Derek Kushner had never had the opportunity to tick the renowned Yellowfin off his bucket list. He was finally afforded the chance recently and decided to share his remarkable first tuna hunt experience with us.
I am a retired Knysna dentist pushing 70, who grew up with a fishing rod in hand and will fish anywhere, anytime, for any type of fish. That said, my personal best tuna could barely be used to fill a few cans of the shredded type!
My youngest son, Brin is based in Cape Town and inherited my fishing obsession. He has made me green with envy in the past with pictures of massive tuna caught in the deep off Cape Point. Every time that an opportunity would arise for me to tag along to fish for those giants the weather wouldn’t play along, or I would be unavailable.
On a Thursday, earlier this year, I received an excited call from my son to say that some big tuna were being boated about 30 nautical miles off Cape Point, and the weather was looking perfect for the Saturday. He was planning to go out with a friend and work colleague Gerith Ras, on his new boat, Joyride, an Ace Craft 660 DV with 2 X 100 HP Yamaha Four strokes and enough deck room to run laps. Gerith’s friend Jean Minaar was also along for the ride. He is also an obsessive fisherman and I had heard that he was great fun to have on the boat.
I responded with the usual knee jerk reaction and told Tanya, my wife, to cancel all arrangements for the weekend. After 44 years married to an old salt, she knew there was no room for discussion in this matter, and next day we were on the road to Cape Town, the car full of smelly fishing clothes and tackle.
The next morning we were up at sparrow’s and headed for Simonstown where the others had already started launching. We could not have wished for better conditions. No wind, sea like a glass pond, and a stunning sunrise over on the Hangklip side of the bay.
As we rounded Cape Point we came upon water boiling with Yellowtail, gorging themselves on baitfish. We fortunately had one light rod and a spinner or two on board and took turns flicking the stick out into the turmoil, each angler happily boating a 4-5 kg Yellowtail. As tempted as we were to spend the day right there, we elected to head for our original target.
Around 30nm off Cape Point, the sea suddenly came alive with small Skipjack and birdlife and we reached the numbers we were heading for. The news was obviously out that tuna were around as there were more boats out there than at the Retreat of Dunkirk in 1940! Trawlers, skiboats, rubberducks, commercial bungee boats and pole fi sherman – even the odd madman who came out with a lagoon boat with a single engine (there is no explaining this sort of lunacy).
We started out trolling rapalas and squids but besides a small Longfin that longline released itself, the ratchets where quiet. Gertih and Jean then made the decision to switch to fishing with bait, to see if we could bring fish up from the deep by tempting them with a chum slick – another form of fishing that was new to me. Casually flicking a few small pieces of sardine overboard whilst drifting, the tuna are lured closer to the boat and then caught on small baited hooks that drift freely in the current. So we chummed and drifted and waited while Gerith and Jean kept up a colourful conversation with the birds on the water that kept on diving down and stealing our offerings to the tuna.