The League of extraordinary gentleman

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Mapelane Billfish Challenge

It takes more than a guy with a rod to successfully catch and safely release a sailfish or marlin. It requires skill, effort, knowledge and lots of patience. In fact, you’d have to be extraordinary to target the beasts of the deep. It’s the Mapelane Billfish Challenge and team Leisure Boating travelled to KZN to see what it takes to be the best in the league.

A recent South African magazine wrote that they’re not fond of the term ‘anglers’ since it has the connotation of someone being conniving. And when it comes to the 2013 Mapelane Billfish Challenge, I’d probably have to agree. The competitors here certainly are gentlemen in the sport – but sport it is and they have descended upon Zululand for one reason; to see who can catch the biggest and the most billfish to reign supreme and claim the coveted trophy.

The club
The Mapelane Ski Boat Club is located about a two-hour drive north of the heart of Durban. Situated close to the St Lucia estuary, the coastline of the Mapelane region is pristine, well conserved, and home to more than decent-sized billfish. The club is found in the middle of what is closely described as a jungle. Surrounded by wet land, dense bush and wild animals – said to include leopard, hippos, vervet monkeys and flat dogs (Durbanite for crocs) – the Mapelane Ski Boat Club is awash with natural wonders; and ocean goers have a lot to expect as well.

If you’re ever going to this club, be sure to use a 4×4… Or a rental car. We had the latter – and due to some off-roading experience I’ve had in the past, our little Nissan Micra just made the trip. It’s the 16 km or so to reach the club from the national road that tests you – and although entrants into the Mapelane Billfish tow their boats along the route, it was a bit of a challenge for us in a car that makes Gary Randall (of Team Leisure Boating) and I look ‘involved’.

The Mapelane Ski Boat Club practises safe and conservative fishing. Geared towards sustainable angling, this competition promotes catch and release. For those that don’t know, the rules to claim points on a released fish are easy; simply present a picture to the beach control which contain the following three things; the line’s leader in hand, the corresponding colour card, and the fish. If you have these three things pictured, the points are yours. Simple in theory, but not always in practice…


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