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Kayak Sailie

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It was the perfect place: Ponta Malongane Mozambique, a spectacular sunset and great live African music - and the story of a once-in-a-lifetime fish.

Piet Botha (son of Pik) and his band "Jack Hammer", started playing their relaxed African music at sunset on the beach. They carried on well into the night marking the start of a four-day music festival called "STRAB" - 30 of Southern Africa’s best and up and coming bands.

But for us diehard fishermen, STRAB was only an added bonus in this already perfect setting. Ponta Malongane is one bay north of the southern tip of Mozambique, which is Ponta do Oura.

The launch at Malongane is slightly trickier than D Oura but is a more popular fishing destination because of the numerous reefs in the bay.

Traditionally kayak fishing tactics have involved trolling artificials as fast as possible, or slower trolling or drifting baits. Recently vertical jigging has become more possible for us paddlers. We had planned to jig on a reef called Cloud Break, which is 2.8km offshore and goes from 32m down to 41m.

Of course, in our small, specialised craft it was all dependant on the weather.

The jigging lures we used were 1.5 ounce to 3 ounce Berkley Nitro jig heads accompanied by 5 or 7inch Berkley soft baits, as well as bucktails and the very new squid jigs.

On our 1st launch the weather was immaculate and this allowed us to explore the deeper reefs extensively. It was not long and Derek, the wetbiker in our party was stuck into something solid. He was using light tackle, and after a 30 minute battle landed a stunning Ignobilis of 13 to 15kg. His day and week were made!

Between the 3 kayakers out there we only managed a few bottoms, which was rather disappointing.

The second day and we were on the water before sunlight. We trolled articficials straight to the same reef, without success. The westerly was blowing and with it us off the outside of the reef. So after 4 or 5 downs with your jig, you would have to paddle toward the shore and back onto the reef. Again we only got some stunning swallowtail rockcods.

After 3 hours of hard work against the wind we decided to put 2 baits out and head out to shallow water. My plan was to pull a mackerel behind a pink skirt with a baitswinner and a sardine behind a pearly duster on the top. As expected, within seconds of putting the sardine out, the ever-present Remora took it.

I rebaited, got some distance between me and the "suckers" and let my lure out again. To my disgust another "tekkiekop" ate my last sardine. So my mackerel was to swim solo back to land.

With the figures on the beach growing ever clearer, I started to plan my my beaching, but the great blue ocean had other plans.

Loud splashing behind my kayak, and my 6 foot 6 Ugly stick is doing a frantic dance! I looked back and something with a bill was viciously shaking its head above the water. I accelerated by giving 5 deep dug strokes, hoping that this time the hooks would set properly. This time they did, and my Penn Torque 200 confirmed this when my 30-pound big game started stripping off at blinding speed.

After a surging run, the fish came back to the surface to do a majestic tail walk. When my adrenalin pumps I loose track of time and the tailwalk felt like 10 minutes - but was probably only 30 seconds.

It dived back into the water and this time its run was straight towards me.

For a split second the headline for the next day’s newspaper flashed in my brain. "Kayaker impaled by angry billfish".

Fortunately the Toque’s high cranking speed got me back into contact with the beast.

My fishing partner, Rudolf, was about a kilometre away from me, being certain that I wanted to release this fish if I landed it, I shouted and waved like my life depended on it. Rudolf put some back into his strokes and the fish pulled me slightly north and then out towards Rudolf.

"I saw something jumping, is it a Dorado?" Rudolf asked me. "It’s a Sailie", I screamed, "Please come get my camera".

So like a professional photographer and a true fishing partner, Rudolf paddled after me while the fish towed me around.

After some serious pulling on the fish, I got my first glimpse of it. "Is it a sailie?" The sail was not up - but this was a big boy. It might even be a small marlin.

After giving me a real run for my money this beautiful creature came up glided next to my kayak.

Using my cap to grab its bill, it gave 2 more tired shakes of its long body, before I rested its head on my lap.

The perfect hook up, the 4x strong treble in the top of its mouth and the single in the top of its bill. For once everything had gone right on that big fish - and it didn’t get away.

After removing the hooks and a couple of photos, I put his big eye back into the water world it knows.

Brian Jacob is a passionate kayak fisherman and owner of Hunter Ski kayaks. He has been fishing from the day he could walk and has not stopped since. The new challenge of fishing from a kayak has inspired him to new heights, "there is nothing quite as rewarding as landing a fish from a kayak, totally solo!"

I used its massive sail to turn it upright and straight away it started to swim again. I pulled it forward and let it go.

The magnificent fish was free and would live to fight again!

Thanks to STRAB, to our team "Hunter Ski" from campsite 11, to Ponta Malongane and mostly to the great God up above, for giving me this experience I will never forget!

• Choosing a fishing Kayak •
• Kayak Sailie •

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