As 2019 drifted into February I was starting to get a slightly excited feeling. Whilst the winter fishing on the East Anglian coastline was proving to be pretty awful, I had a trip abroad looming on the horizon. I was due to take a group of 6 customers from SportsQuest Holidays on a trip of a lifetime. We were heading for the Skeleton coast in Namibia. The target was the many shark species that patrol this unforgiving coastline with bronze whaler sharks the main target for the customers along with plenty of gully shark.
We had all met at Heathrow and were soon flying high, with the flight to Johannesburg being an overnighter I had something to eat, watched a couple of movies and got my head down. I was awakened early hours of the morning by some movement beside me and the sight that met my eyes was slightly disturbing. One of the cabin crew was collecting the wrappers from Magnum ice creams that had been handed out whilst I was asleep. I had missed out on the ice creams and I was not happy! That will teach me to doze off. I soon shut my eyes again before waking up as we descended into Jo’berg. The next flight was a short couple of hour hop to Walvis bay where we collected our bags and boarded our transfer to the accommodation.
Once we had all dropped our bags off we were out for a quick couple of hours raid on a nearby beach looking for spotted gully sharks. This proved to be a non-starter so we all headed back to get a good nights sleep before heading out on the first day proper. Waking up the next day we filled our faces with bacon and eggs before jumping in the Land Rover and heading to the first mark, yet again we were after the Gully sharks, these would prove a great warm up for what was going to come later on in the week.
The rods were flicked out into the angry surf that lay before us, a cool mist had descended and we were dressed in coats and trousers, not what you would expect for Africa but, as we found out, it is not always scorching sunshine. With big bloody fish baits in the water it didn’t take long for my rod to slam over in the spike and signal fish on!
This fish was putting up a great scrap on the lighter gear and within a couple of minutes I had my first ever spotted gully shark on the beach. This proved to be the only one of the morning and as the day ticked by we all headed to another beach nearby to see if the customers could get locked into battle with a bronze whaler shark. I was not going to fish for the whalers until the last day, as I was not here to take the big shark spots as I was working, but whilst the others targeted the big sharks I fished on the end of the line scratching to find different species with my main target being an elephant fish which despite my hard work I never actually got to catch.
As the next few days passed the customers had caught some lovely bronzies to 215lb, all the while I was plugging away with the lighter gear working my way through the Namibian barbel (white sea catfish), sand sharks, kabeljou and eagle rays. I had seen some lovely fish landed and some amazing fish lost as they ran over reefs or had bitten us off, then one of the customers hooked into something very special indeed.
This fish was hooked for a solid 2 hours with 2 anglers taking it in turns to play her but every time she got close to the shore she turned tail and ran back out stripping line at a scary rate of knots as she fought to shake the hooks. With the 2 anglers tiring near the 2 hour mark I was handed the rod to finish the fight, this fish was tiring and to get her in I was going to have to bully her through the surf.
She wasn’t done yet and still had a few strong lunges left but I soon had her fully tamed and with 3 anglers tailing her she was beached and measured before being released back into the water. With an estimated weight of 311lb she was every ounce a monster and one fish that nobody will ever forget in a hurry.
The rest of the day was spent helping the others to bring in some more smaller sharks, today was a different day to the rest of the week with scorching sun beating down on us as opposed to the misty cold weather we had been experiencing the rest of the week. This was telling on everybody with red faces and burnt legs being shown off as we sat around at the dinner table, the talk of the night was all about the beast that was landed and we all went to bed dreaming of what could be the next fish to be caught.
This was now the last full day on the beach and I could finally have a proper crack at the bronzies, hopefully I would get the chance to do battle with a big toothy specimen of my own. The baits were flown out at varying ranges with mine being flown out a fair way before being dropped right in the zone where we knew the sharks would be feeding. It had been a fair while with no activity when my rod gave a slight pull down before slackening slightly, this was followed by a rapidly tightening line and the rod folded right over, the reel was singing and I lifted into a very heavy weight.
This fish was peeling line off at a ferocious rate of knots and the fight was most definitely on but she was heading far left and towards a reef system. Heartbreakingly the line fell slack and it soon became apparent this fish had found a snag and broken me off. That was my only chance of hooking a bronzie gone in the blink of an eye. That night I lay in my bed thinking through the fight, there was nothing at all I could have done to prevent losing that fish and it was now just a case of what could have been.
We were due to take off at mid afternoon on the last day which gave us just enough time to have an early morning raid on the spotted gully sharks. This proved to be a very good session with the whole group catching well into double figure numbers of fish with myself finishing the Namibia trip with a beautiful gully shark weighing around 50lb. That was it for the week in Namibia, big fish had been landed and even bigger fish lost, spooling big reels as they charged off out to sea. What a trip it had been with everybody having a truly amazing time and sitting on the plane as we cruised at 38000 feet
I quietly sat back and smiled to myself, memories playing back in my mind. Just then a stewardess leaned across and asked if I wanted a drink, “whisky sir” she asked, “we have a lovely Glenlivet”? Well now that would have just been rude to turn down really, wouldn’t it?
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