A Reel Tuna Tale

It’s early in the morning, but we are already out on the water, racing to the Canyon off Cape Point in search of Yellow Fin. For the entire week, the reports from the commercials have been that there are fish everywhere. But, it’s Saturday, and the Tuna also seem to be off for the weekend. The radio is quiet and there is not a Tuna in sight. Our 4am start has paid no dividends and midday is approaching, so we’re all scattered over the boat looking for the best spot to catch a few z’s.

Suddenly, we noticed something floating in the distance. Getting closer, we saw a piece of old drifting fishing net that a school of Yellowtail had claimed as home. 3 desperate spearos scrambled for their kit bags and my wet suit was on in 60 seconds. Reel gun in hand, I lept into the water, no weight belt or snorkel… made a half hearted duck dive and speared a Yellowtail. Finally, the pressure was off for the day! I swam back to the boat to get myself properly organised. By this stage Gavin and Stephen both had a healthy share of Yellowtail. The fishing net was also home to a school of Rainbow Runner, Mackerel, Sangoras, 2 species of Trigger Fish and Sergent Majors. As I headed back to the net, the fish were becoming shy and I had to dive a little deeper. As I dived down, I was greeted by some unusual visitors, one already on the end of Stephen’s spear. I looked though the school for the biggest fish, squeezed the trigger and was pleased to add an African Barrel Fish to my list of species speared.

The day went on with no Tuna action while we went round in circles with no luck. We stopped to drift for a while and my brother dropped a spinner. He got a knock on the way down and was onto a very good Long Fin. We put some chum in the water and finally the Long Fin arrived, boiling around the boat. I jumped in with a 1.3m reel gun with no float line to “klap” a Longie… and was totally unprepared for the blur of yellow I saw flash in front of me. Before I realized what was happening, I had squeezed the trigger, the dynema was screaming off my reel and I had no skin left on my fingers from the reel that had spun out of control. As I surfaced, my dive computer said 1.5m, 7 seconds: awesome dive! I screamed for a float line and miraculously the boat that was some 15 to 20m away threw a float line that landed right next to me. I clipped it to the back of my gun for insurance, shoved the boogy board under my stomach for a bit of extra floatation and proceeded to start pulling the thin dynema attached to the huge Yellow Fin below. As the line was so thin I could barely get a grip on it and the battle of line was won and then lost again many times. When my buddies were near me, locked and loaded for a second shot, the fish came up tail first with almost no fight. I let out a huge sigh of relief when a second spear gave him his final goodnight.

Thank you to Stephen and Gavin for assisting me in landing this fish. It was like trying to take on an elephant with a pea shooter! It truly was something special, and I was very lucky to get my gun back.

The Tuna season here in Cape Town started off a little slower than usual in November last year, but has definitely ended with a bang. I have had days at sea when 6 or 7 Yellow Fin have stuck next to the boat for the better half of the day, dominating over the Long Fin in the chum line. Cape Town has a world class Tuna fishery, and we are very lucky to have the Canyon in our back yard.



Related Stories Articles