“Which species did you catch on it? Tigers, leeries…?” Came the message from Tudor. Like any editor worth his red pen, he was nit picking at my review of the Horizon 990-4 TSS for an upcoming issue of The Mission.

“Grunts?”

“It’s a bit too much muscle for grunts,” I shot back. Like any writer worth his commas I had delivered the piece a few days late and was doing my utmost to field his queries.

“Although would be good in the wind.” I added.

“Kob?”

That one stung, so I measured my response. An honest one.

“It’s the perfect rod for estuary kob. Also, if the conditions are right, it would be ideal from the beach. I haven’t had a chance to target them in the past two months in either situation, but it would make the ideal setup.”

Not 15 minutes after this little convo, The Nepptuna (aka Andre van Wyk) dumped some pics of an epic little dawnie bass session at a putrid little honey hole he calls the ‘Devil’s Armpit.’ Tuesday done right. Inspired, I promptly consulted the tide tables and checked the air pressure. I hustled another two hours of work and by 11:30 was AWOL for an hour’s river therapy session.

I kept the deadline monsters at bay justifying the sneaky mid-week, midday session with the fact that I ‘needed’ a few more shots of leeries with the Horizon TSS 990-4 for the review. Duty calls you see… Conditions were good for them and on my local waters it’s not difficult to track down the teenagers. I had only an hour, ninety minutes max before needing to be back in the real world, so no other targets even entered my mind.

I carried a winged clouser, three silicone mullets and two NYAPS and headed to where I know the rats of the riviera like to scuttle at this time of day the tide. There were a few biggish mullet cruising the shallows, but otherwise things were quiet, the tide was just starting to lick a good tongue over the drop-off and the crisp sea wash and tannic river water were making that two special two-tone magic that leeries love.

I started stretching out the Rio Direct Core Jungle Series WF10F/I (a line I’ve come to love on the Horizon TSS 990-4). Some 10 casts with an olive-over-white foam mullet (with embedded ‘rod-tip’ rattle) produce neither a follow nor a touch. I made one more cast before the pangs of work guilt began digging into my gut. I made another cast, tucked the rod under my arm and took out my phone to check my email.

Wading knee deep I was about 30 metres from the bank. From out of the brush emerged one of the locals who frequent the river.

“Ahoy brah,” I offered across the water.

Lekka,” he replied. “Enige iets?” (Anything?).

Nooit” I said. “Noggie lank hierie. Wanna laas het jy iets gevang?” (No, haven’t been here long. When last did you catch anything)

To which he informed me that he’d taken a ‘mooi kabeljou’ (nice kob) at the exact spot at this time, the day before.

Semi-aimless casting instantly turned to fishing with intent. I shortened my leader and allowed the intermediate to get down further on the next cast. Slowed the retrieve right down. On the third or fourth repeat of this, halfway through the hole I went tight. Solid.

The strip-set was returned with deliberate, agitated head shakes. Heavy. Tell tale. Heart-rate spiking.

The kob’s first run was horizontally across the river toward the main channel some thirty metres away. I managed to stop it just before the backing, got some line back and started making my way from where I was to a knee-deep wade for the bank. The next run was the same. By now I was just about on the dry bank.

On the third similar traverse of the pool it held steady for a second. What felt like broad side in the weak pushing current. Then all went slack. An agonising few seconds later the fly floated to the surface. Hook pulled. How?

Gone she was, as Yoda would say. Sure as salt and just as raw on the tongue. Nearly a week has passed and I can taste it still.


*The Tailgate confessions is a series of stories of the type you’d usually share only with your mates on the tailgate of the bakkie after a fishing session. Best digested over a cold lager or a tailgate-brewed moka pot espresso. Often painful, sometimes embarrassing. Always funny…Not-so-always ‘haha’