De Mond is a tiny lagoon that can produce exceptional catches. The most memorable ones are those from the past, such as the 30-odd-kg kob taken in the river just below the hanging bridge.
It has always been a sad thought for me that most of the big fish we hear about were caught many years (if not decades) ago. I’ve heard of very few significant catches in my time. I refer to the time I’ve spent chasing fish with a fly rod as ‘my time’ (a time period just over ten years), since it was only in my university years when I had a car that allowed me to venture further than the municipal dams near my parental home and when I also discovered the versatility and potency of a ‘fly’ that I really started exploring other waters.
My first visit to De Mond Nature Reserve was quite memorable. I caught my first garrick on fly in that lagoon and I must admit that it was quite a good fish too. In the years that followed, I caught many smaller garrick but never saw a fish as big as my first. I also recall chumming with bread to attract and catch mullet, but the fish we (Billy De Jong and I) caught were southern mullet and Cape moonies of average proportions – nothing to write home about. We saw large striped mullet from time to time, as well as the odd and enigmatic flathead mullet, but simply couldn’t come right with these on fly fishing tackle.
It was only recently with the knowledge from fellow anglers and the experience from time spent on the water that I started catching big striped mullet. The method (described in: http://themissionblog.com/?p=6741) has given me enough confidence to guide a client, Mark Vogt, to De Mond late in December 2014 to catch these fish. It was not an easy task to describe the technique I use, but Mark was a cunning angler and after attracting a large shoal of these mullet with bread and anchovy oil he hooked and landed a couple of surprisingly big fish on fly.
After the successful guiding trip I explained the method in detail to Billy De Jong over the telephone and suggested that he tried it (this was early in January 2015 and I was already back at work and Billy was still on holiday). I waited the whole day in anticipation of the phone call from Billy to tell me about the 3 kg striped mullet he’d caught; but when the phone finally rang, I answered to a very confused Billy whom explained how he had caught a 4 kg kob on fly in the river channel. To top his story of his kob, he told me about a 10 kg Garrick that was caught on live bait just above the hanging bridge…His story sounded unbelievable until he sent me photographs of the kob.
However, my story doesn’t end there. The cherry on the cake for me was a large flathead mullet that I caught over the New Year’s weekend (31 Dec 2014 – 1 Jan 2015). I had arranged to meet Conrad Botes and Mike Gradidge at the grunter flats around noon, but I arrived early and decided to make a few casts for garrick while I waited for them. After a few follows from unidentified fish, there was a sudden pull on the small red-and-white Whistler and before I could even set the hook properly my entire fly line was stripped off the reel and the fish had run me into my backing.
After a lengthy tug war between a fish that cast a metre long shadow on the bottom and a desperate angler trying to protect the 3X tippet from snapping on the powerful and long runs, a whale of a flathead mullet was ‘beached’. It was a beautiful fish that measured just short of 60 cm in length. It was a fish that will stay in my memory and a catch that will hopefully confuse you as much as it puzzled me and my fishing companions.