My Biggest YT on shore dive

Living The Banowi Life

It was a slow start to the morning waking up at 7 am, I checked the forecast which presented a very unsatisfying outlook for the week with big winds and massive swell.

I eventually rolled out of bed around 8:00 am and my girlfriend asked if I was going diving and I shocked her with a no after two days of diving. We got up and I looked out at the point from my house, the sea looked grey and there was a bit of a swell coming through. So, we decided to go for a walk on the beach.

We walked down and I got a full view of the ocean… the wind had dropped, the swell seemed fair for a swim out and the water was looking blue. However, it was low tide. I grabbed my girlfriends’ hand and ran her home so I could get my kit.

Returning to the beach I was very excited to still see good conditions but still, I was a bit anxious as the day before two divers were chased out by what they thought was a Great White.

I kitted up and left my girlfriend on the rocks. Swimming out was easy as the tide was still going out. The swell was a challenge in the shallow water as I was targeting cracker and shad. After a few downs and getting to a spot that looked relatively good I had seen nothing more than a blacktail. I ducked down into a gully with waves washing over my head and waited for a shadow to immerge. I looked over my shoulder and a decent shoal of shad came through and I turned and debated a shot with hesitation my opportunity was gone quicker than it arrived with white water and bubbles submerging me and the visibility.

This time of year, cracker head up the coast towards KZN and this can always be a challenge to find them in the Eastern Cape. This made me think I’m wasting my time, I’m diving solo, there was a shark spotted yesterday and my girlfriend is sitting in the rocks… time to call it a day.

It had only been roughly 30 min and I decided to swim out further and fight the swell looking for a calmer section to see what comes from the abyss. I made a down into a sand patch and two blacktails came by followed by a finger fin.

On my Second down, I tighten my loose reel as I descend to the bottom, looking for a ledge to get better cover. As I flatten out a large fish catches my eye, I turn my head and my heart drops as I see my first ever Yellow Tail. The shoal was big, and this creates hesitation as one wants to pick the biggest but over the years I have been left out of luck with an empty stringer. I thought to myself this is my first tail just shoot the closest one.

I took a hipshot at the fish closest to me and he takes off “oh boy am I in for a ride” he spooled all five meters and stopped for the typical circle swimming and dirty play of trying to reef me. Over the years of losing huge Garrick due to letting them swim and get the better of me I decide to fight this fish hard. As he swam away, I wasn’t sure if the spear had gone all the way through as I had just changed the brittle rubbers by cutting them shorter. I swam after the fish holding the line and got a glimpse of the barb locked on the other side of the fish, game on! The boxing match began I let go of the gun because I knew I was bound to get tangled. I grab the line and immediately regret not having my second glove as the puppy stole it. Thankfully, I had put my right glove on my left hand as I had cut my finger. I wrapped and pulled the line to get closer to the fish as I can see he’s pumping blood by the shot placement; he was hurt but he wasn’t going down without a fight.

Swimming circles and wrapping me up from head to toe with the float line I tried my best to kick out my line and untangle my GoPro. While this is happening this huge shoal of tail are swimming around me, looking at this incredible spectacle these fish are looking bigger and bigger. My fish starts to look smaller than the rest as a fish of that size would surely tow me out to sea and break me off. Getting closer to the spear the fish starts bending my spear as I’ve never seen before as it bends at an almost 90 degrees bend, I let go as he kicks harder and pulls me under still holding on the line for dear life and getting spun around pulling as hard as I could to keep him off the rocks.

I managed to get a breath in and he seemed to be tired too I take an underwater hockey-style breath as I pop and go back down to not give him a chance to rest I grabbed the spear then his tail with my gloveless hand it was slippery as anything but I tried my hardest to hold on with one quick motion I pulled the fish to my body and bear-hugged it while finding my hand into his gills I break the surface in relief and excitement I get my knife and put him out of misery.

With no sight of the shoal, I string my tail while shaking like a leaf with adrenaline pumping like crazy. My gun is wrapped up in the float line and my reel line is in the float, it was a mess I loaded the spear into the gun and didn’t bother to reload it as I was so pumped with this fish and made awake directly for the rocks. Shouting out to my girlfriend with pure relief and shock that this all happened.

I get to the rocks and lift this monster out and my girlfriend reply is – it’s a parrot while shaking out of shock as to why I’ve been shouting. I eventually get on the rocks and look at it out the water this thing is big, and I don’t want to get ahead of myself guessing its weight in the double digits, I estimate it to be just over 8 kilos. Walking up the rocks an older guy comes past and tells me he’s from Cape Town and that Yellow Tail is a common fish they catch and that the fish I’m holding is a 35 pounder! I think to myself that’s over 15 kilos! No ways! That’s by far my biggest fish! I Facetime Luke my dive partner up in Durbs and “Fvck” is his reaction. Walking home stuck at the gate my girlfriend gets a call from dad, with the biggest smile on my face he sees the yellow tail head hanging over my shoulder and shouts “you got a tail”!! Well done with a high five to the screen he is overjoyed with stoke for me and says, “my biggest is 10.10kg go weight it!!!” I get home and jump on the scale it shoots over 10kilos to the 15 to 16kilo mark I can’t believe my eyes I call my dad back and shout to him it’s over 15kilos!! Yes!

This is a huge dream of mine to have come true. The funny part is I had been talking about my bucket list fish the night before and big yellowtail was one of them. This was the last fish I expected to catch off my home ground as I’ve been wanting to break my PB fish of a 10.5kg cracker. I thought that this would have happened up in Durban with a big game fish. Instead, it happened in the Eastern Cape on a solo shore dive with a 16.34kg Yellow Tail!

I hope that every spearo gets to experience their dreams in the water.

Living The Banowi Life

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