“Beach Control, Beach Control… Little Joey…” the exited and adrenalin rushed voice of skipper Peter Wiid echo’s over the 29 MHz radio as the Mpumalanga heavy tackle team reports their 4th strike on the first day of the tournament. The 2010 SADSAA Nationals is in full swing and the realization dawns on every angler that this is going to be an extraordinary tournament. In 2009 the Heavy Tackle Billfish Nationals saw only three marlin released by the entire fleet in 5 days fishing… something has changed… the ocean is alive!
Tetrapturus Audax is the scientific name for striped marlin and is classified in the Istiophoridae (Billfish) family. They generally inhabit cooler water than either black or blue marlin and are mostly solitary, but form small schools by size during the spawning season. Their abundance increases with distance from the continental shelf and is usually seen close to shore only where deep drop-offs occur. For the past decade Sodwana Bay has consistently delivered blue and black marlin, but striped marlin seemed to disappear from this rich pelagic fishery. This however, was fact until the start of this season…
The first tri-facet SADSAA Nationals as decided by the SADSAA counsel was hosted by Mpumalanga Deep Sea Angling Association from 22 to 26 November 2010. Combining the Heavy Tackle Billfish Nationals, Light Tackle Billfish Nationals and Game Fish Nationals proved to be a great success.
Anglers from all provinces made the long journey to Sodwana and gathered at the official opening function & skippers briefing where SADSAA President, Marius Vermaak and MDSAA Chairman, Lappies Labuschagne welcomed all teams and opened the proceedings. As tradition demands, national selectors, Ted Horn & Tim Scholtz “capped” all the new anglers competing at this level for the first time.
Tournament director Jan Joubert briefed all anglers on some slight changes to the rules from the previous years. Changes to the rules are incorporated to promote the release of billfish and to ensure a sustainable sports-fishery in our country. Therefore the minimum weight for all billfish species has been increased to 200kg – automatically enforcing the release of striped marlin, sailfish and shortbill spearfish.
Day 1 – Monday 22 November 2010:
A total of 19 billfish strikes were reported by the heavy tackle facet on the first day of the tournament. Mpumalanga takes the lead with two striped marlin successfully tagged & released on the boat Little Joey. This earns the team 1870 points with angler Kobus Sutherland releasing the first fish and Hanro Swart releasing the second. Gauteng Red jumps into second spot with a blue marlin of 207.6 kg caught by Jaco Hendriksz on the boat Kit Kat earning them 1007.4 points. Third place goes to the SADSAA Masters team with a blue marlin caught by Dawie Kotze on the boat Stephe. This gives the masters 935 points, the same amount of points goes to the SADSAA team on the boat Enigme, angler Eric Visser caught his striped marlin after the masters to put the SADSAA team into fourth spot.
In the light tackle facet Natal takes the lead with two sailfish caught and released on the boat Zaen-Mari. Anglers Russel Hand and Japie Kleynhans earn their team 200 points collectively. The SADSAA team on the boat John-Ski takes second place; they also release two sailfish and gather 200 points as team captain Paul Borcherds lands both fish.
Zululand takes the lead in the Game Fish facet with 133.17 points, Southern Gauteng takes second place with 87.62 points and Natal takes third place with 51.34 points. Dorado seemed to be the order of the day with a couple of tuna also earning points.
Day 2 – Tuesday 23 November 2010:
The SADSAA Masters team proves why they are regarded as the masters in the heavy tackle facet with a triple. Two striped marlin and one blue marlin made eye contact with the brightwork on Stephe. Anglers Andre Srydom and Dawie Kotze released the two stripers – this was a double hook-up and not an easy task with a single fighting chair. Team captain Philip Marx released the third fish in extra time – a big blue marlin estimated at 500 lbs. This skyrockets them into first position with 3740 points. Gauteng Blue on the boat Big Appointment opens their account with 935 points with angler Henry Gouws releasing a striped marlin. Griquas also opens their account with 935 points with angler Jaco Smit releasing a blue marlin on the boat Aphrodite. Zululand releases a sailfish of the boat Hlatikulu with team captain Marius Vermaak earning the team 15 points.
The light tackle facet had some action with both Natal and SADSAA releasing a fish and a double for the Mpumalanga Masters team. Natal held on to their lead with team captain Russel Hand releasing his second sailfish and upping their points to 300. Paul Borcherds released a striped marlin on 10kg line also upping the SADSAA team to 300 points. The Mpumalanga Masters team jumps into third place with a double on the boat Magnum Too. Anglers Kobus Engelbrecht and Henry de Pradines get the action.
In the Game Fish facet, Natal jumps from third place into top spot with bag worth 529.12 points. Zululand drops into second place with a bag worth 100.52 points and Southern Gauteng drops to third spot with the SADSAA team hot on their heels with a difference of only 0.13 points between these two teams.
Day 3 – Wednesday 24 November 2010:
A well deserved rest for all teams as the weather committee calls off the tournament at 6:00 due to a strong southerly wind gusting at 30 knots. Teams gather for a social on the beach where stories, tactics and the sustainability of our sport are shared in good spirit. A little penguin shows up in the surf to further amplify the exceptional events of the week.
Day 4 – Thursday 25 November 2010:
The SADSAA Masters team releases their fifth marlin for the tournament with angler Phillip Marx getting his second blue marlin for the week. This extends their lead to a total of 4675 points. The Mpumalanga team releases their third striped marlin with team captain Chris Rothmann in the chair. They secure second place with 2805 points. The SADSAA team jumps into third spot releasing their second striped marlin for the week with angler Herman Olivier getting the action and raising the bar for third place to 1870 points. The Blue Bulls open their account with 935 points with angler Willie Higgo releasing a blue marlin on the boat Snowy Owl. The Mpumalanga Masters team also opens their account with 935 points with a striped marlin released by team captain Jan Joubert. This was the only proper hook-up after a school of striped marlin attacked every lure in the spread behind their boat Famuse with skipper Eben Basson at the helm.
The light tackle facet was pretty quiet with Southern Gauteng Blue releasing the only sailfish of the day. Angler Coen Mynhardt earns the team 100 points on the boat Ocean Commotion.
In the Game Fish facet, Zululand regains their lead from the first day with a massive bag worth 1868.92 points. Natal drops into second place with a bag worth 481.63 points and Southern Gauteng sneak closer to second place with a nice bag worth 833.87 points. Dorado once again seemed to be the order of the day but Wahoo, King Mackerel, Yellow fin Tuna and Kawakawa were also present at the scales.
Day 5 – Friday 26 November 2010:
A double hook-up for the Blue Bulls disrupts the expected top three just thirty minutes prior to lines up on the last day of the tournament. Anglers Willie Stols and Koos Pretorius release a blue marlin each to move them into third place with 2805 points. Hanro Swart released a big sailfish for the Mpumalanga team to keep them in second place with 2820 points.
The Light Tackle facet had lots of action with the SADSAA team releasing two fish to jump into first place. After a double hook-up on striped marlin Paul Borcherds released his second striped marlin on 10 kg line for the week but sadly the other fish got away. A bit later angler Anton Lingefelder released a sailfish to secure first place for the SADSAA team with a total of 500 points. Natal team captain Russel Hand released his third sailfish for the week to secure second place after leading the light tackle facet from the start of the tournament. The Mpumalanga Masters team secures third place with team captain Wayne Wiid releasing a black marlin on 10kg line upping their total to 300 points. Southern Gauteng Red opens their account with angler Friedel Kirstein securing 100 points aboard Free Spool.
In the Game Fish facet, Zululand manages to hold on to their lead with a bag worth 45.01 points, Southern Gauteng jumps into second spot with another nice bag worth 819.06 points and Natal drops into third place with a bag worth 118.29 points.
From the 34 billfish that was caught during the week, only one was brought to the weigh-in which means statistically 97% of all billfish was released. We support Tag & Release!!!
Check out the “Big Game Fishing” section of the January 2011 edition of Leisure Boating magazine for this tournament report.
Photo’s can be found in the gallery: SADSAA Nationals Gallery