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Planning a Trip

Posted by Silverback on 06 November 2007 at 12:56 PM

Things to consider when venturing into a new environment

For us, it was chasing yellow-fin tuna off Cape Point. The stories appear all over the net and in many of the new magazines. Every spearfishing meet, some-one regales us with their adventures. We put the trip together, relying on others to provide gear and trusting on an untried skipper who was going to help us out cheaply. We saw lots of tuna. We boated 7 on rod and line but speared tuna eluded us. Helgard, who had been out before, managed to put spears into 2, both smashed the gear with complete disdain. What went wrong?

Firstly, the gear. Your regular basic kit is fine but you need the specialised big-game guns. Unfortunately, the guns we would be supplied with, were withheld at the last moment, which meant adapting our existing guns. This can never be a suitable compromise. In addition to suitable guns, you really need the correct break-away tackle that Tommy Botha produces especially for this extreme facet of spearfishing.

Secondly, you need to have a word in your skipper’s ear. You are paying for a spearfishing trip. I think we ended up paying for the priviledge of being his fishing crew for the day. The skipper must know how you are going to approach the day’s proceedings. Sure, you do need to hook fish off the chum-trail to hold the fish in the vicinity but then the attention must shift to the spearo’s.

Thirdly, a little attention to detail goes a long way. Try to prepare for difficult circumstances. In the Cape this usually means having several days available to avoid weather putting a damper on things. In the Cape, 4-5 days may only deliver 1 good day for going out to sea. Take along a good pair of scissors to cut up chum. Prepare the chum in large quantities ahead of time. The trip out to the fishing grounds is long (approx 40 Nm) so you will have lots of time to prepare. Make sure you have a suitable drogue. The Cape is notorious for its currents. The last thing you want is for the boat to get away from you, the next piece of land south is Antarctica. The spearo’s do get tired out in the water. It is a good idea to have a rope hanging off the boat to allow them to hang on and rest between dives.

Lastly, safety. You are on your own out there. Make it as safe and comfortable as possible. Ideally the skipper should be attending to the boat while two spearo’s are watched by their buddies on the boat. You do not want to ever get separated from the boat that far out to sea!

I certainly hope my next tuna trip will be more successful.

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