King of the kings by Danie Van Hyssteen - Bluewater Gamefish Challenge

Craig Burmeister with a 14kg sea pikeOrganizing the PUC Bluewater Gamefish Competition was a lot more work, and input from various sources, than what I thought. The mere fact that you are taking the responciblity of having an event, and making sure that the needs of the entrants, and their friends and families, are met, have you spinning in all directions. Fortunately for me, I had a team of guys that have really pulled their weight in making this inaugral event a successful one.

A Comp is Born

It started last year when John, Pete, Kyle and myself ventured down to the Transkei to get some spearing in, hunting for Cracker. The trip was a disaster in the fact that the night before we left, the Transkei and even the lower South Coast got hammered with huge down pours, flooding all the rivers. We soon realized where Coffee Bay got its name from. But on this trip, having not much more to do than sight seeing, John came up with this idea that we as a club should host a gamefish competition in Sodwana. We threw ideas around and realized that it could happen and that we had the right people to attempt such an event.

Wheels start Rolling

Coming back to Maritzburg the wheels started turning and with me being elected as the new spearfishing officer, we started laying the foundations on which we could build and pull the event off. Trips were planned for scouting and meeting up with potential accommodation sources. And from there the committee was established and the planning and executing of essential elements started happening. Coming closer to the event things started to get more and more frantic but fortunately still under control. The guys had their areas of responcibilities to look after and when I arrived at Coral Divers late Friday afternoon, everything was happening as planned. Registration went as smoothly as one would imagine. It was great to see the calibre of spearos entered into the competition pitching up and signing in, afar as Capetown, Joburg and the local Natal guys. Skippers meeting finished, meal under the belt, the guys went off to rest thinking, hoping for the morning to come.

The Day Dawns

Danie with a 42kg iggyBefore I left the cabin in the morning my girlfriend said “there is a big one waiting for you”, I just laughed... Launch at six and it was with anticipation that I took the boat out, so much stories in my head of what might be. The sea was flat with a cool offshore breeze blowing, I decided to bakkie first to sort everything out on the boat, and myself. My head was so full of the comp, is everything sorted? will it be a good day on the sea?, ect. Greg came up… dirty water was the reply… damn!! We dived some more on the spot, until the boat came in to pick me up. “Shark in the water, you’d better get out!” I didn’t take too much notice and lazily climbed onto the boat. Then the story came out, Pete was attacked by this three meter Tiger, almost took his arm off, and went off with the spear inside its guts. The irony of this was that Grant from Sharklife was on that boat and almost filmed the whole incident, unfortunately he duffed it. We were going down to 5 mile when we came across this floating raft, on closer inspection it turned out to be a FAD. Excited I kitted up and jumped in. Thousands of rainbow runners were clouding underneath, staring through them to see if anything big was hidding behind them, I was in awe at the sight in front of me. I must say that I was intimidated with the bottom as it was pitch black and I just imagined these eyes looking at me, waiting….

Not Much Action

We didn’t have any luck elsewhere and ran south past Jessers point to do some shallow diving. At this point I was very despondent and thought about the reality that the comp was becoming a disaster. I just hoped that there would at least be some fish taken, my dream of lots of fish just a memory now. So now we where diving backline, hoping for a kingie or maybe something else. Again, I was very despondent and just stuffed around in the water, seeing only some small kingies, nothing worth much. Bruno came in and put this nice kingie on the boat, “they are in the white water, schools, bigger than this!” Now I was getting a bit of hope! As I came up from one of the drops I saw Craig getting pulled around, great!.. now the other guys are getting some and I am still getting squat, not even seeing anything!! Craig landed this big pike, 14kg, and I could hear his jubilation on the boat. I was happy for him, but it didn’t do anything to lift my spirits.

A Monster Fish

I was nearing the edge now and swam over to Greg to tell him I’m done. As I left him I decided to do this last drop, for what it may be worth. Right on the edge of the reef I dropped down to the bottom in 6 meters of water, being pulled around with the surge. The water started clearing after the foamie past through, there he was!, king of the kings…slowly swimming through this small gulley. I don’t think he even saw me. “This is it, don’t duff it for heavens sake!!” was screaming in my head. I squeezed the trigger, and suddenly I couldn’t see the fish anymore, just the line running off my reel. Gasping for air, I bolted for the surface hoping to find Greg. Greg was nowhere. I was being towed with such force towards the beach that I thought this fish is going to beach itself! Suddenly he stopped, now I was thinking he came off, shit! Pulling in the line it didn’t slacken and I kept on swimming towards it pulling it in. Then I saw all these cracks in the reef, dropping down 4 meters or even more. There my line went into one of these cracks… slowly getting closer, I saw it! The base of the tail of this monster was a size I had never seen. He turned on his side, and I couldn’t believe the size of him!

Difficult Fight

 Greg Bisset with a 15kg iggyI was getting pounded by the waves, pushed around, the line from the reel entangling me, and still I wasn’t about to let go and give up. How am I going to get this fish out? I tried grabbing it’s tail, but it’s to big. I decided to just go for it, and took my knife out. Trying to breath up with your heart pumping like a steam engine is almost impossible, but I tried. I dived into his hole and grabbed him with everything I got, tail between my legs, arms around his head, and held on for dear life as he bashed me all over the place! Suddenly he stopped… I decided this was my chance, and took my knife and rammed it into the top of it’s head. It started bleeding and it seemed to give up the fight. Quickly I turned him upside down, and he calmed completely. I relieved him properly and grabbed him in the gills, pulling him out the hole. It felt like an eternity, but all this was done on one breath. All this time the endless surge and waves came through, making life not easier. Now to retrieve all my gear, it was my Rob Allen carbon 1100 with reel. A bit expensive just to leave there. After some sweat and swearing, I cut the dynema and pulled everything out. Now for the swim back to the boat, a bit more challenging than coming in, with this huge fish through the surf. Managed ok fortunately.

On the Boat at Last

I called the boat, as it came in I pulled the fish under me trying to hide him. “What you got?”, they asked. I passed on my gun and spear and then asked Greg if he could lend me a hand. Total disbelief when it came out the water and laid on the deck!, 42kg Ignoblis Kingfish! I had no words, just having this quiet sense of achievement. I knew this was a special moment and one I would cherish for a very long time.

Another Iggy Landed

Now Greg was the despondent one. He jumped in the water and five minutes later threw a 6kg springer on board. I decided to call it the day and bakkie for the last shift. After a while I checked my watch and saw it was time to go, I went and picked up Craig and Bruno. Looked around for Greg but couldn’t see him. We proceeded back to where I last saw him, and then we heard Greg shouting. As I pulled up to him he grinned from ear to ear, 15kg Iggy. This boat was cooking!

R15000 Fish

We packed all the gear and headed back to beach. Going in to weigh in, everyone was waiting for this boat to come as the news already reached them that there was some big fish landed. Excitement as I pulled into the weigh in area to see what our chances were. Then after the points were tallied, “you won the comp!” the reply came. I couldn’t believe my luck, this was so unreal I couldn’t grasp it. Organizing the comp, having bad conditions prevailing, not a lot of fish coming out, and then landing a trophy fish winning the comp sounds so unreal, but it seems that Neptune truly decided to smile on me, some call it luck.

This day turned into a day that I truly could never have imagined, the blessings that I have received in this sport, the friends that I have and the support I get from them is truly remarkable. Thank you to all who were part of this day and made this event into one that I believe would be part of the annual calendar.   

Danie diver