Hunting the Return Cuda at Cape Vidal

15-Aug-2002 Hunting the Return Cuda at Cape Vidal

Fish action at Leven PointJuly/August is one of the best times to visit Cape Vidal. The big return cuda, after having fattened up on the sardines, pass through this area on their run north. Weather conditions are normally fairly settled, so traveling up on the 4 August in driving rain with a strong southwester helping us on our way. I was having second thoughts about the trip. Ryan van der merwe and Dave Packer were along for the ride. We were discussing what the bet for the trip should be. We settled on R50 for the biggest fish of the trip with best fish each day meaning no camp chores.

A Wet and Windy Camp

The rain continued and we were all pretty damp by the time we had our tents up and had managed to braai some chicken. We were soon snug in our tents with the rain pelting down and the southerly wind blowing the trees all over the place. The rain continued into Monday and with the strong winds, the sea was rough and undiveable.

Shad in the Bay

A typical Cape Vidal camp siteWe spent much of the day getting our gear ready and watching the shad fishermen in the bay. Each year at this time large shoals of shad congregate in the bay and the rich pickings attract a lot of shore anglers to the area. This, together with the natural beauty of the area, make it a popular holiday destination for many South Africans and overseas visitors. One of the anglers that we spoke to told of a 19kg cuda being taken from the shore recently. This was good news and we were all hungry for a change in the weather.

Settled Seas and lots of Fish

Sitting around the campfire on Monday night, the wind had already switched and a strong northeaster was racing through the trees above our camp. That night the wind really howled and l got up early to look at the sea. A light offshore was blowing and the sea was not too unsettled. A quick breakfast and we were soon on our way to Leven Point after a tricky launch through the surf that was still big from all the rough weather. The water at Leven was green with only 4m visibility.

King mackerel at Cape vidal in August.jpgToo dirty for the deep reef. We opted instead for the shallow reef in 20 foot of water. This is a large sandstone reef running parallel to the shore that was formerly the base of the beach dunes many millions of years ago. To begin with things were very slow and it took some time for us to settle down in the bad viz. Around 0930 the fish suddenly turned on with shoals of big snoek coming through with the odd shoal of cuda. The snoek were big around 8kg gutted. Dave got the fish of the day, a cuda of 14kg. That night we had baked cuda with potatoes and vegetables. Wednesday, we were up at Leven by 0640 and with better viz, were soon drifting on the deeper ledge in the light north-south current. I saw cuda before l was even ready to dive and the action was fast and furious for the next hour. The cuda were very hard to approach and though some 20kg+ fish were seen, none were landed. Biggest fish of the day was Ryan`s cuda of 14kg. The action went quiet soon after 0800 with only the odd fish being seen. They came on again in the afternoon. There was hardly any shark activity with just a very wary tiger seen now and again and the odd blacktip. That night Dave and l did the cooking honours with Ryan lording it up around the fire especially as he was into my stash of Windhoek beers.

Who wins the Bet ?

Durban spearos at Leven point.jpgThursday dawned perfect again but we only managed a late launch after attending to some business in St Lucia. The cuda came on again in the late afternoon and some big fish were seen but none landed. Some spearos tried deep Oscar where the visibility was very good, 90 foot, but there were three big sharks hanging about. As the sharks were pretty interested they decided to leave it for another day. Friday and saterday were both excellent days with settled seas and lots of fish action. Ryan was leading the biggest fish race with a cuda of 16kg. Sunday was our last day and we needed to be out of our site by 10.00. We decided to launch very early and leave Leven no later than 0815 to make it back in time to pack up camp. Ryan had first bakkie, me second and Dave last with about 50 minutes in the water each. Dave opted for the shallow reef and l was dropped on the deep ledge opposite the sanctuary beacon. I saw cuda as soon as l got off the boat but ended up chasing them all over the ocean as they were very spooky. The viz was about 30 foot with a strong north-south current. Just before my bakkie time l managed to bag a big one that might just take the prize. It would be a close call. My bakkie time sped past with the guys putting fish on the boat. I picked Dave up and now had ten minutes of water time left before we would have to head back. The whole time l was willing a big cuda to come into sight and the minutes were slipping away. Well just as l was due to get on the boat l saw these two big cuda swimming lazily along into the current. Both well over 20kg and very relaxed. Unfortunately they bolted as soon as l dived and all l could follow was a big sickle tail disappearing into the haze. We raced back to Cape Vidal and my cuda made 15kg, missing the mark by a mile, so to speak. Dave and l both had our noses rubbed in it by Ryan and were quickly R50 out of pocket. Tomorrow is another day and l will be dreaming of the big sailfish that is just waiting for me on my next trip. Betters beware!