When you are young the places you experience and the people you meet seem so extraordinary that you promise yourself you’ll never forget those great days that seem to have come out of a dream.
Growing up we lived in Kalk Bay, which sits in the heart of False Bay, and did most of our fishing there in the summer and autumn months. But when the winter came with the cold and the rain and those strong North Easters we’d head out to Hout Bay, travelling across Chapman’s Peak towing the ski boat behind the Land Rover at four in the morning.
One morning when we got to the ski boat slipway at Hout Bay harbour the queue was long. It was so freezing cold that time of the morning that my friend Peter and me took an empty two-stroke oil can, filled it with sand and poured petrol into it. After a few attempts we lit the petrol and huddled around the lighted can to keep our hands warm.
After we launched the ski boat, my father would steer out of the harbour, throttle up both the 75-hp Mercury outboards and we’d head out for the snoek fishing banks. He’d find the snoek by searching for the birds (sterretijes) or go and see what the wooden commercial fishing boats were doing.
The snoek we caught on the Atlantic side outside of Hout Bay were far bigger than those we caught in False Bay. They would quickly take our pilchard or the lead (a long lead sinker with a short frilly red skirt hiding a 10/0 hook). We also were introduced to “the animal”, a specially shaped lure that the snoek went dilly for at times.
My father’s friend Braam, a lawyer, would come out from Camps Bay in his beat out Valiant. He loved snoek fishing. My father didn’t normally allow booze on the boat but he’d known Braam for so long that he didn’t mind him bringing his crate of Castle quarts. He was an experienced snoek fisherman and his arms would work like the blades of wind mills in a galefore North Easter pulling up his catch. At about 11 AM he would crack his first Castle and we’d all look at him with envy.
Those days it wasn’t uncommon for us to each catch at least 20 large snoek. We’d run back to Hout Bay harbour and auction the fish on the side of the quay, keeping aside the “fry”, those snoek we’d take home to eat.
My father would tow his boat to the foot of Chapman’s Peak and we’d all swagger into “die Pink Huis”, a hotel bar painted pink outside, for a refreshing beer.
After this my father would take the Land Rover and ski boat up the scenic Chapman’s Peak drive and park at a picnic spot where there was a mountain stream. In the winter months from the rain the mountain stream was clear and fresh. Braam and my old man would get out their whiskey and have one or two shots before parting – us back to Kalk Bay and him back to Camps Bay. They both swore that the mountain water tasted better than Perrier water.
Whatever you plan to do this Saturday, enjoy it, especially if you’re fortunate enough to be going snoek fishing off Hout Bay tomorrow.