When the price of fresh fish stinks smoke them

English: Kalk Bay habour, Cape Peninsula, Sout...
Kalk Bay Harbour, Cape Peninsula, South Africa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After the bad weather the South Easter would drop in the night and we’d go out early in the morning to catch snoek off Buffels Bay near Cape Point. On the first day when the wind had blown itself out in False Bay the fish came on the bite.

Running up to Cape Point from the Millar’s Point slipway before sun rise, arriving at the fishing grounds, I still marvel how my old man had this uncanny sixth sense to put the boat right on top of the fish. He’d grown up fishing the lagoon in East London, fished for big-game tuna and marlin off Mozambique in the early 1960s and later pioneered ski boat fishing in False Bay, bagging record giant bluefin tuna in the bay off his small open boat with two 40 horse-power Johnson outboards.

We’d throw our bait lines out and work our leads, pulling in a silvery piece of metal as long and thick as a medium-sized carrot with a short red rubber skirt and 10/0 Mustard hook. We’d pull the lure with a motion that resembled a small fish the size of a pilchard struggling away from a bigger fish … the size of a snoek.

As we sat there on my old man’s ski boat with the sun coming up over the Cape Hangklip mountains, nothing would happen for a while. But we would keep on trying until at last one of us would go “vas” (strike) with a fish. This would signal that his “mombak” (unlucky curse) had been taken off.

Another fisherman on the boat would hook a snoek and soon we’d all be pulling in fish like crazy, breaking their necks, holding them tight under our arms or between our legs, pulling their jaws forward until we heard their necks crack. They were too frisky alive and their big teeth would cut severely leaving your flesh festering for days. Continue reading “When the price of fresh fish stinks smoke them”