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Late November 2012 brought with it dead-flat water to the Durban North beaches; I eventually managed to hook a really good queen mackerel just over the lip on a chartreuse Couta Casting. This convinced me that the fish were there but difficult to catch. 

The next morning I decided to try a relatively new lure that we had had a lot of success with in estuaries in Mozambique and also offshore in Madagascar – the Rapala MaxRap® 17cm was made to catch sea bass in the Northern Hemisphere. It casts well with a magnet and ball-bearing casting arrangement, and suspends beautifully in the water between twitches or slashes. The profile is long and slim and, although it is a relatively big lure, even smaller fish can’t resist it.

The results were instantaneous – suddenly I was catching shad, kingfish and kob. The shad really enjoyed it and I managed a bag limit when the bait anglers couldn’t even catch one. More kingfish and shad over the next few days, especially at Umhlanga in among the rocks, convinced me that we had a new weapon in the arsenal.

When fished properly, it is very difficult to snag or hang up on the rocks, because the lure swims in the head-down position, bumping the rocks but not allowing the hooks to hook up. As soon as one feels the lure bumping the rocks, one simply stops winding and the lure slowly rises to the surface. (This was often when it got eaten.)

When young Craig Bashford came into Basil Manning and asked me for a lure that was going to catch him a big fish, the MaxRap was the first one that sprang to mind. I showed him the photographs on my phone of some of the fish, and Craig was adamant that that was the lure for him. Gary, his Dad, said that, as he had done very well at school, he was happy to buy him the lure, and a few days later Gary was back in the store with stories of how the small boy put ears on everybody, including the local shad gang. I think the main reason for the visit, though, was to buy himself a MaxRap. Craig went on to catch a really big shad and a lovely kingfish among a lot of other small fish during his holiday. (See his own story and picture on this page.)

In the meantime, I could not wait to go to Mozambique where my wife and I had booked a week’s holiday – with a little bit of fishing, of course! During my time in Mozambique, the fishing slowed up and, although I managed to get a queenie, some very large double-spot needlescales, some greenspots, and quite a few ‘mike the spikes’ (pickhandle barracuda), I started hearing stories and seeing pictures of what was happening at home. With a strong flush at all the river mouths after heavy rain, those in the know were having some wild fishing on the MaxRaps. The water was very dirty but there is something about the action of the MaxRap that made it irresistible to the fish.

In this dirty water there were plenty of shad around the 3kg mark, and Jonathon Knight hooked one of 6.2kg. Springer were also wild, with fish up to 7kg eating the lure. Quite a few young kob and some decent-sized geets (GTs) ranging from 2kg to a fish of 15.5kg were caught by Trevor Hartslief.

There were lots of stories about GTs taking big shad that were being fought in the shore break. There were definitely quite a few around as, further up the beach at Virginia, Sheldon Reddy was completely stripped on a Stella 5000 throwing a Couta Casting spoon.

His mate Shane Rajbully snuck in a late ‘27th of December’ garrick on a dropshot at the Umgeni mouth, and young Craig made smoke up at Tongaat with a whole pile of fish. Needless to say, we were completely sold out of the MaxRaps by the time I got back. So much for going to Mozambique for good fishing!   

My fishing holiday

by Craig Bashford (11 years old)

I was so excited for the Christmas holidays because we were going to my Gran’s cottage on the North Coast and
I was going to be able to fish every day.

My dad picked up my brother Jason and I from school and we went to Basil Manning [Fishing Equipment], where he had bought me a new MaxRap® Rapala because I had done well at school.

When we got to the cottage, I made up my rod, and my dad and I went straight down to the rocks. There were six other fishermen on the rocks but they said they hadn’t caught any fish. On about my third throw, I caught a 2kg shad. That afternoon, I caught six shad while only two came out from the other fishermen who were using spoons and drift-bait.

The next day, my dad went and bought himself a MaxRap and, on one of his first casts, hooked a big kingfish. Unfortunately, it cut him off on the rocks.

One afternoon, I went down on my own while my dad was waiting for his friends to come fishing with us. As they were walking to the rocks, I hooked a big fish. It took me about 15 minutes to land and everyone was watching me fight it. I knew it must be a kingy as it was so strong and kept running to the rocks. I was so relieved when I landed it and saw that it was a blacktip kingfish of 6.5kg.

I caught lots more shad on my MaxRap during the holiday, but my best catch came on Christmas morning. At 5am, my dad asked me if I wanted to open presents or go fishing – I said fishing!

On my very first throw, I hooked another strong fish. I thought it might be another kingy but it did not take as much line and the head shakes were not as big.

My dad saw it and said it was a big shad. After a good fight, I landed it and could not believe how big it was – it weighed just over 5kg. It was the best Christmas present I could have got.

My holiday is now over and I can’t wait to fish again. This was my best fishing holiday ever!