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Well, winter is coming fast and most fishermen start to tone down their fishing – but not our family and friends! This is kob time in the Eastern Cape rivers and rock and surf areas; we are addicted to catching this magnificent fish on artificial lures. 

That strike of the kob and those vicious head-shakes, not to mention the massive shoals and number of kob we catch, make this our target fish every winter. So, as usual, we phone a few mates to see who is interested in a couple days kob fishing just outside East London.

Typically, the whole crowd is available. Last year, we went at the same time and the fish were gale, mostly caught on McArthy Paddle Tails but this time we want to test a new dip called ‘Spike-It’ that changes the colour of the Paddle Tails to suit your conditions. The reason we are keen to test it is simple – for clear water, we make bright colours and for dirty water, dark colours, then for early evening, chartreuse colours, etc. We are all so pumped up – is it possible that we could have as good a trip as last time? 

We spend our first night at Cintsa, braaing and talking big about tomorrow’s fishing. The weather is absolutely perfect so it looks like Lady Luck is favouring us.

We arrive at camp at midday on Tuesday, set up camp and get our 9ft rods ready, then Lando and I unpack our brand new 10ft 3-piece custom Alcock rods for distance casting with Paddle Tails, double-slims, leadheads, etc. The other guys are a bit miffed but, like my boet and I said to them, someone has to test new tackle.

The tackle is ready and we pack up to walk the 45 minutes to our secret flat ledge spot. When we get there, everything is perfect – sea running great, not too big and not too small but, more importantly, we can reach the outside rocky reef. Lando and I know that whoever pulls their Paddle Tail past the reef will probably catch a kob.

Lando – first cast with the new 10ft Alcock rod, is vas after two turns. The fish runs 10m and then Mike screams that he is vas, Matt lands – vas, I land – vas, Pancho – vas. This is what fishing is about – a couple of mates fishing a wild area, both fishermen and reels screaming. We land four out of five kob but no worries – you lose a fish and are vas with another one.

This is chaos, with fish running braid everywhere; Paddle Tails that have been chewed up are frantically being changed and there is hardly time for photos but the kob are so thick that no one cares. Eventually, the fishing quiets down but already 30-odd kob have been landed, all in the 3kg to 8kg range. Who said kob are endangered? However, the run is not over… they’ve just moved further out on the outgoing tide to the back bank – and here is where the 10ft came into it’s own.

Lando cleverly puts a one-and-a-half-ounce head on with a newly dipped McArthy Paddle Tail and he is vas into another kob. But never fear for the guys with the shorter rods. Mike puts on an Alcock double-slim for distance and six fish later the other guys are scrambling to put on double-slims – kob mayhem again.  What an afternoon’s fishing – and this is just the first day!

We pack up at sunset and head back to camp. Our fire has already been lit and, with the fire raging, we talk about the afternoon’s fishing; it’s all excitement, with everyone having caught lots of kob. What we found was that purple-and-white and black-and-white Paddle Tails work best in the late afternoon, with chartreuse working best as it got later and, as the tide went, out the double-slim became the lure of choice because of distance and – obviously – the rattle.

Up early the next morning, Lando and I went vas on the first cast; the fish weren’t gale and we landed only seven between us – not bad but after the previous afternoon, it’s pretty quiet.

We go back for breakfast and then come back with double-slims. We make cast to all the spots, then Lando sees a bit of sand puffing; we know that if we hit the spot, let the slim sink and get the retrieve right, we will get a strike. Lando casts a bit short; I put my back into the new 10ft and the slim flies over the puffing sand. Lando and I say at the same time that it’s a definite fish. Not even three turns and I’m vas; the kob gives a good account of itself and I land the 7kg fish. Between my boet and myself, we land another three.

The other guys are a bit sad that they didn’t come with us – they fished the river. But never fear, the evening kob smash is near (we hope). We dip some McArthys in ‘Spike-It’ to customise our Paddle Tails – it’s always nice to catch fish on your own creations – then we’re off to kob hole again. It’s very quiet but Lando says the tide is not quite right and we are not reaching the back reef and bank.

Half an hour later and we’ve  moved forward on the ledge, then Matt goes vas, shouting that he is the kob king. Well, we must have all been kob kings because at any given time one, two or all of us were vas. It was quite interesting that the Paddle Tails and double-slims caught about the same number of kob. We were now running out of Paddle Tails because of the number of kob that we had caught, and I can’t even tell you the number because it was a ridiculous figure. What I can tell you is that they are all still swimming because we released all of them.

We continued to have a fantastic week’s fishing; this is three years in a row that we have done this trip and it has been excellent every time, so it goes to show what releasing kob means. What we have learned is that kob will always be where the food is and once you find out what structure they like, water temperature, sea conditions, tide, moon phase and barometer reading, then you’ll always be on the money.

Oh, and by the way, the time of year is important too. I’ve got to be honest with you, kob are year-round fish but if you want to catch large numbers, come and fish during the winter in the Eastern Cape.