Where two rivers meet
It was on a happy family holiday, many years ago, that Chad Alcock’s love affair with the magical area of Wavecrest began.
Many, many years ago, my parents took our family on a three-week holiday, touring the Transkei coastline. My brother Lando and I were just lighties, and I can remember it as if it were yesterday. It was a fantastic family holiday; the fishing was great and the exploration of the Wild Coast created a desire to return.
We had three days left of this holiday when my dad decided we should spend those nights at Wavecrest. It was relatively close to home; he had heard that there were two rivers here that met to form one mouth, and that the area was relatively unspoilt. After 30-odd kilometres of gravel, we were itching to see what Wavecrest was like ...
We were blown away by the beauty of the place. The beach seemed to go on forever, and the sand was soft and white. The rivers looked as if they would produce good catches of fish.
This proved to be true, as we caned the kob, bream, skippies, grunter, and caught some snapper too. A couple of bait fishermen were amazed – they watched us catch all of these fish on artificial lures, and were instantly converted to the art of lure-fishing!
This is when our family’s love affair with the picturesque region began. We have continued to fish this area and learn its secrets ever since.
Over the last couple of years, my wife and I have been visiting the Wavecrest hotel, and have loved it. The rustic hotel started out as fishermen’s cottages, but it now caters for fishermen, bird-watchers, nature-lovers, and those who just want to relax and enjoy the scenery. I’d like to share our most recent holiday with you.
We booked for February. Arriving at the hotel, we were met by the super-friendly staff, who showed us to our river/sea-facing room. No time to waste for me. I set up my Dad’s new custom XH Signature series 9 ft rod, tackled up, ready to walk to the block. This is my ritual: I always have my first cast on the block. Roz and I walked to the pool area, where she got comfortable with a cocktail and would watch me from the deck.
I’m so excited, I start jogging to the block and I see two guys walking back from fishing. I ask them how it’s been today and they say, “quiet”. However, they’ve been fishing bait and the block area fishes much better with lures. I carry on and quicken my pace, as I know that the conditions are perfect for spooning today. My dad has designed the new Alcocks spoon, which I will be testing.
I wade through the last couple of metres and then clamber over the little wooden bridge onto the block, which is shaped like a boat. I have my plan as to how I’m going to fish. It is quite a wide area of water, but there are three main sections. The first is where the cobblestones stop and fall into the deeper channel, and this is to the right of you. The second is a reef about 60m directly in front of you, and third is the sand drop-off on your left, closest to the beach. This is ideal structure for the kob to feed along, and you just have to work these areas to see where and if the fish are there. That is why you use lures.
I start working the area from right to left. First – nothing on my right. On my second throw at the reef in front of me, there is nothing. With my third throw, towards the beach where the sandbank is, I’ve hardly retrieved and I get stopped dead on the new Alcocks spoon. I’m so excited that I’m already phoning my dad in my mind to tell him about his new spoon. This feels like a good 6-7kg kob. He shakes his head like mad and has some short runs, with the 9ft extra-heavy Signature series showing him who’s boss. I land him and know this is going to be a good afternoon’s fishing.
Just 20 minutes in and already on my third cast, I’ve caught a kob – and this is how fishing should be. I put him in a rock pool and run back to the block. I cast to the sandbank and two turns – yes! I scream with delight; this one is about 3kg. I put him in the rock pool as well, go back to the block and throw again. I let the Alcocks spoon sink and, as I start retrieving, success again. But he shakes himself loose. I reel a bit further and the lure gets bumped –again! I land another kob of about 2kg, and have another three casts, where I land another two kob, both of which I put into the rock pool. There are now five fish in the pool, between 2kg and 7kg – fantastic!
The kob have moved away from the sandbank, as I have had six casts and no hits. I change tactics and put on a purple Deceiver paddle tail. I throw towards the middle reef and, on my retrieve, get stopped again. I’m delighted, as it feels as if a plan is coming together. I hook and land another beauty of 5kg. I land another three, but it’s getting late and I promised Roz I would be at supper early. I pack up and walk to the rock pool to release the fish. I release all but one, which I keep for the chef to cook at the hotel.
The next morning, I decide to pump up my rubber duck to fish the river. It’s a nice, sunny day and the weather is near-perfect, so after breakfast we launch the boat and cruise past Vinkel’s Island to fish the smaller of the two rivers. Just be careful of the rocks on your left! I always troll to try to find the fish, and as soon as we reach the drop-off with our Nillsmasters in tow, Roz catches a little kob. At times this river can be full of kob and you get a fish every troll, but I’m not after kob this time; I want bream and snapper.
After another two small kob, we head to the snapper rocks. We get close, switch off the motor and I paddle us into position so as not to scare the fish. Roz throws towards the structure and lets the She Pup lie, then tweaks it. The rattle of the lure seems so loud that if a fish is in the area, it must attract a strike. I see a boil. Roz tweaks the lure again; it rattles and then, smash! A snapper lambastes the She Pup. Roz keeps the snapper away from structure and I slip the net under a fish of about 1.5kg. After a quick photo, we let him go and I immediately throw towards the structure with a She Pup.
On my fourth cast I’m sure I see a boil, and let the Pup lie a while. As I twitch it, smash! Not a big snapper, but still about 0.75kg, and while I’m landing him, another snapper is trying to eat the Pup out of its mouth.
We work the area with no luck, so we decide to run up to the big river, where the cliff-face starts. I get out of the boat and walk along the side. A couple of casts later, I throw against the rock near an overhanging tree with weaver nests in it. This is always a good bet for bream-fishing. The She Pup lands and immediately gets smashed – typical bream hit! I soon realise that this is a beaut of a bream. She tries to cut me off, but I make sure that I hold my spool so that she can’t take any line. She still tries to reef me, but I glide her away from the structure and then slide her onto the rocky face. It’s a bream of about 2.5kg – what a beauty!
Bream scare easily, so I put her back, making as little noise as possible, and then throw to the next structure. I fish a further three structures that look good for bream, but nothing … I then see a nice bream chasing a swimming prawn. I flick the She Pup in that direction and twitch the bait a couple of times – and the bream hits the lure. He’s about 1kg. Roz and I land a couple of smaller fish and decide to call it a morning. What a holiday it has been so far!
At the hotel for lunch, I get my 9ft ready for another afternoon session. The water is still looking great. There’s a little sand puffing on a longer cast than I can usually reach with my double spoon, but because we’ve narrowed the back a bit, I think I can reach it. So I’m expecting some nice fish there.
The wind drops and I know that I’m going to be able to cast 5m or 6m over the puffing sand. I make a long cast, let the Alcocks spoon sink for a couple of seconds and start retrieving. I know there is a fish there. After reeling the spoon about 10m, I get stopped. I don’t gain any line and figure that this could be a really great fish. When he realises he’s hooked, he does a 30m run back to the left of the reef. I put some real pressure on him and, fortunately, he turns back towards the sand side of the reef.
Now it’s a tug-of-war, with me gaining a couple of metres, and him using his body weight and the outgoing tide rip to stay pretty far out. He starts to tire and I’m able to gain quite a bit of braid. After about eight minutes, I see him surface near the cobblestones. I hold him here, as I don’t want him to swim over to the right, because he will cut me off. But this is exactly what he wants to do. I put maximum pressure on the 9ft and the 20lb braid, and just when I think he’s not going to turn, he does, and swims into deeper, safer water.
After a few more minutes, I slip my hand into his gill plates – and I’m ecstatic with a kob of about 17-18kg. This is one of my best fish for this area and, with this tackle, it’s a good catch. After a few pictures I let him go, and decide to enjoy the rest of the afternoon with Roz on the deck.
For all your tackle requirements in the Transkei area, contact 041 365 6868.