Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

There is nowhere like Africa....

I have just arrived in Johannesburg for the night, having spent the last few days on the coast around Kosi Bay - with no internet connection, hence the lack of postings here. It has been an epic few days where we have crammed in so many kinds of fishing, and I have been lucky enough to have been working with three outrageously talented young fishermen. I owe a huge thanks to John Crabb, Wes Rapson and Rob Kyle, they are some of the most talented guys you could ever hope to meet.

Check out the photos below for a brief glimpse of what has been going on out here - from big tigerfish through to amazing reef species, with boat fishing and extreme shore stuff in between. I will post more when I can, but take it from me, this place is awesome, and there is so much for me to learn about South African rock and surf fishing. You would not believe some of the stuff they get up to out here, it is off the scale it is so extreme. John's biggest fish off the shore for example is a 550lb raggedtooth shark !!! Look at the bottom photo for a "small" one he took off the beach last night, just a mere 220lbs. Seriously, the guys out here catch some scary big fish, and to them it is as normal as it is to us when we might nail a cod or a bass.

Above is Wes Rapson with a tiger fish of around 10lbs that he took on my first day out here - a big storm came in overnight and blew the beach out, but there is so much fishing down there that we could simply drive up the road and smash serious numbers of tigerfish on soft plastics and bait. I had almost forgotten how cool these tigerfish are.

My token nature shot - how could I not take a snapshot of these magnificent creatures ? I also saw a couple of black rhinos and their calves, but by then the light had dropped too much to get even a halfway decent photograph. As I said, there is nowhere like Africa - seriously, this continent is just so special, and there is so much fishing out here that is left to discover. Too much to do and not enough time.

Above is John Crabb with a 40lb plus yellowbelly rock cod that he took on a vertical jig out of Sedwona Bay. He also got smoked seriously by a big amberjack - the power on them is just mad. Using 80lb braid and a solid drag, the amberjack still managed to smoke him on the reef. Wes and Rob have had them to over 70lbs recently, and there are far larger fish down there - Rob also hooked and released a 250lb plus black marlin on a vertical jig the other day. I also experienced my first surf launch in a boat - never done or seen anything like it, especially when we came back in through the waves and then hit the beach at about 30 knots to get the boat out of the water. You have no idea how tightly I was holding on.

All the guys can cast these big rods, baits and lines with such power and ease, and they all fish with the reels down the butt. Any kind of braking system is immediately removed from a multiplier, and instead they thumb the line down as it flies out. I did not see one overun or birdsnest, and that is somewhat impressive.

Above is John Crabb having to literally drag the fish you can see below out of the rocks. Insanity !! To these guys it is another regular shore fishing day.

This is John's 220lb plus raggedtooth shark that he caught off the beach - I have been lucky enough to have done a lot of fishing in Namibia, but still it gets me when a fish as large as a shark is caught from the shore. To watch these guys fight and then land and release this fish at night was incredible - very hard to get photos of, but I did what I could to do the fish justice. Just another "regular" day's fishing here in South Africa. Seriously though, the stories these guys have been telling me of how they fish certain areas and for different species has had my eyes popping out of my head. These three are just off the scale they are so good at fishing, and I have learnt more in a few days than I ever thought possible.

I will post again when I can, but I am not sure when that will be - it may well me when I am back home. Tomorrow I am heading off to the Vaal river to spend some time photographing largemouth and smallmouth yellowfish, and I have just seen a photo of a 20lb plus largemouth taken on a fly last week. Please...........!!! They are impressive looking fish. The skies are big and blue here right now and conditions are looking really good.

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