21 Dec 2012

Every year hundreds of excited anglers look forward to the Billfish 15000 in November and 2012 was no exception. This extremely festive competition again proved exactly why it has become one of the most popular events on the annual fishing calendar – known for its superb organization, huge attendance and great catches promising fantastic prizes!

The giant marquee at Sodwana Bay was bursting at the seams - buzzing with nearly 1500 anglers who gathered for the briefing – filled with laughter, stories and dreams of five days of pure fishing heaven.

Reports of good weather and good catches - made at the back-to-back OET competition which had just finished – further buoyed the spirits of competitors as hopes of catching a “Big One” ran high.

Attractive displays featured lucky draw competitions, colourfully  branded clothing, all sorts of fishing products and services to electronic equipment. Lowrance South Africa’s Technical fundi John Minnie found himself surrounded by enthusiastic fishermen after his announcement that their new Touch Screen model features an Afrikaans language option when purchased from an authorized dealer – a world first!

After the formalities and a good meal, it was early to bed for the usually late-night revelers - in anticipation of the pre-dawn start (for some around 3am) to beat the long queues to the beach to launch and wait offshore for the massed sailpast. As the 91 boats jostled for position on the water, fireworks lit up the sky to mark the start and they were off - in search of the best fishing spots.

And within hours reports of the first Marlin hook-ups started filtering through. Happily this is a tag and release event which is run with conservation in mind and most of the fish caught were sent back to sea.

Altogether 89 billfish was caught over the five days – 34 x Striped Marlin, 29 x Blue and 18 Black Marlin, 7 x Sailfish and 1 x Spearfish.

The heaviest catch was a massive Black Marlin weighing in at 263.6 kg – caught off the boat “Jasper” but the overall winner was Paul van Niekerk and his crew who caught and released five Billfish in total.

Team Club Marine’s Russell (Navigate) and Paul and Warren (Boating International) – skippered by sponsored angler Mark de la Hey – were thrilled to take the overall 4th place with three Marlin among the other fish in their bag.

Paul and Russell both hooked and released Marlin on day two between Rondekop and Witsands - a 100kg Blue Marlin and a 160kg Black respectively. Not without great consternation when skipper Mark suddenly disappeared overboard to release the leader which had tangled in the props – this he managed to free.

Then it was Warren’s turn – not only was this his first time at sea - he had yet to see a live Marlin catch – let alone bag one himself. But this was to change and in the early hours of Friday morning - he tagged and released his very first Black Marlin of around 70kg giving him every reason to be delighted.

And on the other end of the scale – one determined “oldie” called “Uncle Attie” aged 89 caught, tagged and released a Black Marlin. Needless to say he received a standing ovation in the giant marquee that evening.

These are just some of the many exciting stories filtering through and now that it’s over, anglers are already putting their names down for the Billfish 15000 2013!