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Fish tales


By Gary Maas

Midlands local and eager fisherman Gary Maas brings some fishy stories for those of you who can’t bear to release the rod.

I thought I would start with some interesting tagging news about our Daga salmon/kabeljou.


8232 tagged, 502 recaptured = 6.10% recapture rate. Longest distance travelled: 1.625km. Maximum days free: 4370 (11.97 years).

During a fishing competition held in East London in December, a 10kg kob was tagged and released, 30km south of East London. The following year, in September, the kob was recaptured off a ski boat outside Durban.

During the 542 days free (1.5 years), the fish travelled 564km, grew in length by 115mm and gained 3kg in weight.


It sounds like something out of a science-fiction thriller, the remains of an unknown marine animal, weighing an estimated six to seven tons, were found on a beach near Florida, USA.

Yes, it actually happened in November 1896.

Illustration of a giant squid clashing with a whale. –

Tissue samples were sent to the US National Museum in Washington DC and, in 1970, 74 years after the find, the creature was positively identified as belonging to a giant form of octopus. Experts have estimated that this astonishing marine mollusc had a tentacular span of 60.9 metres.

For purposes of comparison, it is on record that the largest octopus found in British waters measured 2.13 metres in radial spread.

That’s a lot of octopussy!! Or should I say calamari for three years, or goodbye Moby Dick.


It was a chilly morning when my dad woke me at 4am. We drove to the Durban Ski Boat Club in his old Willys Jeep.

We used to stop at Mick’s Pie Cart opposite the Durban station for coffee and toasted bacon and egg. Who remembers Mick’s?

Mozambique mountains

On arriving at the club, our old banana boat would be manhandled to the water. Our motors were a 35hp crysler and a 20hp scott attwater. Our number was S88, a number I kept for many years, until upgrading to a bigger boat in Durban harbour.

Some of the members’ names of those days were Hayden Grey, Henry Brewis, Gus Gerado, Les Buckle, Dave Said, Norman Whittle, Porky Pieterse, Syd Ley, Brewer Booth (ex-Monk and Booth bottle store), Les Challinor, Joe Bower, Brian and Ray Biljon, Frank and Andy Mattson, and many others.

My dad used to tell me to look at the “Mozambique mountains”. They were those big white puffy clods on the horizon, a sure sign of warm water and good fishing. He was right.

We returned to the beach later that day with 105 cuda and we had not gone further than the old West Street groin!

Haul out the woollies, but don’t leave a damsel in distress

Trout were introduced into the Midlands in the early 20th century, when brown trout eggs were shipped in peat moss from overseas.

The best time for trout in the Midlands is from late May to the end of September. The water temperature is between 13°C and 16°C, which is ideal for trout. Temperatures above 22°C to 23°C can be disastrous for them.

Fly fishing is serious business in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, a local mecca for the sport. Big competitions are held from the end of May. Picture: Flickr

Fly rods differ in size: river fishing, 2 to 3wt rods, and dams, 5 to 6wt rods. All weights can be used, but trout are not great survivors after a long fight. If they are not revived properly, they will die.

Now read: Trevor is flying high

The most popular flies are the black woolly bugger or speedcop, as it’s called. Other flies, Mrs Simpson, red-eyed damsel and walkers killer are also used, but visit your local fly shop and they will tell you what is cooking at the time. Fly shops Kingfisher in Pietermaritzburg and Wildfly in Nottingham Road can help with all facets of fly fishing.


Water temperatures have risen over the years, pollution in rivers has had a tremendous effect on trout fishing and, of course, there’s overfishing.

Most fish are released, but if held too tight or dropped while being photographed, slime comes off and they become prone to disease.

The Midlands promotes fly fishing and one of the biggest competitions in the country is the Tops corporate challenge, which attracts more than 250 anglers, with prizes of R1 million. Private waters and dams are used in most competitions. Dams produce larger fish, with fish of up to 6 and 7kg having been reported.

Our best fish caught at Troutbagger Farm was 7.4kg.

So when in doubt, think trout, and come to the Midlands for a spot of fishing.


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