Maitlands coast beautiful but tricky

THE sandy surf zone from Maitlands to Blue Horizon Bay must be one of the most beautiful expanses of coastline in South Africa. The vehicle access restricted by legislation through the beach driving ban has protected this zone somewhat, I believe, however unjust some might think it is.

Unfortunately angling this coastline requires a lot of walking and is only for serious anglers.

I can remember as a young boy collecting sand mussel, which were in abundance, there. Sadly, too, this has been exploited over time.

This surf zone is one of the best for pig-nosed grunter and being sandy, there is little chance of lines being broken off by underwater structures. These grunter pull metres of line off with their first run and many anglers have been spooled by these "steam trains" that just keep going.

Make sure your reel is well fitted with line. They are very cunning feeders and often the very big ones are fowl hooked, the reason being they suck the bait in and spit it out again (tasting).

The angler, feeling this, strikes on reaction and fowl hooks the fish as the hook is spat out. The fowl hooked fish can't be turned that easily, making the hill steeper and a long fight ahead.

These grunters enjoy an octopus tentacle and I guess this would be the bait of choice. The tentacle must be skinned so that it looks like a white worm with the hook set in the thick end of the flesh.

Some anglers use two hooks so that the second hook is placed in the middle section of the bait. I am told by an old, experienced angler that fish don't like too much "steel" in the bait.

Use smaller hooks in this case and conceal them in the body of the bait.

The west wind is better suited to this stretch of coastline as it produces the correct colour in the water and warms it to the correct temperature that is conducive to creating that feed chain environment. Live bait can also work well here if you can get it.

At times, mullet can be found in the shallows along this coastline, but they are scare, making it a good choice of bait considering. Garrick roam these shores up to Gamtoos and beyond searching for that elusive morsel.

Artificial plugs can be used by the angler who is prepared to wade out and enjoy a good splash.

Maitlands has cob as well as galjoen that may not be caught between October 15 and the last day in February each year. During my spearfishing days, I witnessed large schools of galjoen that breezed up and down the coast, making quite a spectacular sight.

However I must stress the coastline is notorious for rip currents that can sweep you out to sea and carry you kilometres down the coast where it eventually spits you out, giving that long walk back to your transport. Take special care when angling at Maitlands.