RECENT EXPERIENCES WITH SPOONS & SPINNING
Part of the Artificial Revolution – Part I
Plastic or drop-shot fishing really has got things going on the fishing front. It certainly is my favourite form of fishing. Suddenly there are a whole lot of exciting things happening and a whole lot of new challenges. It has undoubtedly caused the average person to take a more in-depth look at the latest in fishing technology and tactics. In short, the average angler is becoming a lot more educated on the technical front.
On many occasions I have found myself wanting to fish in some rather adverse conditions or I have found that I am slightly limited in what I can do with the plastics that I have. At times one can see the fish, but they are just not co-operating, even with the best of our newly acquired plastics and wisdom. At other times the fish are there, visually evident, but just out of reach, or the water is there and the wind is blowing, making it almost impossible to get our plastic anywhere near. This is when one needs to start looking at the heavy stuff.
There are times when the fish are right on top of their game and extremely difficult to fool. To get a fish to make that bad decision requires some crafty plan. Something that has really worked well, particularly with Natal Snoek, Kingfish, Queenfish, Bonnies, etc., is what I can best describe as ‘slap and crank’. Here’s the deal – using a good braid that is going to cast really well, throw a no. 1 or no. 2 bullet generally as far as you can, or otherwise into the area where you suspect there might be a few candidates lurking. Throw a tad higher than you normally would and as you see the spoon arching down to the water, either flip the bale or grab the spool to straighten out the line to create a belly-flop effect with the spoon. This gets the subsurface crowd checking out what the noise was about and wondering what on earth this thing is flashing its way down to the bottom. Just as everybody starts making their way over to check it out, it takes off at 100 miles an hour. Suddenly with no time to think the race is on and the winner becomes the loser by making a critical mistake. You on the other hand have got a game on, because as your spoon fluttered down to the bottom, you started cranking it as fast as you could and true to form, generally within the first couple of turns, if there was a candidate in the area, this is when he grabs it.
If you didn’t manage to find a gullible fish in those first ten turns, even the heaviest lead bullet gets up to the surface and starts looking a little bit stupid at that kind of speed. After a bit of observation and practice you will see the optimum retrieve that gets this bullet ducking and diving nicely and the trick is to keep an eye on the area that your spoon is in and as soon as you see any kind of surface disturbance that isn’t caused by your spoon, you hit the gas and invariably you are on.
Wire is definitely more of a liability than it is an asset, but if I have to use wire (if the Snoek are really big or the odd Couta around), then I use a short piece of Boa attached to my fluoro leader by an all-bright (no swivel). A swivel is on the split ring that is on the spoon, which allows me to change spoons very quickly with the wire eye. Top colour is Hot-Orange, with Chartreuse next and then Chrome or Pearl. I say Pearl because it is one of those colours that one can do a lot with. There are two ways one can do this. You can carry some holographic tape, favourites here being silver, gold, green and blue. Another colouring method that I like to use, are the same game fish permanent markers one uses on the plastics. They colour the Pearl spoon easily and don’t come off in a hurry.
On a recent trip l got to remember how important it is when fishing with one single hook on the back of an S/V that it points upwards, unless you want an ‘on’ every throw with a rock or a “drag in the sand”. When fishing for Shad you will notice that with the right retrieve you get a definite ‘kick’ action on the rod tip from the S/V shaped spoon. It rides like a ski-boat with the V at the bottom and the flat part facing the sky, so if you need some flash, just stick it on the flat side. As it swings from side to side, like a wobbly baitfish, any rocks that you might bump into won’t end up attached to the end of your line, as long as the hook point is on the flat side. Pearl and silver flash worked incredibly well on Shad.
I have often grilled the Kob on spoon gang, trying to get as much information as possible just in case I bump into some really good Kob on the spoon fishing. The one thing that kept coming through and the Rapala guys will tell you the same, when you think you are fishing slowly, slow down even more.
Now I can safely say on hindsight that when you have done all of that, you actually need to slow down again. As most of us know, Kob tend to hang out on the drop-offs and invariably there is some current and they just hang in there, pointing into the current waiting for the next opportunity to come along. Somehow that kicking spoon is just too fast or unpalatable. They really are not that interested. I promise you, if you catch one like that, you are very lucky. What this Kob wants, is that S/V creeping up and over every little undulation on the bottom, partly burying itself from time to time looking like some kind of a Mantis Shrimp, come Sand Grubber or whatever it is that keeps a very low profile on the bottom, trying to bury itself in the crest of every little undulation.
Bring to this equation the fact that the current tends to grab your line, (especially if you have Mono) and pulls the spoon along for you. Reading and understanding water with this kind of fishing is really critical. On our way to the Kunene River Mouth, Niel Gouws, (ex South African Rock & Surf Angler and resident guide at Flamingo Lodge, Angola) said to me ‘sometimes we throw the spoon across the channel and don’t wind’. The trick is to try to judge what kind of effect the water is having on your braid and then compensate on your retrieve. The key is to pull the spoon along the edge of the drop-off at just the right speed but still be able to tighten at the first sniff of a challenge. Get the hang of this lot and you just can’t go wrong. Check out the photograph to see what was left of Andrew Pautz’s No. 3 Chartreuse S/V after just one afternoon on Kob duty.
Angolan Garrick are pretty much like most Garrick, they tend to get a little ‘picky’ in the dead flat ‘gin’ that sometimes prevails, but within a short while of having to go smaller and smaller on the mini GT Ice-creams, I ended up having to try to get a long cast in with a small presentation. Out came the 7’2 Crucial, 3000 Stella, 20lb Jigman and the No. 1 S/V in chrome. The value of that spoon had increased to US$ 600 by the end of the day. When something is that dear you tend to sleep with it in your pocket knowing that if the conditions prevail, you’ll be up at $800 the next day and this is just how it was. Absolutely mind-blowing fishing, fantastic fish on very light tackle, that one could just not get to with plastic or even a surface lure that was acceptable. The spoons have certainly added a bit of weight to my lure bag but have to be the most serious contenders for the top-weight lure trophy if there was one.
There is definitely a place for plastics, but generally it is probably safe to say that if you are a fish-a-holic, you fish in adverse conditions 80% to 90% of the time that you get, to get your fix! It is definitely worth packing some of the heavy stuff.