Being creatures of habit, trying out something new does not come easy for the average human being. Being anglers; methods, rigs and locations that have proven successful may be a lot tougher to share let alone compromise or change. Some say confidence or that “gut” feeling, has a lot to do in driving a productive fishing trip… does it really?
A trip of eight anglers, including amateurs, to the Natural Exotic Fish Fishing Pond (NEFFP) had a planned evening pleasantly disrupted by an unexpected change of events. Some were trying out new gears, unfortunately our regular spot was taken and our regular bait (catfish) was not available. A lot of hearts were aching to hear the screaming reel and we needed to take a chance hoping that our Friday evening would come close to our (already crumbling) vision of it.
We had to squeeze into an area smallest and closest to the entrance/exit, our gears lined up alongside each other like an arsenal ready for the tangle battle about to unfold. Only Lampam (small carp) was available for bait, we decided to cut them into four smaller pieces each as we normally would the Catfish bait. Naweshad and I knew that we needed to inject a little more effort and dig into a lot more knowledge to ensure that every angler leaves the day with a taste of that NEFFP fight, and at least one fish landed per person to triumph it.
After a quick introduction for the new anglers, we casted out the lines and waited. To our delight, baits were taken and fights were lost very quick into the session, convincing us that this may just work out somehow.
Gilbert Chibanda (Gill) who has been hooked passionately to the sport, finally had the chance to experience an exotic fight; unlike the juvenile Barramundi of Jugra, a juvenile Asian Redtail had Gill losing his senses, soon finding out there was nothing small about the battle to land it. Gill’s adrenaline was on an all time high, a common effect that the NEFFP has on first-time participants, he wasted no time throughout the night casting out his bait to attain that giant, out there somewhere, possibly waiting for him too.
Next in line was Dave, having taken a break from the sport, he was hyped to get right back into it, swiftly battling and landing an Asian Red of his own, starting out the night on the right foot… or fish.
A lot of quick bites on the bait left our hearts pounding, waiting anxiously for the rod to bend, the reel to scream, opening the doors for our emotions to break out into uncontrollable cotton-candy coloured, unicorn filled euphoria. That feeling that morphs us matured adults into kids at a candy store. A minute felt like ten.
Finally. Bash got her chance. She was the only other female angler in the group and boy, did she show them how it’s done with a beautiful specimen of an Asian Red. Our hearts sank, wondering if the Asian Reds was all that was in store for us on this side of the pond. On the other side, Dave was caught in a fight that tested his Berkley Cherrywood’s backbone ability in guiding the feisty fish out of the pillars, or as we call it, land of “putus” (Putus – snapping lines). Finally putting his biceps to work, alongside his famous “disco dancer” moves, he lands another common species of the pond which has been rather elusive on this trip, the Amazon Red. Just a quick glimpse gives us hope.
In the distance, a familiar voice echoed, “I think I have a fish!”, walking towards Moses who was already high on the trip itself had me noticing an evident tension on his line. It was moving left-right-left-right, no runs; just very tight lines. Instinct tells me it was an old friend at the end of his line and our next move was crucial.
“Do you mind if I attempted to hook this fish for you? There is a chance that I strike and yank the bait out of it instead, losing this fish”, I asked Moses for permission that could make or break his first fishing experience.
He looked at me blankly, shrugged his shoulders and said, “Yea, ok, I don’t know, you’re the expert”.
THAT, was the vote of confidence I needed. Slightly unsure, I held the rod firmly, allowing some slack on the line, paying close attention to how it begins to load up again, slowly resulting in a tension on the line- both the fish and I knew…
We were hooked.
Strike! Scream goes the reel, I passed the rod back to Moses who celebrated each run with a wolf-like howl. It was running across, getting tangled, inching closer to us. It emerged sending excitement escalating beyond normal human levels, “OMG! It’s a Gar!”, I exclaimed, signalling for the net when behind me, I heard an echo…
“It’s a SWORDFIIIISH!!”
The need to break into uncontrollable laughter at his innocent excitement had to be quickly dismissed as the pond’s caretaker, the ghillie and our boys scrambled for the net. Fighting the Gar may not be as exciting, landing it however requires work. The first attempt had the Gar struggling, propelling itself out of two nets and onto the ground. Our hearts skipped a beat, knowing the impact was not something you want to add on to a fish that was already under tremendous amounts of stress. Another try and the pond’s caretaker nets it beautifully. There was a small problem though- the Gar swallowed two hooks, one of Moses and another, Gill’s. Since Moses fought it to land, we agreed to let him have it, his first fish, a beautiful Alligator Gar. (On another trip to the NEFFP, Gill managed to land an Alligator Gar of his own too!)
As we were in the middle of getting a quick photo with the Gar, Bash had a powerful take. Gill and Gerald was by her side, cheering her on. She too was caught up near “putus” land, fortunately, she managed to land the second Amazon Red for the day. As I was about to capture her photo, Naweshad yells from the corner, “I’ve got a new species!”.
We ran towards him, eager to see what new species was in store. Putting up a tough battle to land, unlike its small size, the Spotted Sorubim was a feast for the eyes. The Spotted Sorubim was a first for Naweshad and The Milkfish Lady team, little did we know, adding on to the list of new species was only just beginning. A Gar, an Amazon Red and a Spotted Sorubim, all in a row. Could you imagine the excitement level amongst us?
The night resumed with Gill fired up on bites of Asian Reds. As we were cheering him on, in awe at his apparent luck for the night, I had an abrupt take on my rod. Assuming it was an Asian Red, I was surprised when another foreign species emerged, intimidating me with it’s length, we added into our species list, a sizeable African Catfish. Slippery and heavy for my arms after a fight, getting a decent photograph was impossible.
Naweshad soon found himself in a fish fight he could not comprehend. Right by the restaurant, he kept reeling it in as fast as he could. Curiosity was rewarded when another Alligator Gar emerged from the depths sending my husband bouncing around uncontrollably, seemingly on steroids with springs under his foot. It was his very first Alligator Gar, after countless attempts. His trusty gear, that caught him his 45lbs Amazon Redtail has today caught him his first Gar. If you too are an angler, you will understand how amazing that feels like.
The night continued with the usual Asian and Amazon Reds, all so suddenly, the African Catfish started biting with Dave, Gill & Naweshad landing one each for themselves. Triple hook-ups were common, with different species emerging from each one. The night was not easy and breezy for everyone, Gerald and Jasbir found themselves in a fishing dilemma. Does luck truly come to play? Perseverance however, was key. In the wise words of Rob Beattie, “fish well, and then you can blank with dignity”. Both Gerald and Jasbir lost a few fights however blanking was not in their fishing fate for the night; they finally managed to land for themselves a great sized Redtail each, enough to strain their biceps. Their wait was worth it.
The entire trip? Exotically amazing!
We hope you got exotically excited browsing photos of our trip- keep tabs for the video, coming soon!
Interested to catch an exotic species of your own? Fish with us!
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