Mazeppa Bay 2023
Let me take you on a journey – a fishing adventure that left me spellbound and exhilarated. It all started with an invitation from Duvan Fishing Charters to explore the Transkei, an opportunity I couldn't resist. My French friend, David, had fished with Duvan in the Port Elizabeth/Jeffreys Bay area before, and he convinced me that I would fall in love with Mazeppa Bay. With excitement brimming within me, I embarked on this unforgettable expedition, keen to create memories that would last a lifetime.
The journey began with a flight from Reunion to Johannesburg, where I was joined by another companion also named David! Together, we boarded a domestic flight to East London, where Duvan eagerly awaited our arrival. His pick-up truck was filled to the brim with all the necessary logistics for a week of self-sufficiency in the beautiful wilderness. Mazeppa Bay was our destination, and we were ready to hit the road, eager to explore what awaited us.
As we set off on our adventure, Duvan shared stories about the upcoming program and reminisced about his recent trip to Gabon in March. The excitement built, and I couldn't help but be captivated by the stunning memories he recounted.
Arriving in mid-June, we were greeted by the spectacle of a first wave of sardines further north of the country, all the way to Durban. The shores came alive with life as we observed whales, dolphins, seabirds, and schools of tuna and bonito, feeding on sardines with precision and skill.
Fishing in the Mazeppa Bay area had its challenges, but it was an experience like no other. The "non edibles," including kobs and garricks, ventured close to the shore, granting us magical moments. We had to be quick on our feet, for the frenzy of activity lasted merely an hour at most. To ensure we didn't miss any opportunities, each of us carried three lures – a paddletail, a spoon, and a plug. Duvan and Ajacks, a native of the region, guided us, and although we struggled initially, we quickly learned the art of fishing, eventually getting some fantastic hits and catching some fish. My own journey started with a 4 kg kob on a paddletail lure, which brought immense joy, especially after witnessing Duvan lose a sizable one just before. For me, it was a long-awaited triumph, as I had never managed to land a kob on a lure before.
Duvan's unwavering motivation was infectious and inspiring. Despite a 12-hour day, he rallied us for a special "kob time" adventure, where we braved the chilly 12-degree weather. Dressed in an anorak over our pyjamas, gum boots, and warm hats, we ventured out for an hour of fishing under the darkened skies. Getting started was a challenge as our eyes adjusted to the darkness, but with methodical casting and counting the handle turns, we soon felt the exhilaration of landing our first hits and fish. Mazeppa's kobs might not have been giants, but their abundance and lively presence made the experience thrilling. The combination of a light rod, a 3500 reel with 15/20 pounds braid, made for an enjoyable fishing encounter.
However, the ultimate goal of our trip was to encounter sharks, and we were not disappointed. On average, we expected around 5 to 6 shark bites per day, an experience that Duvan seamlessly facilitated for three or four clients at once. The sharks were further offshore, and reaching them was a challenge, but our determination knew no bounds. One memorable afternoon, a big bite announced the arrival of a significant presence – a "big shark." The adrenaline surged as I strapped on the harness belt and faced the incredible strength of the shark, with hundreds of meters of braid outside the reel. The battle was fierce, but eventually, the hook came off, and we unraveled the bait to discover the marks left by the massive creature's teeth. The encounter with these awe-inspiring creatures left me in awe, knowing that sharks weighing over 200 kg were often targeted in Mazeppa's waters.
As days turned into memories, I realized that the reputation of Mazeppa Bay for its diverse shark population was well-deserved. From dusky to mako, zambezi to great hammerhead sharks, these temperate waters offered an astounding array of encounters, making each moment truly unforgettable.
One sunny morning, in the midst of a "kob session," one of our monster rods bent with remarkable force. I abandoned my spinning rod and rushed to the rocks, climbing a small hill where the rods were set. The real battle began – a struggle that was heavy, fast, and powerful. It was a team effort to land the massive fish, and finally, we succeeded in safely bringing it to "the garage," a natural pool that allowed us to observe the creature without causing harm. The large female bonzy, estimated at 170/180 kg, bore scars from her mating encounters, reminding us of the wonders of nature. She was released back into the sea, taking a few minutes to recover before venturing into the open waters. Witnessing sharks of this size and their resilience left me humbled by the grandeur of the natural world.
Convenience and organization were hallmarks of Duvan Fishing Charters. Starting from either East London or Port Elizabeth, the comfortable fisherman's house facing the sea provided a perfect base for our adventures. Direct beach access and fishing spots within a short walk made each day's journey seamless. The evenings were adorned with the warmth of a braie, where we gathered, shared stories, and cooked delectable meals. It was an opportunity for both amateur and experienced cooks to revel in the culinary experience, discovering Duvan's unique recipe for breaded fish.
Duvan ensured that all the necessary equipment was provided, eliminating any concerns about gear. If anyone wanted to bring their spinning rod, it needed to be at least 2.90 m long with a power of 20-80 grs. The braid should not exceed PE 2, as casting distance played a pivotal role in the overall success of the experience. Additionally, lures were readily available, ensuring that each angler was well-equipped for their encounters.
Reflecting on my remarkable adventure with Duvan Fishing Charters in Mazeppa Bay, I couldn't help but remember the words of Sir Richard Branson, "The brave may not live forever, but the cautious do not live at all." This sentiment encapsulates the spirit of our journey – one filled with bravery, thrill, and a deeper appreciation for the wonders of the natural world.