Catching a Big Yellowfin Tuna with my Mom and Table Mountain backdrop

Ryan Nienaber

Catching a Big Yellowfin Tuna with my Mom and Table Mountain backdrop

 My mom has witnessed the absolute obsession that my brother and I have both had for fishing in the ocean since we were young boys.

 Her adventurous  spirit has lead her to join us on a couple days in and around the peninsula catching a the odd yellowtail or snoek.

 Mom (67) has seen our factory hustle and bustle of boats in and out the yard, and heard all the stories of these big tuna that we catch on our doorstep in Cape Town but to date never witnessed what we do first hand in the deep.

 Traditionally our Cape Town tuna season runs from end of March till mid May and sometimes the start of June when the NW winds and cold fronts bring on the Cape Town storms.

 Late Thursday afternoon I was looking at the weather for the weekend and saw that Friday the 10th June the weather was looking absolutely perfect, unprecedented for this time of year and with the waters still looking good I decided to take a run out off table bay in search of some tuna.    Our boat was still rigged for snoek as we had spent the last couple weeks up the west coast on the snoek run, so a late evening getting the boat into “tuna mode” I finally got home and quickly made up 5 trolling squids and grabbed 2 bait rods.

 10 June 2022 it's a day that I will cherish in my heart forever. 

 We launched at 5am from Oceana in Cape Town heading out 40nm to the tuna grounds where the trawlers had been working the day before.   Couple hours later daybreak was upon us, the water temp had jumped from 14’c to 19’c and bird life everywhere it just looked fishy.  We where still a couple miles short of where I wanted to start fishing for the day but it just looked so good I couldn’t resist.  I slowed down, while mom got some tea ready and I put the first trolling rod out, then the second rod, I was busy clipping the 3rd squid lure onto rod number three when “bang” on the 80w tiagra fishing reel screamed off at a rate of knots.  All my mono fishing line out and down onto my dacron backing, I knew this was a good fish.

 Mom not knowing what to do but the sheer excitement of the noise of the reel going off, the tea was all over the floor, mom was trying to hold on to the rod while I cleared the lines and turned the boat for the wind.  It was a big first run, I got the harness ready for mom and she settled into the rod.  “Mom just take your time, relax and enjoy,  you only need to win a few centimeters every time the swell goes down.” I said to her.

 The fish was strong and was resisting, we got back onto the mono and then a second big run, mom passed the rod on to me for a few moments for a quick rest and then took it back again to continue once her jersey was off and a sip of water.  Over heating while fighting tuna is a real thing.

 The fish came closer in big circles, colour, colour colour, as we saw this beautiful tuna circle next to the boat, the sickles looked good.  I said to my Mom that this fish must be 75-80kgs and we should keep this one whole for a good photo of our tune back at the slip.

 The fish was loaded and my day was made. A perfect mother son memory in the bank. The initial run was so hard and fast that it turned my plastic squid lure inside out.

 On such a high after landing such a wonderful fish with my mom I didn’t need to catch anymore, mission completed.

 As luck would have it after getting the boat re organised, I looked up and a trawler was coming our way.  We ran up to the trawler and as if from the textbook dropped the bait line down and it was on with in seconds.

 Now that we had a system on the boat mom and I had the fish along side very quickly and with greater ease.

 We ran up to the trawler again, bang on again, within a couple seconds, landed the fish and repeated.

 We had 4 wonderful big fish on board and decided to call it an early day.  The weather was perfect, and the run home was easy.

 20nm short of table bay in the distance in a homeward direction hundreds of gannets where diving, as we got closer bait fish and tuna jumping everywhere in the glass like sea conditions, it was simply to good to resist.

 We quickly put out 2 lines and got a pull fairly quickly, mom took the rod and got this one in with ease.  A gentleman sized fish at 28kg, nice and easy.  In the box and we ran home.

 We stopped in Table Bay for a mother and son photo with Table Mountain back drop.

 The following day I had my mate Jero from Wild wonderer come help me capture this special fish and memory with his gyotaku Japanese fish printing technique.  This is a process whereby octopus ink is used to take a rubbing of the fish on a hand made cotton type paper cloth.  The rubbing is used as a foundation on which the artist renders in with carbon and graphite to create a 1 of 1 custom art piece of the fish.  This tuna will become the center piece of our family beach home in Struisbaai and the story of my mom and I tuna day told again and again as this art hangs above the fireplace.

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