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Thread: Bassas Trip Report

  1. #1
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    Default Bassas Trip Report

    AND SO IT STARTS …
    In late 2010 over a glass of wine, MC Coetzer and Franz Hirschberg broached the question of which destination was going to be the target of 2011. This was short-lived tradition that had started in style in 2009 with an epic trip to the Richtersveld.
    The discussion had barely begun when MC suggested, “What about Bassas da India”?

    Bassas, the field of dreams
    Bassas da India, a fabled adventure destination, is so remotely positioned halfway between Mozambique and Madagascar that what little information is available only adds to the mystique of discovery. Discovery is limited to the hardened few who are prepared to invest two weeks in fulfilling a dream.
    A decision was made that it would happen and the investigation process kicked off in earnest.
    With a concern over potential interference of the French (Bassas is a French protectorate) dealt with, quotes were requested from various operators and a preliminary budget established.
    The next question: where does one find another four crazy individuals to join the party? This is not as simple as it may appear as issues of leave, finances, compatibility, etc. all need to be taken into account when considering this.
    The vacancy list was quickly reduced to three as Jannie Visser, MC’s partner in crime, confirmed his attendance immediately, despite already having committed to a trip to Exmouth in Australia that would return only two weeks before the proposed departure. There were now two fluffers (primarily fly fishermen) and a single metal-head (popping and jigging) and the race was on to even the stakes. After a few enquiries three further names were penciled in. A further fluffer in the form of Denton Ingham-Brown and two very accomplished metal-heads in Andre van Wyk (Jigstar Africa) and Fernando Duarte from Angola.
    GAME ON!
    After considering a number of criteria, all of which proved irrelevant in the end, it was decided to go with Island Castaways’ yacht, Sarah, which is operated out of Vilanculo by Craig and Shelly Garret. This turned out to be an inspired choice with Craig proving the perfect muse and partner in crime to the crazy brotherhood now established.

    In short succession in late February, flights were confirmed, deposits paid and the date confirmed, 27 May to 7 June it would be!
    What followed can only be compared to a tsunami of keyboard fishing!
    The productivity in several key southern African industries dipped markedly as email servers groaned under the burden of long discussions about all things fishing, related from suitable attire (you must look good after all ☺) to how most effectively to target the parrots on the atoll with the mystical whispered crab fly pattern. The outcome of the discussions had similar consequences with bank accounts emptied in pursuit of the perfect combinations, while the fluffers remained permanently goofed in an epoxy inhalation daze as every free moment was dedicated to tying flies.
    All too soon the date drew nearer.
    The challenge then became how the hell to fit the product of months of dreams, purchases and hard labour into 30kg of luggage per person. This proved a futile exercise as, despite pre-shipping 65kg of jigs being pre-shipped, we still remained 50+kg overweight. There was no choice and the team of six became a team of seven, number seven being passenger M Oreshit, composed of rods, reels and heaps of tackle.
    We were not going to be shortchanged!
    Fernando landed in Cape Town late on the evening of 26 May to be greeted by typical winter weather. In between fits of shivers aided only by a few glasses of red wine, he and Franz spent the evening watching DVDs and debating whether any sleep would be possible.
    Rather bleary-eyed early on Friday 27 June, the remaining troops amassed at CT International to kick off the epic trip.

    Despite the early hour and inclement weather, spirits were high and the banter and trash talking immediately began. While many of us had not yet met, the dynamic felt right, the perfect omen for the coming weeks and a great relief. After all, there is no escape 300 miles to sea!
    CT International and OR Thambo flew by in a blur of check-ins, last-minute smokes and duty free before we were herded by the incredible staff of Federal Air to the plane.
    The plane … let’s pause for a moment here.
    Having passed all the normal airlines typical jets, we were presented with a tiny twin prop. It was clear when looking through the back door that our tackle was testing the suspension and as we boarded we were encouraged to help ourselves to refreshments from a cooler box at the base of the stairs. An offer extended with a commensurate caution that there were no toilets on board.
    What ever you do never confuse Fishing With catching Fish !!!!
    Fish Are Friends Not Food

    But your reasoning has a fatal flaw; it overlooks the fact that to comprehend it requires that one rub a few brain cells against each other. The heat thus generated produces the light that illuminates the fact, but alas, not everybody has the resource required to fuel the process --SG

  2. #2
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    The adventure had started

    After a short stopover at Skukuza, we were en route to Vilanculo. Vilanculo airport turned out to be a pleasant surprise and was extremely organised after a recent facelift. Luggage was collected (all of which had arrived safely, including passenger M Oreshit) and we emerged from the terminal building to the customary warm Mozambique welcome. Craig was waiting for us and he watched with a quiet sense of disbelief as we loaded our huge amount of baggage into the shuttle and set off.

    After a brief stop for last-minute shopping at the local hypermarket (Moz-style of course), and fending off numerous offers of quality ganja, we made our way to the beach from where our baggage would be transferred to the yacht via the tender.
    The first sighting of Yacht Sarah was very special. We all took in our first impressions of what would be our home for the next 13 days.

    As the little tender set off, barely afloat under all our tackle, Craig dropped us off at Aqua Negro, a local hotel, as he completed the final prep on the yacht. Here we made acquaintance with what would prove to be our regular companion for the coming days, the local 2M beer. Lingering cravings for this amber liquid still persist. Enjoying a great lunch of prawns, piri-piri chicken and prego rolls, we amused ourselves watching the mating rituals of two very young ladies in the company of two significantly older men. Certainly a different take on ‘package’ holiday, it was agreed.
    What ever you do never confuse Fishing With catching Fish !!!!
    Fish Are Friends Not Food

    But your reasoning has a fatal flaw; it overlooks the fact that to comprehend it requires that one rub a few brain cells against each other. The heat thus generated produces the light that illuminates the fact, but alas, not everybody has the resource required to fuel the process --SG

  3. #3
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    This is going to be a good thread...


    Shammers, you "luss" yet?
    Regards
    Adrian

    'Life is not a matter of holding good cards but of playing a poor hand well.' ~Robert Louis Stevenson

    If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a man and a dog.~ Mark Twain.

  4. #4
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    Yes, it is going to be GOOD.

    This brings back a load of good memories.

    Thanks Denton.

  5. #5
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    Ooo...vak...I am drooling already...eish...shiver...gulp
    Bubble, Bubble, Bubble and Squeak...I think this mixture is too weak!!!???" (Wrex Tarr)

  6. #6
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    Fortified, we rendezvoused with Craig and made our way across to the yacht. The poor vessel was overflowing with tackle as we distributed our kit between the cabins. Anchors up, we made our way across to Benguera Island, where we joined Craig’s friend Kim for a braai.


    It proved to be a really special evening, with spirits flowing as Andre had us all in stitches with a number of action-oriented jokes (10 cents, 10 cents, 50 cents, 1 rand ek sê!) as we feasted on a supper fit for kings. It was also some of our first introduction to the fabled local rum (spelt rhum), Tipo Tinto, served from 500ml plastic bottles. With some of us properly Tipo Tinto’ed, we wove our way back to the yacht and settled in. Ding, round 1 – Tipo!
    At around midnight, Craig made the call to take to the sea. Andre and Franz were ensconced on the back deck under duvets, while the rest were in their cabins.
    It proved to be a blustery and rather bumpy first night with oft recounted memories by the ‘cabin’ boys of emerging from their bumpy cabin to be presented by two corpses totally covered by flapping duvets. On the odd occasion he did emerge from hibernation, Andre’s hair proved an invaluable resource to our skipper as it acted as both a beacon and very useful wind sock!

    As morning dawned, so did the realisation that we were now miles out to sea. The travel to and from Bassas proved to be a really awesome time as the team sat around sharing stories, ideas and prepping tackle for the battles ahead.
    It is hard to describe the freedom of having absolutely nothing but open sea around you. It is a silent and very personal place that you often slip back to when given the chance.
    What ever you do never confuse Fishing With catching Fish !!!!
    Fish Are Friends Not Food

    But your reasoning has a fatal flaw; it overlooks the fact that to comprehend it requires that one rub a few brain cells against each other. The heat thus generated produces the light that illuminates the fact, but alas, not everybody has the resource required to fuel the process --SG

  7. #7
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    We did troll of course, but alas even after 36 hours, no takers emerged for our offerings that were diligently smoking in the wake. As afternoon merged into night, well fed, the tension built palatably in anticipation of finally seeing Bassas the next day.

    The tackle preparation increased in intensity the following morning with braid being spooled, leaders PR knotted and as the tackle underwent its final metamorphosis into rigged outfits.
    These were an awesome sight hanging under the helm awning, with everything from Synit Acid Wraps with Alutecnos 20c’s and JM GT Monsters adorned with the finest Stella SOM porn, to the fluffers’ T & T’s, Sages, Abels and Shiltons.

    After lunch the conversation started to sound a lot like a road trip with kids. Numerous and regularly repeated “How much further?”, “What time?”, and “Are we there yet?”‘s were patiently fielded by Craig, until in his quiet style, he casually announced that we should be able to see the atoll. 2Ms were hastily grabbed and the motley crew headed to the bow to catch a first glimpse.

    Slowly a speck on the horizon grew into one of the many wrecks that are scattered around the atoll. We had arrived!
    What ever you do never confuse Fishing With catching Fish !!!!
    Fish Are Friends Not Food

    But your reasoning has a fatal flaw; it overlooks the fact that to comprehend it requires that one rub a few brain cells against each other. The heat thus generated produces the light that illuminates the fact, but alas, not everybody has the resource required to fuel the process --SG

  8. #8
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    With a heightened sense of anticipation, spoons were added to the trolling spread and it wasn’t long before Denton was into a nice little yellowfin, the first fish of the trip!

    Denton’s motto is “fish are friends” and noticing Craig with the gaff next to him he tried without success to effect a long line release. It was not the yellowfin’s day and it soon became the first sashimi “volunteer”. Craig had a real challenge convincing the frenzied fishers that there would be plenty time to fish and that first priority was to find a suitable mooring.
    All hands were dispatched to drop anchor, very close to the atoll given the incredible drop off, suitably achieved without hiccup. While the rest of the team contemplated life in general Fernando and Jannie pulled out the guns and blazed away. Not one minute after dropping anchor, the battle cries of our Portuguese colleague, split the air.

    GTTTTTTTTT was the cry and all attention turned to Fernando as he battled what was clearly a good fish. After a short but serious fight the object of Fernando’s trip lay at his feet. He had one target species above all others for Bassas and within 3 casts the silver king was his!

    Clearly this was like ‘Kurt Darren’ to sokkie jol and everyone was soon up front thrashing the water with an impressive array of fish candy. A couple of black jacks and small rock cods were landed before it settled down.



    Introductions like this are the norm at Bassas but must be experienced to be fully appreciated!
    That evening Craig pulled out the stops and after a starter of fresh sashimi prepared by our very own ninja chef, Jannie (who incidentally packed his own sushi knives) we tucked into some well earned meat freshly braai’ed on the back.
    Of course fishing continued unabated after supper
    What ever you do never confuse Fishing With catching Fish !!!!
    Fish Are Friends Not Food

    But your reasoning has a fatal flaw; it overlooks the fact that to comprehend it requires that one rub a few brain cells against each other. The heat thus generated produces the light that illuminates the fact, but alas, not everybody has the resource required to fuel the process --SG

  9. #9
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    as everyone tried their hand at luring the resident school of assorted number plates to take. It also marked the begin of a nightly ritual of MC slapping the water repeatedly with a fly akin to a pillow case in an attempt to attract the always resident White Tips, Galapagos and Zambezi sharks. As luck would have it he would typically hook one just as supper was served, providing the team great mealtime entertainment but having to make do with the meager remains of any communal dishes as a result. Luckily as number plates go, he is not the biggest, and he seemed to make up alright through the substitution of hydraulic alternatives.

    Jou bliksem, kom hier!

    Jou ma se !!
    Chronologically incorrect as it may be in this ‘diary’ of sorts, proceedings must be paused at this point and accelerated a few days…
    On this particularly fine evening, we soon settled into our regular ritual. Assorted sharks of between 40 and 60kgs were as usual always present. However this time a more ominous flash of grey appeared at the edge of the spots penetration of the depths that dwarfed everything else. The team en masse hung over the back of the boat as a huge Zambezi came into sight. Unperturbed by the wand like nature of his 15 weight Mr Coetzer ever so deftly presented his customary offering. The peanut gallery of juvenile johnnies parted as the ‘boss’ slowly raised itself from the depths to inhale the fly as gently as any speckled live bait on the Smalblaar.
    Having witnessed this attention turned to MC.
    With great gusto he set the hook. A moment’s pause and his Shilton missed gear one through four and proceeded straight to fifth! As his willow branch bent double it was clear that the ‘boss’ was on his way. We all knew the outcome but there were a few priceless moments when it was clear from MC’s expression that believed it was game on! Fluffers beyond everything else remain stubbornly optimistic!

    not the big boy just another "average" size customer
    Right where did we leave off, oh yes, with appetite for food sated and the customary shark fishing dealt with, our attention turned to tussling with the atoll resident bully, Mr P. Bass. MC and Franz led the onslaught armed with an STP24, Penn 50TW, 80lbs line, 400lbs leader and Eagle Claw 18/0 circles.
    Down went baits, wait was that a bite, shiiiiiiiit, off!
    This turned into a regular exercise. Simply put if they are big and angry you will not stop these brutes. Seeing all 75kgs of MC hanging on to a heavy trolling rig for dear life would prove to be a regular sight in nights to come. Success eventually came to team Coetzer/Hirsch but alas the errant fluffer was off tossing some feathers when it happened but more about the later!
    As the tag team got their arse handed to them, Andre, who not minutes earlier had solemnly vowed in stoical fashion, “I will not use bait” secreted a piece of yellowfin away and was quietly plumbing the depths with his jigging cannon, a Jigstar Kojak 450 and Alutecnos Gorilla 20C. Fish on as his rod bent double and the boxing match commenced. After a serious tussle Mr Bass raised his ugly chops and smiled at the crowds. A serious fish by any standards.

    Quickly dispatched to the depths courtesy of an anchor release, the tension parted, the pressure of months of anticipation ebbed and the team hit the bunks to prepare for the coming dawn.
    The plan was that the fluffers were going to hit the atoll (in what would turn into a daily ritual) while the metal heads were going to explore the inside from the tender.
    What more could a man ask, full stomach, 2M’s and the allure of discovery. Ok, ok one could argue a little bit of leg over but as can be seen from the pictures no one in the group met this profile, although MC and Jannie certainly appeared very cosy in the only shared cabin!
    Last edited by damage; 03-10-11 at 04:07 PM.
    What ever you do never confuse Fishing With catching Fish !!!!
    Fish Are Friends Not Food

    But your reasoning has a fatal flaw; it overlooks the fact that to comprehend it requires that one rub a few brain cells against each other. The heat thus generated produces the light that illuminates the fact, but alas, not everybody has the resource required to fuel the process --SG

  10. #10
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    Man alive, I cannot wait...yoh yoh yoooooooooooooooohhhhhh

    Awesome report so far
    Bubble, Bubble, Bubble and Squeak...I think this mixture is too weak!!!???" (Wrex Tarr)

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