BENDING WITH BONIES — An insight into the best gamefish baits available — by Mush Nichols

MY fishing career has gone full circle — from boating to beach fishing and back again — a 45-year circle of fascinating fun.

From both boat and beach, I have targeted the many species of gamefish which frequent our east coast, and in this article concentrate on the better baitfish we have — or had — available to pursue our beloved sport.

Whilst waiting for a boat number from the Durban Ski-Boat Club in the mid-’sixties, we operated our 13-foot boat from Tongaat beach on the KZN North Coast. Talk about rookies! One 40hp Johnson, a pair of paddles and two life jackets, and we were in business. Here we learned the basics of ski-boat fishing from a tough bunch of men. Names like Poplett, Hadenham and Taljaard bring back fond memories of a hard apprenticeship with helpful companions.

Fish were plentiful, so the methods remained simple. Spoons and pilchards were sufficient for the ’cuda, so little effort was made to find other baits. All we did was stop at the local corner shop on the way to the beach and buy two boxes of sards. With a 50% catch rate, it was plenty as the small ski was pretty much maxed out with a dozen fish.

Two years later we moved to Vetch’s Pier with a home-built 18ft AceCraft. This was a totally different ballgame. The Durban Ski-Boat Club encompassed 200 ski-boats with 200 skippers — a cross section of all types. There we had the use of a boat house, overhead trailer and a club tractor — what a difference!

It did not take long to realise that bait was of more importance here than it had been at Tongaat. The fact that bait was available from the seine netters at Vetch’s and was also easily caught by the ski-boats was a huge plus for members of the DSBC.

My crew and I were quick learners, and with advice from some of the top echelon — Upton, Van Reenen, Bursik, Wilson, Lloyd, Moore and many others — we soon learned the importance of good bait for both general and competition fishing.

For the next 20 years we figured out how and where to catch the different bait species and — equally as important — how, when and where to use them to our best advantage. By far the favourite of these baits was the bony.

Read the full story in the May/June 2009 issue of SKI-BOAT.
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