AS they say in the West Indies, “Da right style — do it island style!” What is it about an island that elicits an entirely different mood from visitors? If you were one of the participants in the 12th Inhaca Challenge, you would have seen this island-style mood in action.

With a full complement of boats registered, arrivals on the island started as early as Wednesday before the official opening on Monday, 10th May 2010. Why, you may ask? Well, a couple of practice days in paradise have never hurt a fisherman. Like hungry hyenas to a carcass, the 43 boats were eager to get across the bay of Maputo to the restful island of Inhaca to take part in the 12th Inhaca Challenge.

This wildly popular event had very humble beginnings, with only three boats taking part in the initial competition. Since then word has spread about the well-presented Challenge and we were proud to have four local Moçambican boats entered this year. Anglers from Namibia, Swaziland, England, Scotland, Bahrain, Moçambique, Zimbabwe, South Africa and even Orania joined in the camaraderie. Once on the island, for an entire week the only modes of transport available are boats or feet — a bit different to our normal way of life.

This year the incredible support we received from our sponsors enabled us to part with over R120 000 in cash prizes with a total prize bag of over R450 000. And with Gary Larkan at the steering wheel of this Inhaca committee, the entire competition ran like a well-oiled machine. A couple of months before the event, a huge decision was taken, with the impetus coming from a couple of platinum sponsors. For the first time it was decided to place more emphasis on the release of fish and the rules were changed to facilitate the release of all kingfish and amberjack species. This in itself was a challenge, but the definition of challenge is “A test of one’s abilities or resources in a demanding but stimulating undertaking” — and that’s what fishing is all about.

A colour-coded tape measure ensured that each boat was equipped to measure and record the fishes’ lengths, and a digital photograph was required to verify the release. Points were awarded according to the length of the fish as well as the species. The release of 34 fish is testimony to the success of this rule change. We are proud of our results (see the table below).

The king of Inhaca blessed the fleet at the skippers’ briefing on the Sunday night, so it was all systems go at 6.30am on the Monday as a solitary flare signalled the start of the Challenge. Although the sea was decidedly lumpy, it turned out to be a very fishable day with Ocean Driven and her crew putting in their bid for first place with a fine bag of fish that included four different species. The biggest fish of the day was an 11.7kg ’cuda caught off Sgumfemfe, so the R37 000 Calcutta prize was still up for grabs.

With fish coming out both north and south of the island, day two started with boats scattering in all directions in the hopes of catching the big one. As they sprinted up the beach to place their tags on the board before the 3.30pm deadline, it was clear that the fishing had indeed improved.

The swollen fish bags put the defending champs aboard Solid Cat in first place for the day. A fine 17.7kg yellowfin tuna caught by Tyron Good aboard Sea Breeze put him in line for a meritorious fish prize. It was make or break day as Wednesday dawned with the promise of even better catches. Some of the boats were fishing at Santa Maria reef, but the swell through Hell’s Gate lived up to its reputation of being rough, and skippers had to turn back and ride around the island in order to get to their favourite reef. In the north some boats had found The Well, and the long ride to get there proved worthwhile in fish catches.

Read the full story in the July/August 2010 issue of SKI-BOAT.
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