“Come with me to the Bahamas”, Brett says to me as we have one of our “kakpraat” sessions at the Stealth factory. We started chatting about it and the event called the Extreme kayak fishing tournament battle of the Bahamas and it sounded like it could be fun but then the subject changed and the kakpraat continued. At the next UKFC event Brett makes the announcement that he is officially inviting me to fish with him in the Bahamas entry sponsored by Stealth and just like that a dream became a reality. Months of preparation and research later after a lot of logistics planning and procurement we meet up at Johannesburg international airport to start the marathon trip to get to the Bahamas. 3 flights, a train, an uber, and a ferry later that lasted some 50 odd hours we were finally at our destination of Port Lucaya Grand Bahamas. The afternoon was spent doing a little exploring and waiting for a Kayaks to be transported to the hotel from the ferry terminal. Unfortunately the winds were howling 20 plus knots and we didn’t really get a chance to get out on the water other than a few live bait missions which were largely unsuccessful. The afternoon before the comp we decided we might as well get out there as according to wind guru the conditions would be unchanged for the next few days so we had better get a feel for the location. We managed to get a few good live baits that evening but with the wind blowing 20 knots onshore it was quite a challenge and we beached in the dark after the long paddle back.
Morning broke on day one of the Battle of the Bahamas and the tension amongst the 70 kayak fisherman getting the tackle ready on the beach was palpable. It was going to be a long day on the water with weigh in only closing at 16:00. Team stealth opted for a sneaky back canal that took us around the backside of our hotel and popped us out 2-3km up the beach from where everyone else was fishing. This was the area where we had caught our live bait the day before and we figured that where there was bait there ought to be fish. We were also fishing largely alone, out of the crowds in front of the hotel giving us a better chance of having our baits eaten. We plugged away catching the dreaded trash fish which included the shoals of barracuda this place is famous for. The structure of the reef was insane and something I haven’t fished before on a kayak. The bottom literally fell away underneath you and in the space of paddling about 200m the depth went from 20-30 m to in excess of 500m. My fish finder could not even pick up the bottom. After donating most of my live bait to the trash fish I got to my last bait which was locally known as a grunt but resembled something like a speckled snapper. I pinned my last bait and started heading out from around the 20m mark and within 2mins my reel was playing that good old Shimano music. It felt like a really good fish and seeing that I was fishing extremely light hooks and trace wire I decided to loosen up on the drag a little and make sure I landed the fish. Eventually I got the fish close to the boat and I could see two distinct bodies in the water both being quite large. I was a bit confused but eventually realized there was a shark taking bite size chunks out of my fish. I tightened up and winched it in to try minimize the damage but it was too late. A molested fish and a good one at that. The King mackerel was a decent fish but in my opinion wasn’t big enough to win the comp so at that stage I wasn’t too phased. It was only after getting to the beach and taking the fish out that I realized for this area it was a monster fish. Everyone was going crazy on the beach and couldn’t believe it. The fished weighed in at 40.6lb and would have easily gone 50lb if it was all intact. The next biggest fish on the day was 16lb. I was gutted, but hey that’s fishing. Day 2 was even tougher and the start was delayed about an hour to make sure it was light enough for everyone to be seen due to safety reasons. Brett, Fred and myself repeated our sneaky back canal mission again and really fished hard that day in the tough conditions. Brett and Fred caught some really decent barracuda but unfortunately these did not count towards the main prize. I managed to get another bite this time on a dead ballyhoo or half beak. Another king mackerel although much smaller than the one form the previous day but was enough to sneak me up the leaderboard into 5th place. The fishing was really tough and with the strong onshore winds it made it very difficult to jig and work the structure. Most of the guys struggled to get a weighable fish to bite and there were even some previous winners who didn’t manage to weigh a single fish.
Stealth Kayaks really made a name for themselves out there in the Bahamas, their speed and lightweight quality construction definitely raised a lot of interest. On a whole the trip was amazing and the kayak fishing community in Florida and the states was so receiving of us and so friendly it really made the trip. We all gained a lot of new fishing buddies which we will hopefully unite with soon, be it back in the Bahamas or here in South Africa. Thanks Brett and Stealth Kayaks for a memorable trip that I will never forget it truly was an honor representing Stealth Kayaks in Florida and the Bahamas.