FishTalk… with Brad van Zyl

by Michael Cronje

In this edition of FishTalk, I chat to experienced deep see angler Brad van Zyl. His love for deep sea fishing started way back when he went out on his uncle’s boat called “Tranquil – Liza” (he was a chemist, hence the name). It was an old surf rider with two 50hp Mercury pull-start motors and they launched at Sodwana Bay in and around 1975. As the Mozambique War was ending in the early nineties, he and his friends Carlos Vinhas, Bradley Kidd and Hendrick Weyers found themselves living in a tent on Ponta Barra beach for a couple of weeks, catching disgustingly large amounts of fish from two boats they had dragged from South Africa. After that trip, they spent every possible moment on the sea, saving up money for trips to the most amazing fishing spots. From the far northern Islands of Kenya, eastern shore of Kenya, far northern Islands of Mozambique, down to the southern section of Mozambique, Dakar in Senegal, Ada Foah in Ghana and then the coast of SA down to the tuna grounds of Hout Bay, Cape Town. Here’s more from Brad.


Q: Can you describe how you developed your love for fishing? What was the catalyst that started it all for you? MC

A: It started with a boat ride in Sodwana, but really kicked off on a trip to Mozambique in the early nineties. (See the intro above.) BVZ


Q: Who is your angling hero, if you have one? MC

A: I must say my big mate Bradley Kidd, who mentored me for many years and leaks his passion of fishing to anyone that spends time with him. He is an amazing person that has an abundance of fishing knowledge, not being shy to share it. He builds custom rods, makes up the best possible tackle and more importantly, knows how to catch fish. BVZ



Q: Everyone’s got a “one-that-got-away” story. What’s yours? MC


A: I have lost so many fish, name a species of fish, and I will share a sad story with you. But, yes, I have lost a marlin or two that I would have loved to have tagged, but the hooks pulled out close to the boat and it swam off quite happily. What is important is that we remember the good and bad times of fishing, and that makes us go back for more. BVZ



Q: If you had one piece of advice to give to an aspiring deep sea tournament angler, what would it be? MC


A: Don’t be shy to learn from others, no matter what status you have achieved in angling. Everyone is different and learning from them can only make you a better angler. Old experienced anglers are worth the stories they tell, listen to them and ask questions. Fishing is not a science. Steal vital information from all sorts of fishermen and learn from their tricks. BVZ



Q: What do you consider your primary strengths and weaknesses on the water? MC


A: Preparation is one of the key strengths of deep sea fishing. So many competitions are won from the preparation that is done before you hit the water. We always make sure that we have the best possible tackle that we can afford and that it is made up to the best of our ability to give us a better chance. One of my weaknesses on the boat is to concentrate for hours on end. Drowsiness tends to creep in and that can be the difference between catching and losing a fish. BVZ



Q: What has been a highlight for you in the 2013/14 fishing season? MC


A: So far, it was a weekend with my friend Shaun Brodell and Brent Murray at Inhaca Island. We caught about eight species of fish in two days that included a tagged sailfish, huge kingfish, cuta, wahoo and lots of tuna. Great fun! But hey, I still have an upcoming date with a marlin or two this year, so stay tuned. BVZ



Q: What is the best piece of angling you have witnessed by another angler? MC


A: I was skippering a boat in a National Marlin Competition off Sodwana Bay, and was backed by the crew of Chris Koller, Brad Kidd and Wessel Fourie. They were pulling two live bait tuna in the water for marlin when a pod of dolphins arrived to chomp our two tuna. However, in amongst the tuna we spotted a solitary marlin, all lit up and very excited about our bait in the water. Chris and Brad pulled one tuna closer to the boat, and then they let the other one out further to sacrifice it to the dolphins. The marlin was swimming quite close to the boat, so Bradley fed the second tuna to the marlin. We watched how it took this bait, swallowed it and took off at one crazy speed once it felt the hook snag it in its mouth. Twenty five minutes later, we had successfully tagged the marlin. Spot on fishing! BVZ



Q: Do you set targets in your fishing, or is the thought of being on the water when you get the chance enough to feed the “drug” of fishing? MC


A: It all depends on the type of fishing that we are doing. A lot of planning takes place before we fish in competitions, and we definitely have a strategy. Social angling is a lot more casual and relaxed. BVZ



Q: You have an unlimited budget and you want to plan that dream fishing getaway. Where do you go, and why? MC


A: Two places. Guatamala for sailfishing with my friend Brad Philips, that has a boat and house off the coast, and then the Great Barrier Reef in Ozzie, where I believe the big 1 000lb marlin are. My dream destinations! BVZ



Q: What’s something few people know about you? MC

A: In the early days… WOW… did I get seasick! Man, I must have lived on seasick tablets for the first three years of my deep sea fishing career. It still catches me every now and then. Not cool. BVZ


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