As I lay in bed, wide awake and unable to sleep the excitement was building, the next day I was due to take a group of 6 customers out to Namibia to target monster sharks from the shore and the anticipation was overwhelming. What did we have instore for us for the next 10 days? Thoughts of giant Sharks and beautiful beaches filled my mind as I lay transfixed in a state of fish filled insomnia, would we catch our targets or would we blank, we were about to find out what shore fishing on the Skeleton coast really has to offer the UK shore angler.
I arrived at Terminal 5 of Heathrow and made my way through passport control and was soon settled in Huxleys bar eating a burger awaiting the other customers arriving. It did not take long for the others to arrive and we were soon chatting away swapping fishing stories and breaking the ice. That is the great thing about hosted holidays, everybody has the same interest and nearly always get along like a house on fire, after all these anglers had 1 thing in common, to catch a monster Bronze Whaler shark from the shore. We were soon aboard our flight and making our way from the cold damp reality of England and heading to the much hotter climate of this amazing west African country. After a short stopover in Johannesburg we were on a shorter 2 hour flight up to Walvis bay where we would be met by our guide for the week Simon.
Stepping off the plane onto Namibian soil we were met with a scorching warmth that slapped me around the face, this dessert land was living up to its reputation of being a very hot country. A grin appeared across my face, we were finally here and I was almost certain I could hear the Sharks calling our names from the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean in which they reside. Passing through passport control we were met by Simon who was eager to get us into the cars and get us back to the guesthouse, there were fish to be caught and he wanted to get us all out to try and catch on the day of arrival.
After a short transfer we were soon at the guesthouse and after a quick chat we were out to a very close mark to have a couple of hours fishing before darkness fell. Nothing was caught on the first day but this did not dampen the spirits, the real fishing was due to start on the first day proper so it was back to the guesthouse for dinner… and what a dinner it was, chunky meaty lamb chops cooked on the indoor braai with chips and vegetables, you will not go hungry when staying over here, Sharon and Simon provide some delicious food and if you don’t come away weighing at least a stone heavier than when you arrived then I would be very surprised.
Rolling out of bed on the first day I wandered into the dining area to be met by Sharon asking what I wanted for breakfast. It would have been rude to have turned down the full English on offer and with the customers soon having their fill as well we were on our way to the first mark to ease the customers into Namibian fishing by targeting Spotted Gully Sharks. Once on the beach Simon was quick to put the baits out into the water and it wasn’t long before the rods were slamming over as the Gully sharks hit the fishy banquet we had laid on for them.
Everybody was getting in on the action with all the customers leaning into some sharky action and some crackers were beached. After a few pictures we decided to change our tactics and head over to a mark a short drive away and target the Bronzies. Stepping out of the Land Rover Simon was yet again quick to get the rods set up and before putting the baits out called everybody in for a briefing on what to do when one of these monsters picked up the baits. Once the briefing was over Simon flew ( yes that’s right I said flew) the baits out using a drone with a bait release clip attached. This was the perfect way to get these baits into the zone, past the breakers and where the sharks were hunting. It wasn’t long before one rod slammed over, followed by another and then another this happened a few times before Kev locked into one and this brute was not getting off. After a great battle we all set eyes on the first Bronzie of the trip, using the length to measure rule she came in at a very respectable 80lb. What a great way to start the trip for Kev who was very happy with his first ever Whaler Shark, no more were landed on the first day and we made our way back to the guesthouse full of excitement for what day 2 would bring. The sharks were there but unfortunately turning the runs into fish on the first day had proved difficult, it was just one of those things, and we knew that on day 2 we would turn the odds into our favour.
Day 2 started off with another fry up before we were back on our travels again on the hunt for the Sharks that patrol this phenomenal coastline. We again started off looking for Gully sharks and with only 1 being landed they were conspicuous in their absence so we were soon heading off to another Bronzie hot spot to see if we could do battle with the ruler of the Skeleton coast. Baits were yet again flown out beyond the surf line and we started the game of whose rod would slam over first. It didn’t take long before yet again Kevs rod walloped over and unfortunately after some immense runs the fish reached a reef and snapped him up on the rocks.
Next up in the ring to do battle with the Bronzies was Tim who locked into a stunning female fish who gave him a cracking fight and weighed in at 76lb, what a fish and the smile on his face said it all. A while passed with only a couple of missed runs to show for our efforts, that was until Hadrians rod violently slammed over and his reel started singing, line was peeling off at an alarming rate but he soon gained control of the fish and turned its head. A great fight was now ensuing with both Hadrian and the fish taking it on turns to make line on one another, the fish soon started to tire and it was not long before we could see the un mistakable shape of the dorsal fin cutting through the water just beyond the beakers. The shark was then in the shallow water in front of us in no time at all and Simon our guide had her on the beach, what a magnificent creature weighing in at a very respectable 128lb in weight, the biggest so far but we knew there was bigger to be caught and as we sat down to dinner that night talk was of course on the sharks that were lost that day, would we see bigger on day 3??
After another lovely breakfast we were making our way out on our third day of fishing, we were heading to a mark known as Mile 72, we were hoping this mark would not be weeded out as this is one of Simons banker marks for Bronzies and upon arrival the Sea looked good, unfortunately the bottom was carpeted with weed so we packed up, jumped in the wagons and made our way to the next mark via one of the many wrecks that frequent these beaches for a photo opportunity.
The wreck of the Zeila is
We awoke on day 4 to a very heavy cloudy mist that had closed In around us, the temperature had dropped and we made our way to a mark known as ‘POPEYE’ all dressed in coats and jumpers, who would have thought that we would need those in the usually hot African summer. Upon arrival at the beach the decision was made to go on an all out Whaler warfare. We had lost a few fish so far and we knew they were there so today was solely going to be a day for trying to catch these big bronze beauties. Baits were out in the water, big bloody fish baits were creating a scent trail for the Whalers to hone in on and hopefully chow down on. Nick was first to get some interest in his bait and a nice bend in his rod soon showed he was into a fish. Whatever was on his line was not fighting like a whaler though, this thing was plodding about and had literally given up the fight within a matter of minutes. It soon became apparent why, Nick had managed to catch himself a Cow Shark, a very peculiar looking creature indeed and a new species for Nick to add to his very impressive list.
The bite was slower today, not much had happened after Nicks Cow Shark and with a lot of weed in the front breakers it was a case of wade out holding the rod waiting for it to pull over in your hands. As the day drew on Hadrian had lost a fish that decided it wanted to head for Brazil rather than be caught and that was it, well it was until yet again Kevins rod went and he was into yet another Whaler Shark. This fish was putting up a great scrap and really did not want to come in but Kev wasn’t giving up and after a few more minutes he had another Bronzie to add to his growing tally of fish. This was another gorgeous female fish and as usual she was treated with the upmost care before being returned to her home. It was not long before yet again Kev (can you see a pattern emerging here) was into a fish, this was a lot bigger and he dug his heels in and started to gain some line back, this brute of a fish then woke up and very nearly spooled him before biting through the line and winning the duel. Not much more happened during the day and we all went to bed that night dreaming of the one that got away.
Day 5 was a whole new day and we made our way to the beach under an ever growing Namibia sun, this was going to be a scorcher of a day and when we arrived at the beach conditions were looking spot on, The weed had subsided and the surf had dropped, this was screaming Sharks. We started the day off with a quick hit on the Gully Sharks, nearly all the customers caught and we were then on our way around the corner to the Bronzie mark. Something just made today feel special, I looked out at the customers standing beside their rods and could feel inside me something was about to happen….and happen it did. Kev (I bet you can see where I’m going with this) had a fish hooked and for the first 30 seconds or so it really didn’t do very much, then it woke up and the next 2 hours he was put though the hurt locker, this was a monster fish and after a few heart in mouth moments we saw the dark shadow of this beast just beyond the surf line and it looked big! With 3 people supporting her and bringing her ashore we finally laid eyes on this beautiful leviathan, she measured in at 311lb and was on her way back out into the surf in no time at all, what a fish and one that will remain in all our memories forever. The day drew to an end with no more Bronzies being landed despite a few more being hooked up.
Day 6 was yet again to be another scorcher, this was our last full day and everybody was chomping at the bit to hook into a Bronzie, baits were in the water and the wait began. A shout from down the line showed that Graham was into a good fish and after a long slog of a fight he had a 215lb beast in front of him which was quickly released after photographs. The day drew on with only one more lost fish and the decision was made to fish into darkness for our final night to see what we could pick up. The sun set on this evening was magical and it is something I am glad I was able to experience, as darkness fell Hadrian let out a yell that he was into a fish, this was a nice size and dragged him a fair way down the beach before being landed and measuring in at around 160lb she was another cracker to add to the list of already impressive fish. Within minutes of returning to the rods the weed situation became unmanageable, in the dark we were getting completely weeded out and decided to call it a night returning to the guesthouse for a shower. We were leaving Simons at around midday the next day but it was decided we would have one last crack at the Gully sharks before we left the next morning.
The Final Morning
Our final morning in Namibia started off with another belly busting fry up and we then made our way just down the road from the guesthouse to a mark Simon said