Words by Martin Coetzee. Pictures by Lynn Coetzee.
Red Paddle Co 12’6″ Explorer SUP & Ironman 4×4 Travel Master Multi-Rod & Reel
Whenever I head up the coast or anywhere near water, my “essential gear” includes a stand up paddleboard (SUP) and fishing tackle. And these need to fit in somehow alongside the cooler boxes, braai grids, kids’ toys, etc. My regular boards are bulky and require a roof rack, and some of my rods are too long to fit inside the car.
So, for my latest trip, I was chuffed when I got my hands on some really compact equipment. And my daughter was happy too, as there was plenty of space for her equally-essential boogie board, bike, and all the rest. Destination: the Breede River mouth in the Western Cape, home to numerous fish and bird species, and, as the name implies, with plenty of water on which to play.
First up was an inflatable SUP and accessories from Red Paddle Co, compactly delivered in a sturdy backpack which also contained the pump, paddle, leash and removable fin, and weighed around 18kg. (I had opted for one of the larger boards, the 12’6” Explorer, considering what I had in mind…)
Second was the Travel Master Multi- Rod and Reel from Ironman 4×4 − a multiple combination rod kit stashed in a tough compact tube, along with a topnotch coffee grinder reel supplied with three pre-lined spools.
I planned to combine these items and try to catch a fish off the board. I’ve seen a number of fishing kayaks on the river, and hoped that the elevation of a SUP would offer an even better perspective on any visible fish action, while still allowing me to navigate the shallows with minimal disturbance.
So, to YouTube next, to pick up a few pointers from the purpose-built fishing SUPs used in the US. Suitably inspired, I decided that a bit of DIY was needed to customise a standard SUP board into a practical fishing platform. An old cooler box did the trick, with PVC tubing bolted to each side to provide two rod holders, and bungee hooks to prevent the rods from falling out. The box stored my gear, and with a rubber pad stuck on top, doubled as a decent seat. I tied the box down on a couple of the board’s many attachment points, and secured additional bungee cord to stash loose items on the front deck.
With the board inflated, cooler box/seat tied down, and rods and reels rigged up, it was time to head up-river. Typical of the Cape coast in summer is that the southeaster strengthens during the day, meaning a paddle back home into the wind. So, first light was best, and I packed it in once the breeze came up. My priority was to have maximum fishing time, so the furthest I paddled up on any one morning was about 4km (35 minutes).
Using mud prawn as bait, I drifted over the mud banks, hoping to hook into a spotted grunter. These fish spook easily in the shallower waters, so a smaller, silent craft worked really well. I had a second rod rigged with a surface lure for any leervis activity.
My luck was in with the grunter, and the combination of a SUP and light tackle provided heaps of fun. I’d inevitably drift and get towed along as I fought a fish, and the silky-smooth drag on the Travel Master reel worked like a charm. Having the landing net close by proved a must – it was too risky to try opening the box with a fish on the line. I found myself sitting on the board to handle the netted fish, and anything I kept was stashed in a wet sack, and secured under the web of bungee cord. Five is the daily bag limit for spotted grunter (and the minimum keeping size is 40cm), but I prefer to release most, and only keep one or two for the braai.
Although the distance I could cover was limited somewhat by the wind, I absolutely loved the simplicity of the rig, and the ability to stalk fish quietly in shallow water. And, of course, there’s something intensely satisfying about catching your own supper.
Red Paddle CO 12’6″ Explorer
Red Paddle Co stock a wide range of top-quality inflatable SUPs, including shorter surfing boards, longer and narrower racing boards, white-water boards, and the touring board that I used. The boards are supplied standard in the spacious backpack, along with the Titan pump, removable fin, repair kit, and water-resistant phone case.
Price: From R14 500 incl. VAT
Tel021 425 1019
Ironman 4×4 Travel Master Multi-Rod & Reel
This is an incredibly versatile rig. The multi-piece rod offers 36 unique combinations – six different lengths, three different tips, and two handlecombinations. The supplied adaptors make it easy to change the rod length and tip options on the water. The whole package is delivered in a tough and convenient travel case: only 50cm long, and weighing 1.7kg.
The rod length options vary from a tiny two-piece rod (94cm/3 foot, for simply dropping a line into a small pool or off a jetty) up to an eight-piece surf rod (3.32m/11 foot). I got to use only three of the combinations – a light five-piece (2.14m/7 foot) boat rod with 6lb line for bait fishing; a medium boat rod with a 12lb line as a spinning rig; and a full-length surf rod used off the river bank in the afternoons when the wind was blowing. So, there are still plenty more options to try on my next outing.
The rod sections are made of solid carbon fibre, and the snug-fitting ferrules and adaptors are chrome plated. Which means that it’s tough and very well made, offers plenty of stiffness for casting, and has adequate flex with a fish on the end.
The reel comes standard with three pre-lined and easily interchangeable spools, colour-coded to match the rod tips – the lightest with the 6lb yellow line, then the 12lb orange line, and the dark 25lb line to match the black heavy tip. Again (like all things Ironman 4×4) it’s made to last, with pinion gears, 9 + 1 ball bearings, 5.5:1 gearing ratio and a silent anti-reverse. This translates into a smooth and speedy retrieve, and an equally reliable drag when playing a fish.
This is a great travellers’ rig – perfect for the space-conscious overlander or motorcyclist, and suited to a vast range of conditions. In fact, I’d keep it as a permanent fixture in the corner of my boot – just in case the fish (of any kind) are running…
Price: Rod: R2 350 | Reel: R965
Tel 011 634 7600