Some people may just fancy a change from sharking (or is that rest from the physical exertions?) or a chance at yet more species unavailable from our beaches. A trip abroad is a big undertaking by anybody’s standards, so whilst most of you will find it difficult to drag yourselves away from the sheer adrenaline-fuelled bronze bashing, it does make sense to try and sample the other angling delights.

Warming up – gully and hound sharks

If for one second you imagine that bronze sharks were not in fact caught from the Skeleton Coast, then the spotted gully and hound sharks would easily provide most of us with thrills enough. I love my UK sea fishing, but we have to be honest and accept that a 10lb plus fish from our rocks and beaches is no mean feat. That is not meant to belittle our fishing, for I love it, but we just do not have numbers of species that regularly attain big weights.

To put it into perspective, take my first afternoon’s foray onto the Skeleton coast; we knew the chance at a bronzy would come in the late afternoon, but our guide Terence wanted us to see another couple of species that could be caught. Now, I have lost a couple of 50lb plus congers right at the last moment, seen a 40lb plus tope spit my bait back at me in contempt as we were about to land it, and witnessed a conger of 44lb taken right next to me from Devil’s Point, Plymouth (the current British record of 68lb 8oz is held from there). So, we do have the chance of fairly big shore-caught fish, but we could hardly say they are a regular occurrence.

As the three of us stood beneath an African sun on a deserted piece of the Skeleton coast, my whole angling perspective was about to change. Forget for this feature about 200lb plus sharks (if you or I can!) and try to put yourself in my shoes. Steve’s rod is suddenly swept back into an alarming curve and the fish heads up the coast; perhaps ten minutes later Terence goes and grabs this massive, writhing object from the white water with not a second’s hesitation. Rather him than me was my first thought, but he had hold of a monster! What looked like a cross between a tope and a bull huss looked decidedly unhappy and I had to run over and get a glimpse of the biggest fish I had ever seen taken from the shore. The first fish I had witnessed in that incredible country and it was estimated at over 60lbs. For the first time, and let me assure you by no means the last time, the thought "this is just not normal" raced through my head. I mean how could it be normal to us? Sure, the Namibians may well go for an afternoon’s monster fishing like we go out bassing, but this gully shark was profoundly shocking. I was going to have to adapt my whole outlook pretty quickly.

Dave then caught what the locals call a hound shark, but to us is exactly the same as our common smoothounds. The only difference was that this feisty thing liked fish baits and weighed in excess of 40lbs! As the eyes nearly fell clean out of my head and my shaking hands tried to compose the pictures, I then had to strike and bully a "small" gully shark of only about 30lbs; what a shame!


Now in truth we spent some time fishing for these two species. In fact when the tides were wrong for the bronzies, it was the perfect time for this sport and I personally couldn’t get enough of it. Sure we caught smaller ones, but considering a small gully shark was around 20lbs, is that really something to weep about? As for the bronzies, tackle and tactics could not have been more simple; fish baits, hugely simple rigs, no distance casting and plenty of action. What more could the roving shore angler possibly want? In reality, I am sure that most of us would have been happy just catching these fish; the bronzies are like the bonus to an already heady experience.

Due to fishing predominantly clean and open water, the fish out there like to run hard and scrap like demons, so whereas so much of our fishing is done with the reel’s star drag tightened up solid, out there you will finally learn just how vital a smoothly maintained drag system really is. If a big fish wants to try and run for deep water and you are using relatively light mainline, then just let the drag do its work and really concentrate on fighting the fish, and more importantly, just enjoy the whole thing as your quarry rips another few yards off in its quest for freedom. So many times you will see the thrashing tail of a gully shark in the cream of the surf as you think it is beaten, only to see it turn, shake its head, and once more move off on a searing run.

The bass-like kob

If you are out there and the kob are running then you are in for yet another magical experience; we had a coupe of goes and caught a few, but conditions for kob were not that great while we were there. But they were awesome for the sharks!

The kob looks fairly like our bass and as far as I saw, they fight in much the same way; we did spend the best part of a day devoted to these fish and caught perhaps ten up to about 18lbs. Terence said that the fishing was bad (!) and we should go sharking. By my standards we had just had a great day, so hopefully you will get some idea of just how good the kob fishing can be. Having spent a great deal of time talking to the locals, when the kob are running, expect serious quantities of big fish and reckon on your arms being about ready to fall off. Although the kob may well look a bit like our bass, concerning sizes, it is a different matter. I saw one angler land one of over 30lbs and they are common. They have been taken over 100lbs, but if you see one of 40lbs plus then you are doing well. Once again, huge fish on a perfectly innocent looking beach on the edge of the oldest desert in the world.

Most people bait fish for these kob and it is obviously a very successful method. Fish baits are lobbed out into invisible gullies where the kob like to run. Expect bites ranging from subtle slack-liners to serious arm-wrenching, savage, hit-and-run types. Your guide is there to help you in any way and lend advice when wanted but your natural angling ability will provide you with the right moment to strike. Missing a few certainly sharpens your senses! Come to think of it, unless my memory has completely glazed over with the overwhelming sense of amazement, I could have sworn I missed a few bites that were of the unmissable type! We are all guilty of a little adrenalin fuelled bad angling.

But what got me really excited about these kob was the possibility of lure fishing for them; I saw a few people trying in admittedly difficult sea conditions, but on the right day I am assured that throwing plugs and heavy lures at these kob can be absolutely deadly. Next time I go back (very soon!) I am going to take over some Conoflex sea rods of the heavy spinning/floatfishing/match fishing type and Daiwa SLOSH 30 reels. On will go 20lbmainline, 60lb leaders and a range of lures. A fixed spool would most likely work well, but I would be afraid of the thing breaking down with heavy, hard running fish. Spinning does work, but whilst the locals may well have the bait fishing down to a fine art, they are the first to admit that when it comes to lure fishing, they are in the infancy stages and need to know more.

Put two and two together and it could be a golden opportunity for some new and frighteningly exciting fishing. Having seen the way our kob fought on relatively heavy gear, I can not wait to try the lighter stuff on these Namibian bass; the lure of the sharks will often be too great to resist, but just get the right day (your guide will tell you when) and there is the potential for surely some ultimate light tackle sport. What about the potential of fly fishing for kob? The mind boggles.