14 March, 2018 14 March, 2018

A Rather Fishy Story by Trevor Gray

There are surfer’s whose fingers itch for the trigger to capture images of those epic surf moments. Then there are those who are drawn to the idea of scribbling down words to paint a picture. Travel features, hard news, investigative journalism, opinion pieces, profiles, fiction, enviro stories, photo essay – your creativity has no bounds! As long as it is your original work and has some connection to surfing. It is encouraged to submit any photos or videos to support your written piece. 

Introducing, Trevor Gray and his fishy throwback.:

Once upon a time in a sleepy fishing village on the Southern Cape coast, a young surfer worked for the local and only hotel. It was an idyllic life as the water was warm and the waves were often fun. Of course, it did not hurt that it was in a beautiful part of the Cape and the fishing was good, the diving great and the crowds non – existent out of season. And of course, working for the hotel, food, and lodging was “free”. One Sunday in late May on his off day the young surfer decided to check the surf out at the ominously named Shark Bay. His plan was a mission to Stilbaai for the day as the swell was up. Though this was a pretty good low tide spot that needed a South Wester or little wind the high tide killed the wave. 

As he surveyed the spot high up on the cliff, he noticed a dark shape swimming off-shore heading up the coast. At that moment, his Sea Fisheries inspector friend Robbie pulled up and the two discussed the possible identity of the creature. Despite having binoculars neither were able to positively identify the 12-foot long beast swimming slowly 400 meters off the beach.The young surfer decided to race back to his spot and grab his board and suit and return to paddle out in order to investigate! Upon his return, the creature was still within sight and a hurried suiting up was inevitable. The fisheries inspector volunteered to keep watch from the safety of the headland when he was unable to convince the surfer not to paddle out.

Photographer: Gordon Surfer: Jacque

As the surfer paddled toward the object, the sheer audacity/ stupidity of his actions quickly sunk in. What did he actually plan to do if it was a shark? Instinctively he knew it was not one of the usual white sharks that sometimes patrol the area. Hopefully, it was a Bronzie or some less fearsome swimmer. The paddle was incredibly short which was likely fuelled by Adrenalin. He was less than 10 meters away when he could accurately identify it to not be a shark or Dolphin or even a baby whale. The long sleek fish was graceful yet clearly powerful. As he approached it he noticed some red fluid and a gash around the head, this was not good as his immediate instinct was that the blood may be an invitation to breakfast for a hungry shark or 10! 

He slipped off his board and immediately something brushed against his suit. It took a couple of seconds to realize that the item that touched him was, in fact, a long plastic coated steel trace. Upon closer inspection, it was apparent that the trace was the source of the injury. Immediately thereafter the avid angler realized that the huge creature was a Blue Marlin! What now? He prodded the fish and it slowly swam a couple of meters. The cold water and extreme effort from breaking the trace clearly left the poor fish exhausted. The surfer then did a potentially dangerous thing! He gently wrapped the trace around his hand and slowly tugged the trace. The fish incredibly reacted by following the direction of the tug. It was not unlike a gentle pull of a dog lead. Emboldened by this development, he mounted his board and gently paddled/led the fish closer to the beach, ready at any second to rapidly disengage from the trace.

Photographer: Josef Mrazek

As he reached the sandbank just before the shore break he slipped both the trace and his board and waited for a set wave. Seconds later a nice swell reared up and as he pushed the Marlin, the wave and fish accelerated into the shorie. The fish then realized that he was about to be beached and exploded into action which merely ensured that he was firmly grounded. By this time Robbie had come down and was assisted by 4 local fishers who unceremoniously dragged the fish onto his waiting bakkie. Driving back to the hotel, the length of the fish meant that the tail was draped over the roof and the head was on the tailgate. 

As a result of speculation as to the weight of the monster, it was suggested that the fish be accurately weighed and someone suggested the weighbridge in the local dorp. Luckily the supervisor was able to oblige and fish was weighed and was confirmed to be 220kg or 500lb! A quick trip back had the fish hoisted on the village gantry. By this time the Cape Times and Die Burger reporters arrived and pictures and an interview was done. 

Due to the size of the fish, no one locally wanted to purchase the meat and the surfer phoned a couple of seafood restaurants in Cape Town. The first one to agree to purchase the fish was The Brass Bell in Kalk Bay for the princely sum of R4 PER KG. The catch was however that the fish needed to be delivered immediately. The surfer then drove the fish over Sir Lowry’s Pass which was an extremely nerve-wracking experience due to anglers trying to identify the huge fish draped over the sides, thus nearly forcing him off the road!

Upon arriving at the Brass Bell, there was no parking as Robin Auld was in attendance and the venue was packed with revellers. When the owner was located he curtly told the surfer to bring the fish to the service entrance. It had to be explained that the fish weighed over 200kg and it would need 4 individuals to carry. The sight of these 4 carrying the fish down the Main Road bought traffic to a complete standstill.




The following Sunday the surfer decided to drive to Jongensfontein for the surf he missed the previous week. As the wind had picked up he decided to rather fish for Bass in Swellendam. The next day the front page of the Cape Times reported on a surfer which was attacked at Jongens, he survived with 230 stitches. There were 8 surfers out when the attack happened. There could have been 9!

A truly fish story!              

Got a story then hit us up, we would love to hear/read it.

Send your stories to calvin@zigzag.co.za. One submission will be selected every six weeks to appear in Zigzag magazine. The selected submission will also receive a hamper from Billabong. Zigzag retains the right to use any work submitted for the Zag Surf Journo competition on zigzag.co.za as outlined in the rules and terms of the competition. Zigzag reserves the right not to award a published winner in the magazine every six weeks, depending on the quality of entries. Zigzag is not obligated to run any and all entries submitted, either online or in print. Zigzag retains the right to edit all work submitted for brevity and/or clarity. Please note: Prize hampers will only be delivered within South Africa.



Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *