I Love Ballito

Man Vs Ski – A Fishermam’s Tale of love and loss on the open seas…

Its 10am on a Monday morning. I have drained the last few drops from my second cup of coffee and have just finished my “to do” list for the day. I am feeling organised, superior and prepared for the week.  The day planner is groaning under the weight of all the circled and enthusiastic exclamation marks. I have purpose and confidence! Every task will receive a tick by Friday afternoon. My phone pings, buzzes and my hand moves towards it with the reaction speed of an office bound rat race runner who is not quite convinced about being  behind a desk on a beautiful morning, and is desperate for a distraction.

 There on the screen is a whatsapp message from a local group. It is a photo of a man on Salt Rock beach. He has a tan and stubble framing a massive grin. He is straining to hold up a gargantuan Yellowfin Tuna that glistens with iridescence. The sun has just risen in the background of the photo and I am sure I can just make out some dolphins frolicking behind the backline. He has the look of someone that has bonded with mother nature, adventured, strategised…. and conquered his prey after an epic battle that ‘tested his mettle’. The joy of life is spilling out of his eyeballs, and he looks like he is considering whether to use sesame seeds, or a cajun spice when he sears his tuna steak later this evening, as the palm trees sway in the gentle breeze and triumphant orchestral music plays off in the distance.

My well organised To Do List, seems less inspiring all of the sudden.

My well organised To Do list has suddenly incorporated the bullet point:
  • Visit local fishing Ski shop, get kitted up and get ready for adventure!

Lets fast forward a few months..0102Chris Allan Photography-

Here are some highlights and some low times from Chris’s Fishing Adventure Logbook. (Sure to be found alongside The Old Man And The Sea in the libraries of the future):

Week 1: 

Ski and fishing equipment purchased. Not quite sure that Ernest Hemingway spent as much in his whole life time of adventure as I did getting the necessary rods, lures, etc etc. It will be a few years of feasting on the fruits of the ocean in order to justify it. I have also managed to acquire the equivalent of many books of fishing knowledge and wisdom from helpful  fishermen who were suspicious of my questions and scowled until brandy entered the equation.

I have figured out the weather app in order to watch out for what us fisherman call a gap , and then I am looking forward to that first launch!

First launch was dramatically unsuccessful. After floundering around on top of my slippery ski like a wounded seal, I sat up, grabbed my paddle … and collected most of the shore break in my open mouth. I was deposited back on the beach within seconds and had to watch other fishing skis effortlessly cresting waves as they set off towards the horizon. With my second attempt I managed to get to the mid break but soon found myself on the beach again, three hundred metres down the beach, exhausted, dripping and bruised in tender inner thigh places.

0082Chris Allan Photography-


I made it to the backline! After taking about fifteen minutes to stop dry retching from the physical exertion required to get through the surf zone, I excitedly pulled out the equipment needed to catch some live bait. (This is the key to success when targeting big fish apparently.) Catching live bait took longer than expected, and by the time I had one on the line it was unfortunately time to get to the day job. But I am not deterred! This is a big step, and there is nothing stopping me now!


I have been trolling these bloody live baits around for weeks without any luck. When I reel them in to see if they are still on the line, even the silvery bait fish look bored. 

0109Chris Allan Photography-

Week 8: 

I will admit to having Googled recipes for Mackerel and other bait fish, as I have become a master at catching these. Tuna, Couta, Dorado and all their mates have obviously not heard about live baits being the key to success. I have to admit to losing enthusiasm for this adventure.

Week 23:

I wonder how far out to sea I need to be in order for dynamite not to be heard onshore?


Have started listening to podcasts while taking my live baits for their weekly constitutional. Just making sure that I use the time effectively.

I finally did catch a good size tuna when a fellow fisherman took pity and took me out on a double fishing ski. It was a wonderful to arrive back home and present it to my family who were overjoyed, until I had to gut and prepare it in the backyard. It took 3 youtube videos and 2 hours to do the job. My eyeballs did not leak joy and days later the yard is still a little ripe.

So here is the Ugly Truth about Fishing Ski’s on the North Coast: It is hard. Like super hard.There is a journey of learning to be walked, and once you have all the right gear and all the fishing wisdom you still need a smattering of good luck. And in my experience, your chances of success are up there with that statistic about coconuts connecting with craniums.

Post Script

The guy in the photos is not me. This guy can actually fish and has landed plenty of good specimens. 

I am the guy taking the photos from the safety of the sandy beach. Incidentally this fisherman shares almost exactly same name as me. Random, totally useless information, but a true story nonetheless.
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