Handlining yellowtail, the Arniston way

‘…For those commercial linefishermen, handlining yellowtail (among other species) was their lifelong occupation. It’s a job that’s greatly reliant on the weather and demands special skills which have been honed into a very fine art. These skills, handed down by their ancestors, have allowed them to make a living from the sea. Buttressed by the fact that many of them are still using old-styled fishing platforms — boats called chukkies — and purposely retaining the original handlining methodology, they are in fact a very unique category — a special breed of finfish gatherers. These deliberations were also a stark reminder that their total existence and that of their families is entirely dependent on the bounty of the oceans. Sadly, this dependence is based on resources which have lost some 95% of their original biomasses and which are still declining.

Mindful of their particular quest, fortified by their great appreciation and respect for the treacherous waters surrounding the southern tip of the dark African continent, they remain dedicated to continuing to catch these fish well into the future. However, most of these fishermen are older individuals, with few youngsters entering the pipeline to follow in their parents’ footsteps. They have, in fact, been branded as “a declining breed” these handlining commercial chuckkie fishermen.

Their story had to be told at some stage, I concluded, and that time is now …”

Johan Smal wrote three articles which first appeared SKI-BOAT about the chukkies of Arniston and the tough fishermen who have perfected the art of handlining for yellowtail.

Part 1 ‘History of the men and their boats’, looked at some of the history of fishing and the evolution of the tools anglers use.

Part 2 ‘Development of the area and the fleet‘, illustrates how the history of these craft and fishermen ties up with that of Arniston.

In Part 3, ‘Back to basics the Arniston way‘, Smal joins the crew of Ou Grote handlining yellow tail.