Scott Hunter

 

Coming to us from the kayak angling hotbed of South Africa, Scott Hunter is a fisherman with a penchant for the pursuit of big game.  As chairman, Scott was very influential in reestablishing the Umgeni Kayak Fishing Club, which is now once of the strongest kayak fishing clubs in South Africa. A self-proclaimed fishing addict, Scott is currently working on a book dedicated to the sport.  When not chasing down marlin and trevally, Scott can still be found in the ocean, embracing the aquatic lifestyle by surfing, kiting, and diving.

What first drew you to this style of angling? When was that?

I was on holiday in Mozambique back in 2004, when I first was introduced to a kayak specifically designed for fishing. I knew at once that this was something I would really enjoy; I started doing some research into the sport.

Do you remember the first fish that you caught from a kayak?

I actually don’t for some strange reason, however, I’m pretty sure it was a Queen Mackerel, as this is what I first started targeting.

 

 

You are a self-proclaimed fan of artful lure angling, particularly within the domains of jig and plug fishing aimed at the Giant Trevally. One could, perhaps, trace a hypothetical lineage from this style of angling back to your early days as a fly fisherman. Is there any truth to this assumption, and, if so, do you feel as though your fly fishing tenure has made an impact on your modern day kayak angling style?

Definitely. Most of the more accomplished kayak fisherman that I know, have a strong background in fly fishing. As a fly fisherman you are more inclined to experiment with many different techniques and also pay a lot more attention to the smaller details that make the bigger differences. I believe that any fly fisherman would really enjoy kayak fishing in some form or another.

What food and/or music fuels your drive to the put-in?

Not really food, as I’ve never been much of an early eater. Music wise, I would defiantly go with something pretty up beat or even bordering on some heavy rock music.

Who, specifically, is shaping the future of kayak angling?

It’s difficult to credit a single person with that accolade, as I feel it’s more a joint effort. As a fisherman I would have to say that my main fishing partner, Markus Potgieter, has been very influential in how the sport of kayak fishing has evolved in South Africa, especially with his preference towards targeting multiple species of fish. I also think that the team at Stealth Fishing Kayaks has been a huge factor in that they have led the evolution in fishing kayaks here in South Africa, which in turn has provided us with the ability to really push the limits and take kayak fishing to new heights. Other key anglers who deserve special mention would have to include the Bartho brothers, as well as “The Prince of Paindane,” Brad Arthur.

 

 

You have attributed to your name four black marlin, two sailfish, a 19Kg wahoo, and a 32Kg Daga salmon. It can thus be stated that you have a true passion for the pursuit of large game fish. Describe to us your most memorable encounter with a trophy animal.

The most memorable encounter would have to have been the first Black Marlin I ever hooked on my kayak. I was fishing off Coconut Bay, in Mozambique, with a small live tuna out as a bait when I noticed my bait was swimming past my kayak. I started winding up the line an figured it had been taken by a shark, due to the slow swimming action that I was feeling at the end of the line. I decided to put the pressure on the fish just to make sure it was a shark, and with the end of my line only about 5 meters ahead of my kayak, it suddenly realized it was hooked. Well then “all hell broke loose.” A huge Black Marlin estimated at at least 120Kg (265Lb) broke the surface literally a few meters in front of my kayak, and started “grey hounding” for the horizon. I had never experience such a big fish before and to see it acting as nimble as a tiny bait fish was incredible. Well needless to say, while the Marlin was heading for the horizon with me in tow behind it, I was running very low on line as I was fishing a pretty light outfit with a line rating of 35 pounds. I managed to get control of the fish and got the leader onto the reels a few times, but eventually the fish sounded below my kayak and that was the last time I was able to lift the fish. My hooks pulled free and it swam off after a two hour fight, probably a good thing in hindsight. I will never forget the raw power of that fish!!!

With regard to kayak angling, what issues are important to you? What, if anything, can be done about them?

I have always been very pro “Catch and Release” and feel that there needs to be a lot more effort made by anglers to ensure the sustainability of our fisheries in the future. I try to lead by example where ever possible, and hope that it will make an impression on the young generation of kayak anglers coming through the ranks.

 

 

Barring money or logistics, what is your dream kayak angling trip?

I would love to be dropped off with my kayak and few good fishing mates, with a serious tackle upgrade at the legendary Bassa da India Atolls off Mozambique. I will have to make this a reality one day.

What’s in your milk crate?

Everything!!!

Tell us about your best day on the water.

My best day on the water would have to have been the day before the Stealth species challenge at Paindane, in Mozambique, kicked off back in 2010. I was fishing off Guinjata Bay in the morning and after landing a few nice fish while testing the waters, I hooked into a nice Sailfish which made my morning. Later that afternoon while fishing off Paindane beach, I topped it all off by hooking into a nice Black Marlin of about 80Kg. After the Marlin released me, while I was trying to lift it for a quick photo alongside my kayak, I decided to try my luck for an Amber Jack – seeing as well that I was on such a role and so far out to sea. However this turned out to be a bit too optimistic. I would have to rate this by far as my best day on the water from an angling point of view.

 

 

What is the kayak fishing lifestyle?

I would have to say that the kayak fishing lifestyle is a lifestyle of adventure and excitement with a seriously extreme edge if you are prepared to push yourself there. I also think it borders on an addiction!!!

Tell us a story, any story.

I was very fortunate to be involved in a very rewarding experience about a year or so back. I had just launched with a few mates early one morning off Umdloti, which is on the Kwazulu Natal north coast, when we came across a huge humpback whale that unfortunately got itself tangled up in the shark nets. To cut a long story short, I basically decided to do what I could to free it, and had my kayak up next to the whale with my feet on its back, while I cut through most of the ropes restricting it and manage to free it. It was an amazing feeling knowing that it swam off safely and didn’t drown. I also managed to get the whole experience on camera, which can now be seen on YouTube, just search for “Umdloti Whale Rescue.”

Your kayak angling career has spanned upwards of seven years now, and you have likely witnessed a great deal of growth within the sport. Tell us a bit about the changes you have witnessed within both the global and South Africa-based kayak angling scenes.

The sport of kayak fishing has progressed a lot in the time that I have been involved. I have seen it go from simply paddling out behind the surf zone to target a few small edibles to becoming a pursuit for big game fish, as you would off a huge marlin boat. A lot of the change is a result of better kayaks being designed,which has resulted in faster paddling; you can therefore cover much larger distances with very little effort. I also attribute a lot of the changes to adventurous individuals who were and are prepared to take the risk and push themselves to explore new possibilities in kayak fishing. Once something has been accomplished, others tend to follow suit and that becomes the norm, however it takes a special type of person to be the first. I have also noticed a lot more growth in the sport abroad, especially the USA and Australia where kayak fishing has become very popular as it is here in South Africa. I hope one day it could become internationally competitive, where we could see all our countries competing against each other, as this would really grow the awareness of the sport in a positive way.

 

 

What does the future hold for you?

At the moment a lot more work than fishing unfortunately, as I have taken on a very exciting opportunity as Sales Director of the company that I have been working for for the last 13 years. However, there will always be a decent allocation towards fishing. On the fishing front there are a few more species I would like to tick off my list, one of which is the Greater Amber Jack.

 

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