Mike Bailey: Western Cape’s big fish

Mike Bailey catches and releases a cow shark.

Flamingo Vlei’s Mike Bailey has reached the pinnacle of his fishing career by being ranked the 2019 top master angler in South Africa.

The ranking system looks at an angler’s competition points over a three-year period and ranks them accordingly, explained Andre Stevens, secretary of the South African Shore Angling Association (SASAA).

The masters’ division is for anglers aged 50 to 60.

Mr Bailey is especially proud of the award, which has for the first time gone to someone in the Western Cape.

“I’ve been involved with convening the masters nationals for the last six years, and 2019 is the first time a WP angler has been ranked number 1,” said Mr Stevens

In December, Mr Bailey represented South Africa in the SASAA/ Namibia Rock and Surf Angling Association (NRSAA) International Championships in Namibia. He nabbed three gold medals for most fish, top angler and top masters’ team.

At 56, he competes in the masters’ category with the older guys with their “old tricks”.

Rock and surf is not for the faint hearted, says Mr Bailey. “It’s hard stuff”. He points out a fresh scar on his hand where a fishing hook was stuck.

Last month, he returned from the South African Masters Rock and Surf Championships held in Jeffreys Bay.

He placed second at the three-day event and received his Protea colours for the third time in a row. But he also won the SASAA trophy for top angler in SA over a three-year ranking.

“To have all these accolades is something special,” said Mr Bailey, who claims to be obsessed with the sport.

Originally from Zambia, where, he says, one is “born with a fishing rod in hand”, Mr Bailey has more than 20 SA Protea caps in bass fishing together with numerous rock-and-surf SA caps to his name.

He said the sport had changed over the years with conservation playing a pivotal role.

“We don’t kill anything. We catch, measure and release the fish back into the water.”

Mr Bailey is also an avid believer in giving back to up-and-coming fisherman.

“It’s important to pass on your sport and know-how,” he said.

He’s been doing just that with Gareth Dahl, from Melkbosstrand High School, and Rolf Painczyk, from Milnerton. Gareth has his Protea colours for the third time in the junior division and Rolf has his first in the under-21 division.

The three fish competitively for Two Oceans Angling Club at Theo Marais Park in Milnerton.

Mr Bailey can be contacted at mike1@elftrimz.co.za