Yamaha’s fearless big-wave surfer and jet ski angler Jeremy Johnson is a legend amongst the die-hard coastal communities of Cape Town. Raised near the frigid waters of Llandudno, Jeremy spent his youth fishing, sailing, surfing, diving, and lifesaving.
Cape Town breeds some talented watermen and Jeremy is up there with the best of them. He’s well versed in early mornings, burnt skin and numb toes. He’s living proof that while the life of a waterman can be brutal and unforgiving, one thing that it is not, is unrewarding.
Photographer: Sacha Specker.
The bitterly cold waters of Llandudno might be the reason why Jeremy has ice in his veins. It’s what he uses to help remain calm while charging 30 to 40-foot Dungeons and other lesser-known big wave surfing spots around Cape Town. Being a stalwart in the big wave surfing scene in Cape Town takes years of dedication, and during this time Jeremy has gone on to develop an intuitive relationship with his Yamaha WaveRunners. They’ve not only been in the right place at the right time in rescue situations while surfing massive waves, but they’ve also helped fuel his angling prowess!
Jeremy is an accomplished jetski angler and is leading the charge in trying to implement new legislation to offset the old regulations that govern jet skis in marine protected areas (MPA’s) in Cape Town. The Marine Living Resources Act of 1988, which was well intended at the time, has not revised itself about the engineering and technological breakthroughs that Yamaha and the PWC industry have made in the last two decades. Today’s Yamaha WaveRunner is environmentally friendly, passes all emissions tests and is over three metres so it can be certified by SAMSA for up to five nautical miles offshore. Things are moving in the right direction for jet ski fishing in Cape Town with Jeremy at the helm. Last year, with the help of Yamaha, Jeremy secured and sponsored a new Yamaha PWC for SANParks, which has built a healthy relationship and also helped them in monitoring and controlling the water activity in Langebaan. SANParks recently granted permission to use the Langebaan MPA! Congrats Jeremy!
We caught up with Jeremy and chatted with him about his year in the water.
How was the fishing down in the Cape last year?
The year started off well with some excellent Yellowfin Tuna off of Cape Point and lots of Yellowtail in False Bay. In February the water gets hot off of Cape Point, and last year the guys saw and caught some nice Black Marlin with one boat even landing one which could have been an IGFA world record for a White Marlin, but the fish was released.
We had a great winter on the West Coast fishing for Yellowtail off of the skis. Robben Island was perfect for about a month in early winter, and then the Yellowtail settled in nicely at Dassen Island for the rest of the winter.
The summer started off well with some great fish coming out at the Tuna Derby. Let’s hope that this year will produce some of the same.
Tell us a bit more about how you got into fishing off of a ski, where did you learn to fish when you were younger?
I have always loved fishing and have fished for as long as I can remember but always from boats or the shore.
When I first approached Yamaha, it was to get a PWC to use as water safety and tow-in surfing at Dungeons. When the guys realised that I was into my fishing, Greg Bennett sent me down some essential fishing extras, a single fishing cage and some fish bags, and that is how it all started.
Without giving away your trade secrets, where are some of the best places in Cape Town to fish on a ski? And what kind of fish do you usually target?
We are fortunate down here in the Cape, and one can catch our target species, Yellowtail, at any time of the year. In the winter months, May to October, we usually fish at either Dassen or Robben Island on the West Coast and in the summer months, November to April, we traditionally catch at Cape Point and in False Bay.
Where do you see the Jet Ski fishing industry in Cape Town going in the next few years?
I can only see it going from strength to strength and as I mentioned above with the correct people behind it could become something special. If one looks at it from a jetski fishing perspective, the Cape Peninsula has the fish, coastline and resources that are all ideally suited for fishing from a PWC. I am excited and proud of what we have achieved so far and what we are going to achieve going forward!
What’s your current Jet Ski set up for fishing?
For me, the ultimate and my current set up for fishing is a Yamaha FXHO with a set of Tubbies and a Garmin 42 OR 52 dv GPS/Fishfinder. I also like to add in some extra rod holders on the side of the ski.
Can you describe any crucial moments when a ski came into use during a big swell?
Water safety is the most important thing to have when attempting to surf big waves and the Yamaha PWC’s have saved many guys on some big wave days around the world.
Having a trusted and reliable craft such as the Yamaha PWC as water safety not only saves guys lives but also gives the guys the confidence to push the limits and boundaries of the sport and now together with inflatable vests guys are doing what was never thought possible!