In November, charter captain Darryn Du Plessis and Team Soolyman won the 2017 Fujairah Offshore Fishing Tournament. Not only did they take home a fat check, Du Plessis and his team qualified for — and received airline tickets to — the 2018 Offshore World Championship in Quepos, Costa Rica.
It’s possible that Capt. Du Plessis had a bit of a home-waters advantage, since he operates a fleet of three 38-foot center consoles out of Fujiairah, UAE as part of his family business, Soolyman Sportfishing. It’s also possible that the “third generation fishing-crazy adventurer” is just that good.
Chances are, it’s both.
Du Plessis was born in Durban, South Africa. His dad taught him and his brothers to fish when they were young kids. They started out shore fishing, but when Du Plessis was older, he went out on the family fishing boat with his father and grandfather.
They would go out in a small, outboard-powered boat, sometimes in dicey weather conditions. Just getting the boat out and back onto shore was a challenge, in itself.
“Many of our launch sites are on unprotected beaches with challenging breaks which have to be timed perfectly to get out to the back line. Learning to read the sets is critical in getting in and out safely.”
Du Plessis especially enjoyed the night fishing when they’d get on large schools of cape salmon, or geelbek, and daga salmon. But his part of the country is a reeler’s paradise.
“The east coast of South Africa has great fishing diversity and we are lucky to have a summer gamefish season and a winter bottom [species] season,” he says.
With their experience growing up on the waters of South Africa’s Indian Ocean coast and learning the nuances of its diverse fishery, Du Plessis and his brothers set their sights on deeper waters — and bigger fish.
Du Plessis started working as a mate on the charter boats out of Durban, and got his captain’s license at 16. He’s been working fishing charters and chasing big fish — like Indo-Pacific blue marlin — ever since.
“The upper north coast of South Africa is best known for its blue marlin and the town of Richards bay would be a good place to start if you are looking to catch one in the summer months.”
But Du Plessis was looking for a way to chase game fish year-round. And Soolyman Sportfishing was born.
In addition to their Fujairah base, where they can put clients on gamefish year-round, Soolyman also runs a 33-foot boat out of Malindi, Kenya that’s captained by Du Plessis’ brother, Calvin.
“Blue marlin fishing out of there is exceptional from January through March with days of multiple bites from blue, black and striped marlin. ”
All of their charter boats are owned, operated, and maintained by the company. The care they put into their boats helps Du Plessis get ready for the fishing season.
“The first day of the new season is always exciting as the boat has just had a lot of TLC in the yard, and all the gear is shining and newly serviced,” he says. To keep the positivity flowing, “We try to get a few fish on the first day, as confidence can make a huge difference to your season in the beginning.”
Capt. Du Plessis loves what he does for a living, and sharing that feeling with his clients is one of the things he finds most satisfying about his work.
“I love sharing my passion with fellow anglers and first timers alike. It’s a good feeling when you put a client or friend onto their first marlin and you have been a part of one of the best days in their life that they will never forget.”
Du Plessis, himself, lives in the Seychelles where he runs a private, not-for-charter, 70-foot Viking. Although he doesn’t take charters there, he’s excited about the fishery.
“I have a good run of blues in the Seychelles from January through April with some days producing up to 13 bites,” he says. “There are relatively few big game boats chartering out of the Seychelles and I feel that it is a very understated fishery with the potential to be a world class fishing destination.”
Wherever he’s fishing for them, Du Plessis is always happy to see “a good run of blues” — they get his heart pumping and, like his clients, make for days he won’t forget.
”Seeing a blue marlin charge a lure, then inhale it, is something that never gets old. It’s why we stare at the lures for hours and hours. I have a couple of mental images forever embedded in my mind.”