Weekend Dive on Aliwal Shoal by Anthony Dunne

Weekend: No dive on Saturday in spite of it being such a nice day - the sea was still rather lumpy after Friday's beastly Easterly which was up at 22knots at Durban Airport by 6am - the sea was a mess!! Sunday all my options for a boat ride fizzled out and 8:30 Sunday morning saw me calling a mate to find where he was - ON ALIWAL!! He said I should try and get a lift out there and I could spend the day with him so I headed on down to Umkomaas mouth to hopefully bum a ride with one of the scuba operators out to the shoal. I waited around until close to 12pm before I got a space.

I had one lady from the previous trip laughing at the skipper who agreed to give me a lift and when he asked why she was laughing she said it was funny that he was helping someone that was going to shoot their fish - it wasn't said nastily so it wasn't an issue but it still shows a bit of negative perception of spearos but then I guess it would be the same for all extractive users of the place.....

Anyhow I jump ship onto my mates boat, the water is really nice, about 15m vis and on our first drift he drums a Yellowfin Tuna of 14kg - yum Maguro! (Yellowfin Sashimi) He had taken a long shot at a nice Sailfish earlier in the day, while I was cooling my heels on the beach champing at the bit waiting for a lift out, but apart from that it had been quiet. There was quite a strong north to south current going out to sea so it was not that easy to work the bottom and you kept getting dragged onto the shallower parts of the shoal when trying to stay on the inside.

I saw a few Spadefish from the surface but once I got to the bottom I was well away from them. Later my mate landed a nice Queenfish of about 8kg and one of the other chaps had seen a big shoal of Ignoblis Kingfish but they disappeared when he dived. I landed a small Kaakap (Green Jobfish) of about 3.5kg - one of my favourite fish to hunt.

As it got later it clouded over and we did a drift directly onto the pinnacle as I expected Iggs etc there. I did a dive as I could see it coming up and in the distance was a nice Cuda (King/Barred/Spanish Mackerel) that I worked hard to entice in and eventually he came on over - reluctantly. I placed a fair but long shot in the middle - he looked a good size too. Then he took off, I use a 40m buoy line plus a boing (bungie) that stretches to 30m so all told the fish had 70m to run with and he still dragged my buoy under for quite a way - he was obviously at least 25kg. After a short and one sided fight the line went slack and it was all over - for me :-( Anyhow after I reloaded I noticed a nice Igg below me that was kind enough to wait around without sinking down too deep while I dived on him and I managed to get a good head shot that should've rolled him but I apparently just missed the brain but he was still quite enthusiastic and it took a while to get him under control - 23kg so I was happy.

While fighting him I was rushed by a good size Blacktip shark that turned off when I dived on it and screamed "My fish bugger off!!" at it or something like that.... I saw one more Yellowtail Kingfish of around 10kg but he wouldn't come in and I came across one more Cuda of 10kg a little later. Then it was getting a bit late for the cars on the beach so we left while we could still have something to drive home in. All in all a great dive in spite of the sunburn I got while waiting on the beach for a lift.