Aliwal Shoal Report February 2009 - Basie Ackermann

General conditions

As I’ve been away the first two weeks of February, I thought this report would be  kinda half-arsed in the fish information department. I needn’t have worried. There was no fish information, simply because there were no fish.

What I could gather was that there were no fireworks at all in those first two weeks, with lots of rain and mostly reverse current. Surprisingly (?) that nasty trend continued all through the rest of the month. The word dismal came to mind. And stayed there, jumping up at every opportunity, slapping you in the face and bringing you back crashing down off your wonky tower of emerging optimism, leaving you to wallow in despair as you keep on dreaming of better conditions.

I did get a report of one or two days in those first two weeks of good conditions and excellent visibility, but no fish to be seen.

The last two weeks we mostly had reverse current, with visibility ranging from 12m to 4m. Lots and lots of water falling from the sky swelling all the rivers and it actually got worse as the month came to a close. HUGE cloudburst in our area and flash flood down the Umkomaas River on the 28th. Chocolate mousse.

The temperatures ran amok with the lowest being 18 degrees Celsius. Cold upwelling and river water with hardly any current is not a recipe for improving anything.  A further nail in the Aliwal coffin was the effects of the cyclone off Madagascar and Mauritius felt here on the 13th-15th.  As I’m writing this another is expected to affect our coast with swell on the 6th March. Talk about kicking a dog when he’s down.

Fish

Only worthwhile reports I’ve received was of some Ignobilis coming out. Emil had a few in the 15-30kg range, and Moo also landed a 25kg one.  Emil also managed a few Kaakap and actually got two of the ghost like fish we call cuda. One of 12kg and the other 16kg. This is the start of the cuda season, but not too many seen. The guys on a baited Tiger dive did report seeing a few shoals on the 25th, and the surrounding areas of Landers are producing the odd cuda in the 15-23kg range.

Inshore the snoek and some cuda were causing mayhem, but unless you have a secret HTH formula the mud is not moving.

The only other fish seen were the ever present Yellowfin Tuna swimming with the Dolphins, and Emil (doesn’t he work??) lost a huge one (I’m referring to the tuna, before all the tree huggers have a hernia) after the barrel of his gun snapped off behind the reel. Not mentioning any brands, but he has had endless problems with this particular make of spear guns and spears. I know I won’t touch them.

In closing - please keep off the Aliwal when you are spearing. Make sure you know the waypoints of the Crown Areas, if not, stay in 25m of water or deeper as a rough guide. Please - those guys who like to puddle puppy around in 10m on the reef, think of what you are doing. You are screwing it up for the rest of us because complaints about such incidents only give them more ammunition to ban spearing and fishing on the Shoal altogether. And that includes YOU. Just this past weekend – yet again -  I politely asked a spearing boat – no name mentioned – to please move out from between all the Scuba divers and  go to 25m Isobaths. Look at the bigger picture. We all have brain cells. Admittedly some more than others.

Maybe I should start a MUG OF THE MONTH section mentioning the names of these boats that obviously have no sounders.

Apparently MCM and Parks Board are going to enforce this aggressively from now on, and big fines and confiscation of boats and equipment are on the cards. I have seen their boat launching a lot more of late, so it is no empty threat.

Enough preaching.

Enjoy our ocean.
Basie Ackermann