Aliwal Shoal Report July 2008 - Basie Ackermann

General conditions

Even though winter is here, we’ve only had one big front which actually hit us. Most of the predicted ones moved out to sea and just pushed in swell. Problem was that the east then blew into the next low, causing mayhem with the ocean. That was the case especially in the last three weeks of the month. The wonderful offshore wind has also petered out, starting out as a northerly and quickly becoming a devil’s wind.  No one likes a beastly easterly. Windy season arrived three weeks early.

Visibility ranged from 2 metres (THANKS SAPPI SAICCOR, no really, THANK YOU) to a respectable 15 metres plus on the odd day. Temperatures 19-23 degrees Celsius. Still experienced a lot of north south current, with the first reverse current in six weeks showing up on the 9th. That was just before our first big west, with winds gusting 35 knots. From then on it was ping pong current and swell, which produced a very messy game, with no real winner.

Fish

What an anti - climax July turned out to be as far as gamefish were concerned.  Good bottoms aplenty though, and I’m not talking about on the beach at Umkomaas.  (Then again – has anyone EVER seen a good ‘bottom’ on that beach???)

The month took off well enough, with some shoal cuda coming out on the 5th, and three Wahoo landed on our boat on the 7th. Ferdie Burger got one of 21kgs and Alistair Louw two of 18 and 19.5kgs. They also dropped three others, and all this in half an hour with two drifts over the exact same spot.  It was a big shoal all in their twenties, but after the second drift they disappeared. It is always a very special moment when the action is thick and fast and it is your turn to top. Can’t beat that.

Interesting thing though was that it confirms my theory that they hang around in big shoals until spooked, and that they execute the same circular swimming pattern which they repeat until it gets too busy for their liking. If you miss the right drift line, you see squat. Hit the right line for that particular day; you’re in the pound seats.  If I had known where they go to after that, I would be everybody’s best friend, definitely my own.

How often has the first boat on the right line hit the jackpot, and the more the fish are being shot/chased/sworn at, the more dispersed they become. I have often seen a “tagged” Wahoo from a previous drift swim past on the exact same line that we drifted on before.

Once spooked though, the shoal moves off then, regroups and often you’ll find them again in the afternoon, after everyone has gone, because it “went quiet.”   They remind me of a squadron of planes circling a runway. If it’s busy, they stay away in a holding pattern, when it is quiet they come on in.

 In the late Eighties at Sodwana, a friend of mine, Mark “Baie Praat” Garner once lost a Wahoo of 33 kgs, just to drive back up current again, do another drift and so wragtie waar he came across it again and plugged it solidly this time.  That taught me a valuable lesson in Wahoo behaviour.

The only other day that I had reports of good game fish coming out, was on the 20th. Unexpectedly perfect day with moderate north south, 15metres plus and glassy seas. Two Wahoo in the low twenties speared, lots seen with only one spearing boat out Also had a report of a 25kg or bigger cuda caught off a skiboat.  There was an unconfirmed report of a 35kgs Sailfish being speared.

A lot of big bottoms, mostly Salmon and Geelbek have been coming out off the Outside Edge and on the wrecks, as well as the Scottburgh Deep areas.

Our Springbok team of Jaco, Moo and Gyula has been out there nearly every day, diving hard, and landing some good fish. A lot of Salmon, with a couple over 40kgs, Geelbek, Sangoras, Black Musselcracker and Ignobilis. These guys are diving very well and are super fit at the moment, and we wish them and the reserves all the best. They are going to kick some serious butt, or should I say bottoms. (Ok, so a bit weak on the pun side, but there it is).

Remarkably absent are reports of Sailfish and Yellowfin Tuna. They are usually quite prolific this time of year.

Please remember that I try and keep this report as factual and accurate as possible, but there are some instances where I do not see or hear of good fish that have come out, so don’t take think I’m a chop for not mentioning it. Or think that, but just don’t tell me… J

Anyway, brace yourselves for lot less diveable days, crappy easterlies and big fronts. Now is the time of year to do that long delayed major maintenance on your boat and just do the odd shore dive for Garrick, Brusher and Grunter when the weather allows it.

Happy hunting – or maintenance!
Basie