Aliwal Shoal Report March 2007 - Basie Ackerman

Action

Neptune flicked the switch that opened the gates. Aliwal delivered to a point that on some days it actually became silly.  In general the conditions the first two weeks were good with visibility ranging from 10-30m, with mostly a north south current and temperature 26 degrees Celsius. There were some really bad visibility days as well, but that didn’t deter Andy Norton and co, who managed 8 shoal size cuda in 6m viz on the 11th. He reported seeing big shoals, but was hampered by the low viz. This boded well for the rest of the month.

A couple of days later we managed some shoal size cuda, Rainbow Runner and Yellowtail Kingfish off the North East Pinnacle, with a number of small snoek inshore. Shane Oberholzer landed a very rare fish off the Outside Edge, a 10kg Dogtooth Tuna.

Emil Pirzenthal also opened his March account with a nice bag with two Ignobilis of 28 and 36kg, 2 small Wahoo and a 10kg cuda.

Mayhem

Then on the 16th the wheels fell off.  I had the frustrating pleasure of being a spectator in a ringside seat at a cuda circus. The previous day nothing, the next morning mayhem. And that was the day the staff of one lucky dive charter decided they were going spearing, and they just happened to be there at the right time and the right place. They reported shoals coming through at 6m, 20-30 strong, every couple of minutes. It was wild. So wild that the one spearo’s girlfriend, who was on the boat, hoping just to snorkel, decided spearing looks so easy she will give it a try. And she was right – she shot three cuda, all in the 8kg range. Not bad going for a first timer. They were the only spearo’s there, and landed 15 cuda. The rest were all fishing boats, and they all ended up with 12 fish and over. The one commercial landed 40 cuda. Silly I tell you. The fish all ranged from 5 – 12 kgs.

Then the 17th came and once again I’m running dive charters and therefore spectating. Word got out and it was like West Street out there. The cuda joined the party and all the boats, both spearo’s and fishermen landed 10 or more fish each.  Those two mornings drove me crazy. Nothing like having your hands tied when cuda is being offered on a silver platter.

5 Km surf zone 

Mother Ocean realized things are getting out of control and jealously made a plan to protect her fish. We all know what happened on the 19th and 20th. 7-12m mountains marching all over the ocean. Surf zones on reefs that never break. 10m waves breaking on the Shoal, half the coast landing in the ocean and half the ocean landing on the coast. A week of 1m visibility, all diving cancelled, no access to Umkomaas launch site.

Since then the visibility has been 4-8 m, and no one has ventured out there to spear, although the cuda still seems to be around, as the fishing boats still land them one one . We also had better luck off Scottburgh Deep with some cuda in the 5-8kg range and more acceptable viz. I’m positive we haven’t seen the last of the cuda, and with better conditions, a day out on the Shoal can still produce a good bag of fish.