Aliwal Shoal Report March 2008 - Basie Ackermann

Let me start off by apologizing for a gremlin that slipped into my January report. For some reason I referred to Jurgen “Jugs” Holzman as Holtzhausen.  Big difference between a house and a man…. Apologies for the incorrect information.

General conditions

We all know perfect, flat, glassy seas, ideal spearing conditions and shoals of fish never happen on a weekend. You can compare it to buying Lotto tickets. You keep on trying never really expecting to win.  Wrong. This month it sure as heck did. Some text book days, on weekends nogal, were to be had, when everything just clicked into place, with loads of fish. And the guys cashed in.

The first week of March the visibility was absolutely toilet with 3-6m caused by cold upwelling after some easterly winds. Temperature was in the 18 – 22 degrees Celsius with hardly any current.  Not too many fish coming out and not too much excitement to be found.  All this changed unexpectedly on the weekend of the 8th and 9th, when the cuda were loose.  Then again on Easter weekend, with some good Wahoo fun and perfect conditions again on Friday the 28th and Sunday the 30th.

We’ve had phenomenal visibility for most of this month, with blue 25m+ viz on more days than not, and temperatures in the mid to upper twenties. The current also played along with a lot of north south days in perfect warm viz. Another factor was the early arrival of the offshore wind in the mornings, and light winds during the day, making for pleasant surface conditions.

Fish

The cuda pulled in in their masses. Out of nowhere on the 8th they were tail walking off the North East side of the reef. The weekend spearos happened to win the Lotto, so to speak. All the boats loaded fish continuously. Rob Allen, Jeremy Williams and the rest of the “Geriatrics” on “C‘avok” landed 17 cuda, with Len De Beer’s boat landing 15. Well not the boat, but the spearos diving off it.  Gerhard Vosloo also made the most of the fish, and both he and Jeremy lost big Wahoo. The one commercial fishing boat caught 49. Nothing wrong with those numbers..

Then so wrintie waar the next day they are all out there again, and again the game was on. Cuda everywhere. Not often you get it like that two days in a row on the same spot.  Double digits for most boats. And word got out – there were a lot of boats, skis and anything that floats. Come Monday morning – first chance for me to get out there – and Elvis has left the building. We managed a dismal two, whereas Len and Colin fared a bit better with 6. A lot better, but putting it like that makes me feel better. And besides, who is writing this report, anyway??

Then things went a bit pear shaped, with dirtier, colder water. The Shoal was reverse and had an 18-22 degree thermo cline, with big cyclone swell dropping the viz to 6m.

Jaco Blighnaut and Gerhard Vosloo still managed 10 cuda in 30 minutes on the 11th, although that was off Landers. On the 19th Jaco also had a special bonding moment with a Great White in excess of 5 metres, on 19 Fathoms. He reckons he has never seen such a big White, not in length, but in girth. A microbus with teeth and tail, the skin cracked and scarred like elephant hide. And this coming from an ex Mosselbay spearo…

What has this got to do with the Shoal? Nothing really, except that a White of about three metres has twice been seen on the reef. Besides, I’m still the one writing this report.

Then Easter came. Perfect conditions in every sense of the word, 25m viz and the Wahoo were there. All in the 12-18 kg range, with bigger ones seen and lost.  3-5 coming out per boat.

So, lots of  small Wahoo around, which bodes well for a good season and with this recurring clean, very warm water we’ve been having these past two months, it can only be a bumper season when the big boys arrive in May. Speaking of, Emil Pirzenthal caught a beaut of 32 kg on rod, so they are around.

A very good month for the Shoal, with lots of cuda and small Wahoo, and some Dorado and Ignobilis (still) coming out. Last month I reported a lot of Billfish, especially Marlin, seen on the surface, this month the same thing. I happened to see one of approx 150kgs, and that mid water in 30m visibility. What a sight! Unfortunately I lost it, but fortunately did not hurt it, just a tag and release. Definitely an increase in these fish compared to previous years, and not long before a beast is landed here.

No one can complain about the Shoal this month.

Happy hunting.
Basie Ackermann