Border Undersea Club Spearfishing Open - October 2008

Build-Up

With the weather being so dicey this year it was difficult to know what to expect for the Border Open. The seven day forecasts initially looked very good and then changed to pretty grim and then changed again to not so bad. It certainly kept us Natal boys working overtime on the weather sites but with accommodation booked it was just a case of hoping for the best.

Border Open 2008

The Trip Down to Hole-in-the-Wall

The four of us, Dave Coetzee, Andrew Henwood, Craig Harper, John Little, left my spot just after 0900 for the eight hour drive to Hole-in-the-Wall on the Transkei coast. This is a fantastic stretch of coast to visit with high cliffs tumbling down into the often turbulent seas with impressive reefs below the surface. It is where the cold and warm water species of fish meet along the South African coast and there is a rich variety of fish to spear.

Hole-in-the-Wall

After missing the N2 turn-off at Port Shepstone we ended up travelling the scenic route which was fun but saw us arriving at Hole-in-the-Wall well after dark. Some of the earlier arrivals had already phoned us to report that the water was clean and lots of fish about so we headed for the bar and restaurant in high spirits. The early night was delayed a bit as we got into a pool contest, oldies versus lighties, and got into the swing of things with the help of red wine. We lost, the oldies, but went to bed dreaming of big fish and before we knew it were up for an early launch.

Andrew Henwood and Craig Harper with some cracker Mike Constantinou with a black musselcracker shot at hole in the wall october 2008

A Not So Classic Day

Sunrise saw us checking the launch out which looked tricky as the surf was pretty big and there were some awkward waves breaking on a shallow bank that had formed just beyond the first channel behind Kings Rock. We had to punch a big wave on the way out and Craig had a bad landing going through a weak spot on the deck. Unsure of what the weather was doing as it was blowing a medium strength southerly already we decided it was too risky to go far south and opted for some of the closer reefs and an early beach to repair the holed deck.

Fish and Reefs

There are some very good reefs in this area with any point worth a dive if the surf allows. Off Mpami in 15m there is a very good patch with some good gulleys. This spot is very good for black musselcracker and has a lot of cape knifejaw and natal fingerfin. Further south about 15 km from the Hole there is extensive reef going out to 20m+ and here is one of the better spots to dive as you are likely to encounter more species. There is a deep spot off here coming up to 25m from 40m, just a small ledge, but if you can find conditions to dive here you will get some amazing fish. The current runs very strong most days through this area making it very difficult to dive deep especially as the water is seldom very clean and six meters is considered good.

Fine Weather and Clean Seas

Saturday was an early call to be on the beach at first light with overcast skies and still a big sea running. All the boats got away safely and everyone headed south where there had been good water and lots of fish the day before. Conditions were fine with three meters on the bottom and a light south to north current which picked up later in the day. Divers needed to be out the water at 12:00 so making the right choices was important if you wanted to bag your ten species.

Variety the Key

For most divers getting three species was a certainty but after this it became much more challenging to try and find the more elusive fish and this is where planning your dive would make all the difference. Only one diver managed to do this and from the results you can see he was way ahead of the rest of the field. With the big seas running it was impossible to work any of the point breaks so not many white musselcracker were weighed.

Hind-Sight

Once again a great comp with the organizers doing a good job and being extremely lucky with the weather. Closed seasons on the different fish are always something to be aware of and always check your catch carefully to make sure you are totally compliant with sea fisheries regulations. This is especially true for divers coming from other provinces who might not be familiar with the local fish species and the rules pertaining to them.

Safe diving, John Little