Cape Vidal Point Dive by Mark Keyser

I recently took a few days off and stayed at the Cape Vidal log cabins. The weather outlook was not good but took along my spearo kit just in case. I managed to dive the first evening for an hour and bagged a 12kg Ignoblis on the point beacon in iffy water. The September winds were up and with the point sanded up, it was basically not launchable. I spent the first few days driving around the reserve and we were lucky enough to see the biggest leopard I have ever seen just off the Loop Road casually walking across one of the vleis. On the third day I woke up to better weather but did not expect too much as it was a washing machine the day before. The swell all of a sudden flattened out around midday so I decided on a pm dive to work off some of the beer and braaivleis.

With the slight S-N current I decided to jump in on the south side of the point. On the slow drift down I noticed a big white fish off the edge of a ledge on the sand which I initially thought was a daga. I noticed it was not swimming like a daga should so swam down to look more closely when I realized it was a big Ignoblis (I guess around the 35kg mark) that was now mottled black and white as I approached. Unfortunately by the time I swung my gun around it had moved off along the reef. I tried to follow but reasoned I could see again as it did not appear spooked. The drift down was extremely fishy but most of the fish seemed edgy and hard to approach. I did manage to land a garrick and a pompano in the 6-8kg range. I decided to swim back to the south side as there was nice rip that looked good for fish. On the way up in about 12ft of water I noticed a raggie approach me rather lazily. I did not think too much about but did note it swam directly underneath me which I never like, before it swam away.

By now all the small fish were spooking every which way and after deciding not to shoot any more garrick, finally I could not resist and shot one as it came past. The instant I shot it all hell broke loose, I felt my line start pulling but in the wrong direction as I was being towed out to sea. I saw a large raggie (120kg plus) with my fish in its mouth on the surface thrashing about with me holding on for dear life. I looked down to see the garrick I had just shot underneath me and something made me turnaround to see another even larger raggie 2 ft behind on my shallow side eying the fish. Luckily I still had the gun in my hand and gave the shark a smack on the snout after which it raced off about 10-15m. I proceeded with a tug of war with the raggie and my float with it repeatedly taking my float under with me seeing the float near the sand a few times.  I then also noticed the other one was back “looking” at the other garrick but not really knowing what to do with it as the fish swam circles around it.

What a mess with my left hand holding onto my buoy line and me pulling the speared one with the other hand. For good measure a few smaller Ignoblises were swimming around who I think were following the other raggie. I think I was within about 30 seconds of unclipping my line and swimming in, when the raggie on the float gave up as I think the float had tired it out. I pulled my float in quickly, but the other one had not given up. I was now trying to get the garrick off the spear by pulling it hard but to no avail. Every time I brought the fish closer to subdue, the raggie would come closer and I did not feel like chancing that. The only thing to do was swim in backwards over the southern ledges with the spear line constantly getting entangled with my fins. Don’t ever try swim a t-boned 10kg garrick into shore backwards over the southern ledges. I was now in the white water and it constantly felt like either the spear was stuck in the rocks or the raggie had it, but every time I went to look it was merely the water resistance dragging me back. Eventually I looked down to see the garrick bolting for shore which I took as a hint to catch a wave onto the beach. I could not stand as the gut was looped around everything! so floated onto the beach. By now there was a contingent of onlookers on the beach consisting of 5 park rangers, holiday makers and my girlfriend asking if I had a nice dive. Selvin Naidoo , I think the Marine Resources Manager at Vidal, said he saw a lot of splashing and wondered why I swam in like that.

The pompano (I was hoping to braai) was gone and the garrick looked like an old shredded colander.

I was considering going back in when I realized my barb could no longer be engaged and my spear had a double kink, so I decided to head back for the cabin.