Spearfishing Nationals- April 2006

Port Elizabeth

The slip at Noord Hoek Ski boat ClubThe area chosen for the 2006 nationals was Port Elizabeth with the Noord Hoek Ski-Boat Club launch site being the boundary line between area one and two. The areas were: One - Boiler around the Cape Recife Point to Noordhoek Skiboat Club launch. Two – Noordhoek launch to Schoenmakerskop. Three – West side of the Sardinia Bay Reserve to the Beach View Hotel complex. The Nationals were hosted by Western Province.

Conditions

Conditions can change very quickly along this stretch of coast depending on which wind is blowing. An easterly wind generally brings in cold water and a thermocline if it blows strong enough. Westerly winds bring in warm clean water but a swell aswell. Fog banks move in very quickly and one unfortunate team were caught in thick fog during scouting with no gps marks for the safe point or the launch site in their gps. They were lucky to find a poacher’s boat out that guided them in.

Scouting

With 24 teams entered competition was stiff with most teams spending a lot of time and effort together with cost on scouting the three areas. With conditions changing rapidly, some teams found lots of fish during scouting with the same spots barren on the day of the comp, due to changed water temperatures. Sandstone reef always held a lot of fish if you could find it as this type of rock erodes easily forming caves as opposed to the common hard rock type that is found in abundance along the whole of the cape coast. With reef all over the place and rocky pinnacles a regular feature it is strange diving down onto what looks like a fantastic spot only to find no class fish. Fransmadams are found in numbers all over the reef so each spot has to be dived on as the fish finder always shows plenty of fish.

Fish Types

Common fish were cuckoo bass and bronze bream together with red roman and john brown. Less common were jutjaw, zebra, tassels, poenskop, cracker, yellowtail, red stumpnose, galjoen. Hard to find were weigher yellowbelly rockcod and white steenbras together with weigher red steenbras and santer. No garrick were weighed.

Day One

Wednesday, 5 April, saw the sea settling quickly after the big blows on Monday and Tuesday and it was decided that area two held the best possibility of the cleanest water. The competition was started at 08:00 lasting 6 hours until 14:00. The visibility was good at around 7m on the bottom with no marked thermocline and the water temperature at 17.5 Celsius. Six hours in a competition really speeds past and you have to be really organized to make the time pay. Most boats headed down towards Schoenmakerskop and this was probably the most productive part of the area. Fish were found in the shallows and out deep but some teams really scratched and battled to find any decent fish. Only two yellowtail were weighed, both shot by members of Natal ‘B’.

Day Two

The sea was even more settled and with sunny skies replacing the over-cast conditions of day one, hopes were high for a productive day. Area one was chosen for the final days competition with 07:35 being the starting time with the comp ending at 13:35. The deep spots were not as productive as some of the shallower ones and most teams spent more time in the shallows than out deep. A few teams made the mistake of persevering out deep when they should have been diving shallower. Much more fish were weighed-in on day two with some real class fish coming to the scales.

Nationals 2007

The 2007 nationals will be held in the Wilderness/Knysna area which is a great area for class fish.

New Format

It was decided at the AGM that the league structures would fall away and Provinces would be able to field as many teams as they like. There is now a veterans class for the over 45’s and hopefully a juniors class will be started in the future.

Catch Sharing

Unfortunately some teams are sharing catches, and even though it is a team event, measures are to be put into place to limit this practice. Various solutions will be put forward to the SAFA committee from all the Provinces and then the best ones implemented.

Marine and Coastal Management

MCM blocked the selling of the fish from the Nationals and then failed to give their permission for the fish to be donated to a deserving charity. MCM’s negative attitude towards the 2006 Nationals left a bad taste amongst the spearfishermen with the feeling being that abalone poachers act with impunity but law abiding spearfishermen are hassled. Denying the organizing committee permission to donate the fish shot during Nationals to a deserving charity is just petty and shows a complete lack of initiative on the part of Marine and Coastal Management.