Monthly Spearfishing Report April 2009

Conditions

A number of southerly fronts passing the east coast during the first half of the month but no major blows experienced. The latter part of the month had settled weather and seas. Easter Sunday is set for the 12 April being the first Sunday after the first full moon measured from the March equinox. The Easter weekend seems to always attract rough seas and this Easter was no exception with a thick swell up and down the coast. Tropical storm Jade moved over Madagascar on the 6 April with wind speeds of 50 knots having decreased from a category 1 cyclone when it formed over the Indian Ocean on the 4 April. Did not seem to have much effect along the South African coast but Mozambique was affected with big seas and plenty of rain in some coastal regions.

Fish-Wise

The reef fish seem to have gone quiet on the inshore reefs and not too many being landed by shore divers. Some of the south coast spots starting to come clean and as they have not been dived for some months should offer good diving. Umdloti providing some big cuda towards the end of the month with Andrew Henwood losing an estimated 25kg fish and landing one of 20kg on the sixteen meter line.

Nationals Points Scoring

There is much debate about the current points scoring system with some spearos calling for it to be scrapped. The current system favours gamefish and less targeted species with bonus points and has merit in that it takes pressure off the more exploited species. Most reef fish do not attract high bonus points and it is simple to reason why. They will be focused on a hot spot and most divers with good skills should be able to attain their bag limit over a six hour competition. The same cannot be said for gamefish as they patrol different hot spots and are not as easy to find as the reef fish. Hunting gamefish requires knowledge of tidal movements and currents and as you are hunting a hunter you need to be very aware of the ocean. In land hunting I wonder which species would attract more points, a grazer or a predator.

New Points System

Since I wrote the piece above a new points system has been implemented where common fish species are awarded low points and the less frequent rated higher and gamefish are classed as a luck fish and score low. The full points system is located elsewhere on the site.

Tanzania

Eric Allard reports from here that the weather has been very settled but this could all change soon with the start of the windy months. The hunt for the world record dogtooth tuna continues but Latham Banks was quiet on a recent trip out there with only one 60kg+ dogtooth seen. Plenty of wahoo about off the western edge but the world record will have to wait until November when another trip is planned.

National Spearfishing Championships 2009

The South African Spearfishing Championships held on the Natal coast in 1973 had ten provincial unions entered including a team from the then Rhodesia. In those days each union only fielded one side of four divers making for a total of forty divers. For the years 1990 to 1999 the average number of divers entering the championships was fifty-one. In 2008 there were forty-one divers taking part and this year there are forty-five. The 2009 championships have some very strong teams entered and competition will be keen for what is sure to be an exciting championship. Will have a full report on the Nationals up on the site soon after the event.

Mozambique News

Visited the Chidenguele area for the last ten days of the month. For some reason this area is not visited much by spearfishermen and we found out why. Our trip was planned for 10 days but we only stayed two nights before moving up to Barra. The launch at Chidenguele is very difficult and will be impossible in any type of large swell. We launched three times and found amazing reefs all over the place with breaking zones four kilometres out to sea. Unfortunately the visibility was very poor with some of the offshore reefs only having two to three meters at best. It is possible that the area could be in a back-wash as it is positioned out of the main current line where the coast slants east to west. This could be one of the explanations for the poor viz but would like to dive this area in clean water if that ever happens. The Barra area was very clean but the fish were off a bit which might be due to the recent cyclone over Madagascar. Craig Harper landed a decent 38kg sailfish and then lost a nice marlin the next day. Some good sized cuda around and some shark activity which bodes well as this area was totally fished out by longliners a few years back. With the recent rains in the area there are plenty of mosquitoes and some bad cases of malaria amongst locals so be careful if you are planning a trip.

Safe diving, John.