Monthly Spearfishing Report August 2003

Monthly Report – August 2003

Changing Weather

Traditionally August was the start of the windy months in KwaZulu-Natal and the north easterlies used to thunder through during this period. Four years ago this trend changed and August was a fairly settled month wind wise despite having some big surf due to the fronts that were passing through the Cape. This year August has once again been an unsettled month wind wise and not much diving has taken place. The garrick competition was put forward to the next weekend due to bad conditions and it has been a poor month for diving. Lots of north-easterlies with hardly a break before a west comes through and the surf has been very unsettled.

New Spearfishing Club

It is good to see another spearfishing club being started on the south coast by Marc Lange. This is the second new spearfishing club this year together with the Salt Rock Spearfishing club. The more people that are registered for the sport through institutions like clubs the better it is for all of us. Spearfishing as a sport has a bad image in this country and the stronger our voice the better we will be able to protect ourselves against ignorant perceptions. Most spearfishermen are totally committed to the sport and one way of ensuring the sports continued strength is to belong to a spearfishing club. If you do not have a club in your area you might think about starting one up. Anyone needing help in this can email me for the necessary info.

Mozambique News

I was up at Barra for the first two weeks of the month and conditions were not good. Lots of windy days together with green water made for difficult diving. Got some good fish though with wahoo, cuda, kingfish and green job fish (kaakap) making up catches plus some monster lobster. Got snoek for the first time up there as well. Saw sailfish from the boat twice but no luck spearing them. Spearos that are diving in Mozambique need to think carefully before going overboard with their catches. I take mostly gamefish and only shoot the odd reef fish for the pot if no gamefish are landed. You do not want to get on the wrong side of the law in Mozambique and spearfishermen do not need anymore bad press. Think before you shoot. The traffic police are up to their usual nonsense so take care when driving up there. Transgressing the white line is the new ruse that they are using to rob you of 1000000 meticas with no receipt issued.

Monster Fish

Chatted to some Russian spearfishermen recently. They have been diving in a lake 350km from Moscow where there is a nuclear power station. The water temperature in the lake is unusually high owing to the heat exchange from the power station and some of the grass eating fish are growing to 40kgs+. Hope there is no other factor in this abnormal size!

Fish News

The brusher start to arrive in numbers towards the end of the month and point diving is the best option at this time of year. The garrick should also be plentiful, and together with the odd kob, can make for exciting backline diving. The pignose grunter or white steenbras migrate into our waters during this time of year and Umzumbe is known to be a good spot for them. The 60 foot spot known as the arena straight out from the point often holds a shoal of these fish at this time of year. The kob should be on the wrecks so early risers might try the Produce or the Nebo. The Barge and the Fontao wreck off Umhlanga should also be worth a look. All we need is some diveable water.

High Points

Some interesting news from High Points. A number of great white sharks have been fitted with satellite tracking devices and researchers have been monitoring their whereabouts. Two of the tracked sharks have made High points their home and have been resident in the area for the past month. They are probably feeding on the sharks that are concentrated in the area due to the pinnacle located there. Pod diving is the way to go if you are trying your luck on this spot.

What Sardines?

The sardine run on the KwaZulu-Natal coast was a non-event this year. Plenty of action on the Transkei coast as far up as Waterfall bluff but the warmer than normal sea temperatures along our coast kept the sardines away. The winter norm for the south coast is 18c and with the temperatures staying above the 20c mark there was little chance of these cold-water fish moving inshore along our coast in any great numbers. It is interesting to think that should the oceans warm by a degree or two as some scientists are predicting the sardine run could well become a thing of the past.

Catch and?

The mortality rate for catch and release fish is put at between 12% and 25% by the catch and releasists. When you think that a mouth-hooked marlin can fight for many hours until it has literally fought itself to a standstill, one wonders what really happens once these fish are set free. Any sharks in the vicinity would have picked up on the distress signals and might class this as an easy meal. Is the fish able to defend itself from attack and does it ever fully recover from such an experience? The fisherman obviously feels good about setting the fish free and if the fish survives it is a noble gesture. But one wonders if it is to fight another day.

Cape Vidal

This year the weather has been too windy and spearos going to Vidal have encountered rough seas and bad visibility. If you are lucky enough to go up during this period and have settled weather you could be in for some great diving. This is normally one of the best times for Vidal with some class fish passing through the area on their return journey from the sardine run.

News from Port Elizabeth by Gletwyn Rubidge

During the first half of August there were a few shoals of sardines lingering in the PE area. I was fortunate enough to find a shoal of large yellowtail feeding on the sardines in Bushy Park where I have never shot a yellow tail before in some 12 years of diving. I shot three fish, 18.5, 18.9 and 20.5kgs in four dives and later got another 'tail of 21.5 kgs. A most unusual experience. There has been good water about when conditions permitted a dive - visibility of 10-20 m was common. Fish have generally been scarce. There have been a few small garrick at the harbor wall. Some black banks steenbras and red stumpnose of around 4-5 kilos came out in the deeper water and a fine Natal banksteenbras of 6 kilos was taken in the bay. Cracker have been scarce with the odd fish coming out down towards Seaview. No more tuna have been sighted inshore. A few bonitos and small tuna were caught. In early August a fisherman caught a 67kg yellowfin tuna 1.5 miles south of Sardinia Bay.

Spearfishing PioneersSpearing History

The photograph shows some pioneering spearfishermen from the early days of the sport in South Africa. Wetsuits were still a thing of the future and guns were homemade and making a plan was the order of the day for anything that you might need. Equipment has advanced greatly but I am sure that the spirit that drove these early spearos is the same that sparks any new diver to take up the sport. Thanks to Craig Wood for this bit of memorabilia.

Safe diving,
John.