Monthly Spearfishing Report February 2003

February 2003

Hot and Humid

February is our most sticky month here in KwaZulu-Natal. Daytime temps max out in the mid thirties centigrade and humidity is mostly in the nineties. This makes for very hot and humid days. March continues in the same vein with things cooling down towards the end of the month. February is normally a wet month with lots of rainfall, but this year rainfall figures are down so far for the month. Towards the end of the month the rainfall pattern looked promising so we could still have some big falls. The less rain has made for more consistent diving conditions and there have been more diveable days this year for the month when compared to the last couple of Februaries.

Cuda run poor so far

The summer cuda run has so far not lived up to expectations with the cuda only putting in a mediocre appearance. Some good fish have been coming out though with Owen Tessendorf boating one of 23kgs on the north coast reefs. This has been the best bet for them with the Sheffield ledges working well on occasion. Some fair sized ignoblis around as well so spending time on the bottom could pay off.

Cold water the villain

There are only a few isolated pockets of warm water along the coast with large areas plagued by cold upwellings. This is probably the main reason for the cuda no show in any great numbers on the inshore reefs.

Big Snoek make an appearance

The 2nd week in February saw the big snoek moving onto the North coast with some 8kg+ fish being taken. Graeme Duane bagged 7 on a shore dive in the ballito area and Ant Dunne had good results off Umhlanga. As these fish hunt just behind back line a lot of the time, the tides play quite an important role when you are hunting these fish. Best times are when the high tides coincide with the early mornings or late afternoons. This is not a hard and fast rule but just an indication of the best times to hunt these fish.

Aliwal shoal and Deep Scottburgh

The cold water plaguing the KwaZulu-Natal coastline has been upsetting the gamefish action on the Shoal and not that many cuda are coming out. Some longfin yellowtail on Launders with some of the deep pinnacles off Sezela probably worth a look as the cold water on the bottom normally drives the big fish up from the deep and these are the conditions when you can bag some of the big boys. Lots of reef fish to be found on the Deep Scottburgh reefs despite the cold water on the bottom. Some very big Tigers hanging about looking for a feed so take care.

Vidal and Sodwana

I was at Cape Vidal for a couple of days at the beginning of the month and things were pretty quiet. The water was cold and the cuda were very spooky. Early birds at Leven Point were getting the odd cuda and fishing boats were returing with 3 and 4 fish after half a days fishing which is poor results for this time of year. Saw a leopard one evening when returning late from St Lucia. Sodwana has also been rather dead with not much gamefish action and lots of north easterlies chopping the sea up and dropping the visibility. Just the odd kaakap and seapike being taken along with smallish kingfish. The cuda seem to be awol from this part of the coast as well.

News from the Cape

There has been a lot of yellowtail about from Cape Point up to Struis Baai with 10 to 12kg fish coming out. Some geelbek around in between the yellowtail action which has kept divers busy. Unfortunately conditions have been unpredictable with some big early winter swells coming through. Some of these monsters were cresting on the 12km banks off Struis that are in 30m of water to give you some idea of the size of the swells.

Hard Facts

With the recent flurry of newspaper articles finally coming to an end regarding the shooting of a prohibited fish by a spearfisherman, one fact stands out. Statistics speak for themselves and it is impossible to argue against facts and figures where even verbal bullies must bite the bullet and keep quiet. Spearfishing is a minority sport practiced by the few who are brave enough to put themselves at risk in an alien environment. It is a catch method limited by a number of factors that mostly favour the fish that we hunt. Depth, visibility, current, sharks. All these factors play a major role in limiting spearfishing catches but have minimal affect on other forms of fish capture. That is why fish targeted by spearfishermen only such as cape knifejaw, bumphead, rubber lip, tassels, spadefish, parrots are still plentiful on the Deep Scottburgh reefs after many years of spearfishermen actively hunting these reefs. Unfortunately the fishermen do not have these natural restrictions and their targeted species on the same reefs have been fished out many years back necessitating the fishing of deeper reefs that will eventually meet the same fate. I think the 2kg minimum size limit for speared fish that was in place until a few years back also served as protection for the stocks as regarding spearfishing. The depth factor limits spearfishermen to the 30m and shallower reefs for most divers and these deeper reefs act as feeder reefs for the inshore reefs. This is the protection to fish stocks that the fishermen lack and is the main reason why the fishing targeted species get less and less as the years go by.

What to expect

March can be a very good month with lots of cuda on the North coast at Stud,Tongaat and Sheffield and plenty of action at Aliwal. The big Wests normally start to come up the coast during this month and there can be some big surf around. Notwithstanding wind and rain, this can be a good month.

Spearfishingsa.c o.za

To end I would just like to mention a few facts about the site. We have been up and running for two years now and thanks to all the spearfishermen and other interested parties who regularly visit the site, it has grown from strength to strength. From barely making 10 000 hits a month our figures for January were 136 000+ hits, beyond our wildest dreams. We now have e-mail friends from far flung places and have come into contact with some memorable people through the site. Both Guy and myself get great enjoyment from doing the site and hope to continue growing, by making the site even more worthwhile as a cyber meeting point for spearfishermen from all over the World.

Thanks to you all, cheers, John.