Monthly Spearfishing Report February 2010

Conditions

The mild summer that we had been experiencing all changed when February arrived. This is traditionally our hottest month and it did not disappoint. Hot sticky days with temperatures in the high thirties celsius and few westerly fronts to ease the pain. The fronts that come up from the Cape are normally what bring the cooler overcast weather and also clean up the inshore seas. Inshore conditions not too bad despite the predominant north-easterly winds and diveable water on both the north and south coast.

Fishwise

The queen mackerel run is still going strong with reports from both north and south coast of these fish. There are reports of very big shoals of grunter on the coast which bodes well for this fish. Grunter are a classic bait for shark fishermen and I wonder if this is why they migrate in the shallows similar to the geelbek. Most of the geelbek you land have marks on them from encounters with sharks or dolphins and you often find geelbek shoals migrating up the coast right in the shallows. Salties turned on a couple of times during the month with divers getting good bags of shoal cuda but the cuda run has been very poor so far. The pockets of cold water that creep in on the bottom along stretches of the coast really affect the fish and it is a real scratch when you dive in this cold water.

Cape Vidal

Reports from Cape Vidal are of plenty of cuda being caught so certainly worth the trip. Two fishermen were arrested here recently for having way too many fish. Not sure of the outcome but probably a hefty fine and loss of gear plus their catch will be forfeited. Makes sense to stick to the seafisheries bag limits.  

Proposed New License Fees for Recreational Permits

The proposed increase in recreational license fees seems excessive given that we are just emerging from a recession. Even more annoying is the fact that the proposed increase in spearfishing license fees are way above a recreational fishing license fee. Why this should be given that we both fall under the same regulation category is worth looking into. The Cape divers allowed discriminatory and unfair regulations to impinge on their rights as recreational sea users. This could have been stopped there and then if pursued through the courts. It seems that the public’s opinion carries little weight with our new government as shown by the Vetchies Pier episode which is now being challenged in court. As spearfishermen we are a minority group and we need to be especially aware of discriminatory practises by bureaucrats who seem to think they have no responsibility to the electorate.

New South African Record Ignoblis

 Our ignoblis king, Emil Pirzenthal recently landed a 63kg monster whilst spearfishing the Umkomaas area. A magnificent fish and one that would get any spearfishermans heart racing. I would be happy to see the daily bag limit dropped to one for these fish.

Tag and Release

I have been diving along the South African coast for twenty five years now. During that period I have come across six tagged fish. They have all had infections where the tag has pierced their skins and the tag end that sticks out has had a lot of growth on it both plant and animal. Stats from the Florida Keys since 1998 show seven thousand fish being tagged with only 4% of these fish having been re-caught. I feel that a lot of tagged fish do not survive the tagging process. This could be either from infection making them prone to shark attack or the vibrations from the tag acting as a dinner gong for sharks on the prowl for an easy meal. With a sharks ability to sense vibrations any tagged fish will be marked and one would imagine it is just a matter of time before the fish falls prey to one too many chases.

Bluefin Tuna

A 513 pound(230+kg) bluefin tuna was recently sold at the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo for 177 000 US dollars. That works out to over R6 000 per kilogram. Over fishing of this species is putting serious pressure on the stock levels. The World Wildlife Fund predicts that this fish will be in serious trouble within two years unless drastic steps are taken to limit catches.

Making things Happen

It is heartening to see our inland spearfishermen getting organized and training hard for Nationals. It is sure to reap rewards and will attract a bigger following in the inland areas. Well done to Fernando for lighting the spark.

Safe diving, John.