Monthly Spearfishing Report January 2009

Conditions

The last report was put up before the end of the month on the 22 December. The last week of December had rather windy weather with some big westerly fronts passing up the coast in quick succession. These fronts brought big swell with them and there were generally unsettled seas during this period with strong north easterlies and rain to add to the mix of unsettled weather. There have been some very cold upwellings with Aliwal Shoal measured at 16 degrees Celsius in the latter part of December and Protea also experiencing cold upwellings. These types of conditions can drive class fish from deep water onto inshore pinnacles and it is always worth having a look at the Mzimayi pinnacles under these conditions. Water temperatures on the north coast reaching the 25 celsius mark and some very hot weather experienced along the Natal coastal belt. The south coast still feeling the effects of all the river water with temperatures hardly making the 20 degree mark and zero inshore visibility from Umkomaas southwards to Port Edward. Generally settled weather conditions along the Natal coast for January with some excellent spearfishing conditions for both shore and boat divers.

Fish-Wise

Well done to Craig Heslop on his twenty-four kilogram record longfin yellowtail or tropical taken on Protea Banks. The shoal that this fish was taken from was 200 to 300 strong and must have been an awesome sight. Some really class fish being taken here with big cape yellowtail also being landed. This spot is best dived in the afternoon when most of the charter boats are back on the beach and things are not so crowded. Deep Scottburgh providing lots of reef fish but not many cuda coming out with a south to north current most days and a thermo cline at forty feet. The guys fishing the Glen Ashley Umhlanga stretch really canning the snoek and getting full bags most days. Most of the fish landed are three to four kilograms but there will be some bigger fish with the shoals. Pity there is no size limit on these fish and the cuda so that they have a chance to grow before being harvested. The Zinkwazi Tinley stretch providing good spearfishing with good reef fish being taken.

Cape Vidal

Vidal playing the normal game of feast or famine with some spearos experiencing good catches and others battling to find any fish. Weather a bit more unsettled than is normal for this time of year with big easterlies and westerlies making for unsettled conditions. Catches made up of snoek, cuda and dorado with sailfish a good possibility. Leven point working well so too the point directly off the launch but plenty of shark activity in the warm water. The cement barge that was scuttled here is off the lighthouse in twenty meters coming up to seven meters from the surface. Unfortunately it is lying diagonal to the coast so you will drift over it very quickly in a strong current. Sure to attract a lot of sea life and it will be interesting to see how it effects the sand movement in the area. A big object like this could change the whole dynamics of the area.

Currents

Thought I was having problems with my gps when trying to get onto the Nebo the other day. That was until we found out that the current was ripping so strong that you needed to be almost planning before you moved against it so when we thought we were moving we were actually stationary and the gps was battling to find itself. Were doing 1500 meter drifts in ten minutes making for 9km/hr roughly.

Equalisation and the Eustachian Tube

A problem that most divers will experience at one stage or another that can be very distressing. For those divers that have constant problems it is a frustration that is hard to bear but there are solutions to every problem. www.eustachian-tube.net/SOLUTIONS.html  . Putting exercise and Eustachian tube as search words on Google comes up with a lot of useful sites.

Cape News

The yellowfin tuna season as been dismal so far this year with hardly any fish taken but according to guys in the know, this is a normal occurrence as explained by an old hand.

"Why such a bad tuna season? I just think it is a cycle. In 1997 when I fished my first tuna comp we caught 12 tons of tuna between 20 teams over 4 days and of the 12 tons only 3 yellowfin tuna were caught the rest were longfin. In 2007 the same comp had 9 tons of fish and 90% of the fish were yellowfin. So in the past if a yellowfin was caught it was a big thing and the longfin was targeted as the main tuna species. The past 5 years very few longfin were caught and the same commercial pole tuna trawler who targeted longfin in the past started catching yellowfin and would come back after a 5 day trip with 500 yellowfin. I do believe it is a cycle and in time things will change.  On a different note the Cape West coast who's water should be cold below 14 degrees this time of the year. On Sunday at Dassen Island off Yzterfontein the water was 19.2 degrees and at Robbin Island off Cape Town was 20 degrees on Monday."

Golden Opportunity

The scrapping of the two cement barges was a golden opportunity for a wreck to be sunk at Sodwana bay. This would lighten the load on the heavily dived local reefs and would attract a lot of interest amongst the scuba fraternity. The wreck idea has been about for the past twenty odd years and it is amazing that this gift horse was not used in this way. The shallow sinking of the one barge in twenty-two meters outside the reserve at Cape Vidal seems to make no sense. The water boils over the wreck in a big swell and the positioning of diagonal to the coast seems wrong with the strong currents that rip through this area. The other barge is in thirty-five meters coming up to twenty-three and this seems a much better option. Will watch developments here with interest.

Shark Attack

Sikhanyiso Bangilizwe, a life guard at Port St Johns, was attacked by a shark at Second Beach on the 25 January 2009. He was body surfing when the incident took place at 14:00 and it is believed that the shark was a zambezi shark according to the sharks board after they examined the body. The attack was fatal with the shark severing the mans right hand and shoulder and parts of his back and buttocks. Sibulele Masiza was killed at the same beach in January 2007. His flippers were recovered with shark teeth marks but his body was never found. The teeth marks were identified as being those of a tiger shark. Our condolences go to their families and friends.

Safe diving, John.