Monthly Spearfishing Report January 2010

Conditions

Not only is the weather hard to predict on a daily basis but changing weather patterns around the World make it even more of a lottery. In the early 2000’s Cape Vidal had very settled weather in January and I can remember staying up at Leven Point to late afternoon on a number of occasions when the fish were on. Now this area seems to be experiencing a very windy weather pattern as shown by windfinder.com. The Natal coast has had a mixed bag of settled and windy weather for the month. The south coast starting to clean up towards the end of the month with the north coast having a number of diveable days. Westerly fronts passing through more often than not and this fits in with the changing weather patterns. Surface water temperatures in the mid twenties celsius but a lot of cold water on the bottom reaching as low as 18c along some stretches of the coast during the month.

Fishwise

A lot more reef fish about if you find the right conditions and some good catches of queen mackerel coming out on the north coast. Out deep the ski-boaters are catching full bags of dorado off the north coast fads. South coast ski-boaters getting good catches of big cape yellowtail up to 18kg and some class amberjack being caught on the deep pinnacles using the vertical jigging method. The queen mackerel still plentiful on the north coast when tides, winds and currents are right but not many cuda about as yet although towards the end of the month the odd good fish landed. Ski-boaters getting fair catches of geelbek and some of these fish seen on the Bluff by divers.

Spearfishing Fish Friendly

Ski-boaters catching dorado are able to take a number of fish from the shoal. This is done by hooking one fish and leaving that fish in the water which keeps the rest of the shoal interested. In this way most of the shoal is caught. With divers in the water the dorado are very skittish and even keeping a hooked fish in the water will not keep the shoal there once they have seen a diver. In fact divers are lucky to shoot one fish out of the shoal before they move off. This applies to all fish that shoal where fishermen can carry on catching a number of fish from the shoal whereas a diver will in most cases only manage to get one fish. Yet another illustration of the eco friendly nature of spearfishing!

Hibberdene Harbour

The land transfer from the government to the Hibiscus Coast to open up the way for the development of the Hibberdene Harbour project was done in November 2009. This project was first mooted twenty years ago with a lot of people thinking it would never happen and I was one of them. It is a huge project and will create many new jobs in the area and will definitely push up property prices along this stretch of coast. If not done properly these types of developments can have adverse effects on the coastal eco-systems and it will be interesting to see how it all pans out. There is talk of one planned for Tugela Mouth that would help the prawn trawlers that operate out on the Banks and would certainly spark development in the area.

Shark Attacks

It is ironic that the shark attack at Ponta do ouro is blamed on fishermen throwing fish waste into the sea and yet we have shark operators doing this on a daily basis to attract sharks here on the Natal coast. With the recent fatal shark attack at Fish Hoek in the Cape and the third fatal attack in a year at Port St John’s, the time has come to end the feeding or baiting of sharks.

Efficient Policing

It is good to hear that our authorities are keeping an eye out for poachers on the open seas. A boat at Cape Vidal was recently boarded twice in the space of a few days. The first time a big duck appeared from nowhere and the boat was searched and then later a bigger vessel was seen off-loading the smaller patrol vessel. The sanctuary area north of Vidal has long been a hunting ground for poachers and regular patrols in the area would help to protect this valuable resource.

Top man

The bakkie or top man who looks after the boat and watches the divers needs to be in possession of a skippers ticket. This law is now being enforced and it makes sense to have a properly trained person in charge of the boat. It is when things go wrong that having a suitably trained person as the bakkie could make all the difference.

Safe diving, John.