Monthly Spearfishing Report July 2008

Conditions

July started off with settled weather along the Natal coast with no major fronts coming up from the Cape to disturb the settled seas. This was the story for much of the month but despite the settled weather still some big swells pushing in along the Natal coast. The inshore reefs not experiencing good viz and not that many diving days. The south coast still suffering the after effects of the flooding with most of the inshore areas still holding a lot of dirty water from all the rivers in the area that ran out into the sea during the floods. The Bluff and north coast experiencing good water at the start of the month and lots of spearfishermen making use of the good conditions. Water temperatures of 21+ degrees centigrade.

Fishwise

A lot of fish about with cuda, snoek and geelbek featuring in a lot of the catches with daga salmon also being taken with some big specimens over 20kgs being landed. Some of the big shoals of geelbek seem to be running shallower with 19 fathoms and parts of Deep Scottburgh holding very big shoals of geelbek but sharks a problem when trying to retrieve a speared fish and few landed under these conditions. Some big cape yellowtail being caught by fishermen so Launders and Protea should be worth a look. Fishwise the action tapered off during the month and by month end things were relatively quiet. Garrick run seems very slim this year but hopefully things will pick-up later in the season.

Sardine Run

The flash floods that were experienced on the south coast of Natal in mid June ended what looked like a good run of sardines. Even though the seas settled fairly quickly the sardines never really showed again on the Natal coast and apart from the odd shoal on the Transkei coast things went very quiet.

Tag and Release

Got a Scotsman on the boat recently that was tagged. The tag was located on the left side of the fish near the dorsal fin about half way along the body. The end of the tag that protrudes from the fish was covered with a heavy growth of seaweed and barnacles and the scales in the area where the tag was located had come off and there was an open wound on the fish. The fishes body was rejecting the tag in no uncertain terms as was plain to see. In a period of over twenty three years spearfishing along the Natal coast I have only seen three fish with tags in the other two being yellowbelly rockcod. It could be that a lot of tagged fish do not survive the tagging with either the tag rejected by the fishes body or the vibrations put out by the tag a dinner gong for any nearby shark.

Fish Quotas

One wonders how Seafisheries works out the allowable catch numbers for fish with regard to fishermen and spearfishermen for the daily bag limits. A case in point is the geelbek and spotted rockcod. Fishermen and spearfishermen are limited to two geelbek per day but can take five spotted rockcod per day. This does not make any sense to me here in Natal waters with the geelbek a migratory visitor during the winter months and mainly targeted by the commercial fishermen. The spotted rockcod is found the year through with a peak in numbers in the winter months when some fish move in from the deep to spawn but as a resident reef fish should be afforded more protection. It is more likely that the geelbek was limited due to it being commercially targeted by non-commercial ski-boat anglers.

Pietermaritzburg Underwater Club Crayfish Competition

This competition has been running for over twenty years and ends with the traditional crayfish braai at the club-house in Maritzburg. Each entrant must donate his catch towards this prize giving dinner and with the comp dived over two days there is a feast of crayfish to be had at the dinner. This year conditions were once again difficult with a big sea running but guys still managed to weigh-in some decent bags. The biggest crayfish was caught by Craig Bermeister, a monster of 1.2kg, and the biggest game fish and reef fish went to Bruno Verbizier and Dave Coetzee respectively. The dinner is set for the 30 August.

Natal Sharks Board

Their web site is www.shark.co.za where you can access the shark’s board daily visibility report along with water temperatures and current direction. The report covers the whole of the KZN coast from Richards Bay in the north to Port Edward in the south. Most days it is up by 10:00.

New World Record

The new world record for static breath-hold is 17 minutes 4 seconds recorded recently by David Blaine. Near the end of the session he had an irregular heart beat and his pulse rate was below fifty. An amazing feat.

World Spearfishing Championships

The divers going to Worlds are pulling out all the stops and things are really coming together with offers of help from many quarters including the British team. There is a good chance that our team is going to do very well at Worlds and any help is welcomed whether financial or of some other form.

Safe diving, John.