Monthly Spearfishing Report June 2008

Monthly Report – June 2008

Conditions

Unusual weather for June with strong north easterly winds mid month and heavy falls of rain on the south coast causing extensive flooding. Thousands made homeless and the R102 impassable as part of the Kelso river bridge washed away and parts of Margate town underwater. The area has been declared a disaster zone.

 If you are boat diving a 5mm suit is the only option with a 3mm not quite warm enough especially when your suit is wet and you are traveling on the boat. The daytime temperatures are mid twenties at the most and the sun seems to carry very little warmth when you are sitting on the boat out at sea. Settled conditions for the beginning of the month but major systems in the roaring forties sending some big ground swells to our shores. Some very clean water moving in along the middle south coast towards the end of the month with visibility of 30m plus experienced and plenty of fish about.

Fish-Wise

Allan Fraser’s 31kg black musselcracker shot out on deep Scottburgh is some fish. Peak months for these fish are October November on deep cracker but out deep beyond where we can dive they are resident the year through and are targeted by some fishermen. The daily bag limit for this fish is one for both spearfishermen and fishermen. They are not commonly shot as they are hard to approach and mostly live in depths beyond where spearfishermen can dive. Most spearos only shoot these fish once they have lost their stripes and attained a decent size with the legal size being 50cm. Lots of wahoo action out at Aliwal Shoal when the current is north south. Plenty of natal snoek off Warners and Widenham Point with the odd garrick being taken by point divers. The north coast producing the odd decent cuda with some daga salmon around aswell. News of a fisherman in the Shelly Beach area catching three cuda of 28, 31, and 33kgs whilst trawling a rapala through the sardines certainly gets the heart racing. Treasure reef on the Bluff has been quiet but this spot can really turn on during the sardine run. Deep Scottburgh having lots of fish with spearos landing good catches of daga and geelbek salmon together with a number of gamefish.

Fish Records

Many years back at a spearfishing AGM it was decided that the claiming of spearfishing records was very important. Important in that it was critical to have records claimed so that record fish truly represented the biggest fish shot of that species. For this reason it was decided that records could be claimed even if a spearo was not registered but records claimed under these circumstances would carry a reasonable registration fee and obviously the correct procedures for claiming a record needed to be followed. Hopefully any future changes to this rule will not make it too onerous for unregistered spearfishermen to claim a record as this would be detrimental for the sport.

Sardine News

Plenty of predatory action on the lower Transkei coast associated with small pockets of sardines at the beginning of the month which is a good sign. The spotter plane reported pockets of sardines stretching from Hole-in-the-Wall on the Transkei coast as far down as East London with 1000’s of common dolphins and sea birds feeding off the sardines. The first sardines netted on the Natal coast were at Southbroom and Ramsgate on the 11 June with the initial basket price of R300 showing how the exorbitant fuel prices are hurting the economy. Plenty of shark activity with the sardines in the Port Edward area with netters having the misfortune of nets broken by sharks and all the sardines escaping. By mid-month lots of sardine action as far up as Green Point but the inshore visibility not good enough to dive in and some big swells making for difficult conditions. The flooding on the south coast and rough seas putting the brakes on what looked set to be good sardine run but with settling seas hopefully the sardine action will return to the Natal coast but sea temperatures will need to drop from the current 20c plus.

BlueFin Tuna

Watched a documentary on how threatened these fish are with the rise of the middle income populations in places like China and India and the Western worlds growing popularity with sashimi and sushi ever increasing the pressure on this species. The record price for a single bluefin tuna is one hundred and twenty thousand pounds (R1 890 000) and they regularly go for twenty thousand pounds (R315 000). With prices like these and the demand growing ever higher the international fishing fleets need to be given some sort of manageable quota system to protect this fish from over fishing.

Hunting Fish

When shooting reef fish on a hot spot it is important that you do not come down right on top of the fish. This will spook the fish and most decent sized fish will leave or hide in the cave. A better plan is to land on the sand near the spot and let the fish come to you. This approach will allow you to work the spot better. With wahoo the less interest you show them the more chance they will come within range. I have found the only time a direct approach works is when they come underneath you to have a close look at the flasher then you can quickly dive on them before they are out of range. The blue camo suits also seem to help in getting within range.

Mozambican Longliners

Some South African fishermen based at Guinjata Bay in Mozambique recently came across what looked like a licensed longline. There was a locational transponder attached to the line with a name and probable license number. The line was kilometers long and had a number of turtles and potato bass plus small sharks as part of its catch. The fishermen managed to release some of the turtles that were still alive. The line was located in 70m of water.

Winter Gamefish Competition

This competition was held on the 21 June at Cape Vidal and turn-out was markedly down from last years record entry of over 200 entrants. The visibility was not that good but some divers managed to bag some decent fish. The full results are elsewhere on the site.

National Spearfishing Championships

The National spearfishing championships will be held on the KZN coast in 2009. Most probable months are April/May when conditions should be fairly settled. Hopefully there will be a better turn-out from the other provincial unions as the Natal teams made up 80% of the divers at the 2008 Nationals held at Sodwana Bay. The Australians pick their international teams from the results of the national spearfishing championships with the top four places being the next international team. With the last Springbok trials costing the organization nearly R6000.00 plus all the traveling expenses and leave used by the trialists not living in Natal, it might be worthwhile looking at this system. This would also encourage divers that are keen to make the International side to take part in Nationals.

Safe diving, John.