Monthly Spearfishing Report March 2009

Conditions

The big storm that the Natal coastal areas experienced on Saturday 28 February certainly dashed many crayfish divers hopes for a good bag on Sunday. March 1st was the opening of the east coast rock lobster season lasting until the last day of October. The surf had been flat the preceding week and predictions were for good diving conditions. This all changed with muddy water up and down the coast and some fair sized swell making for poor conditions. The underwater hockey crowd managed to get a few bags north of Tinley before the river water from the Tinley estuary was pushed that way by a southerly wind. Mostly settled weather with no major blows but a low pressure system out in the Indian Ocean sending big surf to the East coast. This together with lots of river water making for undiveable conditions for the first two weeks of the month but good conditions for the latter part of the month.

Fish-wise

Not that much diving done so not a lot to report but sure to be plenty of fish about when conditions are favourable once again. Some of the offshore pinnacles providing exciting diving with big tropicals being taken on Protea Banks. Scuba divers report seeing a lot of fish out here with big shoals of tropicals, kaakap or jobfish and small cuda being seen. Some yellowfin tuna and cuda being taken on Aliwal by jet ski fishermen in mostly green water and when the current is north to south. Hardus Bouwer landed a 24kg cuda during a Midlands trial off Umdloti recently. He was using a reel gun and diving in poor visibility so it was quite a feat. Lots of snoek action up and down the coast with Tongaat on the north coast and Widenham on the south coast being good bets. The cuda action started to pick up towards the end of the month and April looks like being a good month for these fish if conditions are diveable. With hundreds of snoek being caught by some of the commercial boats in a day during this peak period it is time for a size limit to be introduced on this fish. With the paddle-ski and jet-ski fishermen all catching their bags on a regular basis the  fishing pressure on this fish must be huge.

Australian Shark Attacks

With the recent increase in shark attacks along the New South Wales coast in Australia people are looking for answers. Speculation being that what is seen as over protection of the sharks and tighter inshore fishing controls in this area are attracting more sharks into the region. According to Australia’s shark attack file NSW has the highest figures with 270 attacks followed by Queensland with 241, Western Australia 92 and Victoria 37 over the past 200 years. The maths is that more sharks plus more bathers equals more encounters which will increase the odds of an attack.

Shark Attack

The second fatal shark attack at second beach, Port St johns for 2009. Sixteen year old Luyolo Mangele went for a late afternoon surf on the 20th march 2009. It was about 4pm when the attack occurred when he was badly mauled by what is believed was a Zambezi shark. He died on the way to the hospital and our condolences go to family and friends.

Durban Undersea Club Spearfishing Open

This comp was dived on the 29 March with the boat divers area being South Pier to Warners. Shore divers could dive anywhere on the coast and these guys had the pick of the water with some very clean water on both the north and south coasts. The boat divers area had rather poor visibility with a lot of sediment from the Umkomaas river making for three meter visibility on the bottom at best and less than this on the way down. Despite this some good bags were weighed with James Lawson-Smith taking the day with an excellent bag and showing that he is in excellent form. Well done to the organizers for putting on a good show.

Springbok Trials

Scheduled for the 26, 27 March they were dived on Deep Scottburgh in near perfect conditions. The system used by the organisers was very fair and highlights a divers ability as opposed to his knowledge of hotspots. Read the full story elsewhere on the site. Having spoken to the organisers it is good to hear that only divers taking part in the trials will be eligible for selection for the Protea side. This is as it should be and a lot of the participants feel it would be unfair if divers who did not take part were considered.

Chumming for Sharks

The three licensed shark diving operations in the Aliwal area are attracting a large number of sharks into the area. The recent springbok spearfishing trials held in this area high-lighted the problems of interfering with nature when you have too many sharks attracted into an area by chumming. Tiger sharks eating divers orange floats and attempting to eat speared fish with no apparent fear of the diver whatsoever. At a thousand rand per person these guys are making a killing but how long will it last. Once a scuba diver is attacked how will it affect the scuba operators with some scuba divers unwilling to take the risk of becoming a statistic. I do not agree with the feeding of any wild creature but if the shark chumming is to continue perhaps they should be made to do it a long way out to sea. This way it will affect fellow sea users to a lesser degree hopefully but once any wild creature has lost its inherent cautiousness of man there will be a problem at some stage.

Safe diving, John.