Monthly Spearfishing Report May 2002

MAY 2002

2000 and 2001 had poor conditions for diving during the month of May, which is normally one of the more settled months weather wise with light winds and lots of diveable water. This May was more like the norm with good conditions for much of the month and plenty of diveable water. The north coast stretch from Ballito to Tinley came clean on a number of occasions with the areas closer to Durban not as good but still diveable. The Bluff and Amanzimtoti areas have had some top to bottom days with some good bags of fish coming out when the right water conditions are found that suit the fish. The lower south coast has been diveable on occasion but there is still a lot of silt in the water and the fish are hard to find.

The larger queen mackerel on their annual sardine run migration have moved on to the north coast and some good sized fish up to 9kgs have been landed. There has been a late run of king mackerel along the Tongaat/Umdloti stretch and to a lesser degree on the Bluff reefs. Some big fish have come out in the Seabelle area with a paddle ski fisherman landing one of 27kgs. This late run looks set to continue into June with fishermen making large catches of these fish off Mtunzini, and these fish will hopefully pass through the Durban and Aliwal area on their journey south.

Aliwal has been a bit of a hit or miss affair with Saiccor pollution messing up the water on a number of days. The wahoo have arrived in numbers and catch of the month must definitely go to Andrew Morton and crew. They managed seven wahoo one saterday morning ranging from 24kgs down to 16kgs. Most of these fish are found in the deeper water in front of the north east pinnacle. Yellowfin tuna are also around but are mostly caught as few are landed by spearfishermen. There are also a lot of black musselcracker on the deeper reefs in the cracker area.

Sodwana Bay has also been quiet and along with Cape Vidal, not much action in either of these Zululand spots. The annual Wahoo Winter Gamefish competition was held on the weekend 25/26 May. The seas were very settled but with cold green water dropping viz down to 4m, conditions were not ideal. Some good fish were still weighed in with Clive Kenton`s 30kg giant kingfish taking the boat diver section. The shore entry prize went to Lee Davies for another giant kingfish of 24kg that he shot at Mission Rocks that was included in the shore divers area. Worthy of mention is Anthony Dunne`s catch that included a new Wahoo club record kaakap weighing 11.5kg plus three longfin yellowtail around the 9kg mark. Anthony got his fish in 25 to 30m diving deep oscar in 4m visibility. Not for the meek and mild. The competition was once again a huge success with 88 entrants signing on and loads of great prizes and with the beer flowing freely, a great time was had by all.

Looking back over the past 5 years, the sardines have arrived on the Natal lower south coast in the first week of June. The shark nets have already been lifted from St Michaels southwards in anticipation of the sardines arrival. There have been numerous sightings along the Transkei coast so it could be any day now. The uniqueness of our annual sardine run has attracted a lot of overseas interest. It is no wonder when you consider even old hands of the sardine run are each year struck by sardine fever and the excitement is palpable as you travel down the coast. Hundreds of birds diving, dolphins and whales visibly hunting the sardines along with hundreds of big sharks and a host of different gamefish. For spearfishermen the sardine run means big king mackerel together with all the other gamefish that feed on the sardines and of course big sharks. Hibberdene is always a very good spot to hunt when the sardines are around along with Scottburgh point and Mtwalume. Good point diving spots are Rocky Bay and Ifafa with the cutting having a lot of action if sardines are in the area.

To end on a serious note.

There has been some opposition to the holding of the spearfishing nationals at `Hole in the Wall` on the Transkei coast. Some of the locals are objecting to it and along with other sympathetic parties, there has been some bad press for spearfishing in general. The 1999 spearfishing nationals were held there and over three days 54 of the countries top spearfishermen managed to weigh in 2064kgs. This works out to an average of 13kgs per day per diver. The 1998 nationals held at Stil Baai had a total of 1067kgs weighed in by 57 spearfishermen over two days. An average of 9kgs per day per diver. The 1997 nationals held in Durban produced 1777kgs over three days and averaged out at 16kgs per day per diver.

Going back ten years looks like this.

1990 Port Elizabeth 51 divers 2 days 1560kg average 15kg
1991 Plett 57 1 618kg 11kg
1992 Aliwal 45 2 1144kg 13kg
1993 Stil Baai 54 2 1293kg 12kg
1994 Struis Baai 66 1 440kg 7kg
1995 Port Elizabeth 54 2 921kg 9kg
1996 Hole in Wall 54 3 2062kg 13kg
1997 Durban 36 3 1777kg 16kg
1998 Stil Baai 57 2 1067kg 9kg
1999 Hole in Wall 54 3 2064kg 13kg

What these figures show you is that firstly, the catches at Hole in the Wall in 96 and 99 are almost exactly the same, so the area is under no pressure from spearfishing. Secondly, the impact of spearfishing is small when you consider that these are the top divers in the country and the average weight per nationals over a ten year period works out to 1295kgs with an average daily catch per diver of 12kgs.

With spearfishing having no by-catch and leaving no pollution behind with no damage to the reefs. It is a sport that the small band who do it can hold their heads up high when it comes to environmental issues. Knowing that they belong to one of the very few environmentally friendly means of harvesting the Oceans. It takes courage, skill and fitness to be a spearfisherman and I am proud to be one! Safe diving, John.