Aliwal Shoal Report June 2009 - Basie Ackermann

General conditions

You put your left foot in, you put your left foot out, you put your left foot in and wriggle it around…..

You ask yourself how the heck this has any relevance to the report – I don’t know, but it came into my head as I started writing this, so there it is.

Very calm, settled conditions for most of the month, with flat seas and light winds, and visibility ranging from 5-30metres, depending on how many millions of litres of muck Sappi Saiccor has pressure – packed down the toilet chute they call the pipeline. Water temperature still very high for this time of year, the lowest was 20 degrees Celsius and the highest 24 degrees. And we wonder why the sardines are walkabout somewhere. The days when it wasn’t flat, it was HUGE. Solid westerly winter fronts marching through. The 1st and 2nd of June we had 5metre swell, and the last week of June was pretty much wiped out with two biggies and 5-7metre swell. This kept most boats sprouting roots on their trailers.

As far as the current was concerned (not that the current is ever concerned about anything), we had mostly reverse, caused by the aforementioned big fronts. The days when it was north south – and Sappi crap free – it was on. When it was north south and not Sappi crap free, it was off.

On the 4th there was a faint beginning of effluent and from the 9th to the 14th Sappi ruined the ocean with the continuous spewing forth of their filth, reducing otherwise good conditions and visibility to 5metres. “Harmless pollution” Sappi calls it – now there’s an oxymoron if ever I heard (or seen?) one. Enough bleating.


Out of the blocks like Michael Johnson, before he got busted for prohibited substances. I said Johnson, not Jackson. Although it would probably be applicable to him as well.

The 2nd the swell was still big, but light north south and 18metres visibility. Had two Sailfish come and say hello, one about 25kg, the other 32ish, they circled me twice and went on their merry way. We encountered big shoals of Wahoo, but battled to get near them, with Mark van Achterbergh eventually landing one 17kg specimen.

Then on the 3rd Christmas came early for one lucky boatload of spearos that managed to be in the right place at the right time. The same shoals of Wahoo that didn’t allow us near them the day before, were now practically impaling themselves on anything that looked like a spear. Maybe they were Wahoo from Waco, Texas.

Not taking anything away from Hibiscus boys Garret Staats, Joe Mulder, Corry Versluis, Denzel, Gordon and Rod (I did say a boatload) and their Wahoo hunting prowess, but I have never witnessed such suicidal behaviour. From the Wahoo, not the spearo’s. Although they also went a bit bos. It didn’t matter where they jumped off the boat; they were on top of shoals of fish. Mayhem, I tell you. They ended up with a very respectable bag of 11 Wahoo from 12-24kgs, with as many lost and missed. All this on a glassy sea with light north south current, 23 degree Celsius water temperature and 25metre visibility.

Must have been terrible.

The next day we were out there like children fleeing Never Never Land, but the train has left the station. Being the first in the water, me and Alistair Louw landed one Wahoo each out of a shoal in the first 10minutes, but not before we had to wrestle the milk bottles from their mouths. 12 and 13 kgs respectively. And that was that – didn’t see any more.

There were two other boats out there as well, one being John Little and crew, but they also came up dry. Strange how the fish just vanished. Then again, no Wahoo with half a brain cell would hang around after the carnage of the day before.

Later that day Gerhard Vosloo landed a 25kg Wahoo and reported seeing a 40kg + cuda just staying out of range. Not often you see them that big. Not often you get to shoot them, either.

On the 5th a west came through, and killed the current for 4 days. The north south current picked up again the next day, but instead of bringing us fish, it brought us thick, black effluent. This started lifting on the 14th, providing good 12metre visibility. Alistair Louw came out on his own and saw shoals numbering in their 40-50’s again. A quick hour and a half later and he had an 18kg Wahoo and a 32kg Sailfish.

The 15th was the last day of the month that anything happened. Steve Yelding and Mark van Achterbergh played silly buggers with the Wahoo again, but they were wise to the men in black by now, so they came home empty handed.

Gerhard once again landed an 18kg Wahoo and also lost a Sailfish that afternoon.

And that was that for the rest of the month. Howling winds and big swell with south north current till month end. So all in all a very good Wahoo month when conditions allowed it and a lot of Sailfish around as well. Now it would be nice to actually get some time off to go and shoot them…..

Enjoy our ocean!