Monthly Spearfishing Report April 2002

April 2002

At last conditions have started to improve after the poor first three months of the year. April is normally one of the more settled months wind wise and this has mostly been the case especially for the latter half of the month. Some big inshore surf at the beginning and midway through the month kept shore divers out of the water. But shore diving is once again a reality with diveable water to be found somewhere on the coast if you are prepared to travel. Salt Rock northwards has been coming clean on a regular basis and some good bags of small snoek have been shot on the ledges at Christmas bay. The odd big snoek is being taken with fishermen reporting bigger fish around. The ski-boat fishermen are getting some cuda but divers seem less lucky with fewer fish being landed. Salt Rock has been producing the odd decent fish with some 15kg+ cuda being landed.The run so far this year has been very poor and with little time left, looks like it will stay that way. Reef fish on the north coast are scarce due to unfavourable inshore conditions. Happily this is not the case on the lower south coast where Mtwalume and south are producing some good bags of bottom fish when conditions suit the fish on the inshore reefs.

I was at Cape Vidal for a week from the 8 April and have never seen the place so quiet fish wise. Best fish of the trip was a 21kg giant kingfish landed by Ryan van der Merwe on a late afternoon point dive. The point is very scoured out and some bits of the Dorothea, wrecked here on the night of January 31, 1898 are clearly visible. There has been much speculation as to what cargo she was carrying and many rumours about a fortune in gold waiting to be discovered. There have been a number of salvage attempts with little luck and a number of salvors loosing their lives here. There is still a salvage permit listed for the wreck. The ski-boaters were getting some cuda but we saw none with only a pack of four marauding Zambezi sharks providing any action. Each night whilst sitting around the campfire, we were paid a visit by an inquisitive bush pig on the scrounge for some food. He would saunter into the open campfire area, give us the once over, snuffle around for any scraps and then noisily head on his way through the undergrowth closely followed by his shyer mate. Bush pigs possess great courage and determination and are dangerous antagonists when wounded or brought to bay. Though it was amazing having a normally shy wild animal behave in this fashion, his days are probably numbered. Any incident brought about by his seemingly friendly manner with an over bold camper will end in his being shot.

There were a lot of jellyfish in the water at Vidal that is never a good sign for gamefish. There were also a lot in Mozambique a month back and the Durban area is full of them now. Not much is known about them apart from the fact that they have probably been brought down from the tropics by ocean currents. They are slow growers with the ones raised in captivity by ORI only reaching the size of a hand in a year. The armada of small fish that travel with them, using them both as a home and for protection, is amazing. They pack quite a sting used in the capture of small fish or any other likely prey that might unwittingly swim into their tentacles. Though not deadly to divers, they are to be avoided as their sting is extremely painful and can last for a number of days. Dave Packer was recently stung on the forehead after failing to see one right on the surface. He was in such pain that he had to get out the water and felt unable to drive his car for awhile. Anti-histamines helped with the pain but he sported a large red lump on his forehead for some days. In 17 years of diving along this coast l have only seen them 3x in any great numbers, such as now.

Aliwal Shoal has been very diveable with good viz and a fair amount of fish coming out. The odd wahoo is being taken along with cuda and sea pike. Fish of the month was Ryan Burmesters 30kg black musselcracker taken out here. I heard of two sailfish being boated by ski-boaters during one of the weekends. Tiger sharks are being seen by divers with May being the peak month for these sharks out at Aliwal.

The teams selected to represent Natal at Nationals are:
A - Anthony Dunne, Gary Hazel, Ryan Burmester
B - Gyula Plaganyi, Greg Audie, Jacu Blignaut
C - Clint Nevin, Craigh Heslop, John Girdza

Invitation - John Little, Richard Bruno, Ryan van der Merwe

Seven provinces have submitted teams for Nationals totaling 21 teams with 63 spearfishermen taking part. There is talk of some small changes to the rules that l will put in the next report, should there be any changes. Safe diving, john.