Monthly Spearfishing Report November 2003

Monthly Report – November 2003


This November has been a lot more settled than previous ones and the winds have not blown much over 20 knots. There are still plenty of westerly fronts coming up from the Cape but no major blows. This has meant that the sea has been a lot more settled and bodes well for the summer gamefish run. Not much rain yet, though summer is here with some hot muggy days and plenty of flying ants out in the evenings, lured out by the promise of rain that is seldom realized. The sea is starting to warm up but there are still plenty of cold upwellings making for hit or miss conditions. The Tugela River is not flowing much with plenty of sand banks visible when you go over the N2 road bridge. The Mfolozi River that enters the sea just south of the St Lucia estuary is closed which means that the lighthouse reef straight out to sea from the St Lucia lighthouse will come clean a lot more than is normal for this time of year. This is a fantastic reef to dive on with plenty of gamefish and a pinnacle going from 12m down to 27m on the outside.

Plenty of Fish action

The lower south coast has been providing spearos with some exciting diving with plenty of bottoms around in the warm water. The Hibberdene area has had a lot of reef fish and so to has the Port Shepstone - Shelly beach stretch. However, if cold water moves in an area can change overnight and an area that had plenty of fish one day can have hardly any the next. Catches have been varied with plenty of rockcod, cape knifejaw, bronze bream and rubberlips about. Kob are being taken on the wrecks and the odd cuda has been seen as far south as Anerly.

The north coast has already seen the first shoals of giant kingfish migrating through with Brett Dickson landing one of 20kg+ in the Umdloti area from a big shoal. The brusher can still be found on the north coast along with the garrick, both these runs will be over soon for this season. The spearos that specialize in hunting brusher say that it has been a good run with plenty of fish coming out. Some cuda taken at lighthouse reef mid month and the north coast can expect the odd pre-season shoal to pass through. Some cape yellowtail taken on the bluff so some of the deep-water pinnacles should be worth a visit. With summer arriving and the possibility of warm Mozambique water pushing in, the fads off Durban and Tinley Manor should also be worth a visit.

Aliwal Shoal and Deep Scottburgh

Aliwal has been quiet and will probably only turn on when warm Mozambique water pushes in from the deep, which could be any day now. The scuba divers are reporting plenty of kob on the wrecks and Launders could be worth a visit for cape yellowtail. The deep Scottburgh reefs are producing some bottoms but still some pockets of cold water lingering about that are not favourable for reef fish.


Cape Vidal has been a bit of a hit or miss affair with cold water spoiling the party when it arrives, which has been frequent of late. The odd cuda and sailfish coming out, but with the possibility of serious gamefish action if conditions are right.


Plenty of warm clean water along this part of the coast, and with settled conditions, lots of gamefish are being landed. A big black marlin approached some S.A spearos in this area recently but no shot was taken as they were at a very isolated camp and could have done nothing with the fish.

Intrepid Spearos

Mitch Rankin and Roger Horrocks are in the process of undertaking a swim from Inhaca Island, Mozambique, to Ponta do Ouro, the South African border, a distance of roughly 80km. Ten days has been allocated for the trip with plenty of spearing and scouting along the way. They have 2 fishing ski’s in tow carrying food and other necessary equipment and will spend each night of the trip camped on the beach. If the currents are right should be fun, but a reverse one could make it a mean slog. We hope to get a full write-up for the site soon.

National Sea Rescue Institute

A new base has recently been established at Port St Johns on the Transkei coast. The phone number for the station commander of this base is 0475-641057 or 641121. The new emergency number for the Durban area is 031-3618567. Other numbers to note are; Cape Town 021-4493500, Port Elizabeth 041-5703911, East London 043-7002300. This organization was established in 1967 and has played a vital role in sea rescue over the years with 11723 rescue operations carried out and the saving of 1926 lives. Definitely an organization to support. Their web address is .

Port Elizabeth conditions by Gletwyn

Wind, wind, wind... Yep that's what’s been going on. Lots of westerlies and few opportunities to get in. When we get in there are only the odd cracker and a few small reef fish about. The odd yellowtail has come out at Thunderbolt and I heard that Mo got two tail of about 8 kgs with one shot - great stuff! Fishermen have been moaning about the lack of geelbeck and apparently the islands are only producing the small snotties (baby cob) for line fishermen. I got lucky with a cob of ~13 kilos in the bay (shot it from a school of about 200 std issue fish). That’s all for this month.

Spearfishing nationals

Trials to pick the Natal spearfishing teams to go to Nationals next year take place on the following dates: 17/31 January 2004, 14/28 February 2004. The entrance fee per diver is R400.00. Nationals take place from the 13 to 17 March at Stilbaai and will be dived over two days with the All African Spearfishing Championships taking place directly afterwards. Any natal divers interested can contact the N.U.U. spearfishing Officer, Andrew Nell on 083 2335128.

Fish Identification

We recently scanned the entire pictorial history of the South African National Spearfishing Records. Some of these photos go back to the early fifties and are a unique record of the different fish shot by spearfishermen along the South African coast. We used a sophisticated scanner that enabled some of the photos that were no longer legible to the naked eye to still be scanned successfully. There are seven photos missing from the records mostly due to the fact that some records were accepted without photos in the early days. We will endeavor to get pictures of these missing fish so there are no gaps in the records. This is an amazing reference for anyone wanting to identify the different fish species and we would like to thank the South African Freediving Association for their generosity in giving us access to this unique record. All the photos will be put up on the site soon.

Vumba Island

Plenty of interest in the Pemba trip with the group leaving on the 28 November. We hope to shoot some big dogtooth tuna and maybe even a marlin. The reports are that the water has warmed up and the action is thick and fast. The boat that we will be traveling on is a Seaquest, a 30ft mono hull powered by two 100hp four strokes. Has a top speed of 25 knots and has a marlin door and ladder for diver access. I am sure that there are going to be some stories to tell if the weather is good.

Safe diving, John.