Monthly Spearfishing Report September 2002

September 2002

Big Fronts move in from the Cape

The first half of this month was characterized by the big fronts that came through. I was up in Mozambique from the 2-8 and the weather up there was adversely affected by these systems. This is unusual as these systems do not normally travel as far north as Inhambane. The low pressure that sat off the Natal coast for 3 days from the 10th caused very strong southwesterly winds to blow. This caused huge seas with swells in excess of 5m and a warning to shipping in the area was put out.

Disaster Looms

Kevin Daly with a brusher of15kgThe Italian owned cargo ship, the Jolly Rubino, had a fire in the engine room during this period of bad weather. The crew failed to control the blaze that soon spread forcing the evacuation by helicopter of the 22 man crew. The ship was now at the mercy of the sea, approximately 20 nautical miles off Richards bay. Unfortunately the strong winds pushed the ship northwards and inshore and with no suitable salvage tug in the area, little could be done. The 190m ro-ro container ship eventually ran aground approximately 1 nautical mile north of the St Lucia lighthouse. With 1000 tons of fuel oil aboard, 200 tons of gas oil and a host of toxic chemicals, the threat of pollution to the St Lucia estuary is very real. The ship will probably eventually break up due to the weakening of the hull from the intense heat of the fire that raged for many days within the hull. Hopefully the fuel oil will be pumped off before this happens, as this is the main pollution threat. This makes a case for the stationing of a salvage tug in the Durban/Richards Bay area on a full time basis big enough to handle ships of this size in an emergency.

Settled Seas and lots of Brusher(White Musselcracker)

The sea soon settled after the big blow and spearos found lots of brusher on the rocky points. A particularly good spot has been the cracker/south pier area where a number of these fish have been landed. They seem to have favourite feeding spots evident by the bare patches on the rocks where the mussels have been removed. Diving close to these spots in the right conditions can prove fruitful. Darryll Hattinghs 14kg monster, shot in the Hibberdene area, is the largest one so far this year that l have heard about. They are not an easy fish to hunt, preferring to stay in the white water where they are safe from predators. Hunting in the white water is never easy and takes a lot of stamina and skill. The real brusher specialists weight themselves so that they are negatively buoyant on the surface that helps when they are diving in very shallow, turbulent water. Not something for a novice to try.

Garrick and Kob about

Daga Salmon(kob) - Clive Hockly(31.5) and Graeme Duane(23.8) shot these beauties at salt rockThere are still a lot of garrick about on the south coast with some big fish being landed. One of 20kg was reportedly taken at the cutting. Some spearos have been lucky enough to find kob in the shallows with king rock at Rocky Bay being a likely spot. Some have also been shot on the drop-off at salt rock. Queenfish action here as well and with the north coast reefs undiveable for over a month there should be a lot of fish on these reefs if good water is found. Big shoals of grunter have been seen on the south coast with the odd 6–7kg fish landed. Aliwal Shoal has seen some wahoo action in the northeast pinnacle area when conditions are right.

Cold Water lurks out Deep

Most of the action is in the shallows with cold green water to be found as soon as you swim out deeper. This water is probably from an upwelling brought about by the big southerly winds. A current needs to build up inshore to replace this water. Most fish are sensitive to rapid temperature changes and either move or hide. The result is that when you encounter these conditions you find few fish. The east coast rock lobsters are also bothered by these rapid temperature changes and can be seen moving about over the reef. Could they know that this is a good time to house hunt as few fish have any appetite for food under these conditions?

Dead Weed in the Water

There has been a lot of dead weed washing up on the beaches and visible in the shallows. This seaweed is dislodged from the rocks during periods of big surf and accumulates in the shallows. Rock and Surf fishermen note this as a bad time for fishing. This is probably due to the seaweed clogging their lines as it should not affect the fish in anyway. It is off-putting to dive amongst the swirling mass of dead weed and perhaps fish feel the same and prefer areas that are free from the weed.

Equal Day and Night

Equinox as it is known was on the 23 September. It occurs when all places on earth have equal day and night. It happens twice a year with the 21/22 March being the other date. It is associated with abnormally high tides and always seems to be a period of possible big surf along our stretch of coast. This was true for this year with the surf jacking up on the 24 after a week of very settled surf conditions.

Tide Info

Tides are caused by the gravitational pull of the moon and sun on the earth and its oceans. If the earth was completely covered in water, there would be two bulges. One towards the moon caused by the gravitational pull of the moon and, one on the opposite side of the earth. The second bulge is caused by the lessened gravitational pull of the moon and a rotational force. At the centre of the earth there are 2 forces acting: gravity towards the moon and a rotational force away from the moon, that are perfectly in balance. Hence the bulges are equal and form the high tides. As the earth rotates about its axis most places pass beneath the 2 bulges in a 24hour period and so have two high tides in this time span. These tides caused by the moon are called lunar tides. The gravitational pull of the sun also causes bulges and when aligned with the moon cause the spring tides. These solar tides when acting at 90 degrees to the lunar tides tend to cancel one another out and this is when we experience neap tides or lower than normal high tides. When the sun and the moon are on the same side of the earth you have a new moon and a full moon when they are on opposite sides. The highest tides occur during the new or full moon around the equinox period.

October Preview

October is the start of the rainy season and you can expect some falls of rain this month. The temperatures start to warm up markedly and humid conditions start to show themselves towards the end of the month. Not the best diving month especially for shore divers with some rivers starting to flow and lots of wind to stir up the inshore conditions. Boat divers can expect better times with fish starting to move onto the deep Scottburgh reefs if warm water moves in. Safe diving, john.