Thursday, July 3, 2008

Knifejaws spooking trophy fish

In summer when the thermoclines lift they bring up some fine trophy fish such as red steenbras or poenskop and often numerous red stumpnose and banksteenbras scattered amongst walls of soldiers (SA equivalent of a dentex).
The chief problem is that flocks of Cape knifejaw (also termed cuckoo bass or parrots) are often in attendance too - also brought in by the rising theremoclines.

These fish have driven me nuts on occasion - I wait on the bottom and see a trophy fish approach cautiously but the knifejaws come in real close and they suddenly decide I am the scariest looking thing since a sand tiger; then one darts off with is thudding tail and herd mentality ripples across the flock of knifejaws and off they stampede across the firing range where the trophy fish was heading toward. Bubbles, No STEAM!!!! emits from my snorkel as I fume in frustration with the knifejaws.
Next dive same thing and again and again and again....
They are so stereotyped and drive me dilly on occasion. Move off to another spot on the reef and they snif you out and approach again. Shoot one and still they do not learn from their mates demise!
By now the trophy fish has realized that something is amiss and he scampers off with a knowing look on his scaly face.

Here is a youtube clip showing this phenomenon of the knifejaws herding in and spooking off - viz is unfortunately not great but you will see what I mean. I also knock of one of the knifejaws after two stampedes.

Tell you what - next time I see them and they wind me up I will try get a clip of me stabbing one instead of shooting it.
As you watch the clip try see the optimum moment to make the stabing thrust - if you have done fencing it will be obvious.

One must remain super relaxed (almost to the degree of faking death)and minimize eye contact to avoid spooking the knifejaw shoal but even then it does not always work. Hiding my eyes behind the camera helps too as it does with most species.

I also got a nice pic of Brent Borstlap holding two nice yellow bellies (meru)taken up north:

These yellowbellies would bolt like a rocket for their cave at the knifejaw stampede - you would hear a thump and see a puff of sand.

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