Monday, September 8, 2008

Video clip of spearfishing a cape knifejaw

After a weekend of no diving the swell has eventually dropped but the water has not cleared up. Some time back I took this clip while hunting on the wreck of the Kapodistrias.

The sassi information is as follows:

Species Information
Other Names | Kraaibek galjoen, cuckoo bass
Biology | Slow growing, has a parrot-like beak
Habitat | Shallow-water rocky reefs
Distribution | Endemic, False Bay to KZN
Capture Methods | Primarily targeted by recreational spearfishers, rarely caught with a hook and line

Conservation Notes
Recreational species only. Very inquisitive and an easy target for spearfishers

I quite agree that knifejaws are potentially easy targets. In fact I have taken at least ten by stabbing with the gun and not pulling the trigger.
There are days, however, when a knifejaw is not able to be speared - I have had many of these - they retreat into an inaccessible cave. Or perhaps in competition you consider fleeing order(what species get spooked the easiest and shoot them first leaving the tame fish for later). Perhaps I take the roman, rockcod and leave the knife jaw for last only to find it is gone.

What amuses me is that on occasion I am criticized for spearing these "tame" fish.
Cows and cattle are also tame, slaughtered cut up and eaten. Fish, skates, soles etc are trawled haplessly into nets. Rockcod, red romans, red steenbras, tuna, cob, cape salmon - these fish simply cannot resist a nice pilchard on a hook. No-one criticizes the commercial fishermen as loudly as the spearo is criticised but the bigger picture is left out. From an environmental point of view knifejaws are actually the ideal target as only spearfishermen are likely to take them - so think again before criticizing the spearo who takes them especially if he left a roman, rockcod or red steenbras to take a cape knifejaw. In fact if he did so he should be applauded.

Fishing vs spearfishing: some time back I was driving the boat while Mark was hunting tuna with a speargun - I threw overboad to allow me to work on knots in the line - a tuna grapped the stationaly lure - easy hey! That day we took three tuna by speargun. I believe if we fished rather we would have been able to take 30 tuna.

Yet it is the spearo who is heavily criticized for taking tame prey. The spearo learned to hold his breath and equalize, find reefs, overcome a whole array of fears, possibly fend off sharks and then get deep into the water to hunt. He(she)worked hard to be able to shoot the fish. To catch a fish it takes less effort and far less self mastery - e.g. I took my son to sea to catch a cob - he caught one of 4 kg and another of 6 kg before the age of four - not that hard - I will have to traing him quite a bit before he can do the same with a speargun. If he spears a cape knifejaw as his first fish he will be well applauded by me!

Cooking tip:Cape Knifejaws have a great eating flesh, firm and snow white. My dogs and cats also like the flesh. Never enclose the fishes skin in aluminium foil over the flesh - the flesh is tainted by the skin. Also gut them in the water, or asap to prevent their gut content contacting the flesh. I also prefer to spear tehm so that teh spear does not penetreate the gut cavity and thus contaminate the flesh with the strongly tainted gut contents.
I prefer cooking them on the coals and later peel off the cooked skin followed by a baste. The fine scales are difficult to remove from the skin. Sometimes the flesh seems to adopt taint - probably from the fishes diet.

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