Monday, November 17, 2008

Weekend Spearfishing in Port Elizabeth

I got back from Cape Town on Saturday evening - itching for a dive.
About Cape Town - Traffic!!! Drove me bit batty. I am very impatient on my way to a dive - kinda ridiculous - I could get bit mad in CT traffic on my way to a dive if I am chasing time to maximize divetime.

So yesterday morning saw me build up family shares and a divetime credit - I sent my wife horseriding while I looked after the kids. Spent a lot of time in the pool -22 degrees and rose to 24 in a few hours. Pool heating panels are on my roof but not connected yet. Zephyr's swimming is strong and he has to challenge Marks son who took his first fish with a speargun on Sat!!
Anyway the arvie saw me and Mark launch at about 2:30.
News was good - a thermocline at 10 m and flat water. One cannot go wrong with that at this time of year. Fishermen had taken yellowtail and some geelbek in the morning.

Mark took a cracker near Noordhoek and saw many more.
Later I got one too.
Hoards of bronze bream and parrot fish were swimming around on almost every dive.
That stormy SE wind did the trick to shake up a good thermocline.

The plankton was thickish on top with a soupy 2.5 m viz but it was up to 10 m below in the cooler water. The westerly today with push that plankton down and make for yukky diving except where the wave action cleans water by froth flotation - bubbles adsorb a piece of much and float it up to the surface.

Later we headed east to a spot where I took a cracker some time back. It was rather dead. I swam did a dive and swam along the bottom in search of a cave that sometimes holds nice baardman(tassles). I had overshot and while idling along over the reef at about 8 m down I heard heavy thumping of capital fish spooking. I swam down and hid behind a ledge expecting some cracker to appear.
After a half minute or so I discovered the source of the underwater earthquake. Two big white steenbras came nearer - mildly interested. I was very wellpositioned but had only my 1100 Freedivers gun with me in the 10 m viz. The fish circled but hung just too far back for a clean shot. With a 1300 gun I would have take the shot but did not want to risk wounding one of the steenbras. What must have happened is that the steenbras were hovering above the thermocline in the warmer water and I swam real close to spook them like that. Many years ago I had a good dive on that same spot - I met a shoal of 4 steenbras of about 10 kg. I managed to take 3 of the four in similar conditions. But now the quota is only one per person per day, then it was 5.

We tried a bit more but the steenbras had moved off. Next we headed toward Further east where I did a spot dive to check the conditions and found good fish on that first dive.

Here is quote that applies to what I did:

The price of excellence is discipline.
The cost of mediocrity is disappointment.

William Arthur Ward

As I landed on the reef, a fat bronze bream of at least three kilos came strait in and an 8 kg poensy was moving closer. I did not take a shot on these as I expected better later in the dive. I could have "mediocrified" by surfacing with either of these.
I disciplined myself to stay down longer - three or four 10-12 kg cracker passed within range - I let them swim by too. Then a 15-16 kg fish came in fast - like a destroyer ready to ram a sub. I discharged the 1100 Freedivers aiming side-on for the cheek. Spear was through and the fish fought very hard. I began pulling it up and then the line went slack - fish was amazingly off. Swearing I told Mark to keep an eye open for the fish on the surface. After one more dive I saw splashes just east of the boat and saw the cracker flapping about. Guessing blood loss brought it to the surface I headed nearer and re-speared it. I saw my error was that the shot was about 1 inch behind where I aimed and it tore through the gills.
That fish was 15 kg - my guess of 15-16 kg was spot on.

Next we headed closer to Thunderbotlt and stopped for me to investigate a blackout on the sounder screen - hoards of small sprats. After dive to the bottom I resurfaced and in the 2.5 m viz a tail began circling fast. More came briefly into view. I decided to take them to the bottom for better vis for a clearer shot - down I went and there shoal had about 15 fish I "compressed" the school onto the bottom and after scattering they came back in for another look presenting better targets for a 1200 gun in the clearer water, and I spined a 13 kg fish.

On the Kapo Mark saw a big scotman of about 5 kg but it was spooky, as were the cracker and poensies there too.

Other divers also got some nice fish - Werner Dam apparently got an 18 kg tail and some big cracker were running in the Thunderbolt and Cape Receife areas. I can just imagine that St Francis must be buzzing with fish now too.

This is an awesome time of year for spearfishing - tonight I will be braaing fish and contemplating another dive and how I can get Zephyr to take his first fish with a speargun. I will put on a side handle onto teh gun as his arms are most like ly not yet strong enought to turn the gun fast enough and this will help prevent the recoil injuring him.

Will get a pic we took on the boat from Mark later in the week. But here is one from a while back whe I dived with Evert:

p.s. Poachers were plentiful yesterday but MCM were nowhere in sight. We still laughed about it - we guessed we woiuld not see them as the sea was flat and clean - but when its big then they are burning diesel by the kiloliter.

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