Aliwal Shoal Report May 2007 - Basie Ackerman

I’ve felt compelled to dedicate this month’s report to Sappi Saiccor.  On behalf of all the spearfishermen, fishermen and divers who use the Aliwal as a place of recreation, enjoyment and excitement, one big THANK YOU.

Your filthy black effluent, which stretches as far as the eye can see (on a good day), does not affect us, or our beloved sport, at all. Neither does the good old secondary effluent, that green crap that just hangs around for weeks on end when the current is light. On the contrary, ruining our otherwise optimistically filled days and crushing all expectations instantaneously, it just instills in us a love for you and your unceasing environmentally conscious efforts that I cannot adequately put it into words. I can, but it might be construed as sarcasm, which might be twisted into some form of slander. So therefore, suffice it to say Sappi, you make us so happi, we love you!


The month of May is peak hour for this beloved fish (lots of love in this month’s report, that’s for sure). True to form, the first day that the conditions were right for them, they were aplenty. Lots of excitement, lots of chasing all round, but no landings. Emil Pirzenthal did mange to land 5 Ignobilis, all in the 15-25kg range. Very strange to still get them in May. A couple of Sangoras also came out.

Feeling the love

From the 5th to the 12th the conditions were perfect. This time of year, the light offshore in the mornings result in very glassy conditions, which often lasts all day.  The current was very light north south; sea was glassy – perfect for Wahoo. And this is where SAPPI enters the picture uninvited. The Wahoo must have felt very safe and were probably having the one tea party after the other, as the viz was a terrible effluent filled 5-8m. For a whole week. Not enough current to move it off. One commercial fisherman did mange to land 10 shoal cuda the one day though.

At last

Paradise. On Sunday the 13th the current picked up to moderate north south, moved the effluent off and all of a sardine the viz was a spectacular 25m. The cuda were loose. All boats caught 10 or more, with one fishing boat getting more than 30. One Wahoo of 20ish kilogram was also landed. The spearos battled as the Wahoo all stayed out of range. Very wary and cunning. No blonde Wahoo there that day. Then in the afternoon a fresh batch of effluent moved in, spoiling it again, although the outside was still clean Lots of chasing, not one boated.

The next day myself, Alistair, Steve, Tim (who has just shot a 240 kilogram Black Marlin a week before – well done!) and Wayne rushed out here. It turned out to be a long but very exciting day, chasing Wahoo all over the ocean.  Steve lost one of over 40kg. It is not long before a new record is going to be landed here. We ended up with a couple of cuda, a Sailfish of 32kg, a Dorado and two Wahoo of 18.5 and 20kg.

We than had a week of  south north current, with 5-12m, and a temperature drop of 24 to 22 degrees Celsius. Also some 4m swells for a couple of days. No fish action.

Feel the love Part II

The current swung back to north south on the 24th, and we all began hoping for a rerun with the elusive Wahoo. The temperature climbed to 23 degrees again and things looked set. Ja right. Effluent moved in. I measured the width of the black, foaming, foul – smelling crap on the GPS; it was just over a kilometre wide, and 4km north of me all the way to the pipeline, stretching past Scottburgh 10km to my south.

With the extension of the Sappi pipeline, all they’ve done is put the end slap bang in the middle of the warm, fish bearing north south onshore current. Visibility down to 6m again, the current slowed down, and we then sat with secondary effluent for the next 5 days.

On the last day of the month some cold clean water moved in, 25metre viz and 19 degrees, but not even a Bonito in site.

Basically May could have produced some prime Wahoo action, had it not been for the pollution spoiling the visibility for weeks on end. Another factor was the lack of strong current.  Here’s to hoping things improve next month, for the game fish are there, ready to challenge our abilities.