Aliwal Shoal Report October 2009 - Basie Ackermann

General conditions - Catch 22

As per normal with the advent of summer, we started experiencing more and more north south current. In fact, it has been this direction since the 6th October. Great news, as we could already picture all the gamefish drifting in on the deep onshore current to visit our little reef. Masses and masses of them, all with only one purpose in mind – to become a pin cushion.

Bad news – and herein lies the catch 22 – we could not see any of them. Once again atrocious visibility caused by Sappi Saiccor. The end cap of the pipeline was open for three weeks, so a lot of effluent came out in bulk, instead of being spread over a couple of kilometers by means of the numerous diffusers. So the visibility was on average 6-8metres, which was such a great pity, seeing that the current has been right for so long. The only way any pin pricking could be done at all, was if you happen to be there at the time when the effluent did move off for an hour or two, before it moved back over the Shoal again. So it was literally pot luck.

Water temperatures ranged between 18 and 21 degrees Celsius, and even though we still had a lot of wind, ( must have been all those peanuts) in general there had been more diveable days weather wise than last month.


There was a glimmer of light at the end of the fish drought tunnel, even though it was a feeble candle flickering in the gusty easterly. More sightings and actually a couple fish coming out.

On the 9th Emil Pirzenthal drew first blood. Fortunately Rambo wasn’t there to retaliate. He landed some nice sized Seapike, a Brusher of 10kg and lost two pre- season Ignobilis .The Jet Ski fisherman landed some Yellowfin Tuna and an Ignobilis as well.

On the 16th some reports of sightings of Wahoo and a lone cuda also reached my elf-like ears Then on the 17th and 18th the clean water, through a Herculean effort, pushed the effluent aside. Fish were quiet at first, with only some sightings - with binoculars – of Wahoo. On the 18th though it was game on. Alistair Louw, who had a charter, managed a good Sailfish of 42kgs, and Pete one of 37kgs. They saw about 8 of them in a shoal. Goes with the fact that November is a very good month for Sailfish on the Shoal, so it is part of the build up.

Emil went out in the afternoon and shot a 40kg Sailfish and two Ignobilis of 15 and 28kgs. On the 22nd the visibility cleared up again and 5 minutes into my first drift I landed a 23 kg Wahoo. Saw them on every drift there after, but due to and undetected bent spear, shot seagulls twice before I realized my doppie mistake…Lots of big aggressive Zambies around though. The 24th saw Enrico Galassi get a 20kg Wahoo and then they were forced back when once again the effluent moved in and reduced the visibility to 6metres. The last bit of action was on the 26th. I got an unexpected report of 18metres and light north south, so a lot of scurrying later, we launched with visions of blue logs floating with bulls eyes (not literally and no reference to any rugby side). We got there an hour after the report but the effluent had already reduced the good visibility to 5metres again. Our disappointment was only exceeded by our annoyance towards Sappi Saiccor. Be it as it may, we jumped into the muck and Mark van Achterberg lost a Wahoo of over 30kg, while I myself duffed a smaller one. One hour later we gave up. Gorillas in the mist. Once again very inquisitive Blacktips around, as well a Duskies and Zambuks. Another strange thing is that we have come across quite a few Whale Sharks. Very early for them, as they usually grace our shores in December/January, in much warmer water. Good prospects for November are that one or two cuda has already come out on skis. Now now, I know cuda can’t ski. Jet skis. Stay with me here.

There always seem to be a mini cuda run in November, disappearing again by December. With the usual Sailfish, Wahoo and Ignobilis things are looking up, even more so if you are vertically impaired and starred in Snow White with your 6 brothers.

Enjoy our oceans!