Freedivers Bluewater Gamefish Challenge – August 2010


Ben Bucher with a 35.5kg wahoo taken at 5 mile reef, sodwana bay august 2010The 2010 Challenge took place at Sodwana Bay on the KZN northern coastline. Sodwana Bay forms part of the Isimangaliso Wetland Park, a World heritage site and being part of a marine park it is a gamefish only area. It is one of the premier gamefish locations in South Africa and is renowned for clean warm seas and rich coral reefs.


The base for the competition was Coral Divers, a thatch and reed lodge within the park that mostly hosts scuba divers. This venue is ideal for such an event with lots of accommodation and a very efficient staff compliment providing good service and meals with a smile.

Competition Area

The boundaries for the comp were the northern edge of the sanctuary in the south and the Mozambican border in the north, a distance of roughly a hundred kilometres. Sodwana has a host of spearfishing locations from shallow inshore diving to deep offshore canyons with spectacular coral reefs right throughout the area.

Day One

With over sixty entrants and some good fish coming out during scouting there was a lot of excitement amongst the competing spearos with the hope of a big one in the back of most divers minds. There was a southerly blowing the first morning with the odd rain squall coming through as boats launched at 06:00. With a south north current expected most boats headed north for some of the more distance reefs such as elusive forty kilometres up the coast. Visibility was a good 20m plus at Mbibi but things were quiet until the choppy seas settled down and the sun came out. The day just got better and better with the wind turning to a light onshore and calm flat seas making for ideal spearfishing conditions.

Day One Weigh-in

With fifty six gamefish making the minimum weight of 3kg and some very good bags weighed in the one per species per diver rule. It was certainly a good day for the spearos with the biggest fish being a 37.5kg sailfish. Class fish of the day went to Ben Bucher for a 35.5kg wahoo. All fish were brought to the scales gutted.

Day Two

The surf had jacked up over-night and competitors were greeted by a firing backline with few breaks and a very fast wave. One boat lost all of its occupants but luckily they managed to scramble back onboard whilst one of the few breaks occurred. There was no current and the visibility was still top to bottom in 25m. The current picked up later in the day in the bay to a strong north south but further north there was not much current. Once again calm sunny weather but the surf remained big throughout the day.

Day Two Weigh-in

Only twenty-two gamefish made it to the scales on the second day with fish much harder to find. Fish of the day was a 18.3kg ignoblis kingfish landed by Jason Smith.

The top six biggest bags were:

Top six biggest fish were:

Points of Interest

Next year there will be a beach controller to stop boats launching before the allowed time and boats will not be allowed rods onboard. If you shoot a gamefish anywhere near the reef or if your fish runs near the reef it is going to be taken by a potato bass. It certainly adds another dimension to the diving and you need to plan better to keep the bass from eating your fish. Most guys who got fish found bait and stayed with them especially the powder blue mackerel that definitely attract gamefish in a big way.

Safe diving, john little