Salt Rock Spearfishing Club Migratory Fish Challenge held on 9th July 2005

Good Weather

Well it was a super successful comp on Saturday. The weather came through for us at the last moment making most of the coast diveable. And for this time of the year.... well the odds were against us.

The committee met on Thursday and we decided to go ahead with the comp even though it was looking bleak that evening. But the south west came through on Friday and there was a huge sigh of relief, with the promise of clean water and calm seas.

Fish Scarce

Comp day was good, the guys on the lower coast having good seas and some really good water in some spots. It was, however, quiet and not too many fish were bagged. Some guys did well, Graham Carlise (no surprise) getting into some fish that won him a handful of prizes.

The Salt Rock area was a little quiet as well, and I heard that while every one was heading north or south of the area, the Garrick came in numbers to Ballito and the fisherman killed it. I know some of the mates were kicking themselves for not staying on the home spots. Hindsight is wonderful thing.

Cape Vidal the Spot

Andy Henwood and myself were one of the crew that decided to venture north in search of some fish. But our mission to Vidal was not plain sailing. I had to fill my boat with buoyancy and get it sea worthy before the trip. We didn't have a 4x.... well one that didn't drink fuel (do you actually get those??) Well, Andy being up for almost anything was not that hard to persuade, and we agreed to just go for it. Andy arrived at my place from Maritzburg at about 7pm to find me huddled over a not-so-happy outboard motor. Anyway I start pulling the motor to bits, not knowing what on earth I am looking for or doing. Anyway, to cut a long one short the motor gets put back together and we get it working. Andy then pipes up "I knew that was the problem, I saw it loads of times when I worked repairing outboards" Well I almost fell over.... I must have looked like a cuta with a spear though it!!

Worth the Drive

So the motor got fixed and we proceeded to find all sorts of little things missing or not working..... that’s what I get for not using my boat in 9 months. But, as they say, a boer maak a plan and we hit the sack, only what seemed moments later to wake up again and hit the road. We left Ballito just after 3am after a fuel stop, for me to discover that the 20 year old Nissan Sani's passenger seat did not stay in the up right position and only after a little snooze shoved an empty blik behind the seat to give it a seriously gangster type angle. If I was a "fello" I would have been seriously cool..... just damn uncomfortable. But no space for complaints, we were on route to Vidal! Bumpy Sea The trip was slow and we drove though some seriously misty roads to get to the Vidal gate at St Lucia before 6am; only to find some surprised spearos all thinking, "we will be the only ones up here". There were 4 boats that made the trek to Vidal only to be greeted by a choppy North East Sea.

Jethro and York came in behind us and were on the beach and heading for Leven Point before we could even untie the boat. So by the time we got out to the back through a rather rough launch, they were gone and out of sight. This is where you start thinking to your self ..."If they are at Leven we should also go, otherwise we wont have a chance". But the sea was not looking inviting and my little 3.8m skiff was bouncing around in the chop. Stopping the boat I tell Andy it's his call, he pipes up all amped "we've come this far let's just go for it" I am sure if he really knew how far it was and how bumpy the ride would be he would have opted for the point.

Plenty of Action

Almost an hour later we reach Leven Point to see the other guys already in the water. I noticed John Little who had been up there the whole week drifting on the outside of the reef and followed suit. The first drift was quiet and even though we had a burley trail going we had not seen a thing. I knew we would get snoek shallower but it is the time of the year when the croc cuta are around up there and I wanted some of that action. So we did another drift, slightly shallower in about 17 metres of water just off the reef. We go to where the deep ledge ends and Andy got a nice cuta of about 10kg coming up the trail of sards and mackerel. We got it in the boat and resumed diving on the same line. Andy, pumped at this point and as fit as a racing snake, was down groveling on the ocean floor looking for some more action. I was watching him from about 25m away only to see two large Wahoo swim unnoticed over him and towards me. I looked back at Andy and he still had not seen them, they came right underneath me and started moving off. I dive bombed the closest one and planted the spear in its back.

Class Fish

The line started pulling through my hands, but not as fast as I thought it would, only to find out that the reason for this was that although the line was pulling out in front of me the fish had already passed behind me in a huge arc. The wahoo swam right over Andy's head and when he saw it he gave chase, but all he saw was the tail end disappearing into the blue. Now that the fish was traveling in a straight line the line came to a quick end and I found my buoy being ripped from my hands. The buoy went spinning down in a trail of bubbles only to come back up and get caught in Andy's buoy line ..... thank goodness, as it gave me an extra buoy and some more line to play with.

Unwelcome Guest

After a long swim Andy secured the fish with a second shot, only to surface and pose this question "where is the boat?" I pointed in some arbitrary direction saying "some where over there". He passed me his gun, still attached to a very alive Wahoo and started swimming back. I got the fish to the surface to find it was a quality fish of what turned out to be 24.8kg. Andy on the other hand eventually found the boat a couple hundred metres inside of us with a fair size Tiger Shark sitting in our burley trail. Having no gun to defend himself with he said it was the fastest he has ever swam.

We loaded the fish and got back on another drift, getting some more fish. I got a Cuta of 16kg and Andy got another of about 8kg. We would have liked to have done a drift on the inside reef but time was up and we had to fly if we were to make it back to the weigh-in on time.

All the boats up at Leven Point got fish and I think all our juices are flowing anticipating the next time we can get up there.

Race to the Weigh-in

It took us about 3 hours to get to the weigh-in at Umdloti where the comp organizers, Tony and Carol, and the wives were hard at work getting everything going. There were hoots and yells coming from where the big screen was, as The Bokke clubbed the Kiwi's in a rugger match. But the real action was at the gantry where a crowd of spectators and divers gathered to see who was in the running for prizes.

A comp of this size, over 80 divers and 8 prize categories, does not go without a few logistical challenges. And the team did well to get the prize-giving under way, rewarding the efforts of those who got the fish. And some, like Jethro who won the lucky draw for the R3500 dive watch, came away smiling as well.

Good Team and Generous Sponsors

And again this would not have been possible with out the hard work of Carol and Tony...... I think every club should have a couple like them!

There is also all the sponsors who are always so generous, thanks a mill. They are... in no particular order:

Lizzard Wetsuits
Rob Allen Spearguns
Free Divers
Zero industries
Cressi Sub
Uwe Scales
Tool Haven
Lifestyle Spar
BBS Mica
Underwater World
Bromor Foods
South African Breweries
Stealth Performance Products
The Umdloti Beach Ski Boat Club
ATV Productions

Winners as follows:

Cuta -
First, Clayton Love at 16.44,
Second, Chris Coates at 16.0,
Third,Craig Harper at 15.56kg

Garrick -
First, Billy Rowe at 6.95,
Second, Shaun Reid at 5.76,
Third, Evan Basson at 4.78kg

Snoek -
First, Allan Heydorn at 8,18,
Second, John Little at 7.32,
Third, Jethro McCarthy at 6.62kg.

Daga -
First and only, Graham Carlisle at 6.22kg.

Grunter -
First, Graham Carlisle at 2.1,
Second, Mark Griffith at 1.3kg.

Brusher -
First and only, Graham Carlisle at 3.84kg.

Crayfish -
First, Brian Carlisle at 1.34,
Second, Billy Rowe at 1.18kg,
Third, Alex Rice at 1.16,
Fourth, Greg Bisset at 1.14kg.

No Kingfish were weighed in.

Any way straight spears,

Chris Coates
Salt Rock Spearfishing Club