Ski-Boat magazine July 2019

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July/August 2019 Volume 35 Number 4 COVER: MONSTER TUNA! Bok van Blerk with a magnificent 101.3kg yellowfin tuna caught off Hout Bay with Xtreme Charters.



How Times Have Changed The evolution of ski-boating in SA — by Erwin Bursik


Fishing is My Life Getting to know Debbie James


The Art of Anchoring Part 2: Retrieving the Pick — by Anton Gets


Victory Through Adversity


Bundu Bester Memorial Durban Ski-Boat Club Festival — by Mark Wilson


Big Boy Part 1: Catching big eye tuna — by Rob and Scott Naysmith


Off Season Winter fishing in KZN is hot! — by Jonathan Booysen


Making the Jump How to start ski-boating — by Adam Waites


Boats in the Middle of Farmland 2019 NAMPO Harvest Day Show



Do Musselcracker Move? Results of spying on poenskop — by Taryn Murray, Bruce Mann & Paul Cowley


Does SASSI Makes Sense? A life-long fisherman’s view of SASSI — by Jack Walsh

DEPARTMENTS 8 45 47 59

Editorial — by Erwin Bursik Subscribe and WIN! Kingfisher Awards Reel Kids

54 61 72 73 74

Mercury Junior Anglers Ad Index Business Classifieds & Directory Rapala Lip — Last Word from the Ladies

The official magazine of the South African Deep Sea Angling Association


Publisher: Erwin Bursik Editor: Sheena Carnie Advertising Executive: Mark Wilson



Editorial Assistant: Vahini Pillay Boat Tests: Heinrich Kleyn Contributors: Jonathan Booysen, Erwin Bursik, Paul Cowley, Anton Gets, Debbie James, Bruce Mann, Tarryn Murray, Rob Naysmith, Scott Naysmith, Adam Waites, Jack Walsh & Mark Wilson. ADVERTISING – NATIONAL SALES: Angler Publications Mark Wilson cell: 073 748 6107 ADVERTISING – Gauteng & Mpumalanga: Lyn Adams — 083 588 0217 Publishers: Angler Publications cc PO Box 20545, Durban North 4016 Telephone: (031) 572-2280/89/97/98 Fax: (031) 572-7891 e-mail: Subscriptions to SKI-BOAT: R180 per annum (six issues). New subscriptions and renewals: SKI-BOAT Subscriptions Department, PO Box 20545, Durban North 4016. Telephone: (031) 572-2280/89/97/98 Fax: (031) 572-7891 • e-mail: • Through, or E-zine through <> Reproduction: Hirt & Carter, Durban Printer: Robprint (Pty) Ltd, Durban Full production is done in-house by Angler Publications & Promotions on Apple Macintosh software and hardware for output directly to plate. SKI-BOAT Magazine, ISSN 0258-7297, is published six times a year by Angler Publications & Promotions cc, Reg. No. CK 88/05863/23, and is distributed by RNA, as well as directly by the publishers to retail stores throughout South Africa. • Copyright of all material is expressly reserved and nothing may be reproduced in part or whole without the permission of the publishers. • While every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the contents of this magazine, the publishers do not accept responsibility for omissions or errors or their consequences. Views expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of the publishers, the managing editor, editor, editorial staff or the South African Deep Sea Angling Association.

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ANY of the coastal areas in South Africa experienced extreme rainfall during the onset of autumn this year. This resulted in localised flooding in certain areas, especially on the central and upper KwaZulu-Natal coast. The extensive coverage by the press, television and social media showed the extreme severity of the flood damage and debris washed into the ocean. Phrases such as “global warming”, “cyclonic input”, “freak storm” and “worst ever” were used, all implying that this was the worst such event ever experienced. However, we all Erwin Bursik have short memories. Publisher Many of our readers will no doubt have lived through the really big one — Cyclone Domoina — that exerted its force on the Zululand coast in February 1984 with a ferocity that had, until then, never been experienced in that area. Even Cyclone Favio — the only recorded cyclone to have passed south of Madagascar to strike South Africa — which struck in February 2007 did not rate in comparison to Domoina. Whilst comparisons, especially in this scenario, could be construed as inappropriate, if we really pay attention to what’s happened before we’ll note that severe wind and rain occurrences have been experienced many times in the past. The first such event I ever noted was in the late 1950s on the Natal coast. However, the reason for this editorial is not to debate which was the worst storm ever, but rather to draw attention to what was left behind after the storm. In the past vast quantities of water and vegetation were washed into the ocean, but never before 2019 did anywhere near this quantity of rubbish — especially plastic — find its way into the sea and back onto the KZN beaches. The only place that I have seen as much debris, most of which was plastic, was after a tropical storm that hit off the coast of Ghana with rain I could not believe was possible. On the current line off Accra/Tema where we were trolling for marlin there was a line of flotsam at least 50 metres wide and so thick that the sportfishers operating that day refused to go through it, fearing that the floating plastic would block their saltwater cooling intakes. The Hooker, fishing very close to us, hooked a good blue marlin that charged off under the enormous plastic “raft”and started jumping on the other side. The taut line attached to this fish resembled a washing line as it had many plastic “flags” flying between The Hooker and the rampant marlin. My skipper joked that the entire cities of Accra and Tema had been wash clean. I never believed I would see so much plastic floating in the ocean again, but sadly that was only until I went to sea off Durban a week after the recent floods. It is hard to describe, but from the Rod and Reel slipway right through the harbour to the 200 metre marks off Number One there was a sea of floating plastic. We made three stops before exiting around South Pier — two for plastic around the props and one when a large stick of sugar cane jammed against the motor skegs. Since then many hands have been busy with cleanup operations and reports are already coming through saying the water is clearing of debris remarkably quickly. In a month’s time this entire debacle will be history. But what of all the rubbish that was not cleaned up? Where is all that plastic now? For absolute certainty it has not broken down — it’s all somewhere in the poor ocean! Will the deplorable sight of all that rubbish remain etched in our memories, pressing us to make the necessary changes to our lifestyles to ensure it doesn’t happen again, or will we just move on happy to forget about it until the next big flood comes? Till the next tide.

Erwin Bursik


Ski-boats fishing off Durban on 17 May 1956. Some boats hooked up to 40 ’cuda but one fish in five was taken by sharks.

HOWTheTIMES HAVE CHANGED evolution of ski-boating in South Africa By Erwin Bursik


S the history of ski-boating of interest to the so-called millennials? The editorial team at SKI-BOAT pondered this question when a scrapbook containing hundreds of newspaper clippings and photographs was unearthed in our archives.

This scrapbook covered the period from 1951 to 1956, a time when about 100 ski-boats were operating off Durban, primarily from the Vetch’s Pier area. The founders of the sport launched the first motorised craft in the post-war period from 1945 onwards after restrictions were lifted on private vessel activ-

ity in and around Durban harbour. I began to flip through the scrapbook but ended up reading almost every word as I became engrossed in the ski-boating news of those years which had been so well recorded. With all the names of the ski-boaters of that time, styles of fishing and the details of the craft and motors being used, I was

SKI-BOAT July/August 2019 • 9

WOMEN ON THE WATER often left with more questions than answers. This short piece highlighting a couple of photos and a bit of narrative is included in the magazine as “bait” to ascertain if this is of sufficient interest among today’s ski-boaters to warrant more detailed exposure in future editions of the magazine. Future features might well include articles on some of the men from this era such as Hayden Gray, Noel and Billy Clark, Keith Challenor, Normal Lightbody, Dave Said and many others whose families may have extremely valuable photographs and written reports that could be of interest to us deep sea anglers. If you would like to see more of these articles or if you have photos and/or written reports taken by friends and family who fished in the early years of this sport we would love to hear from you. Email Sheena Carnie <> or Erwin Bursik <>. The photograph at the top of the previous page, taken from an aeroplane in mid-February 1956 and printed in the 18 February 1956 edition of the Daily News, shows a typical view of how the Durban Ski-Boat Club f leet would find protection from south-westerly winds and anchor off North Beach and Countr y Club. Their live baits would be suspended from big red cork floats for ’cuda while fishing off the bottom for snapper salmon, the odd moff grunter and, of course, shad. During this period the only safety equipment required on a ski-boat was one life jacket per person, two paddles and a bailing bucket. There was no radio, no pyrotechnics — nothing. The notorious south-westerly buster usually arrived without much notice, so a system was devised in conjunction with the Wings Club, whereby when the Wings Club got notice of the change in weather (albeit short notice) a plane would be sent up to drop coloured streamers over the fishing fleet as a warning to them to up lines and head home. This system continued well into the 1960s if not ’70s. On 2 May 1953 the fleet of 60 skiboats was caught off-guard when a 58 mile per hour gale sprang up suddenly around noon. The ski-boats battled to get back to shore, and some had to be towed in by tugs. A 30ft launch, My Love, was towing one of the ski-boats in when it was hit by a big wave and badly damaged. It subsequently sank although fortunately the crew members were rescued. Mr M Walkenden, part owner of My Love is quoted in the Daily News of that day as saying, “Mr Knott held the battery out of the water so we could signal with the Aldis lamp. This saved us.” How times have changed! 10 • SKI-BOAT July/August 2019

FISHING IS MY LIFE Debbie James with a ±2kg kob caught on the Breede River — her happy place.

WE recently ran a feature on some of South Africa’s female fishing legends. This month we bring readers a short profile on Debbie James, a woman who’s working hard for the whole boating fraternity in her management position at SAMSA. By Debbie James


ROWING up the youngest daughter of two, my father seemed to treat me as the “son” he never had, and I loved it! When my sister was playing with dolls, I was racing my formula one cars around the toilet seat. I was born in Bulawayo, Rhodesia then moving to Cape Town when I was six. I was introduced to fishing by my father when I was eight years old. The first boat my father bought was a tiny GRP boat which was transported on the roof of our old Cressida, with the 25hp Yamaha engine in the boot. Our little boat was called the High-Jacker and I had to help my dad lift the boat onto the top of the car! One of our favourite places to fish was Keurbooms River near Plett. Those were the days when we caught huge spotted grunter in the Keurbooms River — or maybe I was little so they seemed huge. After spending many hours prawn

pumping we would hang the prawns in the tree to safeguard them from the wild cats which roamed the camp site. The next morning we would get up bright and early only to find my older sister waiting to go fishing. Oh my word! I love my sister, but usually after half an hour of fishing, boredom would set in and the peace and tranquillity was no longer. My sister (love you sis), being so bored, decided to have a race with the prawns along the bottom of the boat. Besides her hitting the bottom of the boat and scaring all the fish away, the winning prawns were “saved” and thrown overboard. All our hard work to catch the prawns only for them to be “saved”! We soon dropped my sister back at the camp site. It was only when I was much older that I started deep sea fishing, and then I was properly hooked. My favourite fishing grounds are Dassen Island and Cape Point where we mostly catch yellowtail and snoek. My whole life is about boating — I have been involved in the boating industry for a number of years, initially as a small boat surveyor and now in a management position with the marine authority. I have taken part in many competitions and absolutely love the camaraderie and friendships made during these events, but I would love to see more ladies taking part.



ANCHORING Part 2: Retrieving the pick

By Anton Gets


AVE you ever experienced fear? No, I’m not talking of the fear you feel in the pit of your stomach when you arrive home a week after telling your wife you were going out for a couple of drinks with your fishing buddies. I’m talking about REAL fear. Yes, the fear you feel when a novice skipper with whom you are fishing attempts to try and pull anchor. Most skippers think they know how to “pull the pick” and don’t want to listen to advice — they all want to learn the hard way, but in so doing they risk not only their own lives, but also those of their crew. Pulling an anchor, especially when there is a strong current and a rough sea is, without a doubt, the most dangerous aspect of ski-boating. One little mistake — a few seconds of lost concentration or basically not knowing what to do — can result in the anchor rope becoming wound around one or both motors. That’s when you need to The equipment necessary to anchor a ski-boat as well as the buoy used to retrieve the anchor.

start praying, because unless you are very lucky, the transom will be pulled underwater and the craft will flip. There are a number of basic rules a skipper needs to strictly adhere to when it comes to retrieving a set anchor. Obey these and pulling an anchor in future should not only become easier, but also a lot safer. RULE ONE First and foremost, don’t sit it out until the waves are breaking over the bow of your boat and your anchor rope is making the noise of an over tight guitar string. Regardless of the quantity of fish you are catching, when the wind and current start increasing, pull anchor and head for port! RULE TWO Before you commence pulling the anchor make sure all the lines have been removed from the water and the rods and traces are stowed out of the way. A bottom trace skimming behind the boat while you are trying to pull the anchor will do one of the following —

snag the rope, get around the props, or snag an angler who is desperately trying to pull it aboard. RULE THREE Ensure that the crew — experienced or novices — are told and understand that the craft could suddenly spin around and lunge forward while this operation is underway. Make sure they are seated or holding on in a position that offers the greatest stability to the craft. RULE FOUR The deck area must be cleared and a substantial, sharp knife must be near at hand to cut the rope if necessary. Do not wait for the anchor rope to become entangled in the props before searching for a knife — under these circumstances knives mysteriously hide themselves and can never be found. RULE FIVE Always pull anchor with a long anchor rope. If you are not sure of the amount of slack line you are working with, let out another five to ten metres of rope and make sure it is properly attached to the front anchor bollard and over the anchor roller. Never, never, never pull an anchor from a bollard on the transom of a skiboat. RULE SIX The skipper must ensure that when he is pulling the rope it is on his side of the boat. He will then be able to clearly see not only where the rope is, but also be able to determine the effect of the boat’s position on the rope. Do not rely on your crew to tell you what is happening with the rope — if you can’t see it yourself, stop and start the procedure again. SKI-BOAT July/August 2019 • 15

If the anchor gets stuck in structure, a weak link (as shown above) allows the chain to be broken away from the leading eye of the anchor, thus transferring the pull to the base of the anchor. By doing this the anchor can be pulled ‘backwards’ out of its ensnared position. See diagrams below.

RULE SEVEN Both motors must be used in this exercise for three reasons. Firstly, if one motor should cut out the skipper can use the other to avoid the boat from turning around and entangling the loose rope in the motors. Secondly, two motors are better than one to exert an even and strong pull on the anchor. Thirdly, it is extremely important that you be able to steer properly throughout this exercise and there’s no doubt that using two motors will give you that advantage. RULE EIGHT I repeat what I said previously — never pull the anchor over the transom, nor over the side of the craft. Always ensure the rope runs from the anchor bollard over the front bow anchor pulley. In the case of a twin hulled craft, 16 • SKI-BOAT July/August 2019

never pull the rope so that it runs through the craft’s tunnel. RULE NINE Another no-no is attaching the anchor buoy to the anchor rope before commencing the pull. Only attach the anchor buoy after the anchor has been pulled clear of the reef. The buoy acts as a shock absorber and reduces the amount of pull you can exert to free the anchor. RULE TEN Do not pull the anchor by running with the swell and/or wind. Even pulling with the wind or swell on the craft’s beam is not a good idea. RULE ELEVEN Finally, never pay attention to Mister Wise Guy crew member who is trying

to distract you with remarks or advice. Chances are he knows nothing and probably never will. Once you have these golden rules committed to your mind in such a way that you will never forget them, then and only then can you attempt to pull an anchor on a small boat. STEP-BY-STEP Now for the practical. To start with get both motors running and warmed up and your crew properly positioned. Engage the gears and, using only a fair amount of throttle, turn the boat to port and continue along that course until you can clearly see the rope. After that, slowly increase power and run on a course approximately 45° to the line at which the craft was lying at anchor. With the rope in sight, bring the bow around so that it is facing the swell

3 2


1 5 6

Current, wind and swell

Above: 1. At anchor 2. Commencing pull at ± 45° to get to the correct position. 3. Increase throttle, heading directly into current, wind and swell. 4. After the anchor is pulled continue more or less on the same line until the rope can be reached to attach the buoy. 5/6. If the anchor does not come loose, decrease power and turn the craft to starboard, reducing tension on the rope as quickly as possible. Continue moving to starboard to repeat the original exercise. The diagram above, right, shows the way an anchor should NOT be retrieved. and or wind, ensuring that the rope is still angled away from the motors. Under no circumstances must you allow the rope to disappear under the craft’s hull or motors. After the boat has taken up the slack and you can feel the tension in the rope, accelerate a bit but do not just push the throttles to sunset. This acceleration is used to try and break the weak link. It is also the time to be very careful as the weak link may not break and the anchor could be very firmly held in the reef. If the link does not break the craft will start to be pulled or start sliding sideways. If this happens, immediately decrease power and swing hard to starboard. The anchor rope should be a lot less tight and you can continue to circle the rope and commence the pull again.

From a transom bollard or over the transom


Forward cleat Over the side or from the side stantion

During this exercise make sure you always keep your eye on both the anchor rope and any oncoming swell. Should you still not break the weak link and/or free the anchor by straightening one of its tines, repeat the procedure a number of times, lengthening the rope if necessary, but never shortening the anchor rope. If the anchor is completely stuck and the rope does not part during the

pulling process, either attach a buoy to the anchor rope to enable you to try again when the weather is less inclement, or merely take up as much slack as is practically possible and cut the rope at or below the water level. I would much rather lose a rope and anchor than put the entire boat and crew at risk. Normally the weak link will break or a tine will straighten and one can

After successfully breaking the weak link, the anchor is pulled up backwards using the anchor buoy. The anchor is caught in the ring as shown above.

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Figure 1

Pull reduced due to shock absorber effect of buoy

Direct pull

Note the shock absorber effect of coupling the anchor buoy to the rope before freeing the anchor. Figure 2

Note how the anchor is retrieved after attaching the buoy.

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carry on steaming until the anchor rope starts trailing a short way off one’s starboard gunnel. Once the anchor is freed, continue at the same speed into the wind and sea and get a crew member to pull the rope to the side of the boat using a gaff. Thereafter slip the stainless steel ring clip of the anchor buoy over the anchor rope and let the anchor buoy go. Water resistance will retard the anchor buoy’s progress, and the rope, followed by the chain, will be pulled through the buoy’s ring. The anchor will then hook up in the ring. One can actually feel the vibration as the chain is pulled through the ring, and if not you will see the buoy increase speed as it is pulled across the surface of the water at the same speed as the boat. After that the recovering of the line is easily achieved by slowly backtracking to the buoy while the crew pull in the rope. One more tip:When connecting the anchor rope to the chain, it’s a good idea to splice the rope onto the chain, thus avoiding a knot. If a knot stops the buoy ring from passing onto the chain, by the time the boat gets back to the buoy the anchor will be almost on the bottom again. If you study these rules and stick to them, there should be no further need for your crew and passengers to start quaking with fear when it’s time to pull the pick.


By Mark Wilson


HIS year’s Durban Ski Boat Club Festival took place over the Easter weekend, 20-22 April. “Bundu” Bester, a stalwart, long-time member and a wellknown face at the weigh-in for many years had recently passed away and the festival was named in his honour. One of the reasons this festival manages to draw such a large contingent of both anglers and spectating members of the public is that they embrace an aggressive campaign on social media and in print. This commitment gets the word out to the target audience and ensures that the sponsors (the life-blood of any fishing competition) get maximum exposure before, during and after the event.

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This year the sponsors really came to the party, providing R1.5-million in collective prize value, helping to maintain the festival’s claim of being the richest offshore fishing festival in Southern Africa. Once again a collaboration between Durban Yamaha and Natal Caravans & Marine resulted in the main draw card — the first prize of a Seacat 510, with two 60hp 2stroke outboards and a Lowrance GPS/fishfinder on a trailer, all valued at R410 000. As always this festival sets its sights on not only catering for the competitors in pursuit of the awesome prizes on offer, but also focuses on keeping the land-bound families and visitors entertained during the usually sunny days that bless this festival. However, as anyone who was in Durban over Easter can attest to, a deluge of rain hit Kwazulu-Natal that weekend. The rain was so persistent and unforgiving that it resulted in floods in certain areas and we symphathise with all those who lost property and loved ones as a result of the storm damage. However offshore fishermen are made of strong stuff and even a blowout on the Saturday didn’t see hopes or numbers diminish. When the weather committee confirmed the blowout on 20 April they offered the anglers the option of

fishing on 22 April to ensure two days fishing, and the anglers took advantage of that with no hesitation. Although this festival’s main prize is awarded to the angler who weighs the heaviest ’cuda, prizes are also set aside for various other species including bonito, dorado, queenfish, snoek, prodigal son and yellowfin tuna. The top junior and lady anglers also receive some great prizes. This year 210 boats carrying 604 anglers competed for the first prize on offer. Collectively they weighed in 73 fish across nine species with a total cobined weight of 827.5kg. JJ van Rensburg set the benchmark early on the first day’s fishing, successfully catching and weighing in a “croc” ’cuda of 22.54kg. With the fishing being tough, this fish would eventually beat the only other serious contender, a 22.14kg ’cuda caught by Geoff Harman which missed first place by a mere 41 grams. Although they didn’t manage to get the weather they wanted, the organising committee arranged everything else perfectly, including the entertainment in the form of Bok van Blerk. Bok entertained the masses on one of the evenings and even the torrential rain couldn’t dim the festivities that continued into the early hours of the following morning.

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THE INSIDE SCOOP Hilton Kidger, Festival Convenor of the Durban Ski Boat Club, was happy to share some insider information with us ... SB: How does one start such a huge event with so much happening with the weather and so on? No doubt this put you and the weather committee under some pressure. HK: First there was the emotional moment of spreading the ashes of Bundu, and then the weather man really put us all to the test. In fact, all the weather stations were changing their tune daily as the weekend approached, and in the end they had it wrong for Saturday that was scheduled to be Day One; it was meant to be a very fishable day! However, with the wind still howling, the shorebreak at Vetch’s looking more like a bad day at Umdloti and the poor sea conditions, Day One was cancelled. We held a gathering with the skippers and crews who were unanimous in deciding that we would fish Sunday and Monday — game on. However, we ended the weigh in on Monday at noon instead of 2pm and brought the prize giving forward to 3pm. That was just as well, because the heavens vented their anger with buckets of rain pouring down soon after prize giving had finished. Somehow ever ything fitted in worked out anyway. Sunday was very fishable and so was Monday until 11am when the westerly wind had a another go at us. I must take this opportunity to thank the participants for their flexibility and support. Fortunately the skiboat anglers all appreciate that it is safety first, especially when there are so manywives and children on board.

Photos courtesy of Dave Nisbet and Greg Labuscagne.

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Megan Shepard (Club Marine Insurance), Ryan Hansen (Durban Yamaha), Bill Harrison (Natal Caravans & Marine), Caryne Duvenhage (Club Marine Insurance) hand over the prize boat to JJ Van Rensburg and his crew.

SB: We all know times are tough, so did that affect your numbers? HK: The final total was 210 boats and over 600 anglers, so the event was still very well supported although it was down on last year’s total of 237 boats. SB: This festival always offers a great array of prizes — both lucky draw and prizes for the qualifying fish — but do you think it offers good value to the anglers? HK: This year the overall prize value was around the R800 000 mark, and we added two interim lucky draws that were sponsored by The Kingfisher, Marshalls World of Sport, Mazars, and the CMH Group. Each of these was worth around R20 000. Added to this were the lucky draws on Friday, Sunday and Monday, each one with similar value. When you balance the value on offer, and the spread of opportunity, against the entry fee of R650 per angler which includes a goodies bag valued at R260, the festival is without doubt top value for money. I think I am right in saying that we are the only festival that still offers a complete ski-boat as a prize. We also aim to keep the entry fee as low as possible, the object being to invest this back into the festival so it benefits the participants. We are happy that we once again achieved this outcome.

In addition to all that one of our focusses is to give the anglers and families, a wonderful off water experience, and this we certainly did with the continuous live music and of course the value that Bok van Blerk brought to the show. It didn’t take long for him to get the crowd on the tables — what an entertainer! Once again, we thank Yamaha for sponsoring Bok at the Festival. Bok is also a skilled angler, having won many competitions. On this occasion he fished with the executives from Yamaha — Theo van Vuuren and Greg Bennet — and Mark dela Hey who needs little introduction. SB: How did you manage with getting sponsorship this year? HK: It is never a simple task, but we focus hard on what we can do for them” rather than just what they do for us. Hopefully they notice the effort. We are fortunate to have some regular, loyal sponsors who have always been there for us and who we greatly appreciate. This year we also had some new sponsors, namely Marshalls World of Sport and Mazars, who joined our regular platinum supporters, Future Life, Wesbank, Marty Lodetti of M Projects, Kingfisher, Yamaha, Yamalube, Durban Yamaha, Natal Caravans and Marine and CMH who have all expanded their contributions over last year. This allowed

FINAL RESULTS Top anglers — ’cuda JJ Van Rensburg Geoff Harman Frank Bouwer Greg Nicholson Sean Keyter

22.54kg 22.14kg 21.76kg 21.62kg 21.40kg

Top anglers — other species Bonito — Mike Botha Dorado — Theo Van Vuuren Queenfish — Ruan Joubert Snoek — Joe Ettershank Yellowfin — Shane Grove

5.22kg 8.88kg 10.06kg 4.08kg 27.78kg

Top juniors — ’cuda Dylan Jordaan Owen Barclay

9.00kg 8.42kg

Top ladies — ’cuda Yvette Houghton Teresa Murray

8.02kg 6.16kg

us to add even more value in terms of prizes, and entertainment. SB: There was a fair bit of downtime over the weekend giving anglers plenty of time to socialise. How much food and beverages were consumed over the weekend? HK: It is fair to say the fishing fraternity lived up to their reputation! Collectively we consumed around R740 000 worth of food and beverages! SKI-BOAT July/August 2019 • 27

SB: You always support the NSRI through the festival; how is that achieved? HK: Yes, we always offer the anglers the opportunity of adding a few rands onto their entry fee, and this we hand over to Station 5 (the Durban Station) at our sponsors thank you party. This year the anglers chipped in just under R10 000 and I am sure the DSBC will give this a boost as well. The people who form the NSRI are all volunteers who give up their time to make sure they are there for us when things go wrong out at sea. They really are a fine bunch of guys and girls, and we as anglers and as the DSBC/PWC sincerely appreciate their support and friendship. 28 • SKI-BOAT July/August 2019

SB: Any final thoughts on the event? HK: A lot of work goes on beind the scenes, so I must thank my committee for all their hard work. I also want to make special mention of the drivers from the CMH Group who gave up their family weekend to drive the 4x4s that so efficiently launched and retrieved our boats. I have received many compliments on just how super efficient they were. Of course I must also thank our tractor drivers who always roll up their sleeves, and do their bit. Then there are the Yamaha “pushers” who really feel the brunt of the cold water at 4am. A final thank you must got to the PWC staff who really got stuck in and made the event run like a well-oiled machine! See you all next year!


BIG BOY! Part 1:Catching big eye tuna

Jayson Gilham and Tim Quinlivan (skipper) with the 153kg big eye tuna caught in April 2019 off Tarrynamy owned by Sean Todd, Etienne Braun and Paul Loomes. Photo by Sean Todd

30 • SKI-BOAT July/August 2019

By Rob and Scott Naysmith


CAUGHT my first big eye tuna way back in the early 1980s and, to be honest, at first I didn’t know I had. I thought I’d gone a few rounds with George Foreman when I was booked to fight the local bully. It looked much like a yellowfin tuna, fish we tried to avoid in those days, but there were a few anomalies and the fight was quite different. Only back at the dock did the “fishianados” confirm that it was in fact a big eye, and to prove it they hauled out its liver which is quite distinctive. In those days catching a big eye was not a common occurrence — a result of a fluke more than skill — and they were hard to identify. But times have changed, and we’ve learned so much about the species, its habits and its beautiful oily steaks that it is now possible to specifically target them. However, I urge everyone reading this article to use this knowledge sparingly and responsibly. To target any species of fish or animal, the key to success is knowing and understanding your quarry, and the big eye tuna is no exception. The big eye tuna (Thunnus obesus) is a tuna species spread across all oceans of the world. Preferring cooler waters than the yellowfin and skipjacks, it is more likely to be found where the longfin tuna roam. Rarely found in our waters with a surface temperature over 20°C, it appears that their optimum temperature range is between 10- and 15°C, usually found in depths below 40 metres. That said, an echosounder with the ability to show thermoclines becomes an added advantage when you’re hunting big eye. This tuna species derives its common name from the unusually large eye compared to that of other tuna species. Now that is a vital clue in understanding and targeting these fish. The large eye suggests that the species spends a big portion of its hunting life in the deeper, darker waters, which in turn indicates it can tolerate colder temperatures. Now you’re beginning to understand where the big eye gets its ability to effortlessly empty a reel going straight down, through cold thermoclines all the way to the ground. In fact, the big eye spends only about 5% of its day feeding in the top 40 metres of water, and that’s predominantly in the early morning and late afternoon. Another indicator of the amount of time these fish spend down in the cold depths of the ocean, is the high fat content of their flesh. This makes them highly sought after by the sushi market and one of the tastiest eating tuna in the world. At first glance a big eye looks a lot

Simon Walker caught this 118.38kg beauty off Tuna Cat Cha on 28 April 2019. It was one of three big eyes over 118kg caught on the boat that day. Photo courtesy of Etienne Braun. SKI-BOAT July/August 2019 • 31

A young big eye is easily misidentified because of its longer pectoral fin.

like a yellowfin, but in younger fish, with their proportionally longer pectoral fins, they can be mistaken for young longfin until you look closely. This pectoral length ratio reduces as they get bigger and the fin reaches between the first and second dorsal in adults. The dorsal and anal sickle-shaped fins do not get as long as those of a big yellowfin, and the finlets running from the top and bottom fins to the tail are not as bright yellow, but more of a dusty mottled colour. Of course, the eye is disproportionately larger than a yellowfin and it is generally a much more rounded fish, though I have caught some really fat yellowfin as well. The big tell-tale is the liver which is crinkle-cut as opposed to smooth. Big eye primarily feeds on cephalopods (squid, cuttlefish, etc.), crustaceans (shrimps, crabs, etc.) and almost any fish species it can find. Although fishing methods have become more refined, I still find squid to be their best bait, followed closely by a whole skipjack. However, when we’re not specifically targeting them, most bait-caught fish are taken on pilchards in a chum line while fishing for yellowfin. The big eye tuna caught in our Cape waters are often of a bigger class than our yellowfin, with fish well over the 100kg mark being not uncommon. Erwin Bursik holds the World and All Africa records for a fish of 156.5kg (right) caught off Ghana, while Donavan Cole regularly catches smaller class big eye on a handline out in the

deep off Angola, showing the vast areas these fish roam. The increasing catches of fish over the 120kg mark in Cape waters is an indication of the dedication to learning and understanding the species by the younger generation of anglers.

Erwin Bursik with his 156.5kg big eye tuna — an All Africa record on 80 lb line.

SEASONS As a recreational angler I found the most likely time of year to find a big eye was from April through to June, our autumn months when the water was cooling down. In hindsight with what we have learned since those days, this would have been an obvious conclusion. A few of our younger anglers who have followed the progress of their friends and fellow skippers on the tuna line and pole boats have brought us a much better understanding of the species which has resulted in much more refined targeting and more consistent catches. Now we have learned to start targeting the big eye from late September and early October, through to when the water gets too warm in mid- to late December. I’m sure that if we braved the cold weather and winter seas, we would find them in July and August too. The period from April to June still stands as a productive time, and as it’s a calm period of year in the Cape it makes big eye fishing much more pleasurable. FISHING METHODS Before the introduction of chumming for yellowfin behind longliners and trawlers, we located the tuna by trolling. Our target species was the longfin in preference to yellowfin; yellowfin were a nuisance unless you were in a competition. Now and again you’d hook a big eye and curse until it either came to the boat or broke off. In years gone by the general observation amongst the more accomplished SKI-BOAT July/August 2019 • 33

Donanvan Cole with a class fish of 105kg, one of three big eye caught that day in the canyon off Cape Point. anglers was that surface lures, predominantly jetheads (before all the new designs came about) in pink or brown were most productive. Diving lures caught a few fish but surface lures were better. Today I make use of slant faced and flat faced kona-type lures in a pink/dark blue or pink/medium brown colour 34 • SKI-BOAT July/August 2019

combination. After dedicating a tanker load of fuel to figuring out what makes these fish tick, I finally discovered that Big T in Plett make the best lures for targeting big eye. We worked closely in refining the lure action of the Smoking Joe 30 over two seasons and it’s deadly. Well there’s one secret gone... However, the latest trend, and one

which was never pursued until recently amongst recreational anglers, is the bait and drift method. Maybe our lust for the big eye wasn’t what it is today and that’s why there were few advancements in this method, but it’s definitely the most productive way to target them. Here is where our young anglers like Scott come to the fore; they practice this method and are way more successful than us older generation anglers ever were. The constantly rising prices for quality sushi tuna on the world market have led to massive strides forward in catch, production and storage methods through endless studies by some of the top scientists in the field. This brought about a massive refinement in the approach to targeting big eye tuna. First were the tuna longliners, and then came the trawlers, each taking increasing numbers of fish from the oceans, resulting in international controls being implemented through bodies such as ICCAT which monitors the Atlantic, our fishing ground. This is where our younger generation in the form of Scott takes over … As recreational anglers, my friends and I chat with, listen to, watch and learn from our friends and skippers on the commercial boats because their years of record keeping have given them extensive knowledge of when and where to target specific tuna species. From this we’ve learned to make use of baits in preference to lures. We’ve also learned that there are far more big eye down below the thermocline than on the surface and that, at certain times of the year, they prefer certain baits to others. As discussed earlier, the physical make-up of a big eye tuna gives us a number of clues on how to target them. The large eyed, like those of swordfish, are better suited to hunting in conditions of low light rather than bright sunlight. The fatty flesh is an indication that they spend long periods in cold water temperatures. We know that they love squid and fish at certain times of the year and for the rest they like tiny crayfish type things, but our crayfish don’t last that long. After assessing all the options we decided that using squid baits drifted just below the thermocline, almost swordfish-style, is the way to go. Big eye show a preference for lolligo squid but will eat a potter. We’ve refined the traces and use 8/0 to 10/0 Mustad carbon circle hooks because hook-up rates are better and the fish stay on. We use soft mono and don’t bother with f luorocarbon because it’s a waste and it’s hard. Use 1.5mm to 2mm line sanded with 600 grit waterpaper to take the shine off. Balloons are handy so that you can control the distances between baits; as you

drop deeper the different currents come into play. Florescence is a big key to attracting fish in the dark depths. Day fishing is good when there’s nothing else happening, but night time is the most productive, and this is when you could run into either a swordfish or a big eye. They both come closer to the surface at night, depending on the brightness of the moon. Day fishing requires that you fish deep, often below 60 metres, whereas the fish will almost come to the surface on a dark night. On bright nights you’ll find them from 10- to 30 metres below the surface. Swords and big eye feed deeper on a full moon and shallower on a new moon, so you’ll have to work out the depth accordingly. Glo-sticks are an advantage during both day and night; green and red are the best colours, but keep them at least two metres away from the baits. The traces we use are basically an 8/0 or 10/0 circle with a two metre long bite trace to a swivel with the glostick and break-away sinker, attached to a four metre long leader to the main line. Then you put the rod in the gunnel and wait... THE FIGHT Big eye have the ability to run from the surface, all the way to digging sea-lice off the ground, deeper than what you’d

ever believe you’d have to cope with. I’ve had fish strip a reel while going straight down — 600m before you can blink; it’s crazy. For the most part the fight is the same as that of the yellowfin which stays deep and makes clockwise circles, but the big eye can run way deeper than a yellowfin and this is usually the first indicator of what you’ve hooked. They usually give up above 20 metres from the surface as opposed to a yellowfin, and trust me, that’s a Godsend. Big eye fight deep and know how to stay down there. When the small of your back aches, your muscles burn and your arms stop listening to your brain, you know that you’re getting towards halfway, but how close is the question. The fight can last hours for the uninitiated; you gain line and lose line and eventually believe you’ll never get the fish to the top … and then you begin to wish it would just break off. This is why I admire the determination of all those anglers who have stayed the course to land their big eye. The only way I’ve found to shorten the fight on these fish is to apply maximum drag after the initial run. Stand at the gunnel and let the tip of the rod almost touch the water, then lift it level with the reel and wind down hard. You may only get a half turn on

the reel but it’s the only way to make progress; you need to keep the fish’s head coming towards you and use its swimming to help. When it can turn its head it will take line, so you need to hang in there and just keep going. Ease up slightly on the drag when it makes a dash then tighten up immediately when it stops. Remember that the drag on the line is greater when your reel is half full than when you started, and is compounded by the friction of the water. A good friend Wayne Lauffs landed a record fish of around 75kg on a spinner with 15kg line class, in an epic battle where no quarter was given for what seemed like eternity. I watched him break down to pulp, with no harness and no mercy given. Wayne, I still admire your determination and achievement. So there you have it … disseminate what we’ve given you, dig deep into this information, become an angler and go and catch yourself a classy big eye tuna. But please, again, I reiterate, only take what you need and then stop targeting, that’s the faith in which we give you this valuable information. In the next issue Rod and Scott Naysmith will provide further details on the lures and traces they use to catch big eye tuna.

SKI-BOAT July/August 2019 • 35


OFF SEASON Winter fishing in KZN is hot! By Jonathan Booysen


HEN people talk about their best day’s fishing, one immediately thinks of long, warm idyllic summer days with light breezes and calm seas. This begs the question: What about the rest of the year? Many believe that July to October are only good for boat, trailer and tackle maintenance; little is mentioned about the excellent fishing that is available during the cold days of winter and windy days of spring. Granted, the weather window is small and you need to be ready to launch at the drop of a hat, but I find that it is well worth the effort even if you only fish for a few hours. The secret, as with everything, is to be prepared when the time comes. In June/July the annual sardine run occurs and this draws fish like a magnet. So much so that many species’ migratory patterns coincide with this phenomenon. When the sardine shoals reach their northern limits, the shoals move out to sea and disappear. All the fish that accompanied them are left behind to find alternative food sources. This means that there are a number of species that can be targeted, the most popular being Natal snoek, ’cuda, garrick, geelbek and daga salmon.

Jacques Spence with a lovely snoek caught on a fast-trolled fillet. 38 • SKI-BOAT July/August 2019

NATAL SNOEK Natal snoek are probably the most temperamental species found in our water; the stars basically need to align before they really feed well. They like clean green water, often on the edge of a rip or colour line. Mid- to late afternoon is by far my favourite time of day to fish for them. When the mist lies thick over the land and the barometer has been

Piet Joubert, Pierre Smit and Gert Jacobs stand behind Jono Booysen and At van Tilburg with their 36.1kg ’cuda caught off Richards Bay. stable for a few days, there is a good chance that they will jump. Targeting them with a flickstick and small spoons is by far the most exciting way to fish for them, but when they are scattered, trolling whole redeye sardines or fillets is a great alternative to speeding over to the odd airborne fish. Look for birds working in an area and you are bound to find them. ’CUDA Winter ’cuda fishing is highly anticipated by all anglers from ski-boaters to kayak anglers. These fish are bigger than the January/February shoalies and every year anglers set their sights on

that 30kg trophy fish. Big baits are the name of the game with wala-wala and live bonnies being the favourite. The best time for these fish seems to be April and May when they are preparing for the sardine feast. The shallows around Zinkwazi and 50m ledges south of Richards Bay are great locations to target big ’cuda. GARRICK When the weather is “deurmekaar” and conditions leave a lot to be desired, with off colour water and choppy seas, solace can be found in the backline of protected bays or in and around harbour entrances.

Garrick provide anglers with many hours of enjoyment when the fairweather folk are at home missing out on the action. Livebait is the name of the game, especially in dirty water, where garrick use their lateral line to pick up vibrations of prey. Shad, pinkies, maasbanker and mackerel are the desired baits, but anything with a pulse is likely to work including mullet, blacktail, stumpies and even small snapper salmon. An outgoing tide which creates a rip is the best place to start looking for garrick. Slow trolling, drifting or fishing at anchor with balloons in such an area will produce results. A nylon leader of

Ettienne Thiebaut with a 32kg daga caught off Umhlanga. Photo by Rhyno Lombaard.

SKI-BOAT July/August 2019 • 39

No prizes for correctly guessing how the geelbek got its common name. 40- to 50 lb is more than enough. Just remember to give the fish time to eat the bait before hooking up, otherwise you are bound to pull the bait out of its mouth. BOTTOMFISH The majority of big bottomfish species like daga (kob) and geelbek targeted over this “off season” are fished for at night on the anchor. Daga and ’bek are normally found around some kind of structure, be it a reef, pipeline or wreck. Again, livebait is the key to success. I like to use circle hooks on nylon leaders as this allows you to release the fish easily. When you’re fishing in deep water with heavy tackle these fish can suffer barotrauma, so try not to pull them too hard if you intend releasing them. WAHOO There are also some other winter species that fly beneath the radar, unnoticed by most anglers, but as soon as you start targeting them the results can be great. My favourites among these are wahoo, kingfish and sailfish. If you speak to the spearos who operate on the north coast, they will tell you that July to September are their favourite months for big wahoo. Thought to be a summer species, more and more wahoo are being caught during winter and spring by anglers specifically targeting them. Bad weather conditions can make wahoo fishing very uncomfortable as these fish frequent the ledges in deep water far away from the protection of the land. They are partial to lures trolled at a bit of speed and often double and triple strikes occur, so don’t stop the boat immediately after hooking the first fish. If you find a shoal of jube-jubes over a pinnacle where there is a bit of current and blue water, you are going to find a wahoo lurking nearby. In this situation, a live jube-jube is a 40 • SKI-BOAT July/August 2019

great bait if you can catch some and keep them alive. GIANT KINGFISH The biggest craze over the past few years has undoubtedly been catching giant kingfish, aka GTs. Anglers have travelled far and wide in search of these extremely powerful fish, spending incredible amounts of money for the chance to hook one. It is a pity that the kingfish fishery of the KZN coast istotally overlooked because winter months provide anglers with excellent opportunities to catch big GTs. As mentioned above, large bait shoals are abundant at this time of year and these draw the GTs like a magnet. Sven Appelt caught this 36kg wahoo off Shelly Beach.

The majority of large reef structures will have at least a few GTs patrolling it, hoping to snack on the passing shoals of bonito, mackerel or maasbanker. Vertical jigging and live baiting are surefire ways of getting connected with one, especially if there is a large showing on the sounder. Light tackle is not recommended, especially in water deeper than 40m. I strongly recommend releasing these fish. Tagging results have shown that they are resident and I have personally recaptured fish that were tagged on the same reef a year prior. SAILFISH Every year during this season, anglers find themselves hooked up to sailfish that have eaten one of the small baits intended for snoek. This is loads of fun on the light tackle. The abundance of baitfish including sardines, anchovies, mackerel and maasbanker from July to September doesn’t only attract snoek, but also sailfish which herd shoals together to feed on. From my experience, the best conditions to catch sailfish are in a north to south current with a south-westerly wind blowing — conditions which are common at that time of year. Trolling a sailfish spread of lures and dead baits is very effective, especially when combined with the use of dredge teasers. An alternative to fast trolling is live baiting. This is done by trolling live bait in a similar fashion to how you would for garrick, but bump up the leader size to 80 lb and you should be good to go. The odd wahoo might bite you off, but it’s worth the risk if you are looking for a sailfish. Winter and spring months might not be the most comfortable for fishing as far as weather and sea conditions are concerned, but those anglers who are willing to take the punch and put to sea will have plenty of new stories of their best day’s fishing.

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YOUR favourite offshore angling magazine, SKI-BOAT, in conjunction with The Kingfisher and the South African Deep Sea Angling Association, is proud to offer all South African ski-boaters the unique opportunity to win awards for excellence in angling. All deep sea anglers who achieve laid down standards of excellence will be entitled to apply for the KINGFISHER AWARD. Upon ratification by a panel of adjudicators, the angler will receive a handsome digital certificate, suitably inscribed. The Kingfisher Award will be made for fish caught in two sections: 1) The Kingfisher Award - Meritorious Fish To satisfy the requirements for this award, anglers are required to catch a fish included in the list detailed hereunder, equal to or better than the nominated weight. Tackle used is of no consideration here, the RULES: 1) There is no restriction on the number of awards which can be applied for. 2) Award applicants must submit a photograph of the relevant fish with the application form, preferably a photograph of the angler holding the fish. 3) SKI-BOAT reserves the right to use the photograph as it sees fit. 4) Entries must be on the official form which is included in all issues of the magazine. 5) Entires must be received within 45 days of capture. 6) Certificates awarded will be as follows: Meritorious Fish - Gold Outstanding Catch 3:1 - Bronze; 5:1 and 7:1 - Silver; 10:1 - Gold 7) No witnesses of the catch are required. The award is made in the true spirit of sportsmanship and relies on the integrity of the angler to make a just claim. 8) A selection of award winners’ names will be announced in future issues of SKIBOAT, along with relevant photographs. 9) Award applicants should allow 30-45 days for processing of applications. 10) There is no charge for Kingfisher Awards.

fish's weight being the main criterion. The different eligible fish and their corresponding minimum nominated weights are as per the list below. A gold digital certificate will be awarded for this achievement. Complementing this section is the second award category: 2) Kingfisher Award - Outstanding Catch To satisfy the requirements for this award, anglers can catch any recognised fish and the weight of that fish must equal or exceed certain laid down fish weight:line class ratios. Awards will be made in the following ratio categories: 3:1 – Bronze Award 5:1 – Silver Award 7:1 – Silver Award 10:1 – Gold Award. Applies to IGFA line class 1kg , 2kg, 4kg, 6kg, 10kg, 15kg, 24kg, 37kg and 60kg.

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RELEASED BILLFISH AND GT (Ignobilis) KINGFISH With the strong trend towards releasing these and other fish, we have decided to amend the Kingfisher Award rules to provide for acknowledgement of all released fish. All we need is a photo of the fish being released or prior to release (e.g. GT held on boat) and the approximate weight of the fish which should fall in line with the stipulated weights set out above. In line with this trend we will not be carrying photographs on the Kingfisher Award Page of any of the billfish species nor GTs other than those that are released.

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By Adam Waites


O you’ve fished a bit hey? Maybe you’ve caught one or two fish on your friends’ boats or been on too many charter trips to name. Maybe you’ve been on the fishing ski for a few years and picked up some tricks or you’re a diver who has gotten sick and tired of the shore dive swims through the waves. Maybe you’re just a newbie who is drawn to the sea and promises of perfect days offshore with good hauls of fish. Whichever it is, you’ve been playing in the amateur tables so far and you’ve decided to up your game and join the big leagues with your first boat… AND NOW WHAT? Well, for starters, you’re at the bottom of a huge learning curve with enough pitfalls along the way to make you tear your hair out before a single line evens hits the water. It’s not all doom and gloom though, and there are definitely a few tips and tricks both on and off the water to cut down the trials and tribulations you’ll most certainly be facing along the way. Take it from someone who has gone through the grinder over the last two years — you won’t regret it! 48 • SKI-BOAT July/August 2019

BUYING A BOAT Congratulations on your choice to join us out on the bounding main. What will your choice of craft be? Not many of us have the money or experience to order a Butt or Yeld new with all the trimmings, so chances are you’ll be looking at a second hand boat. Luckily, there has never really been such a good time to pick up some amazing deals. Read Nick Landzanakis’s series of articles on trailer and boat purchasing in the July to November 2016 issues of SKI-BOAT ( skiboat_201607/42) because this will give you a necessary base of knowledge before you even approach a seller. Aside from knowing what to look out for, be patient. Don’t jump on the first boat you see unless you know in your heart of hearts it’s for you. If you wait a bit and are more vigilant you’ll soon find that amazing deals jump up all the time and you can get your dream starter boat at a steal. Here’s another tip which I shouldn’t really be giving away — change your search settings to inland provinces. That boat from Northwest that gets used five times a year over December is often in better condition and going cheaper than a hard-used Durban boat being sold for an upgrade.

USE YOUR NETWORK So Gumtree has lit up and your dream 15’6” Acecraft only driven by an old lady on the dam once a month has popped up for a basement bargain fee. Here’s where you swallow your pride and call one or two of your mates who have at least five to ten years of boat ownership under their belts. You’re going to want to propose a day of boat viewing with at least a six pack involved (call it a retainer payment for their experience). You have to have an experienced eye run over your potential buy. Without it you as a newbie will have no clue what to look for and it’s a good way to get burned. If the first glance is good, then take it out at least once on the dam and again, have your experienced friend put it through its paces before making that final call to shell out. FIND “YOUR GUYS” Well done, you’re now the owner of a very large laundry list of problems that your new purchase has just racked up and which you’ll soon begin to encounter. Do you know where to get cheap bearings if you break down on the way to Vidal? What about an anchor rope because, in your excitement, you

didn’t notice the one on the boat was 25m long? The umfaan buoy has a hole that you missed; do you know where to replace it before you launch in the morning? All of these and so many more questions can crop up and ruin a day, so get them out the way as soon as possible. Now here is where your “go-to guy” (aka the individual ski-boat supplier) jumps in. Everyone has their own “goto guy” and (hint, hint) they aren’t always the first result on Google. If you ask around at your club you’ll find out who everyone recommends for everything from rigging to trailer repairs and engine services. Cultivate a list of these guys and stay loyal, and you will almost always find cheaper, faster and friendlier service than you do at the big boys, with the added bonus that you just might be able to find that one missing part at 10pm on a Friday night. Overlook this step and you’ll find simple problems becoming very expensive and timely issues. Each club will have their own recommendations, but generally you want the following list at a minimum: • Recommended surveyor and/or skippers’ instructor; • A good mobile mechanic or trustworthy boat shop (good luck chang-

ing your bearings on your own); • A fibreglass/boat repair shop (the trick here is to find out where the local boat shops send their work and cut out the middleman); • A trailer guy; • A sinker guy (easily overlooked until you see the prices at the chain shops and what one session in foul ground can cost you); • A reel servicer (bonus if they fix rods); • An electrician; • Rigging suppliers (chain and rope); • An anchor guy; • A parts and general gear supplier (find out the wholesaler for the big boys, and you can cut huge margins off your bill). JOIN A CLUB Talking about clubs, join your local one. Join five if you can. Support your club by going to to the events and fishing in monthly mugs. Everything a club offers is what you should be sucking up and using as an opportunity to learn and connect. You will learn 1 000 times faster than the know-it-all who joins a club for that boat number and is never seen at the mahogany reef. Club Whatsapp groups are a modern marvel that will provide you with endless ideas

on their own. You will find it takes a while, but soon everything from marks, to where the fish are chowing and a multitude of other tricks and trips will open up to you. PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT (AKA BE PREPARED) Would you run on for the rugby first team without going to a single practice? No, right? So why would you risk taking out your new baby without a bit of practice? There are a lot of things about boat handling that most courses don’t teach and of course every boat is different. You’ll save a hell of a lot of stress and tears down the line if you spend one windy day at DUC trailering, untrailering, launching, beaching and generally learning the nuances of your boat. Once you’ve got a handle on these niggly processes and how to do them as efficiently as possible, you’ll find you have a far less stressful time when you’re first in the queue at a real launchsite. This extends to tackle and gear as well. Suddenly you’re not just packing two rods onboard and you’re responsible for the whole day’s equipment. Don’t ruin your and your crew’s day because you didn’t get everything ready in advance. SKI-BOAT July/August 2019 • 49

FIND A MENTOR Here’s a mistake that myself and a lot of young guys make at first; we think that because we’re regular crew members we can now transfer to standing behind the helm and not make a mess of it. Yes, crewing is a good place to start, but you’ll struggle to figure out your boat if you think the occasional trip on a mate’s boat qualifies you. You want them to bring their skills and experience across to your craft, so it’s a good idea to bring a qualified skipper onboard for your first few launches before you take out all your mates or that special someone you’ve been telling about the length of your “vessel”. It’s not just the experience you need, but also a fresh eye on things that helps. I’ve seen guys do stupid things in their excitement — like not take out a breakneck pin while launching — that could easily have been avoided with a bit of help. Suck up your pride and ask for help. WALK BEFORE YOU TRY TO RUN Now we’ve got past the nitty gritty and it’s finally time to fish. Here’s a scenario where you have two choices: You’re launching out of DUC and you’ve heard the ’bek are chowing on anchor in 90m off Ballito, and there are a few daga on the inside reefs off Umhlanga on the drift. Which

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one do you attempt? Option one involves anchoring — a difficult and dangerous thing to get right at depth — and you’ll be taking your boat on an almost 100km round trip into high seas to get onto very tight pinnacles. On the other hand, the second option — targeting daga — represents a similar prospect for success and a 35km round trip, fishing over a wide area on the drift with no anchoring. As a new boat owner it’s advisable to err on the side of caution and pick option two. That is, until you have learned enough about your boat and abilities to push to that next level. By staying within your comfort level you’ll almost always have a better time and catch more fish. Cases like this differ across the country, but the lesson is the same: build up your arsenal of skills so you’re not taking a knife to a gunfight. DON’T REINVENT THE WHEEL For the fishing ski and diving guys making the transition, the best advice I ever got was to “treat the boat like a motorised paddleski”. (Thanks Darren.) Use the perks of the boat (changing spots, more rods and lots of livebait acess) rather than trying to get too clever for your own good. Once you have learned enough to build up your confidence levels, then take the next step. You’ll often find the

guys with the best inshore basics having a way better time (and a cheaper fuel bill) than the new hotshot who has picked up a 24ft Buttcat and wants to head 40km out to sea to chase the fish stories he’s heard in the bar. ALWAYS CONTINUE LEARNING You’ll find yourself going back to lots of old articles in this magazine and some of the concepts will finally just click now that you have the experience of being a skipper. There is a mountain of info out there that you might have noticed before but which will now be far more relevant to you. Some of the ideas just don’t translate until you’ve experienced them as a skipper. Take advantage of this and don’t forget to constantly push your education around the boating and fishing aspects of your new pastime; you’ll find yourself being rewarded tenfold by this extra knowledge. You’ll go through hell and heaven on this fun journey you’re embarking on, but hopefully by following these tips as you get started you will have to deal with far less of the hell part. If you’re careful not only will you have more fun, but you’ll also find you learn more than you ever thought you could about the sea, fishing and yourself at the helm of your own vessel.




INDING a Yamaha stand at a boat show is nothing out of the ordinary, but at an agricultural show? That’s something new! Last year Yamaha South Africa took a small stand at the NAMPO (National Maize Producers Organisation) Harvest Day exhibition, with just their motorbikes on display, but for 2019 they returned in full strength, showing off their outboard motors, jetskis, motor bikes and quad bikes. Ryan Hansen of Durban Yamaha and Bill Harrison of Natal Caravans and

Marine was there for the first time and were both very impressed by what they found on this 30 hectare farm that’s 25km from the nearest town. There’s even an airfield that operates there just for the duration of this, the biggest trade show in South Africa. “It’s absolutely mind-blowing,” said Bill. “Naturally the agricultural side is massive, but there’s also a whole hall of arts and crafts exhibits and loads and loads more. It’s well worth the trip for anyone who’s interested in just about anything. There was even a stand with

The Lovol transformer (above, left) drew a lot of interest at the 2019 NAMPO Harvest Day, as did Yamaha’s newly unveiled 5.6 litre V8 425hp outboard motor, shown off by Bill Harrison of Natal Caravans and Marine (above, right).

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intelligent fences and gates! You really need to spend two days there to get a good look around. I would say it’s like a more refined Royal Show. I’ll definitely be back next year.” Yamaha also took the opportunity to unveil their latest offering in the outboard motor department — an industry leader in the form of their 5.6 litre V8 425hp motor. Grain SA’s NAMPO Harvest Day is one of the largest agricultural exhibitions under private ownership in the southern hemisphere and it takes place annually just outside of the town of Bothaville in the Free State. The first NAMPO Harvest Day was held in 1967, on the farm Donkerhoek near Bloemfontein and was attended by 200 producers. Thereafter the Harvest Day was held on various farms until the size of the event started necessitating a more permanent venue. In 1974 the NAMPO Harvest Day was established on a permanent site outside Bothaville, which is today known as NAMPO Park. This year it took place from 14 to 17 May. Official stats from the 2019 show reveal that 81 345 visitors attended, with 775 exhibitors on display. This year the landing strip handled a record 376 aeroplanes and 63 helicopters. The programme included livestock displays, 4x4 demonstrations, opportunities for farmers to showcase ways they’ve solved particular challenges and numerous static displays. It seems this familyfriendly show really does offer something for everyone. For more information visit <>.


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By Taryn Murray, Bruce Mann and Paul Cowley


OUTH Africa is a biodiversity hotspot and we are blessed to have unmatched fishing opportunities around our coastline. Unfortunately, fishing pressure has led to the overexploitation and significant population declines of many targeted species along the entire coastline. In an attempt to manage fishery species, traditional management measures such as minimum size and daily bag limits have been put in place; however, this approach has been largely ineffective in the protection of many of South Africa’s linefish species. Another management tool that can be used in conjunction with these traditional approaches is no-take Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). It’s all good and well designating these areas, but will they actually be effective at protecting fish stocks? Will the fish even remain within their boundaries? The only way we can find this out is by learning more about the movement behaviour of the fish.

One of the ways scientitst study the movement behaviour of fish is by using dart tags inserted into the dorsal muscles of a fish. The biggest dart-tagging project in South Africa is the volunteerbased Oceanographic Research Institute Cooperative Fish Tagging Project (ORI-CFTP). Initiated in 1984, it provides large-scale, low-resolution data from the entire South African coastline. Many SKI-BOAT readers have made valuable contributions to this project over the years. To compliment this nation-wide project, there are also two smaller research-based tagging projects — one in the Tsitsikamma National Park Marine Protected Area (MPA), which began in 1995, and another in the Pondoland MPA, which began in 2006. In comparison to the ORI-CFTP, these projects provide fine-scale, high-resolution data. Each project has tagged a multitude of species, and amongst these is the black musselcracker, also known as poenskop, black steenbras, black biskop or simply “the old man of the sea”. This endemic fish is a member of the sparid family of fishes, a family infa-

mous for their slow growth, late maturity and longevity; it can reach ages of at least 45 years. Another interesting life history trait of this species is that it changes sex from female to male (known as protogynous hermaphroditism), reaching maturity as a female at approximately ten years of age, and changing sex to male at approximately 17 years of age. Collectively, these attributes make black musselcracker extremely vulnerable to overexploitation and it is currently listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. Even though it does not constitute a major component of the commercial or recreational linefishery, the black musselcracker’s large size and powerful fighting ability make it a highly prized angling species. Recently my colleagues and I analysed data from all three of the above-mentioned projects to try and get a better understanding of the movement behaviour of black musselcracker. Between January 1984 and July 2016, a total of 3 430 black musselcracker were tagged and released, of which only 247 (7.2%) were recaptured.

Paul Cowley with a black musselcracker caught in the Tsitsikamma MPA. SKI-BOAT July/August 2019 • 55

The percentage of fish recaptured differed quite a lot between the three projects, being 3.7% for the ORI-CFTP, 19.4% for the Tsitsikamma Project and 23.1% for the Pondoland Project. The higher recapture percentages of the MPA tagging projects was expected because both projects use experienced scientists, they have a standard way (in terms of gear and time) of fishing and all recaptures are reported. The ORICFTP, on the other hand, is volunteerbased, fish are caught using an array of gear types and if an angler lands a tagged fish, that recapture is often not reported. As all regular anglers know, some fish are migratory, moving hundreds of kilometres, while others are resident, remaining in roughly the same area for years on end. Residency is a common behavioural pattern seen in many reef fishes including the black musselcracker. Our study found that fish of all sizes remained in one area for extended periods of time, but this was particularly evident in smaller fish, with 88% of all recaptures being made within 1km of where the fish were initially tagged and released. Additionally, some fish were recaptured more than once. In total, 25 black musselcracker were recaptured twice, three fish were recaptured three times and two individuals from the Pondoland MPA were recaptured five times! The largest individual tagged to date was a fish of 1 045 mm total length which was tagged in the Pondoland MPA. It was recaptured just over a year later (433 days at liberty), having moved less than a kilometre, again showing the extreme residency of this species. So what are the advantages of staying in one place for a long time for these fish? The thinking lies behind the availability of food and the knowledge of hiding places. Why move off to somewhere else when you know what

A tagged poensie about to be released in the Pondoland MPA. Note the seaqualiser attached to overcome barotrauma. is available to eat and you know the places that you can use to hide from predators? These ecological advantages can ultimately improve the success of the population. Other reef species like blacktail, zebra, bronze bream and roman also show these high levels of residency. Although most of the recaptured black musselcracker were resident, some fish undertook large-scale movements. A total of 11 recaptured fish moved more than 100km. Of these, five were tagged along the south-east Cape coast and were recaptured along the Wild Coast. The distances they travelled ranged from 214km — Port Alfred to Mazeppa Bay, to 488km — Bushy Park to Presley Bay). It is thought that black musselcracker move in a north-easterly direction along the coast to spawn, so perhaps these longer distance movements were related to reproduction. Interestingly, some fish were recaptured on the same day that they were tagged (in the Tsitsikamma MPA), while others spent more than 15 years at liberty (in the ORI-CFTP). One individual,

Bruce Mann from ORI unhooking a large black musselcracker. 56 • SKI-BOAT July/August 2019

tagged on 6 October 1995 near the Cintsa River, Eastern Cape, was recaptured 6 809 days later — that’s 18-and-a -half years — at Glenmore in KwaZuluNatal, having moved a distance of approximately 314km. In that time, it only grew 255mm which shows just how slow growing this species is. All the above information has implications for the management and future sustainability of black musselcracker. Most importantly, we know that species exhibiting such extreme residency are excellent candidates for protection in no-take MPAs such as Tsitsikamma and Pondoland. While we have learnt a great deal about the movement behaviour of black musselcracker, a lot more still needs to be done. The movement patterns of adult musselcracker should also be studied using acoustic telemetry which will allow us to study their movement behaviour in much greater detail. There is currently a nation-wide platform of acoustic receivers along the South African coastline called the Acoustic Tracking Array Platform (ATAP). By tagging adults with long-life transmitters, and having these movements detected by ATAP receivers, we could learn so much more about adult movement patterns. A favourite black musselcracker quote of mine from Biden’s book SeaAngling Fishes of the Cape, which is particularly relevant to these remarkable fish when they reach adulthood is, “When an angler lands his first large black biskop he is so impressed with the huge, bluntly-shaped, almost human head that he stands aghast at this extraordinary creation. And if the fish could only moan like a gurnard, and snort like the spotted grunter, many a new-comer to fishing would drop his line and run away!” If you’re interested in learning more about fish movements, be sure to follow our Facebook pages: ORI TAG and ATAP – Tracking fish movements.

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A GREAT DAY’S FISHING by Alex Tyldesley (14)


ISHING is my life and I just cannot seem to get enough of it. I am lucky enough to fish on two good boats and this story is about a trip on Umgodoyi, usually skippered by Quinton Edmond. On this day, 9 January 2019, the weather was perfect and the sea was beckoning. Hands On was off the water with trim/tilt problems so Quinton suggested that my stepdad, Russell, take Umgodoyi to sea. Quinton had to work but his son Jared joined us and off we went. The outing started off with a bang when we were still on the bait spot loading up with mackerel and pinkies. The skipper suddenly showed us three big red blotches on the fish finder and told Jared to put a live bait down as there were some big fish under the boat. Within minutes he was fighting a good fish and after quite a while and a lot of complaining an ignoblis kingfish (GT) of 20kg was alongside. We were laughing and joking about Jared’s sore back and arms but little did I know that my turn was coming. We made our way out to a bump that lies in 34 fathoms of water off Umdloti. Russell said I should go down so that he could see which way the drift was before we anchored. I have been having a lot of luck using pinkies, so that was my choice of bait. It seemed like I would never hit the bottom as the line just kept going and going. When it started to speed up I thought something must be up, so I closed the bail arm and nearly had the rod pulled out of my hands. I was on in a big way! I have heard the men at my club talking about a fish beating them “like a bad dog” and I think I now know what they mean. The fish was strong and stubborn, and for some time I just had to try and keep the rod up and hang on. I was worried that it might reef me as I could not get it off the bottom. After what seemed like forever it started to lift, but then just as quickly dived down again. This process kept repeating itself and I was getting really tired. I kept hearing the advice I’ve been given before which is “when the angler rests the fish does too and the fish recovers faster”. When the skipper said that I should be prepared for another big run when the fish saw the boat I could have cried, but he was right and off it went. The runs eventually got shorter and I saw my leader come up. The gaff went in, the fish came aboard and I just collapsed in a heap. The yellowtail weighed 15kg and was the hardest fight I have had so far. I cannot wait for the next one.

SKI-BOAT magazine, in conjunction with Mercury, is proud to offer all junior deep sea anglers the opportunity to win awards for excellence in angling. If you are 16 years old or younger and you submit a photo of yourself and the fish you caught, you will receive a handsome certificate suitably inscribed confirming the catch. And there’s more ... Once a year the names of all junior anglers whos photographs appeared on the Mercury Junior Angler page will be included in a lucky draw and the winner will receive, courtesy of Mercury, a fantastic prize of a 2.5hp outboard motor. All you need to do is send us a photograph of yourself and your catch, together with the following details: • Your name address, telephone number and date of birth • Species and weight of the fish you caught • Line class used • Date and place fish was caught • Boat and skipper’s name All entries should be sent to : Mercury Junior Angler SKI-BOAT magazine PO Box 20545, Durban North 4016 or email your entry to <>. There is no restriction on the number of awards that can be applied for, and SKI-BOAT magazine reserves the right to use the photographs as it sees fit. A selection of five award winners will appear in each issue of SKI-BOAT magazine. Junior anglers, Mercury and SKI-BOAT magazine acknowledge that you hold the future of our sport in your hands. Here’s your chance to show us what you can do!

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DOES SASSI MAKE SENSE? A life-long fisherman’s opinion of SASSI and South Africa’s inshore fisheries resources By Jack Walsh


OME 70 years ago at the age of twelve, having already learnt its potential for great excitement, fun and satisfaction, I realised that fishing also had an even greater potential as a source of hard-to-come-by pocket money! The die was cast. There were fish in those days — once you learnt the necessary about the weather, water temperature and other skills. I sometimes wonder if the passage of time and my advancing age do not exaggerate those memories, but of course they do not! Many days we caught very little, but that was the result of youthful impatience and optimism despite knowing that the conditions were not right. On many other days we loaded up until we could carry no more, and such daily catches were often greater than many of my younger friends today would be delighted to land in total all summer. In my early 20s I decided that, to be a “compleat” fisherman I needed to understand the science of fish and the behaviour of the different species. Under the influence of a university lecturer in Natural Sciences, I began their study accordingly. As a result I can

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claim to have been one of the first to warn of the demise of the then South West African pilchard (sardine) resource, and definitely the first to blame human disturbance in part for the inevitable event. This hobby developed into a moderate understanding of fisheries resource management. The need for conser vation of marine resources was an unknown concept in those early days, and fears of over-fishing in South African waters were only first considered by the then Director of Sea Fisheries in the late 1950s and early ’60s. This only arose in relation to the enormous landings of sardine (pilchard) and maasbanker (horse mackerel) by the pelagic fleets of Walvis Bay and the Cape West Coast. Worldwide fish resources were then considered impervious to over-fishing, in some cases due to the resource’s perceived size, and in others their wide distribution. The International Game Fishing Association (IGFA) first recognised that recreational anglers’ catches might be a danger to the strength of various pelagic and demersal resources. This happened when they noticed diminishing bluefin tuna and swordfish stocks. At more or less the same time, internation-

al marine scientists became aware that cod landings in North Atlantic waters and menhaden landings in Southern USA waters had started declining alarmingly. Here in South Africa, our scientific and sportfishing communities only really began acknowledging the risks of over-fishing and the need to act accordingly in the 1970s whereafter scientific evaluation began in earnest. In the late ’70s and early ’80s those South African scientists who concentrated their research on our inshore marine resources, began to warn of the risks of over exploitation. In the case of West Coast rock lobster they began considering the need for more attention to quota reductions. They also recommended reducing exploitation effort on traditional linefish multi-species landings, and an extension of the minimal regulations that existed for those species at that time. By the ’90s the scientists’ cries were becoming desperate, supported by such organisations as SAMLMA, whilst the authorities prevaricated and applied very few new restrictions. At the time of the millennium, with matters reaching a critical stage, the responsible minister at the time declared an emergency for linefish exploitation, gazetting regu-

lations which had been recommended by the scientists ten years earlier. Hardly surprisingly, these have not proved particularly effective. In 2004 the South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI) organisation was founded with the support of the WWF. Soon thereafter they produced their first list, grading seafood in terms of their sustainability relevant to the calculated and estimated strength of the resource. The intention was to influence consumers, both commercial and the general public, and to discourage the purchase and consumption of species that were already over-fished. Back then I immediately queried its likely effectiveness. My reasons for that have not changed. Today their list reads more like a scientific report, in my opinion quite useless and too complex for public consumption. Most of my friends are involved with fish one way or another, yet they no longer bother with the list. With their understanding of the overall situation being way above that of the general public, you can then understand its negative reception generally. The public, let alone businesses whose main concern is to cater for the requirements of their clientele, seldom accept pure scientific evaluation without reservation. This is particularly so with the public where no confusion must exist by way of conflicting viewpoints or actions. The discussion around global warming is the perfect example of what happens in such circumstances. SASSI has made some progress with large corporate business, but despite what they and some of the scientific fraternity claim, many of us believe that their influence over the proverbial manin-the-street is insignificant. They must try, but require more general support, with all stakeholders prepared to conform both voluntarily and because of logical and effective legislation. The real “elephant in the room” still is the fisheries’ department’s apparent inability to establish a compliance sector capable of performing its intended responsibilities. In fact, it is questionable whether our government really has intentions of effectively administering

some of our most important natural resources, such as those of the marine environment. What is the point of regulations (often out of date) if there is no effective ability to enforce them? Apart from their serious failure to maintain compliance in almost any form, the fisheries department seems to have entirely lost its way in even considering what it might do in this regard. Faced with the problem of promises made to community-based coastal fishers, there appears to be no feasible plan whatsoever in the pipeline. The department’s determination to empower individual or community participation in resource exploitation with little, if any, consideration for sustainability, further complicates this whole scenario. Do the powers that be really believe that forming community cooperatives will achieve anything but further opportunity to cheat on the outcomes both monetarily and exploitation wise? Where will the responsible fisheries department find either the money or the human capacity to develop and administer such structures? A further typical existing irony is the present order for three multi-purpose patrol vessels for our navy to, amongst other duties, assist with fishery resource protection. Remember that it was only a few years ago that, after a year of so-called preparation, the navy admitted that they did not have the ability to man, run, and maintain, such vessels originally built for the fisheries department. These, for the most part, still remain un/underutilised, and, anyhow, what about the availability of so many other vessels in their possession? The sad result of all of this is that, if it were correctly and pragmatically, patiently and cautiously handled, our valuable inshore resources could satisfy the needs of a considerable number of unemployed, experienced fishers. At the same time these resources would continue to sustain probably the most important, and almost certainly, the largest sector — economically — of the fishing industry, that being the recreational component. Few people realise its importance to the overall tourism scenario and both direct and indirect job creation — apart from the

enjoyment it provides. (See the article in the May 2019 issue of Ski-Boat magazine entitled “Anglers contribute R26.4billion to GDP.) My next query is the legitimacy of SASSI grading species Red and Orange, whilst the fisheries department — which supposedly fully supports SASSI — issues commercial licences to exploit many of those so listed. As an aside, why not do away with Orange listings anyhow, and just decide whether a species is really threatened or not. SASSI scientists and the department of fisheries have to find commonality in their evaluations, for failure to do so simply further weakens SASSI’s case and efforts, causing confusion and even derision. If there are good and valid reasons to allow a level of landings despite a heavily reduced stock, both parties should go along with it, providing the exploitation will be sustainable. Good examples of this are for kob and perlemoen. With exploitation allowed, then green they must be. If, by joint agreement, it should be red, then exploitation must be out of the question except for the recreational sector with very strict limitations like one per person, and/or four per boat. If you cause all exploitation to cease, how on earth do you evaluate recovery? The explanation given for the different harvesting methods attracting different colour coding (see the letter from the manager of the SASSI programme in the March 2019 issue of SkiBoat) makes no sense, and causes much confusion. Most stocks of fish are more localised in distribution than originally believed, so only worry about those that inhabit our waters and ignore their strength or weakness elsewhere. If they are under threat in our waters then it does not matter how they are caught, they are still under threat! If they are under threat in other waters that is not our problem. Grading fish stocks negatively due to exploitation methodology is dangerous and misleading. Many fishing methods (such as bottom trawling) have a negative effect on the marine environment, but if you removed that method of exploitation you would remove an

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irreplaceable and major source of protein for human consumption. Let others deal with improving methods to reduce by-catch and damage to the seabed. I am aware that WWF develops similar scenarios as SASSI for many countries, but do not know how they compare or have progressed there. Irrespective, it is useless and confusing to list on your South African card foreign-caught species you consider under threat outside our own waters. Equally, I believe WWF-SA/SASSI should deal only with fish that are harvested commercially, and omit species that are not targeted by either the commercial fleet or intentionally by recreational anglers. Their occasional landing, whether by intention or not, will not impact the resource. This brings us back to the SASSI list and the conclusion that the scientists’ efforts fall far short of their original intentions. Below I am going to dissect their current listing suggesting how it could be improved. Bear in mind that this is one person’s proposal with no certainty that it is right. However, one must start somewhere, and if SASSI could be persuaded that the suggested changes to their list have some merit, maybe it would be that start. If they could persuade the fisheries department that their revised list had validity, then maybe the necessar y amendments would be made to current regulations. Initially this would achieve far more than SASSI’s current efforts to protect these resources, while giving rise to a far more practical and logical list for consumers. MY SUGGESTIONS • Do not get involved in dealing with recreational species that may not be sold. The responsibility to enforce the legislation lies solely with DAFF. List them as recreational non-saleable, but with no further comment or explanation, which would only detract from your intentions. • Please forget about believing that you should morally be able to determine through your lists where the authorities and/or scientists may be wrong. WWF would be far better advised, together with the scientists, to consider their main duty should be to persuade themselves, the scientists, and the authorities, what the right path of protection is for every relevant species, and then speak with unanimous agreement. • Remember that since catch restrictions and limitations were introduced over the years, their imposition has proved virtually ineffective. To correct them, that is the real challenge! • You cannot be all things to all people; take away all your italicised comments. They mean nothing to 90%-plus of your

The author with a lovely grunter caught at Mapelane. target audience, and, for the most part, they are very inaccurate. Simplify it so that the consumers understand only “Yes” or “No.” • When it comes to abalone/perlemoen the science is incomplete. For at least the last two decades illegal harvesting has probably removed upwards of ten times the amount of the legal quota landings. Yet the resource shows every indication of having stabilised, albeit at a much lower level, and in deeper water. Here one can support the Minister’s recent decision, irrespective of his strange logic for that decision, to double the previously reduced quota. However, I would most strongly suggest that recreationals should be allowed a low level of exploitation as well. It has always worried me that the ability to enjoy two of the most sought after seafood delicacies (rock lobster and perlemoen) is denied our citizens due to their enormous export values. Surely a degree of local landings could be reserved for local market sale only; that would then develop its own far more realistic market price structure. • Whoever believes there is market resistance to buying geelbek (Cape salmon) or kob is seriously delusional. Sources tell me that prices have continued to rise as demand outstrips supplies more than tenfold! • To the man-in-the-street, including commercial consumers, all kabeljou species are merely kob, not dusky or silver, etc. Around our coastline no less than seven different species are caught; asking for recognition is just a waste of

time, just as it is when you suggest that the same species can listed as Green if caught by one method, but another colour if harvested in a different way, or farmed. That is not for a consumer to determine, it’s up to the authorities to legislate and enforce. • Dusky kob were never, and are not successfully farmed in this country, any more than yellowtail, so kob and geelbek overall should be Green as dealt with above. • Hake should simply be shown as one item, as the public is not interested in the species. • Anchovy, red eye, and pilchard, are hardly relevant as consumer fresh fish sales, so omit. • As long as mullet (harders) are unfortunately allowed to be trekked, with all sorts of other protected species, let alone caught in one area in set nets, they should be on the green list. • Oysters — just use the generic name and forget the rest. • White mussel is hardly relevant, so omit. • The simple term tuna should apply to all species. Big eye tuna represent an insignificant proportion of South Africa’s catch; true bluefin nil; Southern bluefin only occasional presence, leaving probably as much as 90%-plus consisting of longfin (albacore) and yellowfin. They are certainly not under threat in our waters, so they should be listed as Green. • Salmon, even though all imported, as an exception, should be Green. • As there is no certainty as to the real state of this resource, maasbanker (Cape horse mackerel) should go back to Green. • The following species should move from Orange and Red on the list to Green: John Dory, carpenter (silverfish), all prawns, (add in langostine and deep water crab), octopus, sole, swordfish, as well as West Coast rock lobster, white stumpnose, abalone, jacopever, panga. • Santer, dageraad, catface rockcod, Englishman, red roman, red stumpnose (Miss Lucy), Scotsman and black musselcracker (poenskop), should join the recreational list with no commercial exploitation or sale thereof! • Biscuit skate and mako shark are of absolutely no relevance, so remove them from the list. Some of these changes are to correct outright mistakes, as are many listed on your colour coded website list! It is very confusing to go onto your website and find an overall much larger list, including many species from other countries that have nothing, or very little, to do with our waters. The list on your website also includes many species not targeted by any fishing activity (other than by mistake) nor marketed. This particularly, but not SKI-BOAT July/August 2019 • 65

A good haul of kob caught on a commercial licence in years gone by, at a time when anglers were only just starting to worry about the kob resource. only, applies to sharks. The next question is what can we do about all of this in order to try to bring about a recovery of species concentrated in the inshore environment out to about the 80m depth contour? I am detemined to motivate for the right climate to ensure only sustainable exploitation for all commercial species. At the same time, steps will need to be taken to allow a reasonable degree of rebuilding of heavily reduced stock levels, all of which will take the patience of many years. Science, by its very nature, is wont to take a number of steps forward, only

to find next that they got it partly, or altogether wrong, necessitating the loss of some of those steps before moving forward again. Humankind, through its ever-increasing presence, (from one- to seven billion in the last hundred years) muddies those research waters, as do cyclical natural variations over which we have almost no control. To give you a personal example, I have fished False Bay for 75 years, nearly my whole life. I experienced the years of unbelievable plenty, through the years of steady depletion, when in the late 1990s the exploitation effort started to fade away dramatically for

lack of fish. Despite the biggest influx of geelbek experienced there, and in fact along the whole east coast from Cape Point to Durban, we still saw that effort decline by probably 80% or more by 2005, at which level it seems to have stabilised. Yet the last 14 years have yielded little or no improvement to availability in the Bay. That should frighten us all. Global warming, as genuine as it is, has not resulted in sea temperature change around our coastline to the extent that fish stocks can yet be affected! Well, you may well ask, is that the level of patience to which you referred? Or is it something else, like the fish feeling alienated from a restricted environment due to human activities? The unfortunate answer is we just do not yet know! Please understand my take home message from all this: I do not want to totally demotivate the SASSI scientists, rather to push them in the right direction with their efforts. Surely, they must understand that arguing for the wrong reasons or against the odds does more harm than good. Many species like kob and geelbek can be exploited commercially within sustainability at a suitable low level, that simply means their rebuilding period will take longer, and new and innovative control measures developed. SASSI scientists need to apply pragmatism, not scientific perfection, if there is such an ideal.



EAFOOD species on the WWF-SASSI red list are red because they are either from unstable populations, have extreme environmental concerns, lack of appropriate management or are illegal to buy or sell in South Africa. Not all red listed seafood are illegal, but some are, and these are either specially protected — not allowed to be taken out of the ocean at all — or recreational “no sale” species that can be caught by recreational fishers with a permit and adhering to catch limits. Some specially protected species are brindle bass, seventy-four and potato bass and recreational no sale species are East coast rock lobster (KZN), white musselcracker and bronze bream. In April 2019 WWF issued a media release urging consumers to scrutinise seafood menus closely to ensure that they are not being served fish that are red-listed by WWFSASSI. The effectiveness of the WWF-SASSI list lies in its simplicity: Green-listed fish are a consumer’s best choice as these species are fished at ecologically sustainable levels and can handle current fishing pressure. Orange-listed species are of some concern and caution should be exercised when purchasing and/or eating these. Red-listed species should be avoided at all costs because there are major conservation concerns. How is this list compiled? The WWF-SASSI list is a snapshot in time of the ecologically sustainable status of a species, and listings are based on a thorough and in-depth review of all available data and publications. One example of a red-listed fish that is finding its way onto high-end restaurant menus is that of red stumpnose —

66 • SKI-BOAT July/August 2019

also known as Miss Lucy. From a WWF-SASSI perspective this is not an ecologically sustainable choice. While this is a popular eating fish, it is extremely vulnerable to fishing pressure. Some of the characteristics that put this species at risk are that it is a resident, reef-based fish with a long-lifespan (specimens of 50 years have been recorded) and consequently late maturing. While red stumpnose is endemic to South Africa, occurring only between Cape Point and East London, it is already commercially extinct in places like False Bay, and now only forms a very small component of total linefish catches, highlighting its low level of abundance. There is also no effective management plan in place to improve the stock status of this iconic species. From a WWF-SASSI perspective, this fish should never be served in a restaurant no matter how or where it is caught. Our WWF-SASSI manager says that “Small actions by consumers and chefs can have far-reaching and lasting consequences, given all the pressures on our ocean resources. By making sustainable choices we have the power to determine whether we have seafood on our plates and in our oceans now and into the future. Our oceans literally breathe life into our planet but will only continue to do so if we protect them and use our resources sustainably. Every species in the sea has a role to play in a healthy, functioning ecosystem and every fish matters, especially the ones that are on your plate.” • Also see the letter from Pavs Pillay, Manager of the SASAAI programme, which appeared in the March 2019 issue of SKI-BOAT. <> — Ed



Catch and cook your own food and win great prizes


ANCY yourself as a primal provider — the man or woman who actually brings home the bacon literally rather than figuratively? If so there’s a brand new llifestyle video channel just for you. promotes the primal predator (hunter-gatherer) lifestyle that has formed part of our human history since our humble Neanderthal beginnings. Unbeknown to the urbanised ignorant, this is the norm throughout the majority of the world’s rural areas. Although promotes the primal provider lifestyle of hunting, fishing, diving, spearfishing, gathering, foraging and eco-sustainable healthy farming, they do not promote trophy hunting or any form of killing for pleasure, sport or competition. They love to hunt and fish as our ancestors have done since the beginning of time, and respect and appreciate their prey. Genuine primal providers try to use and preserve as much of their prey as possible, and return what’s left to nature to continue life’s cycle.

Urbanised people, especially children, are often ignorant of where meat or fish comes from and the potential expense to their quality of life should they be consuming from the supermarket. Most primal tribes throughout the world honour their prey and thank it for the nourishment it provides and for the continuation of the cycle of life. Advertising, consumerism and urbanisation has suppressed our primal lifestyle. Man needs sustenance, but our current choices are often limited to GMO food that is chemically enhanced and designed to be inedible to some creatures and edible to others, mainly so that it can last for long periods of time on a supermarket shelf! In today’s profit-driven world our food is intensively farmed and mass produced in limited spaces, and the losses due to failure of one crop or herd because of disease could result in the closure of a corporate farm or business. Many farmers thus use antibiotics and pesticides as a form of insurance against these diseases. In 2011 in the USA alone more than 13 000 tonnes of

antibiotics were sold for meat production, compared to only approximately 3 500 tonnes sold for human use. We are unconsciously consuming such a large volume of antibiotics that our bodies are becoming immune to antibiotics and susceptible to superbugs. The channel promotes the catching, processing, cooking and or storing of freshly caught fish, but also supports the practise of catch and release. Please respect all relevant laws, seasons, size and quantity limits pertaining to your quarry of choice. Remember to take only what you need from nature, respect your prey, cause minimum suffering, hunt and fish legally and ethically, maximise your harvest and have fun. If you share these values and recognise yourself as a primal provider, please like the videos and subscribe to the channel.

SKI-BOAT July/August 2019 • 69

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Lessons from the missus are not always well received ....


Y husband, George, is clever — very clever. Or this is what he tells me and our two nauti-buoys aged six and nine. I have to admit, though, he has many degrees, diplomas and certificates proving that he is, indeed, very clever. Our youngest buoy however, often asks why George looks more like the Oros man, and less like Superman, if he’s so clever. George invariably retorts that it is only clever people who drink beer; very clever people drink lots of beer and it means they always have a “six pack”. Being so clever, George takes great pride in all the examinations he had to write and pass in order to obtain the licences qualifying him as a “skipper, Class C”, able to take his boat 15 nautical miles out to sea. When our buoys asked how far exactly that is, he explained that it is further than heaven. This made our youngest panic that his dad might never reach heaven, as he cannot even climb onto our roof! However, George explained, taking your boat out as far as heaven can be quite dangerous, and this means you must have radio contact with someone who might be able to help when you are in trouble at sea. George then told them that he had to write very difficult VHF radio licence exams to ensure he knows all the radio calls to make to the port authorities and boats, when necessary. He also gave a dramatic demonstration of “Mayday” and “Pan-Pan” calls, going on to explain that it is extremely important, when launching through a harbour, to ask the port authority for permission to enter and exit the harbour, otherwise you may not do so. On various trips out to sea we have witnessed how George puts on a great show of grabbing the handset of the VHF radio and, rather ceremoniously, contacting Port Control:“Good morning Durban Port Control, this is the magnificent fishing vessel Gorgeous Georgeous, carrying four pax onboard. We kindly request permission from your good selves to exist the port. 74 • SKI-BOAT July/August 2019

Last word from the ladies Standing by on this channel, over.” Then silence. Somewhat irritated, George would promptly repeat his request but, again, it would be met with silence. George then employed “expert sailor jargon”, saying how the “pucking flonkers” from Port Control never do their work, or are simply too rude to respond. Strangely though, we could always hear the same “f lonkers” respond to other fishing boats and ships even if we could never see the boats and ships. Despite not getting the requisite permission, he would then exit or enter the harbour, without caring to explain to our buoys why our boat was allowed to do so. It did mean, though, that George would take nervous evasive action whenever he saw a boat that resembled that of the Water Police, or Port Authority. It so happened that George asked me to collect his original VHF radio licence book from the course examiner, a friendly gentleman by the name of Mike. Our buoys proudly accompanied me for the “occasion” and beamed with pride when Mike handed over George’s book with great ceremony. I took the opportunity to ask Mike what the point was in trying to communicate with Port Control when they never answer. He looked perplexed and asked what channel we were using. For a moment I thought he was going to take the licence book back when I told him that George was trying to communicate with Port Control on channel 12. Mike gave George the benefit of the doubt, saying he thought I was perhaps mistaken because he was sure that George would be using the correct one — channel 9. Channel 12 was Richards Bay Port Control. A little embarrassed, I did not care to labour the issue. When I mentioned this conversation

to George later that evening, explaining why we never saw the ships and boats with whom Port Control was communicating, he blushed as his Rapala Lip becan to grow, and he quickly changed the subject to the next morning’s fishing. For the remainder of the evening Oros Man had to take care not to trip on his lip as I had insulted his intelligence. Calling Port Control the next morning was a serious affair, as George now had to demonstrate to our buoys the importance of having obtained his original radio licence book and the responsibility it carried. I noticed that the radio was switched to channel 9 and we could hear the “flonkers” from Port Control communicating with other boats and ships which we could now actually see passing us. George made sure that the radio’s volume was turned up high and he demanded absolute silence — skippers orders. He announced his request with enthusiasm and added nice words at the end, perhaps in the hope of getting a quick response. Surprisingly the request was once again met with silence. George then used “extreme expert sailor jargon”, to describe the “lucking fazy pucking flonkers” from Port Control who couldn’t be bothered to answer him. I was surprised that there was still no response from Port Control, so had a closer look at the VHF radio. I noticed that George was using the wrong handset — the one belonging to the second radio that was not switched on! Exceedingly clever, Gorgeous Georgeous! When I leaned over and quietly mentioned this to my darling Oros Man, so that our buoys could not hear, I had to witness een gekke lip trekken from George which only subsided after many “six packs” and a few fabulous kisses from me. From that moment onwards the “lucking fazy pucking flonkers”, suddenly became the beautiful people from Port Control, who always answer our calls.




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