Sardine Update 21 June 2022: another beautiful KZN south coast winter day! And the sardines just keep coming! Net after net. Day after day. And it’s only just begun.
Presumably, the foul ocean conditions that were holding them back, have given way, and the sardines jumped at the chance to head north. Without doubt, these are just the first shoals. The ‘pilot shoals’ as they are affectionately known.
Visit our channel over there. Like and subscribe. And you will see a little sardine dinner bell too. Hit that!
Are not usually with these first appearances. Except for shad obviously! Who absolutely annihilate these cute little shoals. The predators normally come in the second wave of sardines. The bigger shoals. And it’s the sharks that are first most times.
And they are definitely here right now – check the video above! They would have been waiting here a while already. They certainly don’t mind the dirty water either.
So far this week already, we’ve had killer whales (more affectionately known as Orcas), chasing some poor little dolphins all over the place. Humpbacks were here already a month ago. A few seals have beached for a break at some beaches too. Gannets, terns and all sorts of feathered sardine hunters are earnestly patrolling north and south.
The entire marine food chain is here.
Including the garrick. Nobody caught any yet really. I only saw one pic so far. But make no mistake, they are here.
North or South?
Durban’s main beaches must surely be on the itinerary for the current wave of pilot shoals. Although the really big shoals are still lumbering through the Transkei Wild Coast.
Luckily all conditions are met. The water is chilly at 19 degrees celsius or so. The ocean is lumpy with swell but well-useable. The only deterrent is the remaining and quite persistent poison soup water inshore. Still hanging about from the flood and sewage runoff recently. Although some places are definitely showing signs of clarity – just not enough to jump in yet.
“Big south swell arrived last night. SW wind pumping today. Some small shoals evident out deep. I think the conditions are right for shoal movement over the next few days.” – Qhora Mouth Sardine Spy
Sardines like rough seas and big winds – for travelling. Especially big SW winds. When the swells jack up – the water aerates with all that surface interaction with the atmosphere. Maybe they even surf a few of those swells to fight against the current? Either way, this is ALL very good news as the perfect sardine conditions requirements are being checked off one by one.
water below 19 degrees – cold water is moving up the east coast, just as we need it to
clean water – the current has kicked into full gear and is sweeping the poison soup away
rough seas – always precede the shoals
Many trigger-happy posters are claiming sardines close by. But once again, not a single sardine has been caught yet.
The dive charter operations in the Transkei have kicked off operations recently and finally, we might get some close-ups from them.
So well spell has been broken and you can definitely start doing sardine patrols down to the lower south coast reaches.
“Working on Sunshine – Whoa-aoh” – time to feel good! Feeling defiantly efficient today as load shedding did NOT stop me in my tracks this time around. I hauled a big battery off my solar-powered boat and plugged it in via a neat little 800 Watt inverter. That I normally use for inflating boats and tyres and things.
Never even squeaked as I plugged my whole office in, via multi-plug. Lighting up my computer, big monitor, phone and a camera. What’s more, it really is FREE. Because since my little portable power station double functions with real work on the boats, the capital layout was made already. All it took really was carrying that damn 105 amp hour battery up the stairs!
And plugging it all in.
Working on sunshine
I have been fortunate enough to have lived on solar power for a long time. And have built up experience in all kinds of installations. Boats, lodges, research stations – all running on solar because there is NO grid out there on the edge.
But working on sunshine really is simple. Solar panel(s) to charge controller to battery(s). Batteries to inverter and the lights come on.
The solar panel that lives on my boat, must have generated an acre’s worth of charged batteries since I had it. For about two years now it has been pumping FREE power into my batteries day after day, relentlessly. I can go 18kms with just two batteries. Taking 12 people or more. The economics are staggeringly good. All that petrol and oil saved from my pocket and the environment.
Panels pump out differently according to the power of the sun. So you cannot attach one straight to your battery or it might explode due to over-voltage charging. Or suffer damage from under-charging.
This is why you need a charge controller…
The brains of the operation. Starting out at a few hundred rand, the very basic ones are just fine for little camping or office operations. They have input ports for the panels. And outputs to the batteries. And output to your main power *loom.
*This is not a necessary step and can become quite complicated as the output of charge controllers is limited according to price. The more you pay, the more the system can output.
All we want this to charge a battery really. So we can ignore that output port for now. Plus the *inverter has enough technology built into it, to prevent battery damage during use.
You are gonna need some heavy battery power (and inverter) if you want to power a big chest freezer or hot water geyser. But just a small fridge, a computer, charging station, and some lights – too easy with one 100 or so amp-hour camping battery. This is all I am using to stay productive today as we endure yet another load shedding session here in South Africa.
You can use a car battery just fine. But it’s not purpose-designed like a camping battery. Also known as non-starting batteries, these are the ones you want. Deep-cyle. As in slow charge in, and slow charge out.
You can NOT ever allow any battery to drop below 10.8v. That ruins everything inside the battery. And renders your guarantee useless. Battery manufacturers have a tell-tale inside the battery that tells if the charge level dropped below 10.8v – rendering the battery and the guarantee defunct.
You have been warned! You really need to know your batteries and their charge levels at all times. And then build it into your schedule to harvest as much sunlight as you can whenever you can. Or using the mains.
This used to be the expensive piece of kit we all need. But now it’s cheap. I paid R850 for the inverter under my desk humming away merrily right now.
At a rated 800w, it runs my air pump (300w) with aplomb. My smoothie maker runs slightly slower but it churns out fruit juices too without any complaint (350w).
The inverters all come with a failsafe to protect the batteries you are using. When the voltage drops below about 11.8v, the inverter turns itself off. Sounding a rather annoying alarm btw. This is time to simply swap out a battery, and put another one back on charge.
High-end equipment often is available as integrated units with the inverter and charge controller all in one box.
Powering your household?
Just buy more and more. It’s that simple. Except for your inverter, the rest of it is all scaleable infinitely. More batteries. More solar panels. Until you have enough power to plug in a fridge. And then eventually a geyser.
Mini fridge 100w
These are all rough averages and you can get more power-hungry kettles and things. You need to start becoming aware of the power required to run your machines, and what it is you are trying to achieve, and adapt.
Remember that most charge controllers and inverters these days have onboard USB charging ports. Often 5A or more. So if you power your laptop, phone, tablet and even lights, with USB, you are really beating the duck curve.
Powering your office or factory?
It really is not a challenge anymore. Buy big inverter sizes right from the start. And grow the rest of your operation into its capacity. Then you can buy another inverter and so on.
Using battery-powered tools eases the transition to solar too. Since you only have to recharge batteries, as opposed to supplying direct power to the juice hungry grinder or drill you need to be running. Battery management is now gonna be your thing.
However, if you do want to plug straight in, the following list tells you what requirements you might have. If you operate two of these machines at the same time, add the two up to get your final requirement.
Belt sander 1000w
Small grinder 650w
Welder 250 to 8000w
Lathe 100w +
Coffee maker 1000w
All of the above figures are averages. You can get very powerful computers, and normal ones, that use half the energy. You need to check your desired energy output, and then match it up with your inverter and battery bank.
A word of caution – inverters always over-rate themselves. So my 800w inverter, will most likely only handle 600w or less. And if you turn two appliances or machines on at the same time, that initial surge needed to get the magnets or whatever spinning – overloads the system and it will kick out with an alarm.
You can order your very own Solar Starter Kit from us right here at The Sardine News website.
100lb kob tagged and released by Gerrard Powell in Port Edward
100lb kob tagged and released by Gerrard Powell in Port Edward this very morning (6 November 2021): Imagine this. You wake up nice and early. Get your two little daughters in the car with you. Down to the rocks in the idyllic Port Edward, KZN, South Africa – to meet Mr. Ant Nel, fellow angler. And who was your teacher at the very school you went to, just a minute walk down the beach.
You set out to get a few casts in between watching out for the girls, and next thing, after a HUGE episode, you are in the water, disbelievingly setting free your kob of a lifetime.
All 100lbs of it!
With a tag in it! Stuck in by no other than Mr. Ant Nel.
Now that’s teachin’!
Chances of Survival
As we all know very well, these fish are our breeding stock. And this guy or gal had a great chance of surviving. He or she was well-rested. Well handled mostly (hand in gills can be debatable but in this case looks ok – horizontal dragging, no real gravity pulling, slippery rocks).
And one thing is for sure, it sure has far more chance of survival in the water, than out.
I don’t think any self-respecting sport angler would be seen dead in a photo – with a fish like this – dead.
The chances for survival for this fish are real. I am sure hoping that it’s swimming around with its mates right again. Telling them not to go near anything that looks like a paddletail!
The tag might tell…
And that’s the point. If you (un)luck into one of these breeding fish, you just need to treat it so well and get it back in the water asap, as these guys did. Luckily Ant Nel was there and he keeps his tagging kit in his back pocket. Which really saved the day. Letting a fish go without a tag in it, doesn’t make too much sense to most. The tag really validates the release.
Kudos Mr. Nel! Still teachin’!
Rightio, this post has a sponsor…
Fish on the River – Web App (PWA)
This post was sponsored by the fabulous Fish on the River seafood restaurant, in Port Shepstone – you can try their really cool brand-new PWA (Progressive Web App) that installs on your phone but is actually only a website. So, hardly any space is required at all!
Click right here – > here and allow the install and notifications to go ahead. If you are not prompted, just use the browser menu and ‘Add to Homescreen’. It even has limited offline functionality so you can read the news whilst in the queues.
And when you connect again, the app will check for latest events, specials or menu items – and let you know with notification to your phone!
If you would like your own PWA. For your own business, get in touch with Sean on email@example.com and let’s get you installed.
As the Moka Pot finally starts to bleed rich black coffee this early morning, to the sound of the cold front – the driving rain, the wind through the trees – I reflect on my last fishing experience. Spending time down in our beloved Port St. Johns is always too short. Driving into town and driving out seems the same trip. Lost somewhere in the middle are the layers of imagery, sounds and scents that come out of PSJ each time. Lucky for cameras!
Beelining for the point, rods already ready with leaders and even lures tied days before, is how it always starts. Heart in mouth as the ocean comes into view alongside another favourite carpark. But no crowds this time. No traffic jam. Nobody. Looking up towards Cape Hermes and into the corner, a few fishermen are dotted along the usual spots. Looking quite active. But not in a frenzy for sure.
The frenzy is hard to describe. Kob frenzy. This what happened to me once upon a time…two years ago this time…
I grabbed a coffee with Brucifire, after breakfast, at the Jungle Monkey. I was going fishing anyway, but was super excited this crisp and clear Wild Coast morning. As I collected my fishing thoughts and things, owner Mike came up the ramp.
“I am just gonna go and catch a fish quick ok”.
Mike chuckled. Bruce cheered him on with a laugh too. I had been there a week with no results!
Bruce elected to stay. He was entertaining, and being entertained, by two genuine Ethiopian Rasta priests, that happened to be passing through.
The adrenalin, came like this. I have seen plenty sharks, casually lolling on the surface. But never a kob. Never mind a huge one. And so when I jumped from the car at favourite carpark, shouldered in pass the spectators to get a better look – there they were. But my brain could only process that these fins and fish were zambezis.
“Hey howz those sharks man!”
The guy next to me goes…
“Nooit bru, dey kob.”
From that second and onwards, is all a blur. I do remember every thought leaving my head, as the adrenalin surged. Time stopped. The world stopped. I managed to get back to my car to my favourite rod at that time, a 20lb braid packed Okuma Ceymar with a red and black Sensation Adventure 9 footer. I flew off the cliff down to the players area and found a spot. I let that Mydo SS Spoon fly right over the estuary – and then didn’t know what to do. Crank it? No ways. Slow on the sand? Ok. The fish had shown themselves to me, and I was gonna get one. But not with that spoon. It just made no sense in this scene. So after my second nerve wracking slow retrieve, I clambered back up the cliff to my trusty old VW mobile tackle box, and grabbed the biggest plastic and jig head I could find fastest. The plastic was a good 9 inches, split tail, and in light pink. Huge. The jig head was an easy choice – my very own Mydo Luck Shot, but this time in 2 ounce configuration, with a solid 9/0 hook – that stuck out from the plastic a good 20mm. The plastic sits way further back on the hook with a Mydo jig head, a huge advantage over regular jig heads. The hook was super sharp. And for extra effect, I placed a Mydo Bill plate, in shiny stainless steel, over the jig head. This adds more flash and action, and in as much as this all sounds like a Mydo ad, this is how I did it ok!
My first cast.
I first threw the rig into the deep channel to start with. I just wanted to get my swimming action right. On my second twitch off the sand, my rod went double. I love this outfit as it put on enough brakes to set the hook with the huge 9/0, but maintained enough tension through the famous kob head shake – by being so nice and soft in the front part. The little Okuma was filled with braid, and the fluorocarbon leader very carefully tied back in Port Shepstone already. Figure of eight system as described here.
It was a huge battle. And the kob showed itself quite soon into the fight. A magnificent performance right on the surface, in front of a riveted crowd up top. A guy was fighting a garrick alongside me and we had to switch places many times. My fish loved to drag me all the way up the slippery and loose rocks. To the top, and then all the way back down to the mouth. A pushing tide. Anglers everywhere. So much fun!
But it was a really difficult time for the fish too. Being on 20lb meant my rod had to do all the work. The leader was tied short too. I don’t like my knots in my rod eyes for exact situations like this – where a longer leader would have had knots being damaged each time the fish got close. But I was determined as this would do wonders for the Mydo PRO campaign. I ducked and dived and pulled and pushed my way up and down that strip for 45 minutes before I had him close.
A few of the local pros had gathered around me, and were being wonderful hosts, hauling me across the treacherous terrain when I needed it. The guy next to me eventually lost his garrick – a monster of over 25, I saw it a number of times. The split ring on his lure failed. Man was this guy broken. The kob had by now disappeared and nobody was throwing anymore. It was just me and this kob left.
And so It came to the gaff, which I never even saw. I had given up on a healthy release, especially with the shark factor here, but when that fish came close, a gaff flew past me at lightning speed and bang into the fish. And as the guy dragged the fish up the rocks, the hook fell out! It had been a solid hour of battle.
And so it came to be, that I hauled this kob up the cliff, and never set it free. The light tackle was the problem. But I fish light – so many more strikes. So much more fun. The penalty is this. Big fish get worked too much, and if you release them, they die. I should have had 50lb braid for sure.
I should have had 50lb braid for sure. I have been fishing heavy (40lb), in PSJ since this fish.
Which brings me to today’s story, and what has been on my mind.
Kob are subject to whims to feed which come from above, or the stars, or the moon. They just go dilly. Sometimes they congregate to spawn, and enter a feeding frenzy just thereafter to replace energy used. I was lucky enough to have had invested enough time casting from those very same rocks, to get the timing right for one of these magical moments.
And when I loaded the fish, which once again goes down at 25, because that was the limit of the scale we could find, one of the locals said to me…
“Hey stash that fish or you can’t take another one…”
I was taken aback. I told him that no way would I take another one?! What for? But as reality set back in, I had to think that this guy, who has been here and caught these kob his whole life, feeds his kids this way. Me and the locals have had long conversations about this, shoulder to shoulder, casting lures until we convinced ourselves to save it for the next session. They all get a few. And they are worth a packet. R1000 a fish easy. He reckons he gets 5 to 10 a year. Some of his mates get more than that. All on lures. Subsistence? Could be? Borderline.
And now we have these two guys, being photographed with far too many kob, all at once. You are only allowed one big one and smaller one really. These guys had the whole family. The smallest looks about 10. And the biggest look 25 or more. Story so far is that these guys had a military-style operation going, with trailers with tanks of livebait. Motorcades of 4×4’s. All the best kit. Not subsistence.
The pics were shot about a week ago. And has already been doing the rounds on the internet as most if you will have seen. These are the breeding stock of our kob population smack bang in the most vulnerable time in their lifecycle. Breeding time.
DAFF have the pics and have asked for assistance in this matter. They need to know how many anglers were involved. Where and when this was. They have a marine inspector on it right now. He is in PSJ, where the community is assisting him. In the meantime, mail any information to firstname.lastname@example.org so we can pass it on.