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SARDINES on the KZN South Coast

Sardines on the KZN South Coast 7 June 2024

SARDINES on the KZN South Coast

SARDINES on the KZN South Coast: these sardines have me on the edge of my seat!

Yesterday rumours were circulating already. And today many sporadic sightings have been reported. From lower KZN South Coast waters.

Advice is only to wait and see rather. Sardine Fever is mean stuff and you can easily find yourself chasing sardines from carpark to carpark in vain.

The sightings today have all been from far off. They actually could even be other baitfish like mackerel or red-eye sardines. So many guys out there are after clicks that you really need to question the validity of each post. However, with so many reported sightings on social, let’s just go with it!

First Shoal

These are then the sardines that Kevin in Qora spotted for us ten long days ago. It was a substantial shoal that was sighted. Big enough to get through the hordes of predators lying in ambush along the way. Who were already quite satiated with those early pilot shoals. That went through even before this first main shoal.

How far this first main shoal gets is gonna be interesting. But with the absolutely ideal water and weather conditions ahead of us, more big shoals are sure to follow along smartly.

The KZN South Coast would be the perfect place to be if you want to see sardines this year. The rivers have been swept clean by the recent floods induced by that foul cut-off low storm system recently. Good for something!

Hotspots

Sardines love Port Edward. And it is so easy. Beyond Port Edward the main road turns inland and the beaches are a long drive each time. Port Edward has grand-stand seats to the sardine run. With a well laid out promenade with ample parking and viewing sites. The sardines often beach at Port Edward. And most years this is where the first nets will be going in.

But that ain’t no guarantee! Sardines do make up their own minds and sometimes the first shoals will skip Port Edward and bounce over to beautiful Glenmore Beach. Trafalgar. All the way up to Margate, there are so many lush spots to gain a vantage from.

Margate has had it’s pipes cleaned a number of times lately and hopefully with this recent flush, the ANC or the MK or whoever, can do a proper job of the stormwater systems this time. Sardines do not like dirty water. But at the moment Margate is clean and it would be safe to visit there. For sardines, and for people.

Forecast

North of this Lower South Coast stretch is going to be a tough call. Perhaps a few of those early little pilot shoals survived out deep. And they might pop in to the coast and catch us all by surprise.

You can get a real feel of the sardine run and how it unfolds each year at the following links to the relevant Sardine Sightings Maps.

2024

2023

2022

Please consider heading on over to our YouTube Channel where we break The Sardine News first.

Sardines are Surfers

The hectic ocean swell from the southeast has backed right off. And looks to be turning to a south swell. And as we all know – Sardines are Surfers. And they will be capitalising on any pulse they can. Sardines on the KZN South Coast 7 June 2024.

Sardines are Surfers! By Kevin Tuohy

The Sardine News on YouTube.

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The last Brindle Bass…

The last Brindle Bass – will go something like this…

If only life were that simple. Do this. Don’t do that…

For most of us, living within the law comes easily enough. But what happens when our livelihood – and an honest one at that –  handed down over generations – a noble and admirable occupation – gets made illegal? Due to the depletion of the very resource your living depends upon? And you never depleted it or exploited it at all, in the first place?

There is a really skinny old little guy who breezes through the Tofo Mercado every so often. I first met him on the dunes on the Tofo Point – just next to the rocks on the north facing dune. He was shivering to his little old bones trying to warm up in the scant winter sun, from his hours long, and fishless dive. As puny as this guy is, he swims on his own for these solitary hours, and hours. As I got to know him better over some years, I started recognising him out at sea. Miles out at sea. Always a smile – and hardly ever a fish. Despite the sheer physical and emotional effort. Most spearos know what I am talking about, when I say – emotional.

Since the tourism scene exploded like a bomb on certain East African havens, there has been a huge increase in the demand for protein, in those areas. Meat. This is what happens all over the world, all of the time. As the tourist dollar gets spent, the dinner bell rings far and wide – attracting many, many migrant labourers, and gold chasers. All hungry.

Our guy used to shoot as many fish as he and his family could eat. Every day. But not anymore. Now the fish are few and far in between. They have been eaten.

Ecotourism?

As a tourism mushroom blows up over a newly found East African treasure – first the close by reefs are plundered. Completely stripped of their fishy dignity. Then the destruction extends. By fin or by boat – but steadily, and like the wave from an atom bomb – it spreads and kills. Reef after reef. Shoal after shoal. Mile after mile. Ony the far reaches are not attained – 30 kms or so away.

So our hapless full time spearfisherman, who for years has been plying these Tofo waters for subsistence and survival, is faced with an interesting quandry, with which to fill his head as he swims the blue currents, all alone.
Does he shoot as much as he can, when he can, braving the odd shark or current, and returning with enough to eat, and sell the rest? Making some profit. Pay his kids school fees?
Or does he maintain the subsistence way and just keep on keeping on. Well I am sure our guy would choose the latter, if but one thing. Where are all the fish? They have just simply been eradicated. So he survives on pelagics mainly, and their seasonal visits. And nowadays, he shoots what he can…

Lottery vs Starving

So this is what our guy is thinking, as he forces himself on, diving to 20 metres and more, up and down, feeling dizzy, cold and very alone. Where have all the fish gone?

Then all of a sudden, a huge brindle bass swims along the side of the ledge he is plying. It’s big enough to swallow our guy whole – but it doesn’t see him above and away. It’s one of the last. A pure marine monster of the depths. A survivor. Fifty years old. A national treasure. He most likely came in from deeper waters, or a neighbouring reef up or down the coast. A hundred years old – probably had a name – like “Clive” or something. Either way, he was here now, and our guy had not seen a fish like this for a very long time. He was doing the maths in his head. How much did it weigh? At 150 Mets a kilo for prime grouper like this, even more to the Chinese buyers…that is a lot of money swimming just under the ledge.

And so our guy takes a few deep breaths. He swims away at a tangent and down, skinny legs pumping, hands checking and rechecking his gun. It’s a 1.4 m Rob Allen that I gave him a while back and is in good nick. And so is he. He is built for this shit. As small as he is. He is honestly barely 5 feet tall. He bails over the reef adjacent and around from where he saw the huge fish. And starts to edge around towards where his finely honed gut feel tells him to be. He knows this reef, and this fish doesn’t. It’s just moved in here a while to look around. Our guy edges closer, slow metres, slow seconds. He has been down a half minute now but feels nothing from his depth hardened lungs. Closer. Yes, closer.

The fish has made it’s way around the reef and, big enough to eat the man waiting for it, warily patrols toward him. Around a boulder. They practically swim into each other! The huge fish reacts. With a sound like a sonic boom, he pounds the viscosity around him and goes into a massive 180…as our lone spearo pulls the trigger. The spear enters exactly right for him and not for the fish. Under the pectoral, but angling upwards – right through the old warrior’s heart. It almost dies instantly. But groupers don’t.
After a struggle, our guy subdues and ropes the dying vagabond. And with a feeling of euphoria, at the huge financial feat he has achieved, starts to drag his huge prize, home. It’s a long swim, but he makes it eventually.

He hits the beach and 8 guys help him drag the fish to the market. Like a funeral procession. It’s a protected species but those rules are never enforced here. The new lifeguards here in Tofo, in full battle garb – shoes, longs, collars and berets are right there, admiring the fish as it finally dies.

So who do we blame the demise of the brindle bass on? NOT on my underprivileged spearo friend! No ways.

You can blame it on the development of unchecked tourism in this area.

Directly.

Read: another example of government incompetence and greed

DSCN7988
This is not our guy from the story, but it is the Brindle Bass featured in this story…shot yesterday (2014) – way off Tofo Beach (c) All rights reserved thesardine.co.za

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Fishing Benguerra: 2 Black marlin, one brown – on same live bait in same minute!

Fishing Benguerra

Fishing Benguerra: 2 Black marlin, one brown – on same live bait in same minute!

We had been catching and tagging Zambezi sharks. And recording humpback whale and calf conversations. For three weeks straight. In all kinds of seas and conditions. And so it was absolutely great to be out to tag marlin again. The core BCSS crew were aboard. Captain Bento and crew Pedro and Mario. Dr. Mario Lebrato. And me. We are all fishing mad and this heaven-sent day was just what we all needed to unwind and blow off some steam.

I wanted a marlin for Dr. Mario but when we got down to business, the sharks had eaten our entire box of 22/0 circle hooks. And we were left with our sailfish sized models. But there have been loads of small fish about, and sailfish. So when that beautiful little very unlucky skipjack found itself on the deck. I rigged it up with the small circle and let it go.It took a while to find a frigate bird way up on top, circling with promise. The bird was way above a flock of terns enjoying the action down below. And as we sneaked up on the bait ball, with action all around us, I got a solid strike. Then the fish picked up the bait and headed off with purpose. When the lines and smoke got cleared, I looked down to see the heavy shark purposed braid already melted off towards the half way mark. I pushed the lever forward and felt that almighty power as a huge black marlin took to the skies. Her bill was soooo thick. By now the reel was down to a third and it was with some relief that we all saw her throw the bait, still kicking, way through the air. We would never have turned that boat in time to give chase. But we were out for a laugh and we have been seeing so many marlin that we really, just had a laugh about it.

Then. The bait righted itself and there it was, kicking away merrily. Slowly I brought the bait back towards the boat, when bang, another strike. I was hoping it was not the same fish! And it wasn’t. A fish half the size of the first one greyhounded around us. A spritely male that also regurgetated the bait. Completely intact and still kicking determinedly we watched the unlucky skipjack fly through the again. Hitting the water with a splash we heard over the water from 30m away!

When I felt the bait still kicking again this time, I just handed the rod to Dr. Mario. Who promptly hooked a hammerhead of about 120kgs, that Mario broke the rod on, and we had to handline up. Easy job with that heavy braid.

It was super to encounter that first real big fish. She was so thick and fat. Compared to the rat that took the skipjack the second time. The reel wasn’t big enough either, even with that power braid, we would never have stood a chance. So in the end, the hook matched the tackle just fine. And it’s great that the fish got away scot-free.

Everyone else around us is also getting marlin every day. It’s an incredible scene. You can keep up by staying on top of The Sardine News’ various channels…YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter.

You can also check out Captain Duarte Rato and his marlin taming antics on their website http://fishbazaruto.com and social networks too. Duarte really has raised the bar and produces excellent results by global standards as he consistently releases marlin after marlin, species after species, up here in the waters around Benguerra Island and surrounds.

If you would like to join us fishing like this, The Sardine has many options on offer. From super budget camping and small boats. To luxury lodges and sportfishers. To live aboard mothership with 24ft gamefisher and a huge range.

You might also be interested in the goings on at the Bazaruto Centre for Scientific Studies. It’s exciting times as scientists and researchers have begun utilising the facility.

Get in touch on umzimkulu@gmail.com or try the menu item Trips and Travel above.