Monday, August 6, 2012

Winter Couta Spearfishing Surprise.

Good haul for a shore dive
Lately the spearfishing on the north Coast has been typical of winter. Big swell most of the time with clean water, and baron reefs. It is generally a frustrating time of the year, you can dive 3 or 4 times and hit absolute blanks, with out even a hint of a decent fish.

So you can imagine that expectations at this time of year are generally pretty low when it comes to getting quality fish. Normally it is September before any action starts, and for the most part the big Couta returning from Sardine shoals down south miss us. I think they go out to sea, and only come back in up in Zululand.

This weekend things turned on its head a bit when  I was surprised with 3 Couta and a Wahoo on a local shore dive. Maybe its the no show by the Sardines that have the Couta returning early and coming in shallow to feed due to the fact that they did not find any Sardines to feed on.

The conditions were perfect and I knew the water was clean, fortunately I took my 1.3 speargun other wise I would have been in the bush. I walked a couple kilometres down the beach to a secluded reef I hoped to find some fish. (The reef is marked by a lone tree on the hill, those who know the area will know the place)
The reef was very quiet, as it has been for a few weeks and I started to look along the 14m line for some Crays when a lone single Couta swam past.

The fish striped my reel and half emptied my belt reel before slowing down. This means a whole lot of winding up afterwards but with a good fish on the end I was not complaining. I landed the big fish with out a hitch, sorted my line out and carried on scouting around for any other reef fish and crayfish. I seriously just though that was a luck fish and did not expect to see another one.

Next this a Wahoo swims in on the flasher, damn this fish must have been lost! I tentatively dropped down in-line with the fish. I am notoriously bad at shooting these fish. As was expected the fish turned up for the surface and away from me. I made a hard right turn away from the fish and swan a few more meters down, out the corner of my eye I see the fish stop and do a half turn back towards me. I pause to see if it was going to turn more but it turned away ...... damn I am blowing it!!! In a last ditch effort I haul ass up towards the fish and close the gap just close enough for my 1.3 with 2x 14mm rubbers to deliver a spear smack between the anal and dorsal fins. Once again both reels were stripped and again I was not complaining once the fish was safe on my float.

Now with 2 fish that looked between 15 and 20kg I knew that caring them the couple kilometres on the beach was not going to be fun. That and the fact that the current had turned pushing me even further away from where I had parked. I figured that a slow swim back would be easier and I might pick up a little something extra on the way.

An hour later I was still swimming and only half way home, I had reached the last piece of reef before a good 1.5km of open sand back the the beach by the car. I reefed up to take a break from the current, and while I was resting holding onto my float a Couta comes cruzing in. I leave the float and drop down next to the fish and it does the text book turn to look at me and catches my spear mid body. That's another fish on my float. not as big as the others, but wow another Couta ... This is getting better than a summer dive!

I decide to do a couple dives who knows maybe there are more, and on the second dive while on the bottom a fat Couta swims right over the top of me and once again all my line disapeared on my gun reel and my belt reel was empting fast. After a short tussle the fish about the same size as the first Couta was on the stringer and I was winding in the line. This time around my arm was starting to cramp and I had to take a few breaks in between resting holding onto the float.

By now the east had picked up and the current was getting stronger. If I was going to make make it home any time soon I was going to have to leave .... even if there where more fish around. Now the fish were a serious drag and the only way I could get ahead was to have the stringer over my shoulder and the fish on my back and in my wake as I swam. I tried the inshore but with the large swell I was not going any were fast. Walking was not an option with the 50-60kgs of fish.

The swim took almost 2 hours with only the stoke of an amazing catch fuelling my legs. That and possibly the fact that I had no other options. I eventually washed up the beach and was greeted by a black fisherman who helped me get the fish out the shore break. Had he not been there I don't think I would have managed.

Tiered, broken and smiling this was a day I wont forget in a long time.

Coatesman

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