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Natal Combined Trials

Posted by Silverback on 07 December 2007 at 09:36 AM

GSUC makes an unofficial appearance

At the inaugural meeting of GSUC, I indicated that I would be going down to Natal to get some diving in. The words were no sooner out of my mouth before the Punisher and the Penetrator were on board! There was just no way I was going to skipper while they dived, so a quick call was made to Kassie and he agreed to be Buggy/Topman. The weather sites were watched very closely and in spite of really bad weather at the start of the week, everything seemed to indicate that the last of the SW fronts would be passed before we arrived.

Preparation involves checking dive gear and packing well ahead of the time. Then going through the boat, religiously verifying all safety equipment. Finally the boat is pulled out of the garage and each motor is run for at least an hour. I make a point of looking at all electronics, making sure everything is functional. The pontoons are inflated and I wash them down with a soapy solution, looking for any leaks/punctures. Its a bitch living a long way from the sea. The maintenance of your gear is a never ending chore.

Thursday, after morning consulting, shot home, hitched the boat and made my way around to the rest of the gang. We packed quickly and were on our way at long last. The weather predicted for Friday was a strong NE front. They weren’t wrong.

We launched through the Umkomaas River Mouth (always exciting, especially when you have some-one new to this - Kassie). The intention was to head to Aliwal’s NE pinnacle for large pelagics. The conditions were atrocious. Between the Punisher and the Penetrator only one small German Bream landed!

Saturday’s prediction: Strong SW front. We were not disappointed. Called off the launch in the morning. Launched in the afternoon…. Kassie must have thought this was going to be the death of him. The swell and wind were incredible. Decided to err on the side of caution and headed back to safety.

To say we were despondent was an understatement. It was visible on everyones’ faces. Sunday morning and everyone had slept in. The Penetrator roused us quickly. There was no wind. Quickly to the beach. I did not need to get onto the beach to realise we were in for a rare treat. After a strong SW front, you normally find a NE front, but sometimes if you are really lucky, there is a gap between the fronts and the Spearfishing can be legendary. To add to this it was New Moon and the old fishing myth is that fishing is best at this time.

We had little time. Fortunately the Ocean was that oily slick calm, you so rarely encounter. The launch was quick and easy. We sped to one of our marks in the Black Rock area, inside of Aliwal Shoal. With just 2 hours of Spearing, no time was wasted in marking a good looking spot and beginning the first drift. The Penetrator, Punisher and I, all returned with fish on our first dives. It set the mood for a hectic session of Spearfishing. Species accounted for: Natal Fingerfin, Spadefish, Slinger, Rubberlips and Englishman. We saw Tasselfish, Mangrove Snapper, Zebras and even a Malabar Rockcod, but time was short and we could not apply ourselves to the task at hand with the dedication required. Did not even try to hunt any of the Bream species. We just relished the diving and stalking. Long gentle fin strokes to the bottom. Lie still and watch where the fish are coming from. Wait for something big and just about every throw a coconut.

It was really enjoyable to get back into the Ocean and dive without any concerns. In fact as I write this, I am still enthralled by the lingering sensation of freedom that freediving brings.

The results have been published and the list of species taken is quite astonishing: Amberjack(Sangora), Bankie(Natal Fingerfin), Bronze Bream, Bumphead(Natal & Mocambique Knifejaw), Catface Rockcod, Chub, Cuckoo(Cape Knifejaw), Englishman, Garfish, German Bream, Kaakap, Kingfish(Fulvi, Tellowtail & Blue Spotted), Lanternfish(Cave Bass), Lemon Bream, Protea bream, Rabbitfish, Rubberlips, Scotsman, Spadefish and Tassel.

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