(Text Ryan Lategan – Photos Steve Benjamin)
Preparing for a great 3 days
We had a look at the weather forecast from Friday to Sunday and it just looked like epic spearfishing days, so we assembled the crew and before you know it, we were on our way to Struisbaai.
Friday and Saturday not good
We launched early Friday morning out of Struisbaai harbour, which is close to the southernmost tip of Africa, Cape Agulhas, and arrived on the 5 mile bank just a little after sunrise where we were greeted by 50 or so other fishing boats from recreational fishermen to commercial fishermen, all with 1 goal in common, to catch yellowtail kingfish.
It makes it really hard to dive in the fear of being ridden over when there are so many boats riding around. Out of respect, spearfishermen are always urged to stay out of fishermens’ way until they are done fishing.
We put our divers in the water and to our horror we had 3-5 m of visibility with a surface temperature of 19 deg and a cooler 17 deg on the bottom. We have a lot of Great whites in South Africa, so these conditions were not ideal for spearfishing. What we thought would be a great day ended being a terrible day and that just shows you that we can never predict what the water will be like. The day ended earlier than expected and Saturday had pretty much the same result. We did however hear of some good reports of cleaner water 40 km away on a bank known as Skipskop.
Sunday a show
We fuelled our boat and prepped for the following and final day. We launched at 5 am and made the 40 km journey out of Struisbaai on a perfectly flat sea to Skipskop banks, which is a bank 23 km from a small fishing village known as Arniston.
Arniston is a special little place all on its own and it is always a spectacle to watch how the locals launch and retrieve their fishing boats using a tractor to push the boats in and a diesel powered winch to retrieve.
The slipway is a tricky one and often boats get damaged because its very open to the sea and swell. We arrived on the banks and everything was just perfect for spearfishing: it was a warm 21 deg, 15 to 20m of visibility in some places, there were lots of yellowtail and sharks about which always makes for an eventful day.
Shot placement is critical on these special fish, as they are strong fighters and if your shot placement is poor they will reef you or the ever present ragged tooth shark might pay you a visit and steal your fish from the end of your spear.
The lengths of guns we used ranged from 90 cm to 1.1 m. Every spearo shot something to take home and at the end of the day had an awesome story to tell.
Thanks to our skipper Tai Cronje and his knowledge of the banks, to always have us on the fish and to the crew of The Red Mullet. Also to Steve Benjamin, owner of Animal Ocean in Hout Bay, Cape Town for the amazing pics…
Till the next spearfishing mission…