Coast KZN

04 Jun 2021

#FishEagle: First sardines of the season

(North Coast Courier-Sealice) Picture: Zorann Lottering/Southern Explorer. Netters reel in the first of this year's sardine catch on Monday.

Sardines were netted at Port Edward on Monday morning. First of the season, some 100 baskets were pulled out by a netter that morning, followed by another big net. This was his first ever sardine catch.

The Sharks Board took a recce flight down to the Eastern Cape last week to find the sardines. Apart from a few small pilot shoals, the main shoals were not visible mainly because of rough seas. Huge pods of dolphins said to be 500-strong were observed, some operating in the surf while others were among large patches of gannets. Sea birds were sitting on the water with just a few diving to feed.

It was obvious there were shoals around but still a long way from the coastline.

Netters are now poised for more action after Monday’s haul. Some of these guys rely on the sardines to make enough money to survive the year. Sometimes, when the netters are operating, average Joes try to take sardines from the nets. This should be discouraged as people have been injured doing so.

A couple of off-shore fishing craft were flipped in the strong surf last week. One at Ballito and the other at Umkomaas. Fortunately there were no injuries but both craft were damaged as usually happens in such accidents.

The first sardines of the season were netted at Port Edward on Monday by a lucky netter making his first ever sardine haul.
Photo: Southern Explorer

Every year during game fish season there are several such accidents. The guys are keen to get out, but the trick is to stay away from the backline.

There were reports last week of anglers catching shad and garrick at Umgeni River mouth. I decided to have a look for myself and one morning I found a large crowd gathered at first light, with a few small shad caught. Most shad were undersized but not returned to the water. Some were used as live bait to catch garrick.

There were a couple of anglers casting spoons into the river mouth but I did not see any action. Garrick which have been caught are all weighing in the 9 to 10 kilos range and are giving anglers a hard fight. Garrick were also caught last week along South Coast at popular spots, most on live bait.

It will not be long before the lower North Coast beaches begin to produce garrick regularly but there needs to be a supply of food before this happens.

Off-shore craft continue to fish the La Mercy game fish reefs but they are not there in numbers, as they were previously. Although off-shore anglers are continuing to try and catch game fish, many are now targeting bottom fish with the geelbek salmon being preferred and some decent catches made recently.

Photo: Zorann Lottering/Southern Explorer.

But I believe it has been difficult to find decent frozen sardines. Anglers who stocked up were the ones scoring the most.

Daga salmon are more numerous on South Coast reefs but the days of anglers filling their hatches has gone. This species is under tremendous pressure.

Past years saw night-time off-shore anglers in winter beaching with hatches full of daga and geelbek salmon. Many believe allowing night-time fishing was a poor choice, with fish being slaughtered.

Local rock and surf anglers should now put in beach-time as fishing should soon begin to improve. It may still be a bit early for decent sized shad, but surf conditions are ideal for targeting stumpies and, a live ghost crab could produce a really nice fish during the hours of darkness