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Daga dreaming…

Daga dreaming…

Thump thump like an amplified heart beat that reverberates in your solar plexus…then again thump thump and again thump thump…silence only the sound of your own increased heart beat. The unmistakeable sound of big  Daga Salmon calling to each other. But where are they…thump thump thump, thump thump…you are trying not to move and keeping as quiet as possible…thump thump…then you make out the bright dots that travel along the lateral line of the Dagas first and their shadows on the sand below as  they circle closer in  like ghosts  from deeper out on the sand and time seems to freeze briefly as you hope and pray they come in close enough to plant a decent shot through their armour plated scales.

Big Daga Salmon aka Kob or Cape Salmon (Croakers/Giant Corvina Med and North Africa, Mulloway Australia) are enough to rattle even seasoned pros and have led to quite a few Spearos having a shallow water black out especially when hunting them off the deep KZN ledges and wrecks were they normally holdup and rest during the day 22m and deeper only coming in shallow at night or when visibility is poor in the shallows. They travel up the East coast of South Africa from the Cape following the annual Sardine run from June and bulk up for breeding on the nutrient rich Sardines from Port St Johns river in the Transkei to KZN and Zululand waters towards spring and early summer. In recent years stocks of these large Argyrosymus species have been overfished and the breeding numbers are at an all time low according to the older commercial line fishing skippers and Marine biologists. The estuaries where the young Daga salmon and smaller half kob feed and get shelter from open ocean predators are also in a poor state due to pollution and silting up from bad catchment area management. Illegal gill netting is also on the rise adding more pressure on juveniles in the estuaries and coastal rivers closer to home here in KZN and up in Zululand as well.

The good news is that two of the main holding spots for the Daga salmon off Umkomaas KZN (Nebo and Produce wrecks) are now under protection within the New MPA (Marine protected Areas ) as of beginning of September this year with only pelagic game fish being allowed to be harvested/caught within the new extended Marine reserve recently Gazetted. The new Tugela river mouth MPA will protect them to a certain degree as well.

They are definitely a trophy fish for shore divers and boat divers alike , with a 20kg plus fish being considered the benchmark in recent times (specimens over 70kg have been caught on rod and line) and can do serious damage to your terminal gear straightening barbs and breaking spears , sometimes snapping 250kg running line like cotton and opening stainless steel retaining clips if not seriously hurt or killed outright with decent shot placement…never mind getting them up to the surface through circling hungry Blacktip and Zambezi (Bull) sharks that hold off the deeper marks waiting for free takeaways alla “Spearo Mr delivery”.

Recently I lucked into a decent specimen shore diving the Umhlali area on the KZN North coast in Crystal 20m plus viz…and my trusty cheap Chinese HD camera was on and recording! This being the second one I have managed to bag in the last three years or so whilst shore diving in KZN.

Dylan Koekemoer ( previous apprentice and Umhlanga Spearfishing Club Chairman) came along with me and another diving mate the day before for a quick Crayfish dive and maybe a chance for a Garrick or Queen Mackerel or two and I stayed shallow still not being able to equalize properly after a two to three week bout of sinus and flu. This turned out to my advantage having to stay shallower than my dive mates and  bagging a decent 8kg Garrick from a quick moving shoal on the backline and a 4.5kg Catface rockod out a bit deeper in 14m whilst looking for my last 4 crayfish from a new cave and ledge I found in the 15m plus viz , but my right sinus was squeaking badly and my dive buddies had hit the beach already so I didn’t go any deeper and swam back to the parking in the 1knt plus reverse South North current. Besides a small shoal of Queen mackerel they had seen no fish at all. On the way back home I asked if they wanted to give it a bash the following morning but both had other commitments so I figured I would give it a quick go the following morning ace out staying shallow again looking for the Queen mackerel  shoals before the predicted North East made it too bumpy.

Just before I left the following morning at 5am Dylan messaged saying he would join after all as his plans for the day had been cancelled, always a plus having a dive buddy and we found ourselves swimming out same spot at sunrise the main dive mission being to get Dylan a Garrick over 10kg and some Queen mackies. Wow 20m plus viz but not much current and the first Garrick shoal came past me in 10 minutes somehow eluding Dylan but after I got my fish the shoal returned and Dylan managed to bag a decent one, after a second shot from me, just a shade under 10kg so it was smiles all round.

We decided to look a little deeper and 5 minutes in I bagged a decent 8.5kg Queen Mackie out of a fast moving shoal of 200 plus fish and we hung around for a while nothing else doing so went out to 15m in search of some crayfish and bottom fish. At this stage Dylan was getting cold so grabbed his bugs and headed in while I carried on diving wanting to check the spot from the day before again which was 100m further south on the reef and had two semi decent caves and a ledge a bit deeper out. I dived down onto the 1st cave and immediately noticed a big crayfish in a crack above the cave so grabbed it quickly and as I started my accent there came that unmistakeable drumming sound…Thump, thump thump, thump thump! DAGAS! I checked both caves but no joy so headed out to the deeper ledge for a quick look before the long swim/walk back to the parking.

Straight away from the surface I could see it was a great mark with a pile of fish holding on it, Tassel fish, Bronze bream and plenty Old Women holding above and on the ledge. As I reached the ledge I noticed two medium sized (4/5ft) sharks circling out on the sand outside of the ledge but they moved off as I got in position to make a dive on the up current side of the ledge. Just before I duck dived I saw what I thought was one of the sharks moving down the ledge away from me and ignored it diving down on top of the Tassel fish as quietly and slowly as possible so as not to spook them. My last equalise just above them squeaked through my right sinus and they bolted down the reef  from the sound so I decided to settle on the reef and look around for a decent fish maybe coming in from the sand deeper out. As I looked to my right out over the sand I made out two white ghostly shapes heading towards me which materialised into two Daga salmon one fairly large model in the lead followed by a sub 20kg one! Turning slowly and smoothly with my gun I turned and moved slightly forward to close the gap waiting for the bigger fish to move past me a bit so as to be able to place the shot from slightly behind and above to get under those big scales and timed the shot perfectly just missing the kill shot but going through the shoulder behind the head and exiting just behind the opposite sides pectoral fin. She bolted off at speed swimming around the top of the ledge with the dyneema getting entangled in some reef growth. Two  more circuits around and the dyneema  gave the reef a haircut and the fish was loose and free of the reef before I hit the surface so I started applying pressure to keep the fish off the bottom with it dragging me under once or twice and 5 minutes later I had my hand in the gills of this beautiful silver slab of a fish! It was a long swim back because there was no way I could carry it along with the rest of my catch, one and a half hours later I reached the parking absolutely exhausted but super stoked with the epic dive! She tipped the scales at 29kg…

Daga Salmon tips from me are don’t move just your gun onto the fish move with the gun, moving just the gun tends to spook them and when lying on a ledge next to sand just a single quick pull on the gun rubbers tends to call them in to investigate. They hunt by sound so hear everything so try not to make noise and don’t equalise directly above them or on the same level as them. I use 7.5mm spears and 2mm stainless steel retaining quick clips from Rob Allen with 1,8mm Dyneema running line so as not to lose out on those bigger fish.

Travelling spearo Chris Leppan has a few tips as well …”Always dive with a buddy, they can put a second shot (if needed) into your fish and remember your dive buddy should be someone who you trust! I once shot a Daga that reefed me up in a bad spot in the wave zone and got tangled in my line with a powerful Daga on the end of my spear. I managed to shout out to my dive buddy who came over and cut the line which allowed me to keep my gun and the fish. Thanks Marcus, I owe you one! Keep your guns well maintained! Check your spears and replace them if they are rusted or bent. Daga Salmon are extremely powerful fish and I have snapped a spear clean in half on a Daga of a lifetime! I have noticed that Dagas frequent the same spots every year. If you have managed to see or shoot a Daga in a particular spot chances are you will see another one there. Check your Daga spots when the season comes round and don’t tell your friends (or your instagram followers) where you found your fish! Loose lips create crowded dive spots!”

I will be putting the full Daga salmon video up on Master watermen YouTube channel here is the link to the channel for all to enjoy and as always dive safe and straight spears…

“Yowser Jason, that is real quality work right there…

Looking forward to your next tutorial. What your gonna shoot this time?” – Xona

Published by The Sardine News
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The Master Watermen website is sponsored and produced by TLC for your Business (online marketing agency and software house).

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Spearfishing Croc Couta (Trophy Narrow Barred Spanish Mackerel) Crystal or dirty water?

Croc Couta shooting tutorial by Jason Heyne

Spearfishing Croc Couta (Trophy Narrow Barred Spanish Mackerel)
Crystal or dirty water?

Scomberomorus commerson aka Narrow Barred Spanish Mackerel aka Couta is a prize fish
for just about any Spearo to shoot and a Croc Couta (19kg plus) is a serious trophy fish to shoot
from a boat never mind on a shore entry dive! Join me in this episode as I stalk and hunt a lovely
Croc Couta on a shore entry dive on the North coast of KZN South Africa right at the start of the
Couta season for us which is normally around November most years (fishermen swear it only
starts in December!).

A question that gets asked quite often is “Clean or dirty water for big Couta?” I personally prefer
around about 8m to max 10m viz for shooting bigger fish as you can get a better chance at a
good close shot on the fish which is generally a requirement as they have a solid body and long
shots tend to not penetrate all the way through so the spear barb (shafts flopper) can penetrate
and engage. They are absolute steam trains and can empty reels in seconds with long strong
runs. Take note how I use a gun reel plus a belt reel both filled with about 50m of strong braided
cord to play and subdue the fish.

Also take note that having a good dive buddy to back you up with a second shot is always agreat help plus the dive buddy can also help to keep the ever present Sharks away from treating
you Croc Couta as Take out! On this dive I have a great dive buddy Master Richardt Botes who
backs me up perfectly and places the coup de gras shot with aplomb straight through the Croc
Couta’s brain killing it instantly!

Hope you enjoy the video and tutorial and as always Dive Safe and Straight spears…

Jason Heyne explains exactly how to go about shooting a big one of these croc couta as they are affectionately known around here.

“Hell’s Bells Jason, these stories and videos just keep getting better and better man!

Looking forward to your next tutorial. What your gonna shoot this time” – Xona

The Sardine News
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https://youtube.com/umzimkulu1/
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The Master Watermen website is sponsored and produced by TLC for your Business (online marketing agency and software house).

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Quick Spearfishing duck dive tutorial with special guest Master Richardt Botes

Duckdiving with the Master Watermen

Quick Spearfishing duck dive tutorial with special guest Master Richardt Botes

Welcome back for another Master Watermen spearfishing Tutorial. This episode centres around the different types of the duck dive from the surface when on the decent. This one is for you Clive Honiball (To Dive For) and your student diver troop!

A good duck dive is tantamount to a good dive without a doubt as being relaxed and having decent grace (natural flowing swimming form) in the water increase’s your bottom time and helps to not scare the fish away from you as you approach them from the surface.

There are 3 types of duck dive…

  1. Both legs in the air at the same time to increase the speed of decent starting from a relaxed position with gun stowed and two or three small kicks to start the duck dive. This is a good technique when diving deep with minimal weight on the belt.
  2. One leg in the air only for stealth diving at varying depths with gun stowed and two or three small kicks to start the duck dive from a relaxed position. This is my standard go to duck dive because it has minimal splash and noise.
  3. One leg followed by the other leg starting from a gun ready position with one or two quick hard kicks to start the duck dive. This is the best duck dive for diving down on to fast game fish species.

Practise makes perfect when it comes to the Duck dive and it should eventually come naturally to you after a while. You should not be kicking whilst your fins are still out of the water and your legs should not come past the 12 o’clock position when swinging them up to start the dive. Noisy duck dives can and will SPOOK your fish! Bubbles are the Spearos enemy when stalking fish so being quiet and graceful is the key to getting better and bigger fish!

As always Dive Safe and Straight spears from the Bear…

“Right-on Jason and Richard. Let’s keep this shit coming!

Looking forward to your next tutorial.” – Xona

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KZN South Africa spearfishing Queen Mackerel tutorial part 1

Queen Mackerel spearfishing Tutorial by Jason Heyne

KZN South Africa spearfishing Queen Mackerel tutorial part 1

Scomberomorus plurilineatus  AKA Queen Mackerel AKA Natal Snoek are one of my favourite species of game fish to hunt along the South African coastline especially in the Kwa Zulu Natal province. There is a bag limit 10 fish per person per day and they are absolutely divine to eat! This is the first in a four part Tutorial on how to spearfish for Natal Snoek.

They are almost present all year round on the KZN coast but are more plentiful here in the summer months from November to April when they come down from Mozambique to breed and obviously with the Sardine run June to August on the South coast of KZN.

They are game fighters and pound for pound one of the strongest game fish we have here in KZN with bigger specimens being able to strip your whole reel (they can attain 10kg plus, SA record T. Dreyer 11.4kg KZN 1985).

They hunt shallow reefs from the backline surf out to 20m plus in depth and are a shoaling game fish species sometimes up to 200/300 fish in a shoal. Early morning and late afternoons are the best time to look for these small steam trains.

In the episode we can see how fast conditions can change on the KZN north coast especially with a pushing tide with the visibility going from 6m to 15m in about an hour and the water temp bumping up a couple of degrees Celsius as well. Natal Snoek love warm water especially around the 25 Deg C mark and when the water is colder they become very spooky (hard to approach and tend to take flight at the smallest sound etc). I also show how to play a Natal Snoek on the long runs and to shoulder one’s gun using the bands and play the fish using the line and not the reel. Also watch out for the playing dead Natal Snoek and the final quick run where a LOT of beginners lose their fish.

As always Dive Safe and Straight Spears…

Jason Heyne aka The Bear

Queen Mackerel spearfishing Tutorial by Jason Heyne

Xonalanga

The Sardine News
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Turtle vs Octopus

Turtle vs Octopus by the Master Watermen

Turtle vs Octopus

“Right, to kick off the blog section of the newly invented Master Watermen website, we have some literally unbelievable adventuring by Jason and Paul, way down deep. With a turtle and an octopus. Yes. It’s not even a joke. And there is video! Unfrigginbelievable I tell ya” – Xonalanga

Some people believe Spearfishing is just killing fish etc…but those of us at know that it is a way more than sustainable harvesting of the Ocean.

Master spearos (spearfisherpeople) are always good ambassadors and protectors of the Ocean and its creatures, we are the eyes under the surface and as such can see what condition or state the Ocean is in where we dive. I have seen how Marine animals can ask for help 1st hand whilst diving and 2nd hand via YouTube over the years and in this episode we get to see this phenomenon on a lovely dive I had with a Dive buddy (Paul) on the North Coast of KZN South Africa last year.

Loggerhead Turtle, Bottle-nose Dolphins and a Giant Manta ray all in one epic dive! The largest of all hard shelled turtles, Loggerheads are named for their massive heads and powerful jaws (leatherbacks are bigger but have soft shells). Their shell, is heart-shaped and normally a rusty brown colour. Their front flippers propel them through the water like wings, and their hind feet stabilize and steer them.

A female Loggerhead turtle always returns to the same beach she was born on after sometimes travelling thousands of km to return and lay her eggs and they nest on the beaches in Northern KZN South Africa and Mozambique at night here in the Indian Ocean and at one stage our local population was believed to be below 300 individuals. They have recovered quite well though and I see quite a few of them around on my dives here on the KZN coastline.

This male Loggerhead Turtle came to ask a favour at the end of the three and a half hour dive! He had taken a big Octopus for dinner and it became entangled around his neck! Watch as Paul and I see how we can help Mr Turtle get untangled from his dinner! TURTLE POWER! As always dive safe and straight spears from the Bear…

“Well if I can comment – YOWSER!!!

Man-oh-man Jason this is epic. And is that Paul Roxburgh in there with you?

But ok, a great attempt at convincing the public that spearos are not cold-blooded killers all the time. Only 99% of the time!

But after a chuckle, sure, agreed on every aspect, especially since the sheer amount of hours spent out there on a limb, adds up to a lot of kudos. Which means you can keep at it I suppose?

Well, between this story and Stompie, I am just pleasantly pondering at what might come next!?”

Xonalanga

The Sardine News
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