If you live in and around Port Elizabeth, chances are you have heard about the proposed development of fish farms within Algoa bay. Probably one of the biggest ‘cons’ that has resulted in many fighting this development is the fact that such systems are likely to attract predatory species – yes, it is likely that the fish farm development will attract a high percentage of sharks to our Blue flag beaches. Beaches that attract tourists, host local, national and international competitions and as a result bring jobs and money into our municipality.
But, let’s be honest, how many of us have had the thought “oh yes, more sharks in the bay” cross our minds. Especially after all the shark action we saw last year at the sardine run and the insane bronzie fishing we experienced locally last summer (yes, winter is upon us and summer is officially a thing of the past). But it’s not as positive for fisherfolk as it may appear at first.
Risks associated with setups such as the one that has been proposed for Algoa Bay include, but are not limited to the following; potential introduction of disease to wild fish populations, attraction of predators, introduction of ghost tackle & aquaculture species due to high seas and rough conditions, negatively affect marine traffic, have negative influences on cetacean populations as well as our local African Penguin colony, as well as potential degradation of water quality due to nutrient loading. All of which in the greater scheme of things will only have detrimental effects on our local marine life and subsequently our fishing!
We took part in the “NO to Fish Farms in Algoa Bay” protest over the weekend and we were overwhelmed by the support. Swimmers, kayakers, divers, boaters, walkers – all coming together to support Port Elizabeths beautiful bay. The protest began at Hobie beach and ended on the beach in Humewood, where the memorandum was handed over to Mervyn Brouard (WESSA EC Chairperson).
We would just like to say a special thank you to the people who took part in putting together this event as well as to everyone who showed up to support. If you missed it, its not too late to voice your opinion. There are the following options available to you:
Get your view and pic’s onto social media and use #sharethebay and #noDAFFfishyfarm
Register as and Interested & Affected Party (I&AP) with Anchor Environmental (the consultants doing the assessment) at firstname.lastname@example.org and let them know how the fish farms will impact our Bay’s ecosystem.
You spend hours on the water chasing fish! Anyone who says they never blank clearly needs to invest more time in lotto tickets! You catch your fish, take a snap and head home. Later, you sit back have a beer, admire your photos – but suddenly your catch of the day is a catch of a lifetime. How many people estimate the weight of a fish off a photo? And how badly can this go wrong! On the other hand you get anglers who purposefully go out of their way to make the fish look as big as possible, often resulting in a photo of an extremely out of proportion fish!
We did a quick 24 hour quiz, to see how well photos can trick people! The results speak for themselves! For those of you who did participate, on Instagram or on Facebook, thank you! Here are the details for each of the fish:
Dusky kob, the correct answer was in fact A! This fish weighed 9.7kgs. The shad (which was in fact a mould for those of you who questioned it) was 7.2kgs, which meant that the correct answer was C!
The results from the poll were interesting and can be seen in the graphs below. Green bars are indicative of the category of the actual weight of the fish.
In both cases over 70% of voters got the weight incorrect. In the case of the kob, 48% of voters estimated the fish to be more than double its actual weight!
Here are a few things to consider or look out for when estimating fish weight off photos:
is the person touching the fish? If not – alarm bells!
are the arms of the person extended?
fingers! Fingers are always a good indicator of size, especially hands/fingers around the caudal peduncle (aka. the base of the tail)
does the fish look extremely out of proportion? Its head is about to poke through the picture and its tail is nearly on the horizon?
look for things in the photo which you can use for size comparisons to indicate scale e.g. paddle tails, reels, rods
We will be posting more on how to take the perfect fishy photo so keep your eyes posted over the next week!
We all are aware that as of the 23rd of May South Africa officially declared 20 new Marine Protected Areas (MPA’s), yip it has been gazetted! This means that currently we have 41 protected areas along our South African coastline. MPA’s play a critical role in protecting our natural resources by limiting human activity within these “reserves”. However, the introduction of the new MPA has left many a fisherfolk wondering if and how this will affect them?
Most of us living in the Eastern Cape, particularly Port Elizabeth and its surrounds frequent Sunday’s and van der Riets for fishing expeditions. Whilst there has been lots of rumours around what the new regulations will entail, all gossip has been put to an end as the Gazette gives a detailed breakdown of how the Addo MPA has been zoned and what activities are restricted in each of those particular areas. However, lets be honest not all of us understand all the political/scientific jargon which is why we had a chat to Dr Ané Oosthuizen regarding the new regulations and how they will affect local recreational fisherfolk. This is what she had to say…
Hi Ané, tell us a bit about yourself and how you were involved in the project? Hi Chénelle, I work for South African National Parks, and have been part of the Planning of the Addo ENP MPA since 2006.
All fishing is completely prohibited in all restricted zones? Shore based fishing, around the Sundays area, has therefore been restricted to between point I and K? And further up the coast from L onwards? Yes, all fishing is prohibited in all restricted zones. However the zonation of the MPA allows for recreational, commercial and subsistence fishing in several controlled zones. Shore fishing around Sundays can take place between I and K, on both sides of the mouth. Then again from L at Woody cape to A at Cannon Rocks
There were rumours that fishing was going to be closed within and on either side of the Sundays river mouth, has this happened? No, the proposed closure after the mouth was not done after consultation with stakeholders.
If fishing from a boat, this can only take place within the SOCZ, as well as within the estuary, up until the SERZ? Where exactly does the SERZ begin? The SERZ begins at the end of Ingelside, were the Koppies comes down to meet the river, and the GPS coordinate for point S will give the exact position. Fishing from a boat can also take place in the CROICZ on the Cannon rocks side of the MPA.
Can drones be used in the park? Within the shore controlled zones how far seaward does the boundary extend? It is important to remember that drones are excluded from National Parks, but not the MPA. This will make the use of drones tricky in the areas where the MPA borders the National Park. Please be well informed of the boundaries, and if unsure please check with the Park. The boundary for fishing from shore is 200m from the highwater mark.
Should someone witness illegal fishing activity within the park, to whom would one report it? Who will be policing the area? The regulations for all the new MPAs comes into effect from 1 August, and SANParks would appreciate the support of the community in being the eyes and ears on the ground. Please contact Addo Elephant National Park directly, and we will have a 24h line operational from August.
A special thanks to Ané, who took the time to help clarify the confusion regarding this MPA. And a huge congratulations on being part of such a conservation “win”!
The Addo MPA Gazette is also available for download at the following link (Document numbers 42478 23-5 EnvironAff and 42479 23-5 EnvironAff) . Should you have any additional queries, please do not hesitate to send them through to us and we will do our best to get them back to you!
We tend to try and always avoid public places over public holidays. We prefer having the water and beach to ourselves having been spoilt with this in the past. But with Carlos being stuck in a classroom everyday and limited time off we decided to make the most of the Easter break and get out the house! We thought considering it’s nearing winter most people would make the most of the sunny beaches and so we decided to move in the opposite direction and head inland to Wriggleswade dam.
In true Moran fashion, we packed the car, hitched the boat and headed off, all in the rain. The rain stopped just before we reached Stutterheim and there was a sense of relief in the car when we realised we would not be setting up in the rain (only in the dark). We setup camp, lit the fire, braai-ed and retired to our tent, all excited for the next days fishing.
The first day we spent moving around a lot trying to work out a pattern as the dam was at 60% and we had never fished it so low. After a few stops we began to put 2 and 2 together and saw fish were holding just off weed beds in the shallows and the most successful lure to target them was the RattleTrap.
Stella caught her first bass! Probably the highlight of the trip for all of us. She has her own rod on the boat, when she wants to fish, we cast out a lure for her and she reels it in (sometimes with speed, sometimes she gets distracted and stares at the cows for 5minutes before continuing her retrieval – we let her work on it as she wishes). Upon hearing her squeal I looked around to see the bent rod. My first thought – “there goes our lure, stuck on some structure at the bottom of the dam”. Only to then realise she was on – chaos erupted on the boat to make sure the fish was landed. SUCCESS!
The second day was a lot easier as we knew where to target the fish and the fish were obviously feeding before the approaching cold front. We caught a fair amount of fish throughout the day but the sad part was the size and state of the bass. Its sad to see this in a dam where a few years ago all your fish in a comp were 1.5kg plus… now 85% of the fish were not even classed as “keepers”.
The third day, produced a few fish in the morning. However, at about 10:00am we were all standing on the boat when the air suddenly got that chill. We both looked at each other and knew our long weekend of fishing had come to an abrupt end. Its amazing how the fish literally just switched off with the arrival of the cold front. We started slowly working our way back towards base, got hit by a few premature rain drops but avoided being caught out on the dam in the downpour.
The problem? A battle of the aliens?
Bass size and numbers seems to have drastically decreased over the years. One of the first two things that we noticed was the lack of visibility in the dam and the complete lack of blue gills. Upon talking to some of the local fishermen, these observations were confirmed by them too. Third worrying observation (for bass fisherfolk) is that the dam currently seems to be overpopulated by common carp, Cyprinus carpio. At anytime there were at least 4 carp swirls around the boat.
Carp, much like bass, are categorised as alien invasive species primarily distributed due to sport fishing. Carp, especially in large enough numbers, can have severely detrimental effects on the habitat in which they are introduced. Carp are benthivorous fish, meaning that they feed on insects, crustaceans, worms etc found on the bottom. This feeding behaviour is extremely disruptive and often leads to the uprooting of vegetation as well as the increase of turbidity and suspensoids in the water. This results in a multitude of effects on the aquatic environment – (to briefly summarise) murkier water results in a reduction in light penetration subsequently leading to a loss in aquatic vegetation. This in turn leads to a decrease in primary productivity, decreased visibility as well as (but not limited to) a loss of vegetation. As such, ecosystems lose their diversity (both in terms of niches and species).
Could it be that the increase in the Wriggleswade carp population has resulted in a near eradication of suitable prey for bass? Or perhaps the decrease in submerged aquatic vegetation has had detrimental effects on bass spawning and recruitment success? Alternatively, the turbidity of the water could have resulted in a lower prey-capture rate of these visual predators? Could it be that the low dam levels have had a severe effect on the population? We can not be sure of the exact reason for the reduction in both the size and the numbers of largemouth bass in Wriggleswade dam however it is unlikely that the population will recover without some type of human intervention.
IMPORTANT: Please note that you require an Eastern Cape Provincial freshwater angling license if you intend on fishing!
Wriggleswade Dam is a relatively new dam. Only being completed in 1991. It is built on the Kabusi River and is part of the Amatola water infrastructure. The dam has a full storage capacity round-about 91.2 million cubic metres however it is currently approx. 60% full and as such is relatively low. The dam is well renown for its bass fishing, although this is just one of the few activities that take part within its waters.
We stuck true to our rule of thumb and once again departed and returned via different routes. Heading there via Grahamstown, King Williams Town and Stutterheim and then returning along the coast via East London and Port Alfred. In both directions the roads were well maintained, although they are currently doing roadworks between EL and PE. Time wise, it was much of a muchness although the inland route is a bit more hectic when towing a boat (lots of steep inclines).
We stayed on the dam itself at Wriggleswade Caravan and Campsite. The campsite is super well maintained and there is access to electricity (should you need it) as well as to clean ablution blocks (hot showers and flushing toilets). There is a very basic shop where you can purchase ice and wood etc however Stutterheim is only approx 20km away should you need anything else. We setup camp as close to the water as possible so we could moor our boat right in front of us – not many places left in South Africa where you are still able to safely do this! Should you wish to visit Wriggleswade, get in touch with Amanda on +27 83 313 5551, she will be able to assist you with all your booking requirements and answer all your queries.
Overall we were disappointed in the fishing, the fish were small and not as plentiful as we had expected. However we had an amazing time at a beautiful place and any day out fishing is better than a day stuck indoors!
Nowadays it can be really overwhelming deciding which product is best suited to you, which is good value for money and whether or not its going to last. With marketing being so in our faces and everyone advertising as “simply the best, better than all the rest”, it’s daunting making a decision. Let’s face it, there are few things worse than spending those hard earned buckeroo’s only to feel disappointed, frustrated or blatantly robbed… which is why we have decided to start #FavoredByFishyTales. We at Fishy Tales are firm believers in giving brands, products, destinations and the people behind them the recognition they deserve. All whilst providing you with an honest, unsponsored, tried & tested review. We would also love to hear your opinion on the products/destinations we review and other ones that you would recommend.
On our recent trip to Henties Bay we were given a packet of BushBlok‘s to test out, by the Krugers! Initially we were not really convinced. However, after using it we are 100% sold! Not only is this a super product (with loads of pro’s) but the story behind the brand is what makes it even more appealing.
CCF BUSH Pty Ltd was developed through the combined efforts of the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in order to restore cheetah habitat in an ecological and economic manner. BushBlok’s are wooden briquettes manufactured by CCF BUSH Pty Ltd using invasive bush. Cheetahs are known to inhabit open grasslands and savannahs. Overgrowth of invasive bush significantly reduces prey and the success of cheetah hunts. BushBlok is doing some amazing work and is approved by both the Forest Stewardship Council and the Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network.
Other than the ecological importance of BushBlok’s, this product has a number of pro’s working in its favour:
easy to pack!
not at all messy – no splinters or charcoal smudges
burns for a lot longer than normal wood
creates coals which are ideal for braai’s
makes decent flames (better than charcoal)
produces very little smoke
good value for money (on par with any good wood or charcoal)
The only con we have is that we haven’t been able to find this product in PE. Does anyone know if BushBlok’s are available in South Africa or know of a similar product available to us locally?
We recently had to go to Barkly East to pick up a canopy for our vehicle. As we do not have lots of time off during the fishing season, we thought of combining the trip there with a spot of fishing. After chatting to young Robbie Millar and local guru Andrew Clarke, the wheels were set in motion.
On our way there we were met with torrential downpours for the last 200km. The rain is a blessing for the local farmers but we knew that it would not be great for our fishing. Never the less we still kept our spirits up!
First stop was visiting Andrew to hear what’s been happening. He just pointed at the sky and shook his head! He suggested we try an area called the weir that afternoon. We rushed off to get our canopy (poor farmer thought we are weird, we refused coffee and rusks and I working like a crazy person to fit the canopy!) Got it half on and rushed back to town. After checking in at our stunning accommodation, we dumped our stuff, grabbed our waterproofs and headed down to the weir. Our worst fears were true – fast flowing, chocolate water fit for catching ragged tooth sharks. We still had a ball throwing a few flies and got put off mushrooms after seeing them grow out of cow poop!
Andrew called again saying that he managed to pull a few strings for us to go fish a dam that has been closed due to the drought and subsequently low levels – a hard concept to grasp when its bucketing down around you. That night we braaied in the rain, like all normal people do. Early the next morning we set off, not used to 8deg temperature, not really boardshort weather. After a very slippery ride we got to the dam. It was very low and full of weed. We walked and looked for any sort of opening in the weeds without luck. As a last attempt we walked out on a shallow point and it looked doable. Unfortunately, for Chenelle, the clearing was just out of reach. I managed a few fish only on a full fly line cast and then only had 10 strips to get a bite.
We really had to manhandle the fish to get them over the weeds, which was not ideal. If it was not for the finest quality hooks, that Robbie ties his flies with, it would all have been a tragic story. What an amazing, world class fishery right on our doorstep. The really is no excuse not to travel locally.
The town is relatively small and has a few basic shops to get odds and ends. If you plan on visiting the area, especially for a longer period of time, we would suggest taking along majority of your groceries etc.
One of our favourite parts of any trip is the driving – we actually really love taking in the scenery and appreciating as many of the local views as we can. As a rule of thumb, we always try to travel there and back via different routes. We made our way from PE early on Friday morning, travelled towards Barkly East passing through Cradock, Hofmeyr, Steynsburg and Aliwal north. Sunday morning we decided to return via Elliot, Queenstown, Whittlesea (a quick stop at Oxkraal dam to have a look-see), Grahamstown and then back home.
We stayed at the lovely Stonehouse B&B. Situated on a Merino Ram farm at the foot of scenic green mountains, approximately 15km out of town. We were hosted by Dassie and her wonderful family, who go out of their way to ensure that you are able to make the most of your stay! Just a warning that signal is non-existant (a great way to force a detox from technology) and the B&B is a typical farm house – rustic and simple but absolutely beautiful and perfect!
If it isn’t already – we would highly recommend adding Barkly East onto your list of local spots to visit! The people are all super friendly and helpful, the scenery stunning and the quality of the fish, even in terrible conditions, was amazing. We cannot wait to get back to see what all those lovely streams have to offer. A special THANK YOU to all that made our trip awesome!