To tent or fish weather depending

Some mischief-maker or other has sowed confusion among the fishing fraternity concerning size and bag limits for some species.

ROBIN ROSS-THOMPSON

Nobody seems to know who it is, but the answer, if you are an angler, is don’t worry, nothing has changed … for now.

It all started with a “bogus” copy of the 2016-2017 recreational fishing brochure being published on the internet recently with some subtle changes introduced – for instance, the shad limit being reduced to just two per person per day and minimum size being 35cm.

The correct one was produced by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), and is still in force.

Those shad figures are wrong. The correct ones, still as they were last year, are four shad per person a day, and the minimum size remains at 30cm, which it has been for many years now.

So do not worry, continue as before.

The shad have been running and many have been caught in the sea off the rocks in and around East London in the past couple of weeks. Some spots are being quite heavily fished with anglers shoulder to shoulder, and are producing good catches with sizes up to four or five kilograms being mentioned, I’ve heard. Sunrise and sunset are the best times.

Interestingly, spoon is turning out to be the most productive form of “bait”.

Also, some very small fish are being taken away which, if they are under 30cm long, should be returned to the sea.

East London fisherman Marc Rosslee, who is a member of the East Cape Kayak Fishing Group, was one of the first anglers to question the news of increased sizes and reduced catches limits being introduced.

He said, and Chiel agrees with him wholeheartedly, that when anglers are issued with licences, they should also be given a DAFF marine recreational activity information brochure in which all the dos and don’ts of river and sea fishing are published.

And inspectors should be more active.

“In the Western Cape they are all along the coast and check your licence every day,” Marc added.

Now for something completely different, the weather. Mind you, weather and fishing go badly or well together, depending on the conditions. A cold and windy day with rain bucketing down hardly makes a good day for fishing. On the other hand, a calm sea (not too calm – fish like a bit of churning white water), with light wind and the sun shining, is the sort of fishing day that is made in heaven.

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean the fish will bite.

Many a day is spent in what anglers believe are perfect conditions, and they catch nothing. Not even a nibble, although there are always tiddlers around to remove the bait.

Another thing; where have all the sardines gone or are they just hanging around awaiting their turn?

I lose track of if, and when, the sardines pass by us. Probably around this time if the old story about sardines coming ashore along the KwaZulu-Natal coast when the Durban July horse-race is run on the first Saturday of that month.

Hmm! That’s five weeks from tomorrow.

But I digress, weather, oh yes weather. At last lovely autumn days and nights have arrived, the sort we all enjoy. It’s the merry month of May that is the best time of year by far to enjoy the great outdoors.

The sun is not too strong, winds have died down, temperatures are cool by night and make sleeping comfortable and cosy, and days are just perfect. With a bit of luck it will go on like this for another month or so and hopefully some time during that period we’ll have a few decent days of good soaking rain. We certainly need that.

So does the Western Cape which Premier Helen Zille has declared a disaster area with its worst water shortage in 113 years. They urgently need decent rains first to saturate soil, and then to run off into dams and ensure the taps don’t run dry.

Moving onto winter, this is not the right time of year to go camping, so we’re taking our roof tent off the bakkie and hanging it from the rafters in the garage. We’d be snug and comfortable in it at night, but then there are days to think about when you need a small ground tent to climb into and read a book if it starts to rain. And if a cold front passes through at the same time we might be miserable.

No, winter is coming so we’re just going to stay put at home for a while. — robinrosst@gmail.com

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