The fishing times they are a-changing

RARE SIGHT: A notable catch that was common forty years back. The angler is Francois van Zyl. The fish was released but unfortunately not weighed or measured, but clearly a fish of size
RARE SIGHT: A notable catch that was common forty years back. The angler is Francois van Zyl. The fish was released but unfortunately not weighed or measured, but clearly a fish of size

THE real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes, said Marcel Proust. Angling is very much the same. The success thereof that is. In order to achieve success, one cannot use the same old ideas and expect continued success. Success is achieved with innovative ideas and perseverance.

I have always been fascinated by how trends change. One day the fish are attracted to specific bait and the next they ignore it like a forbidden fruit.

In America, they have started – a few years back already – removing dam walls that serve no real purpose, and in doing so they have re-established the salmon populations that America was famous for by having free-flowing systems.

The so-called fish ladders were not as effective as thought and inhibited the natural mass migration of fish.

Years ago, when the Volkswagen assembly plant’s location was planned, large craft in the form of barges could navigate up river close to where the plant is today. The idea was to ferry parts to and fro for the company and other industries that soon established plants here. Much the same as the canal systems of Europe.

The building of the Groendal Dam, which was inaugurated on April 7 1934, changed the river so that today Perseverance is the place where the tidal influence ceases. The rest of the impact on the system is now history and irreversible.

As winter approaches and the water gets colder, so too must the attention be on softer baits. Colder water is cleaner, so emphasis on presentation also becomes more critical. The white steenbras or pignosed grunter becomes a popular surf species this time of year and can be caught on all sandy beaches along our coast. This is a very exciting species to catch as they take the bait and run.

The fish, in seconds, will strip line off a reel with one allmighty dash. Many an angler has been “spooled” by these cunning fighters. Unfortunately they are exploited when they are running and are therefore on the critical list of threatened species.

These fish should be returned without thought so they can recover to the levels they once enjoyed. Places like Vanstadens were notorious for big pignose that were caught without exception forty years ago.

The photo shows François van Zyl with a typical example of a Vanstadens pignose caught there recently. A rare spectacle today.

As the times change, so memories fade and before the digital era catches could not be so easily recorded, so the fish had to go home to be seen – otherwise it was just another fishy story.

Today affordable cameras have made possible an credible way of angling and preserving threatened species. – Reel Time, with Wayne Rudman

 

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