Reel time: watch that bag limit

Sian Pretorius caught this magnificent spotted grunter and released it. Picture: supplied
Sian Pretorius caught this magnificent spotted grunter and released it after the picture was taken. Picture: Salt Fishing South Africa


The definition of a fish is – a creature animal that grows the fastest of all from the time that it is caught to the time that the angler describes it to his friends.

Thank goodness the digital era is here to give credibility to the catch-and-release angler who goes home without a catch but a memory that otherwise would not be taken seriously by most.

I re-use the above quote as it is quite appropriate to the photograph of Sian Pretorius who caught this magnificent spotted grunter of 9.44kg, measuring 90cm, on a seven inch “jerk minnow”, at Port St Johns.

After the photograph was taken of the catch, it was released and healthily swam away.

Spotted grunter are thrilling fish to catch on light tackle as they sound the depths of the river where they are mostly caught. They dwell in schools and are often seen working the shallows in search of prawns, their primary diet.

Lately, art-lure anglers have had good success in catching the larger specimens which seem to prefer larger morsels.

Once again, the social media – in this case Salt Fishing South Africa, a public site – is abuzz with the scandals of anglers, or rather poachers, who catch excess fish and proudly pose with their catch and then post on Facebook.

This was witnessed of one such angler who is believed to also be a member of an accredited angling

club. It seems to be an acceptable practice in that angling fraternity.

White steenbras are on the brink of collapse yet they are easily exploited when on the bite. Other species that gets regularly persecuted are shad and kob that also dwell in schools and, once located, can be fished out.

This is systematically done by some folk with permits too. The modus operandi is to have “runners” who also possess permits to cart off the fish in legal quantities and the angler with his permit remains at the water’s edge and continues to catch.

When inspected, all appears to be legal, as possession of the bag limit is not exceeded at the time of inspection. This is becoming common practice all over.

I have heard many anglers complaining about this practice. It is so harmful to fish numbers, which are declining. These actions will make policy more restrictive, and the law-abiding angler suffers. What is the way forward? There have been catches made during this last period, suggesting the pre-frontal phase is quite a productive time to make a cast. Naturally these conditions must stimulate activity as the fish anticipate and prepare for the lean time that follows.

This weekend sees a moderate westerly wind prevailing for tomorrow and Sunday. An hour or two of rain is expected from around 7am sunrise tomorrow, with the low neap tide starting to push an hour earlier.

The westerly will peak on Sunday afternoon about 4:30pm at near gale force.

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