Initiatives can improve cob, copper fish stocks

[caption id="attachment_36927" align="alignright" width="405"] LANDING THE BIG ONE: Chris Schoultz with a 19kg cob he caught last Saturday[/caption]

EVERY angler has the dream to catch that one big fish of a lifetime.

The Cape salmon – better known as cob – usually delivers that quest.

Unfortunately the species really needs to be protected by a slot size.

A slot size is an Australian concept in practice where a fish may not be caught and kept, smaller than one size, and also not larger than another size.

The harsh reality is the species has dwindled to an all-time low of about 1% of its original stock assessment made back in the times of JLB Smith, or thereabouts.

It would appear that they are in abundance but scientific studies have proven that the stock has become critically low.

In East London, an aqua-culture venture has been undertaken to supply the market needs.

This is a very expensive undertaking but fish stocks of critical species such as the cob can be recovered through government- funded ventures and NGO's which support the environment.

A portion of the production can be released into the ocean to aid recovery. The cob is my favourite eating fish but I will add that I seldom eat fish of my own.

There is nothing nicer than a cob fillet in batter and deep fried along with the old "slap" chip.

One of our readers, Aubrey du Plessis raised an interesting issue about the red steenbras or "copper" as it is known in the Transkei region. The Border Ski-boat Association, well-known for their good conservation outlook, is appealing to the minister to reconsider the ban placed on the species.

I personally agree that certain areas can be opened to coppers that migrate up our coast during their lifecycle and reach the Transkei coast as mature fish.

This region can be opened but with a slot size in place to protect the mature as well as the juveniles which, in theory, should not be in that area.

This species can be subjected to barra-trauma when angled in deep water hence the argument about releasing these fish.

The other argument is how do you prevent these fish taking your bait?

The Oceanic Research Institute has developed a technique to release these fish that are caught in the deep.

Once they have collected the information required they release these fish with the use of a weight and barbless hook.

The weight used being a heavier than normal sinker which is used to take the fish back down to the depths where it was caught as quickly as possible to reverse the trauma it experiences.

The copper is hooked though the lower lip and jaw and thrown back.

Once down, a strike of the rod then un-hooks the fish and it remains behind to enjoy liberation.

For more information on how to rig such a release tool visit the ORI website for more information.

They have successfully released many deep water fish this way as the re-captures have proven this. - Reel Time, with Wayne Rudman