Spearfishing only enjoys a relatively small following in numbers when compared to the sport of angling.

The small numbers together with other inhibiting factors such as dirty water and rough seas at certain times of the year, have ensured that the pressure of spearfishing on the fish stocks over the years has not been too great.

Because South Africa is such a haven for spearfishing, there are a multitude of underwater clubs, and you should be able to find one easily in almost any coastal town.

A licence is needed to spearfish or for crayfish or rock lobster. These licences are available at any post office or conservation office.

Kwazulu Natal
With the Zululand spots such as Cape Vidal and Sodwana Bay having all year round diving conditions and lots of big gamefish action, to wreck diving where large dagga salmon and big ignoblis kingfish, thrilling action is provided for everyone. The world record black marlin was also shot in this area.

Influenced by the warm Agulhas and Mozambique currents which flow southwards down this section of the coast, the waters are home to a rich diversity of fish life.

On any dive spearfishermen can expect to encounter large gamefish along with the many different types of reef fish found here - pelagic fish, black and striped marlin, yellowfin tuna, world record size kawakawa, skipjack tuna, king mackerel, queenfish, kingfish, dorado and wahoo.

Kwazulu Natal enjoys a sub-tropical climate with mild winters and hot steamy summers. Summer water temperatures are around 24°C and the use of a 3mm wetsuit is more than adequate. For the winter months May-August you need a 5mm wetsuit with sea temperatures as low as 18°C.

The south coast stretches from Durban southwards to Port Edward, a distance of 160km. With lots of rivers on this section of coast, the rainy months make the inshore conditions mostly undiveable.

The south coast is characterized by short beaches bounded by rocky headlands.

The annual sardine run takes place along this section of coast during winter. Shoals of sardines move up from the south eastern cape coast accompanied by large gamefish. This is an exciting time for divers with big gamefish and even bigger sharks encountered right on the backline.

Western Cape
Mossel Bay promises some fantastic spear fishing. Fed from the tropical Agulhas current and the nutrient enriched Benguela current, this is a spearfishing haven. Spot the southern Yellowtail, Kabeljou or Kob, Cape Salmon, Red Steenbras, Red Roman, Red Stumpnose and Garrick to mention just a few.

Just east of Cape Agulhas lies the small coastal town of Struisbaai which has become a popular spearfishing destination and boasts a wide variety of bottom-feeding as well as pelagic species desirable both as sport fish and as food.

Equipment
Silicone goggles, a silicone snorkel, a rubber or elasticized weight belt with quick release, neoprene booties or socks, knitted gloves with tough flexible coating, a small knife with a good cutting edge, a brightly coloured foam float, and 30m line for a shore dive or 40m line for a boat dive will also be needed.

A net with a draw string opening attached to the float for rock lobster or abalone is also necessary.

As most divers do a fair amount of both shore and boat diving, stiff bladed long fins with removable blades are preferred.

The standard size gun is a 1.2m barrel length and is used for both game and reef fish. The surf-ski modified for diving or fishing is also becoming quite popular as a diving tool.

This is a cheaper way to get out to the deeper spots and still have the safety of a boat to get onto should the need arise.

Dive Types
The shore dive:
Two divers start a dive at an entry point, and depending on the current, drift over reefs known in the area. Most shore dives last in the region of 3-4 hours. On a shore dive you would probably not go much deeper than 18m and in the season will also catch 4 rocklobster during a dive.

The boat dive
This entails an early launch with 3 or 4 divers, depending on the boat size. A much bigger area is dived and depths vary from 18m to a 35m depending on the divers ability.

In both types of dives the plan is to do an early morning hunt for whichever gamefish is running and then a scout for reef fish hot spots later.

See also Encounter Magazine's comprehensive guide on Fishing in South Africa.
  • Spearfishing


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