While Covid-19 has spoilt things in a spectacular way this year, the sardines, so long since believed to have been trawled out of meaningful existence by fishing boats from foreign shores, made a timely and heart-warming arrival on the South Coast during a chilly winter.
Great excitement at Scottburgh beach. Image: Supplied
They were initially netted about 10 days ago at Ramsgate, Southbroom, Marina Beach and Pumula.
This week they showed up again, en masse, at Scottburgh, Pennington and Rocky Bay, South Coast Herald reports. At the time of writing, they netted again at Ramsgate where a little scuffle, somewhat comical in some ways, broke out in the shallow water between some overeager young men.
All this while the beaches are still off-limits to the average citizen, but seine netters are permitted to catch the fish.
One South Coaster joking said: 'Sardines 2 – Lockdown 0'. Crates initially sold for around R1,000, which some of our upcountry readers found difficult to believe. When told they could reach even higher, mouths dropped open in stunned amazement.
However, it follows the age-old rule of demand and supply. Within a day or two, they were down to R600 a crate, then R250 and then R100. But that's the thing, one can never fully predict how many shoals are going to swim past, and even if they do, if they will be close enough to net.
The boisterous run has meant plenty of shark activity.
As in any economy, where there is profit to be made, taxation follows. And the sharks, nicknamed the 'Tax Man', have had their fill as well. They have been among the sardines, chasing the game fish.
Watching some of the excellent video footage of their behaviour, it's almost as if the sharks get as giddy as the humans on the beach. Some young men, showing some unnecessary bravado, have danced dangerously close to the sharks in the foamy water.
Meanwhile, in some regular fishing, shad are full up at the moment, especially popular at Margate pier. One fisherman said he heard about an angler who was there at midnight and the shad were still biting. There is also plenty of bronze bream around. Drone fishing has become very popular of late, especially when trying to target monster sharks.
Werner Grobler landed a 259kg grey shark at Scottburgh this week and it measured 258cm. He said he'd learned from previous years that you have to have the right equipment to target these big fish. He's using a very heavy set up to specifically target them. Even with the trace he uses, the hook is debarbed, so if the fish is lost the hook will just fall out of its mouth and there won't be a long piece of line that the fish has to swim around with.
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