Photograph by Kira Erwin, 2021
My father taught me how to fish, ja he learnt to fish when he was younger. Him and his friends use to go and fish after school in the Umhlatuzana river. Then when he was older, he went with his big brothers to go fishing in the sea. That is how he learnt to fish, and then he taught me.
I remember going in a beach buggy down the South Coast and then watching them fish because I was too young. Then slowly being able to get a rod and catching a few blacktail and smaller fish, and then joining them on the rocks when I was old enough. When we went fishing, he normally spoke about fishing only. There wasn’t much other educating going on. So, we never spoke a lot about the ocean, but I was never allowed to catch any undersize fish, I was always made to let go. We had to stick to the rules, he got highly upset when we didn’t. But just being with him was fun. It was good, lots of fun.
We would go out on the pilot boat which was nice, and we use to fish off some of the harbour crafts and the tugs when my dad worked there. That used to be really good. Fishing off the dredger was really interesting, he worked on the dredger and you would watch them dredging up all the shrimps and then you take a few shrimps and you use that to fish where they are dredging, and it is phenomenal fishing then!
I also remember spending nights on both the South Pier and the North Pier. We would go out with a bunch of friends, catch a ferry across to the South Pier and take a walk down to the end, make a fire, fish, have a few drinks and act like naughty teenagers! Ja it was nice. I wouldn’t mind doing that again actually.
Fishing for me now means being able to get out and spend time with the ocean, and enjoying the outdoors. I caught a snoek two years ago off the beach that was my best catch. I have caught small sharks that are bigger than that, but they are not as special as that snoek was! I don’t catch enough to have a consistent release policy, but obviously I release anything that is too small. If I caught 10 fish in a day, I would not keep them all but that never happens anymore. There have been changes in the quantities of fish over the years. I remember there used to be plenty of shad and stuff coming out, apparently they still do, but I never get to see that. It feels like there are less fish, and I don’t catch much anyway.
The fishermen that I have spoken to are there to enjoy being outdoors, they are not worried about what they catch even. When they are social fishermen it is just about being outdoors. Pollution is the biggest thing that people complain about, the plastic and the rubbish and all of that. There is a lot more of that now than there was before. We just need to keep the ocean clean, and healthy and don’t abuse it and the ocean will look after itself.