JETSKI FISHING HAS ARRIVED …
WORDS: Eugene C. Kruger, Editor-in-Chief
Well now, its mid-year 2022 and our fishing year is throwing up all sorts of ‘issues’, all relating in one or another way with what we like doing best, namely catching fish (admittedly sometimes just going fishing but not actually catching!). No matter, from us here in the Tight Lines newsroom, a warm welcome to all readers to our June digital issue, may it provide some warmth on a winter’s foul-weather day when reading about fishing at least tempers the longing to be at or on the water.
A rather controversial term has crept into our fishing lives, or rather a most unwelcome one, namely ‘outside or motorised assistance’. Its presence surfaced after certain descriptions of recreational fishing mentioned in the Marine Living Resources Act that was enacted way back in 1988, which I suppose, like all acts of parliament was enacted with perfectly good and noble intentions, such as protecting our natural environment from harm. Maybe also protecting us humans who derive so much pleasure from entering Mother Nature’s domain in search of recreation and relaxation.
But those, shall I be generous and call them “well intentioned”parliamentarians (even though they display a particular bent for sometimes astonishing us voting, law-abiding, tax-paying citizens who pay their salaries with bizarre statements) pass laws that much later invariably spawn unintended consequences. As a member of the international committee of the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) for more than two decades, I could opine that those lawmakers took a leaf out of the IGFA rulebook that decrees that anglers are not allowed to make use of outside assistance when playing a potential record-breaking fish, which of course also includes motorised assistance derived from an electrically-driven reel. The intention of course is to test the angling skills of the angler and not make use of external assistance that would take away the angler’s own personal physical exertions.
But way back when the IGFA was established – in 1939 – the term ‘outside assistance’ pertained only to the equipment used to actually play the fish to eventual capture, such as for example an electrically-driven reel or hydraulic rod rest. The angler was, and still is, dependent only on his or her own skill and physical strength to turn the reel handle and use the rod to ‘pump’ the fish to the bank, beach or boat. How the angler got to the chosen spot and how the bait was presented, was never in contention. Using a boat, or jetski, or a kite, and lately a drone, was never even mentioned. It is still only the formal competitive fishing organisations that govern bank or beach angling, such as our own SASACC-affiliated facets of surf and bank angling that have such limitations, and in my opinion quite rightly so!
Fast forward to 2022, but only here in South Africa, and the notion of outside or motorised assistance is unearthed from the dusty confines of the Marine Resources legislation and held up in all its newly-found glory to stop in its tracks an innovation in beach fishing (informal, social only) that delivers big game fishing sport as never before imagined, totally ignoring its immense economic impact, namely using a drone to deliver a big bait several hundred metres into the surf to target really big fish. That the catches made out there beyond the backline adhere to the catch and release policy is also ignored. As of writing, the banning of ‘drone fishing’ by our environmental department is still up for legal appeal, and the commercial benefits derived from drone fishing have all but disappeared.
Fortunately, for now, that is, the legislation in question pertains only to saltwater. So for social, namely non-affiliated anglers on our inland waters, it is quite legal to use ‘motorised assistance’ in the form of a baitboat to deposit baited hooks, while drones are also legal (but of course the angler/pilot must be qualified and adhere to air traffic regulations).
And now, in this issue, appears an article by one Willie Stolz singing the praises of jetski fishing, yes, jetski fishing! The son of one of the country’s top bank anglers, the deceased Braam Stolz, Willie operates the Umgede River Lodge on the Vaal River just below the famous Bloemhof Dam, and, of course also being an enthusiastic and knowledgable angler and bait innovator like his late father, takes fishing fun to another level, namely adding jetski fishing to his on-the-water adventures. As he notes in his article in this issue, combining fishing with speed on the water is recreation on another level indeed!
Well, to console those readers who are holding their heads in their hands thinking “not this as well – bad enough with jetskis rushing up and down and waterskiers running over our lines and ruining our spots, now jetski fishing as well!”
Well, relax. A jetski is nothing more than just another form of watercraft, and we already have boat fishing on our waterways, social boat anglers and also in the formal boat angling associations – light tackle boat, bass and artlure. And what is more, anglers on jetskis don’t tow waterskiers!
It would certainly be a tragedy were jetskis be lumped together with drones as ‘motorised assistance’ in recreational fishing on inland waters!
I am now awaiting notice from the directorate in the environment department about the project to rewrite the Marine Living Resources legislation that maybe will include inland waters as well. Meanwhile if you see an angler on a jetski, wave a friendly greeting and I’m sure he’ll leave your spot in peace.
Meanwhile enjoy the frosty winter mornings on a bank or beach, and as always, Take Care!
*Something on your mind about fishing? Iets op die hart oor visvang?