KFSA-Kayak Fishing South Africa
About Kayak fishing and laws / regulations
Kayaks or Fishing Skis as they are known in KwaZulu Natal are the perfect craft for catching fish in the Indian Ocean. Most launches are done through the surf or from the shelter of bays or rocky outcrops. The perfect combination of keeping fit and catching fish at the same time is very rewarding to anyone who tries this form of angling. At KFSA we aim to help you catch more fish and show you the rigs and tackle available.
By Trevor McAlpine A brief history of Paddle Ski fishing in KwaZulu-Natal
Paddle Ski fishing is one of the fastest growing recreational ocean related sports, but where did it all begin? Probably with the "Crocker ski", created and built by Fred Crocker in the mid 50's. It was a craft intended for both surfing and fishing. It was used by two main types of anglers - the bottom fishermen and the Couta anglers. At the time, many big Cracker and Floaters (Slingers) were caught behind backline as well as big Rock Cod and other reef species. The majority of which were fished out by the late 70's.
Names synonymous with fishing at the time were John Munro from Durban, Brian Ellis and the Savilles in Warner Beach, Dick Cliff and Pipe Stuart in the Scottburgh area. Considering the lack of sophisticated tackle and difficulty acquiring good bait (all had to be caught or cast netted by the anglers themselves), these anglers were fortunate to have fished in arguably the most productive years.
Paddle Ski angling declined in popularity after this era, with most anglers fishing off motor driven boats. There were a few dedicated Crocker fisherman left, like Colin Greening and Rob Henstra. A new development in the manufacture of the skis was the invention of the foam ski instead of the old ribbed canvas covers Crockers. Two advantages were that the craft were considerably lighter and also, if you had the misfortune to gaff your boat by accident, it didn't sink! Rob and Colin shaped and built their own, and set about catching many Couta in the Monastery area off Park Rynie, a reward after a tricky launch between the rocks! This was quite a decade for the South Coast, but numbers grew in the Vetches area, mainly due to the easy launch. Among their catches, these anglers named Snoek, Snotties, Shad Grunter.
1972 was the year when paddle ski fishing as we know it was "born". Mickey Sadler had been appointed beach manager the year before. Together with his lifeguards, Les Moore and Micky McConnell they had much success during the Sardine Run, fishing off their rescue craft. What they lacked in rock and surf angling knowledge, they made up for in experience in the surf! Their success inspired Ivan Stopforth and Trevor McAlpine to join them in their quest albeit on Johnny Ivans Crocker (due to lack of rescue craft). Fish of note were Mick Saddlers 30kg Couta, Mick McConnells Giant Kingfish of 43kg and Les Moores 72kg Homo Sapien! We used to launch with our Rapalas attached and Les took a huge swim in a grumpy winter swell with a Rapala in his leg and the ski washing back to shore, not a pleasant experience! Another amusing incident was Mick Sadler being pulled into the backline by a large Kingfish, being wiped out, losing his ski, but still continuing to fight and land the fish off the rocks at Sewerage Pipe. These intrepid anglers put paid to many fish over the next five years until the Giant Kingfish disappeared. interest waned with only Mike Liddle joining the three musketeers over this period. Mick and Les were off to work at the Wild Coast Casino and paddle ski fishing hit a low, with only Pikkie Stopforth and Craig Middleton fishing occasionally.
At this point an interesting development was taking place that would change paddle ski fishing into the sport that it is today. Trevor McAlpine and Ivan Stopforth had taken teaching posts at Beachwood boys High and had taught a young man called Richard Hilliar, the oldest brother of Clive the Springbok rock and surf angler. Richard went on to study engineering and on qualifying, started his own business with legendary Ken Reynolds. Together they designed and built the original ski and made a mould for future craft. They used their skis mainly to catch Snoek, Ken went on to win the annual Mtwalume ski boat competition one year, competing on his human driven ski! Although ken and Richard were extremely successful, the sport did not take root until Richard left for the USA and Eric Clarke inherited the famous mould and manufactured a couple of skis with it. Mike Davies was his first customer and Trevor McAlpine bought Gary Clarkes ski, both of which had no rudder. We were now well into the 80's and the world was our oyster, having come from ski racing and canoeing backgrounds, the envelope was being pushed with ski fishermen taking the sport to another level. The current group of anglers were venturing further and staying longer and the use of better equipment and bait preservation meant more fish and often bigger fish.
Ski builders and entrepreneurs saw the potential and there was more exposure through articles, competitions and organised tours to the fishing Mecca of Mozambique. The sport had arrived. There were now three ski suppliers in Durban, one in Pietermaritzburg and a couple up country in Johannesburg, good anglers like Malcolm Pollard, Darryl Brokenshaw and Don Stander were taking the sport to yet another level with Markham spreading the word whilst working at the Kinfisher in Durban. Ensuring that novices had the correct tackle, bait, and advice through coaching clinics.
That brings us to where we are now. Sadly, with the growth of the sport we have lost our independence, there is legislation in place to ensure we are policed, anglers have to belong to clubs, licences and formal launch sites have become compulsory and safety equipment such as buoyancy, flares and lifejackets are required by all anglers. Change is inevitable and safety is of concern as the ocean is a dangerous unpredictable place, but a lot of us diehards feel that the unique isolation of the sport has been lost for ever.
Crocker Ski history is here http://www.fad.co.za/Resources/paddle/paddle.htm
Kayak / Fishingski / Paddle ski laws and regulations
Currently (2014) there are no laws in place regarding Kayaks / Fishing skis other than falling into watercraft over 3 metres in length. We are now listed under SAMSA (South African Maritime Safety Authority) as Paddlescraft under the name of KFF (Kayak Fishing Federation)
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