Rangers Report – August 2016

Picture6We are now well into winter and with this change of season we have, as expected, noticed a big change in activity on the river. At the beginning of this quarter there was a noticeable decrease in fishing activity on the river. Having chatted to the anglers, it was noticed that the fish were scarce, especially the spotted grunters (Pomadasys comersonii) and dusky kob (Argyrosomous japonicas) which a lot of fishermen were actively targeting in the river. Despite this dip in our regularly caught fish, there was a short period of shad/elf (Pomatomus saltatrix) activity in the mouth, which attracted a lot of fishermen, especially our local fishermen from the Infanta side. Recently there has also been a small spike in white Steenbras/pig nose (Lithognathus lithognathus) activity in the river, with a few juvenile fish being caught and released around Groenpunt and Bar harbour. It is important for all anglers to remember the size and bag limits of all our fish.

In the beginning of June we noticed a lot of sea bird activity, with large flocks of terns working the bay. During this time a lot of locals were heading offshore to fish, and were having some good success with mackerel (Scomber japonicus). We checked a few of these vessels and from what we could see a lot of fish were being caught. Shortly following this mackerel run a lot of good sized kob started to come out. After a week or so we noticed that catches started to decrease and that this coincided with quite a big drop in water temperature, putting the fish off the bite.

A big thanks to all the LBRC staff for contributing their effort and passion towards monitoring, especially on those cold mornings when the mercury level was low and the water chilly.

All our monitoring was done for the first month of this quarter, and a large amount of data capturing was done, even though we had a few tricky weather days.

Three of our staff attended a conservation at work workshop that was held outside Swellendam, at the beautiful Kam’Bati river lodge. Staff were shown an interesting new “no till” farming technique, as well as methods by which farmers can reduce runoff, erosion and dependence on commercially produced fertilisers (which so often ends up in our ground water and river systems). Four of our staff also attended a four-day peace officers course in Riversdale that was done through Hessequa municipality. Everyone passed this course and we are just waiting for the arrival of our cards.

During this quarter our patrol and conservation vessels were giving us a few problems. Our smaller boat (Falcon) had a mishap on the Kraaltjie slipway where a failing winch led to her having a cracked hull and requiring some repairs. Our larger boat (Infanta) had a leaking oil bottle, and after a few initial slap dash repairs we got her back on the water while we waited for the import of a new bottle. The out of action vessels unfortunately resulted in the team not being able to have that much presence on the river for a week or two, however this time was not wasted as the staff caught up on office admin and maintenance. Luckily the weather at this time wasn’t playing along which reduced the boating and fishing activity on the estuary.

We want to thank everyone for looking after the natural resources. A concerted effort by all is the only solution for change.