WITH the seashore and waters as his playing field, Ashwin Singh uses skill and years of experience in catching fish to place himself among the best in the world in angling.
Durban - Durban’s summery shoreline is not just for the cyclists, surfers and dog-walkers - the east coast waters are the perfect training ground for some of the world’s best anglers.

As testament to this, oThongathi’s Ashwin Singh was placed fourth-best shore angler in the world, in the Sport Fishing World Games 2019, held across the country this month.

This was the fourth time the games have been held, and the first time that South Africa had hosted the games.

Singh took up fishing at an early age, when he used to accompany his dad and elder brother on fishing trips in oThongathi, Ballito and Westbrook.

“Back then we did it mostly for sustenance; we cooked what we caught. Fishing is very popular in the Indian community, but it wasn’t seen so much as a sport, where you catch and release. But now, we’ve been exposed to fishing as a sport, which is already very popular around the world. Now, we can show how good we are it, and I’m very proud to have represented South Africa and KZN in the world competition,” he said.

Winners are declared based on the total weight of their catch over a period of days. During the World Games, some of the fish caught were lesser sand sharks, with an average weight of 1kg, eagle rays of about 2kg, blue rays with an average weight of 3kg, although some weighed up to 30kg. Gurnards, fish tail barbel and the St Joseph shark, or elephant fish, were also caught and released.

Competitive angling in the country is organised by the South African Shore Angling Association, which falls under the Sports Anglers and Casting Confederations, governed by the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc). A few years back, Sascoc instructed that more anglers of colour be included in the competitive level of the sport.

OTHONGATHI resident Ashwin Singh with his medal for being placed fourth-best pegged shore angler in the senior category in the Sport Fishing World Games 2019 held in South Africa recently.

Riyadh Cassim, one of the administrators at the KZN Coastal Anglers Union, said a win for a South African at the international level was a big catch, because the style of fishing in South Africa was different to that of international standards. “In South Africa we are blessed with a haul of bigger fish, such as sharks and rays, which can be targeted and caught from the shore. In Europe they do not have the abundance of fish so close to shore like us, so they have adapted their style of fishing to targeting much smaller species of fish but concentrate on catching larger numbers of fish. This means our anglers have to adapt to using different fishing tackle to what we would normally use, and scale down to ultra-light tackle and very small hooks.

“This style is called finesse-type fishing. We also had to learn about the competitive manner in which the sport was administered, called pegged shore angling. This means you are only allowed to fish within a specific pegged area. So for us, to win at international level in a style that we are not accustomed to, is a huge achievement,” said Cassim.

The KZN association recently started a league to introduce pegged shore angling to familiarise and train under international competitive level requirements. “We are the first province to introduce this, and KZN is the perfect place to start this. It is open to anyone to join as long as you have a rod and tackle,” said Cassim.

Apart from the sporting aspect, said Cassim, angling was a sport that encouraged families to spend quality time outdoors.

For more information on the league, email Cassim on [email protected]

Independent On Saturday