The Fish of False Bay

Castle Rock, a no-take marine sanctuary that falls within the Table Mountain National Park Marine Protected Area, lies less than a kilometre from where we are fishing. It was declared a sanctuary in 1979 and anyone lucky enough to dive there is likely to meet the aptly named red roman Chrysoblephus laticeps. In a temperate ocean of subdued hues, this fish adds a splash of glorious crimson. As one of the greediest and most territorial of the fishes in the bay, this sentry of the reef is extremely vulnerable to desperate line fishermen, but at Castle Rock it is safe, along with legions of other temperate reef species. Schools of blue-black hottentot and galjoen swerve through swaying kelp passages while larger residents, like red steenbras, red stumpnose and John Browns, gawp out from dark caves and cracks between the rocks.

The reserve is stuck in a time warp, when ‘die blou dam’ was still the bay of plenty.