There are rumours of sardines, the water is looking better and the sea is starting to settle.

Top tip. Winter is the time of year we worry more about staying warm. We often forget to keep hydrated. With the time of the giant sardine run sharks just around the corner, remember to make sure that you keep lots of water on hand. Dehydration is a sure way to ruin a day and when it is cold, it sneaks up on you a lot quicker than in summer.

Offshore:

The offshore fishing has been pretty good off KZN with a couple of decent fish being landed. There have been a mix of gamefish and bottom fish for those facing the bigger seas to launch.

North – The north coast has mainly seen gamefish action as the bottom fishing anglers have been focussed more on the central and south coast.

The snoek has kept the backline anglers very happy with most of the success coming on smaller lipped lures and fillet baits. Pink and Pearl skirts have been the best reported colour in front of the fillets and redeye sardine fillets have been most effective (if you can get).

The deeper waters have mainly yielded a couple of big tuna on poppers, trolling lures and live bait. Mackerel have been the preferred live bait while the darker colour lures have been the pick of the bunch for both lipped trolling lures and poppers.

Central – The Durban area has seen more launches with the protection from the harbour and Vetch’s launch. This has made the Durban reefs and wrecks a bit busy but for good reason. There are finally baitfish back, in small numbers but at least we have something…

The tuna and big kingfish have been on the wrecks and ready to hand out a hiding to anyone unprepared. These fish require a solid rod with plenty of backbone to leverage the fish from the depths.

South – There have also been geelbek and daga on the decks of the south coast boats. Sardine and squid are best baits for those looking to multi-target bottom fish but if you are after the bigger boys then a live bait is a much better option.

In terms of gamefish action, Aliwal has been the only truly consistent place to go to target the ocean speedsters. Getting a nice and energetic bonito out will almost guarantee attention from one of the wahoo in the area.

Rock and surf:

The rock and surf fishing has seen the occasional inedible fish but the focus has been mainly on the edibles. Fishing in the back bays and calmer areas has been the ticket in the bigger seas.

North – The ledges of Cape Vidal and surrounds have produced a handful of edibles this past week. The main targets have been cave bass, speckled snappers and stumpies. There are however a lot of other species you can catch while fishing for these fish. Look at using a double hook trace with a 4/0 circle hook on top and a 6/0 circle at the bottom. Remember to keep the length of your trace and the branches fairly short to avoid tangles in the rougher water. Chokka and sardines are the most effective baits in these areas.

The north coast has still got some of the bigger inedibles but they have been in the deeper areas. Look for drop offs on the beaches or off the deep-water points

Central – The beachfront has also seen some good stumpy action. The edges of the sandbanks where there is some churning white water is a great place to target these fish. Baits of choice have been crabs or prawn baits. Using chokka as a base will give you more fishing time.

The shad have been keeping the scoreboard ticking over in the tough conditions with plenty of fish being caught, mainly on bait.

Anglers that have managed to get bigger baits out have landed some good inedibles which is a good sign for the arrival of the summer season and the giants that come with it.

South – The south coast has been a hub of garrick activity with some good fish being landed on live bait and lures. Plugs have been very effective in the early hours of the day but during the brighter hours, the stick baits and bucktails have produced better results.

The rest of the south coast has mainly seen edible action in the form of stumpages on the sandbanks, kob in the deeper holes and bronze bream in the rocky gullies. All of these have their preferences for favoured baits but if you are going to multi-target then make sure you have prawn, chokka and sardines in your bait box.

Freshwater:

The freshwater fishing has been a mix of fish. The trout Stillwater season is getting better with every day, the bass are slowing down a bit and the specimen carp fishing is starting to pick up.

Bass – The bass have been feeding beat on minnow imitations. Jerk baits have done well in most of the KZN waters. The choice is yours whether you fish the hard plastic jerks or the soft plastics. If you are fishing in open water with little structure to snag on, then the hard plastics are the way to go. If there is grass or weed in the water you are fishing, a soft plastic jerk bait will be the bait of choice.

Most of the KZN dams have seen some decent bass taken in the past week. The changes in pressures have been the most determining factor for success. High pressures generally mean poor fishing but if you switch to a more finesse approach, you can still have a great day on the water. Midmar continues to be the best of the venues with fish being caught by both boat and bank anglers.

Carp – The carp fishing has been getting a bit momentum for the conventional anglers. Albert Falls has produced the numbers for the conventional anglers with flavours like bunspice and banana doing well. Mixing a stronger scent in to the bomb mix will help to keep the fish in the area. Garlic or cinnamon are the two favourites. Pair this with floaties or mielies on the hook in a sweet flavour and you are set in most of the KZN venues.

The specimen anglers have been struggling with the big weather changes affecting the pressure systems. Inanda has been the pick of the venues for the specimen anglers with most other venues starting to suffer the colder weather. Look at using some good quality boilies and keep your area topped up with attractive feed.

Trout – The snow on the berg, a fire in the cabin and trout taking backing off the reel. What a thought…

This is the time for that romantic getaway to the berg. The trout are still feeding well and the scenery is spectacular. With the colder weather, look at fishing the shallower water in the early morning and late afternoon. Once the sun gets higher up, look at fishing the deeper water with a slower retrieve and streamers. Something like a paparoach fished on a short leader and a type 3 sinking line will do the trick.

News just in from Jan, The Kingfisher in PMB – “With Facebook sending me reminders lately with various snow warnings for this time of year over the last 10 years or so, I am happy to report that the current decent spell of weather looks set to be sticking around for the time being …

With the trout rivers officially closed for the next 3 months – river season opening date is on 1 September, but we haven’t started the countdown just yet, as the winter stillwater season is now in full swing and there is plenty of fishing still to be done (pun intended).

Last weekend found yours truly on the edge of a dam (4 different dams to be precise), fishing in the Kamberg Trout Festival.  A very popular event, and one of the longest running trout festivals in the country … this year being the 25th event! … the KTF attracts fly anglers from all over South Africa to make the annual trip into the Kamberg Valley to experience the epic sunrises and sunsets that the Midlands has to offer.  In between, finger-numbing frost and frozen rod eyes as the sun peeks its head over the horizon, followed by a (slight) thawing out in the weak winter sun, makes for a most memorable fly-fishing weekend.

The high-water levels and a drop in water temperatures (but still double figures for the most part) brought its own challenges with fish being triggered into spawning behaviour and getting somewhat “iffy” over the smorgasbord of flies that they were presented with.  As is the case with events like these, there will always be some lucky, and some not so lucky, anglers … the lucky anglers getting stuck into plenty great fish – the winning angler tricked 21 fish! – and the most unlucky sadly not even getting a touch.

This year produced a good number of fish in the 40-49cm / 15-19 inch bracket, a healthy sprinkling in the 50-59 / 19-23 inch range, with two winning fish stretching the tape to 60cm / 23.6 inches and tipping the scales at 2.65kg.

I found myself between the extremes, with a slow start of 1 fish in session 1, followed by 2 disheartening blank sessions (oops), but happy to say that I found myself in among the fish in the 4th and final session, with five coming to the net, one of which was a cracking 56cm / 22 inches.  As a team, we found ourselves just outside the prize points, but hey, there’s always next year … plans have already been hatched and our spot is already booked to attend this great event!

But before I concern myself with such long-range plans, this weekend will see me on the waters around Nottingham Road attending the TOPS Corporate Challenge, and the following weekend fishing the waters of the Boston Fly Fishing Festival.  Looking forward to recording at least 1 catch (i.e. not blanking) and some happy jibing and banter between teams.  Watch this space.

The anglers of the Natal Fly Fishers Club are also out and about making hay while the sun shines, and excellent fish are being reported from the Club waters.  Plenty fish of 40-49cm / 15-19 inches, good numbers also of 50-59 / 19-23 inches, and then a report that made me sit up : two proper fish around the 60cm mark in the same session! … name and water withheld to protect the culprit and the scene of the crime!  Excellent fishing that will surely get the heart rate up a bit…

On the bass front : last weekend saw a Joeys Tournament Trail event taking place at Albert Falls Dam – once again, reports mentioned “extremely tough fishing”, which had everyone scratching for fish and only two boats registering a 5 fish bag.  Local team DST Natal took top honours with a bag of 12.364kg.  Events usually take place on a weekend, but in other reports, fishing in the week for those anglers not slave-to-the-wage is reportedly on fire, with 14-16kg 5-fish bags being registered.  It seems plausible then that the week-day pressure, with plenty boats on the water. is making the fish gun shy by the time a weekend event rolls around.

Of note, anglers are reporting some very large crocs in Albert Falls once again, and Midmar Dam is reportedly showing some good fish in the shallows”. Thanks Jan.

Tight lines and screaming reels.

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Categories: Fishing Reports