Just like that 2024 is in full swing!
The freshwater scene is seeing great fish, the summer fish have arrived for the rock and surf guys and the boats are enjoying the gamefish fun along the coast.
Top tip. Prevention is better than cure! Maintenance…it’s a word most of us associate with labour intensive work after a long day of fishing. No, it is not the most fun thing to do with your fishing rod and reel, but it is important if you want to be able to continue using them for any length of time. Something as simple as rinsing your tackle with freshwater after a day at the beach can add years to the life of the gear. So, remember to rinse your tackle off as soon as you get home to avoid corrosion and laziness. For reels you need to focus on cleaning the line roller, the handle and the line itself. For rods you should focus on the guides and the joins. Look after your tackle and it will look after you…
There have been fish along most of the KZN coast. Snoek, tuna, couta and a host of other gamefish.
North – The north coast has seen some good snoek and couta for the smaller boats and skis. The deeper reefs and wrecks have seen some very good bottom fishing with big trawl soldiers and a host of other species being caught. Squid and sardines have been the baits of choice for the deeper fishing. The tuna have been full up with some giants being hooked and breaking tackle. These are very powerful fish so allow them to tire themselves out before you try to horse them to the boat.
Central – The central zone has had a few couta, but the main fish coming out on the Durban coast has been tuna (like the past few weeks). The bait is starting to pick up, so we can look forward to some fresh bait hitting the shop soon. The tuna have been hitting most lures, but if you are looking for the bigger fish, live bait is the way to go. Any of the regular live baits will work. Try get your hands on a mozzie, mackerel, shad or redeye sardine for the best chance at success. Tuna do not have cutting teeth, so you do not need wire. They do however have the ability to wear through thinner line over a lone fight so use a quality fluorocarbon like Maxima or Siglon tied to your circle hook.
South – The south coast has had much of the same as the central and northern zones. The tuna and couta have been there for the guys wanting to target them but those wanting to try a bit more technical fishing have been chasing the snoek. These fish have been available for the guys around the river mouths. The snoek have been there on the south coast (and the north) for the past few weeks. The best methods for these fish are undoubtedly fillet baits. You can troll these baits on the backline in conjunction with lipped lures (Strike Pro Magic Minnow) or throwing spoons into the backline surf zone.
Rock and surf:
There have been plenty of summer fish around with some edibles in the mix as well. The drags are making plenty of noise along the coast.
North – The north coast has seen the bulk of the inedible catches. The usual spots like Tugela and Mtunzini have been the places to go if you are looking for something to test your drag. Remember that these spots should be fished in a group as there have been incidents in the past. Bloody baits like mackerel and bonito have been the most successful. There have been some good edibles around most of the north coast. Look for some protected bays and gullies for the best results.
Central – The central coast has seen a patchy catch report. There have been some spots like Glen Ashley and Blue Lagoon that have seen consistent results over the past week. Then, the rest of the central coast has been very quiet with not much to mention.
Shad, kob and stumpies have been the main catches on the edible side but a few garrick have been landed. Live bait has seen the bigger fish but chokka has been the key for those fishing for the kob.
There have been grey sharks around for those wanting to catch something that will take a bit of drag but unfortunately those are the only inedibles around on the central coast.
South – The scratchers have been doing very well down south with some quality fish being landed. There have been stumpies, bream and pompano on offer with some bomber shad mixed in. Speak to the anglers in the area you are fishing and find out what has been working in the days prior.
The deeper points down south are still holding some of the better inedibles and anglers have managed a few bus eagle rays and some honeycombs. The eagle rays prefer an octopus bait while the honeycombs will love a redeye sardine concoction. It is early for these inedibles but it is always worth trying for them.
The dams and rivers have treated the anglers well in most facets. Bass continue to be on the top of the target list. The Natal Scaly is finally getting on to angler’s must-catch list.
Bass – Inanda and Albert Falls are the two most successful spots for the boat anglers. The benefit of being able to cover a lot of water means these bigger systems are better fished with a boat.
Senko style baits have been deadly over the past week (and since their original launch). These “do nothing” baits have a subtle wiggle on the way down and present a large food item to the bass. They are a must have in your box. Those that prefer a more visual bite will do well with walking style topwater’s for the more open areas and frogs for the vegetation. Both of these lure types allow you to fish the selected areas effectively and are both extremely exciting to fish as the blowups are phenomenal!
Carp – The carp fishing has been steady in the past few weeks. The specimen angling is starting to pick up with more fish being landed this past week. The fronts have helped to drop the water temps and make the carp a bit more aggressive. Particles have done very well this past week with some quality fish coming to the net.
The conventional anglers have done well with smaller fish. Plenty of fish have been caught with very few going over the 5kg mark. The best reported baits have been strong, fruity mielie pips. Almond and banana have been the most productive of the flavours.
Trout – The Stillwaters are fishing very well. The size of the fish have not been the same as in previous weeks but the fishing has been good.
Minnow imitation streamers have been the most successful flies mentioned across the different venues. Those fishing the smaller venues have seen better results with smaller patterns. Fishing a PTN on a long leader and floating line as slowly as possible can often bring excitement to a quiet day. The fronts coming through have slowed fishing down a bit and might need you to scale down to worm patterns and hand-twist retrieves.
News in from Jan Korrubel, The Kingfisher in PMB – “Word from the weather-watchers is that 2024 is an El Nino year, and scientists are bracing for record-breaking heat in the year ahead … last year saw some heat already, and according to the South African Weather Service (SAWS), South Africa is already in an El Nino state. But this year is apparently going to get hot … VERY hot. And if history is any guide, the second year of an El Nino is usually warmer than the first, so watch out 2025!
Contrary to what we are currently experiencing, El Nino’s typical impact on Southern Africa is in favour of generally drier and warmer conditions during the spring and summer months from October to March, and that current global forecasts indicate the typical drier conditions that South Africa experiences during El Niño seasons over the eastern parts of the country. So as they say, brace yourself Sheila … the drought is (apparently) coming so we shan’t complain (too much) about the current wet conditions.
The rivers remain high, and after Monday night’s storm, rainfall reports show anything from 40mm up to 120mm received from that storm – which pretty much leaves the rivers out of commission for the time being! Albert Falls Dam has been going over the wall for a wee while already, and with Midmar Dam now sitting at 98% full supply level (FSL), another proper storm will no doubt send it over the top as well. Word is that the Lions River has burst its banks as a result of the recent storm.
Prior to the storm, The Bushman’s and Mooi Rivers provided some action to anglers of the Natal Fly Fishers Club. On The Bushman’s, the lower sections were high and dirty, but the upper reaches gave up a couple of brown trout on both nymph and dry fly. Even with the high levels, the middle stretch of The Mooi River was surprisingly clean and cool (3ft visibility and 18deg.C reported) – being a stretch of deep(er) water, there are some excellent browns hiding there … the return showing a number of fish from 9 inches / 23cm all the way through to 19 inches / 48cm. Interestingly, the angler reported trying, and having success, with a dark crab pattern, to match the freshwater crabs.
The NFFC stillwaters also provided some excellent fishing prior to the heavy rains. A number of fish in the 11-13inch / 28-33cm class were noted in one of the returns, and fish in the 13-15 inch / 33-38cm and 15-17 inch / 38-43cm classes, as well as a couple of fish in the 19-21 inch / 48-53cm and 21-23 inch / 53-58cm bracket. Olive is the colour of choice at present – woolly buggers, damsels and minnow patterns are pulling the fish.
The bass have been on the bite across the board at Albert Falls, Midmar and private waters, with some excellent fish coming to hand. Albert Falls appears to have woken up after a recent slow spell, while Midmar is still firing on cylinders. The bluegill are also very active at Midmar, and word is that this what the bass are primarily feeding on … so lures in blue with a bluegill “spot” are getting the fish.
Even with the rivers being up, there are rumours of the odd scaly coming to hand on heavily weighted nymph patterns in the flowy sections, otherwise target the slow water and eddy’s as this is where the fish will be resting up. For the best yellow “fix”, Sterkfontein is the place. Well-known local angler and guide Jeremy Rochester of Escape Fly Fishing reports some excellent dry fly sight fishing with a hopper pattern. Keep an eye on the weather for a couple hot days on the trot, and Sterkies will be on fire…
The Natal Fly Dressers Society managed to entice Jeremy to the “Hot Seat” for this month’s meeting to kick off the fly-tying demonstrations for the year. The meeting was very well-attended – standing room only when it filled up! – and he tied us his hopper pattern that has been working very well of late. Meeting take place on the 2nd Tuesday of every month … pop into the Kingfisher-PMB and chat to Jan if fly tying tickles your fancy”. Thanks Jan.
Please remember to leave the areas that you fish in a better condition than when you got there. Take a few moments to pick up some litter and take it to the nearest bin. Tight lines and screaming reels.
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