The fishing has been sublime over the last week we the arrival of the shoalies off Durban and the flatfish feeding extremely well. This has meant good fishing all-round for the ski boat and shore-based fraternities.
Ray’s tip: Since the rain has been coming down in lashings, this week’s tip is all about fishing in the rain. Clothing must be your first consideration. Make sure you have a proper rain jacket and a change of clothes for driving home. Also wear a hat! This will keep the rain off your face. If you are using a headlamp or any other electronic device, make sure that it is waterproof; otherwise keep it in a waterproof container. Another overlooked piece of gear when it comes to rainy weather is the grip on your rod. The new Winn grips we stock have a big advantage over EVA foam in that they become tackier and provide more grip the wetter they become. This means the rod won’t slip out your hand on the cast.
The ski boat guys have been sending in some delighted reports of shoal-size couta (shoalies) coming out off Durban. The couta season has been very quiet so let us hope that this is a sign of a good run to come. If you are new to offshore fishing or just wanting to learn more about couta as a species, please see our YouTube channel and give the following video a watch (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V6uOqrSxouY).
North – Reports from the north have been few and far between. The guys that have ventured up the coast have managed some decent fish with all the usual summer targets playing a role on the catch lists. Couta are starting to make up a higher percentage of the catches which is very good to see. Dorado and sailfish have been the most targeted species in the last few weeks and the catches are reflecting this. Some anglers have also been pleasantly surprised when fishing for these fish and a giant tuna decides to snack on a small feather or skirted lure. With dorado and sailfish there is only one colour in mine opinion and that is pink. Make sure that whatever lure you are using, be it a lipless or lipped lure from the Rattle, Halco or Rapala stables, or a skirted or feathered lure from Pulsator or Williamson; make sure it has a splash of pink.
Central – The shoal couta have started to make a good appearance off the Durban coast. These are fish generally under 5kgs in size and usually come in large shoals (hence the name shoalies). These fish can be great fun on the lighter tackle and once the shoal is found, you can catch a huge number of them on bait or artificials. Shoalies cannot resist a well-presented dead mackerel, or better still a live one.
They are also particular to a bucktail jig or spoon/dropshot minnow worked quickly through the water column. A great way of finding what level the fish are at is to deploy baits at different levels, i.e. one on the surface, one down rigged with a 4oz sinker and one close to the bottom. Once you start seeing a pattern (all the fish coming out on the bottom bait) you can change your approach and add another rod or two in to the strike zone. Other fish coming out along the Durban coast are dorado (mainly on live baits), sailfish and marlin (mainly on trolled, skirted lures in the deep) and tuna (on lipped lures and live bait).
South – Not many reports have been sent in from the south. The bait has been thick (as is the case along most of the coast) with mackerel and red eye sardines making up the bulk of the pockets seen.
The game fish have been rather quiet with only tuna keeping the offshore guys busy. Most of methods mentioned previously will work for targeting these fish. The most exciting way is still to cast poppers at the pods of dolphins. This is full on sight fishing for fish which can be over 30kgs! Remember to tackle up with tackle that can handle the onslaught. A rod around 8ft in length and a reel loaded with braid and a good drag is essential. I choose to use the Poseidon plugging rod paired with a Daiwa BG 5000 loaded with 30lb J-Braid. This setup is more than strong enough and can handle all but the giant tuna off Cape Town.
Rock and Surf:
The B and Development Nationals have just finished. We would like to congratulate all the competitors and say well done to our very own Ray Thompson for his fantastic showing, finishing first in KZN and fourth overall. Also, well done to KZN B for bringing home gold!
On the recreational side of the R and S scene, there have been some lovely fish coming out all along the coast. Please see the latest newsflash videos below for a peak at what’s been happening.
ASFN latest newsflash
North – The north continues to produce some fantastic fish. If we take a step back you will see that we have already had an amazing summer season with huge catches of diamonds, sandies, honeycomb and brown rays, hammerheads, zambezis, blackfin and grey sharks, to name the more popular catches. The diamond rays are still feeding well up north. They are still quite localised so it pays to go up in a group (not just for safety) so that you can spread out to find the fish. Once someone has caught a flap, you can all move to fish in the same location (shad run style).
Central – The “Basin” at uShaka has been a hotspot along the beachfront and has also had a fantastic season to date. The thorntail rays are there to be had when the cold water pushes in and they make a great surprise when expecting a diamond. The shad have been rampant along the entire bay and have unfortunately all been undersize. In an attempt to minimise the peckers, try to not add cutlets on to your bait. Just cut the head off the mackerel and throw it clean. This should give the bigger fish enough time to get to the bait before the small shad and sand soldiers peck it clean. The pompano have been feeding very well and we have received many reports of decent fish coming out along the beachfront and further north. Molecrabs (sealice) have been the bait of choice for these fish. Remember that you do not always have to throw to the horizon as these fish sometimes feed right behind the shore break. A simple lob cast can often produce more fish than a throw on to a distant bank. An awesome bow mouth guitarfish was caught and released by Sam David on the 16th; Sam was fishing in Durban basin area at Ushaka and was using his Daiwa Dogfight reel.
South – The south has been doing very well for the inedible anglers. The brown rays have been feeding on most of the sandbanks from Amanzimtoti south. These fish love a fresh red eye sardine head and cannot say no to a bay squid (if you can get your hands on one). Try a red eye sardine cutlet paired with a baby squid. Cast this on to a deep working bank. You will not need to wait long to find out if the brown rays are there. These fish do not require heavy tackle and I choose to target them on a 3-5oz rod (Daiwa Saltiest medium) paired with a 4500 size reel and 30lb J-Braid (a Daiwa BG 4500 in my case). This outfit is more than capable of handling a bigger fish if you pick one up.
For the bigger fish (honeycombs, sandies and diamond rays) I would suggest going a bit heavier and throwing a bigger bait. A mackerel head with cutlets is the standard bait for most anglers targeting these fish but a sarda or bonito head is even better. 9/0 Mustad tuna circle on a FMJ trace and you are good to land pretty much anything the sea throws at you.
Bass, at this time of year, there are a few hints and tips that one could use to help improve angling, as the water temperature increases, water levels flood and new food sources pop up. Lure retrieval should be more aggressive and faster, crank baits and jerk baits with faster retrieves will get more bites than slower presentations. Even when fishing patterns such as flukes, senkos or spinner baits, a jerk then pause retrieve will be more productive than a straight level retrieve.
In a dam such as Albert Falls, smaller bass hunt in shoals to trap tilapia in the shallows, and on particular drop offs and structure. Keep an eye out for action on the surface, caused by fleeing baitfish, and present a weightless fluke on the outskirts of the shoals, this is where the feeding bass patrol in hope for an injured tilapia to veer off track. Fish these areas thoroughly and there is some great fishing to be had.
Bass fishing has been extremely good at Hazelmere Dam. The fish have been on the smaller side but they are there in vast numbers. Tackling these guys on an ultra-light or fly outfit can provide you with a day full of fun. The darker coloured lures have been working very well and a deadly method in this dam is to fish a weightless black fluke. This means waiting a bit longer for it to sink (as there is no sinker to take it down) but the benefit of weightless fishing is the great action imparted to the lure. On a side note, with the increased fishing traffic at Hazelmere, there is a substantial amount of fishing-associated litter. Please guys, leave the place like you found it or cleaner. Another fun target species is tilapia on light tackle, these fish can grow to weights in excess of 4kgs and a specimen of 1,5kgs will out fight most fresh water fish pound for pound.
Carp angling in our big three dams (Albert Falls, Inanda and Midmar) has been exceptional, with the presence of a lot of smaller fish. This keeps us busy, but it would be nice to see the average size of the carp increase a bit. Due to the temperature increase, algae and surface weed has increased substantially. This is good in a sense that when decomposing occurs, animal life thrives and there is a massive ecosystem boost and fishing becomes excellent, but until that point, what is happening is the weed and algae is draining all of the oxygen from the water, causing the fish to travel to water that is rich in oxygen. In a small dam, this is a good thing because the fish have only one option and that is to move to the river inlet, which makes them easy targets. Alberts has been producing large numbers of fish for all that go there. Guys often have to empty their keep nets at least once in a session. Get your hands on some Super Cast mieliebom (ideally the SVB version) and your favourite flavours of both mielies and floaties and get to the dam. With the level being very low, the fishing space is limited so respect the other guys there and do not setup right on top of them. In terms of the best flavours…well this comes down to personal choice, but most of the sweet mixes have been producing bites. Try FX, supersweer, pink sweets or black magic. We have just got a full shipment of Super Cast including some exciting new flavours, so pop in to one of our retail stores and get your hands on some delicious carp food.
Sterkfontein! This has been the only thing on everyone’s mind for the past few weeks. Mixed reports are coming in everyday regarding the best fly or the best location. Local knowledge cannot be underestimated at this venue so make sure you get hold of the guides up there to see where they suggest you try your luck. In terms of flies that have been producing…hoppers, DDDs, Good Doctor’s beetle and ants. These have been the more common flies mentioned. Make sure you carry a selection of these in your box and in a variety of sizes and colours. If you are new to fly fishing or want to plan your first trip to Sterkfontein, pop in to Complete Angler, the Fish Eagle or our Durban branch and chat to our knowledgeable staff about what you need before you go.
Jan Korrubel reports that the Midlands is still rather soggy – water rushing down off the mountains, so really nothing to report I am afraid…
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The Kingfisher’s trading hours are Monday, Wednesday to Friday 8:00 to 17:00, Tuesday 8:30 to 17:00, and Saturday 8:00 to 13:00. The Kingfishers main retail store at 53 Hunter Street, Durban will be closed for annual stock take on Monday the 25th and Tuesday the 26th February. Our apologies for any inconvenience caused. All other stores will be open for trading.
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