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Fishing on the North Coast, KwaZulu-Natal

Shad (elf Kob (Kabeljou) Galjoen
Blacktail Natal stumpnose Pompano

The North Coast of KwaZulu-Natal must be one of the best recreational fishing coastlines in the world. From Kosi Bay in the north to Durban in the south the opportunities for the avid angler are numerous and varied. In the northern region the waters are warmer and the sheer variety of large predator fish make for some exciting fishing that cannot be matched anywhere else in South Africa.

Here you can expect to catch king mackerel, sharks, kingfish and queenfish as well as rays, skates and sandsharks. From Richards Bay down to Durban, these large game fish are scarce and kob, shad (elf) and Natal stumpnose are more common. In late winter and spring Garrick (leervis) are quite prolific. Other common fish on the North Coast are spotted grunter, rock cod, kob and pompano.

Light tackle fishermen can look forward to catching blacktail, banded galjoen, bigeye stumpnose, snapper kob, large-spot pompano, javelin grunter and many other pan fish. The amazing St. Lucia estuary is famous for its kob and shad and grunter, particularly during the grunter run which takes place between August and November.

It is important to ensure that you comply with the regulations that apply on the North Coast in addition to those that apply to the rest of the country. The North Coast is a very special place and it has to be especially protected from abuse.

Starting from Durban in the south, the following will help you to decide exactly where you would like to cast your line. Specific spots are highlighted where possible.

Durban
Durban fishing spots

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It is difficult to pinpoint specific spots on the continuous beach from north of the Umgeni River right through to Umhlanga Rocks. Your choice will depend on access points and the right water conditions with regard to depth, sandbanks and rocks. Generally the deep water between and behind sandbanks will produce kob, shad, dusky sharks and flatfish such as rays, skates and sand sharks. Best bait would be chokka, sardine, mackerel and fresh fillets.

Around the sandbanks expect to bring in spotted grunter, Natal stumpnose and pompano. Best baits are prawns, sea lice, chokka, mussels and sardines. Spinners can produce shad. Shad is definitely the most popular fish on this stretch.

As a guide, the following spots are popular: Rocket Hut and Beachwood near Durban, the Blue Lagoon, the piers at Sunkist Beach, Snake Park and the Bay of Plenty. Fishing is not permitted at bathing beaches and only between 6h00 and 19h00 on the piers mentioned here. The South Pier, accessible from The Bluff is considered to be the best fishing spot around Durban.

For the ultimate guide to Durban visit ShowMe Durban

Pompano Giant Kingfish Grunter (bream)
Umhlanga
Umhlanga fishing spots

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Starting in the south of this stretch of beach is the well-known La Lucia Wreck where shad and garrick are plentiful during winter and spring. In fact, when the fish are running this spot can be become extremely crowded and unless you are experienced at fishing on a crowded beach we would advise that you move further away.

The rocks in front of the Ulhlanga lighthouse, right next to the main bathing beach, is popular but the water is shallow and you can’t expect to catch anything other than shad, blacktail and strepie. A better place to fish for shad is at Grannies Pool next to where ski-boats are launched. The water in front of the rocks is much deeper so you are more likely to catch Natal stumpnose, shad and kob.

Visit Umhlanga

Umdloti
Umdloti fishing spots

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The residents of Umdloti have decided to limit fishing at certain spots along the 4 km long beach and only at restricted times. At North Beach from the river mouth to the Lifesaver’s Club fishing is only allowed between 5h00 and 8h00 and from 16h00 to19h00.

At Newsell Beach around the ski-boat club fishing can only take place at sign posted spots. Ski-boats are launched in the gap between the rocks so this area is out of bounds. To the north there are some really good fishing spots on the rocks and the beaches in between are quite steep allowing you to cast into relatively deep water. This area produces shad (elf) stumpnose and kob in season as well as dusky sharks. At the mouth of the Umdloti River, the rocks are ideal for light-tackle enthusiasts and salt-water fly-fishermen and shad, blacktail banded galjoen, stepie can be caught and rock cod with a bit of luck.

To the south in front of the Umdloti Hotel there is a spot known as Hotel Rocks. The water is quite deep here. Along these rocks there is a high formation known as Sentinel Rock and in front of the Lifesaver’s Club, the Bellamont Rock. The former will produce shad, garrick, king mackerel and kingfish at low tide only and the latter shad and small pan fish.

Opposite the Selection Reef, just off-shore, you can do some good gully fishing in fairly deep water for a variety of fish including strepie and kingfish.

Visit Umdloti

La Mercy and Tongaat Beach
La Mercy and Tongaat Beach fishing spots

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This 10 km long stretch of beach has no sheltered bays or headlands. There are numerous outcrops of rocks and fishing off the beach or the rocks does produce smallish fish with shad being the main catch. Blacktail and strepie can also be caught from the rocks and stumpnose and pompano from the sand.

Finney’s Rock is on the south side of the Tongaat River where the water is relatively deep making it possible to catch stumpnose, shad, garrick and kob. About 2 km north of the river mouth is a rocky outcrop called Diamond Point where some excellent catches can be made. When the shad are running, it can get a bit crowded.

Other good spots are the Graveyard Channel and the GV Naidoo Channel where you are likely to catch kob, stumpnose and the occasional grunter and flatfish such as sand sharks, skates and rays. To the south of Graveyard Channel is the La Mercy Beach, a sandspit across the mouth of the Undloti River. Here it is possible to catch really large kob.

Visit La Mercy

Karateen (strepie) Spotted grunter Mullet
Ballito
Ballito fishing spots

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The main surf fishing area in Ballito is around Willard Beach where likely catches will be the ubiquitous shad, stumpnose and kob. For fishing off rocks the best spot is Pool Rocks around the tidal pool where fairly large fish can be caught like garrick and kingfish and smaller pan fish such as shad, grunter, pompano, blacktail and stumpnose.

To the south of Pool Rocks you will find Boulder Bay and Compensation Beach with some rocky outcrops and patches of sand. Again, shad are the most prolific as well as other smaller fish. Compensation beach is often called Salmon Bay because kob is called salmon in KwaZulu-Natal. The best catches are made at night. Avoid fishing around bathing spots.

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Shaka’s Rock and Salt Rock
Salt Rock fishing spots

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Most of the fishing spots here are off fairly dangerous rocks so please ensure that you do not take unnecessary risks, especially when catching and gaffing larger fish. The main spot is in front of the Salt Rock hotel at Shaka’s Rock and around the tidal pool to the south of Thompson’s Bay called Black Rock.

The rocks will produce the usual shad in winter and as well as gully fish such as strepie, blacktail, karanteen and galjoen. On the sandy area between the rocks expect to catch shad in winter and stumpnose at night. It is also possible to hook sand sharks and rays in the summer.

There is fairly deep water around Salt Rock and Shaka’s Rock and it is therefore possible to catch larger predator fish such as kingfish, garrick and kob. With a bit of luck you could pull in a king mackerel or a shark.

Visit Shaka’s Rock and Salt Rock

Blythedale Beach
Blythedale fishing spots

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This stretch of coastline tends to be more rocky and the best fishing spots are from a number of these outcrops such as Channel Rocks on the beach in front of the village. Here you will most likely bring in shad, small kob, blacktail and stumpnose. It is also possible to hook quite large sand sharks.

Between Channel Rocks and the Mvoti River is a long stretch of beach known as Vorster’s Dip where the water is fairly deep. Many of the locals use live bait and bring in sand sharks and skates, rays and the larger predators including blackfin sharks. In the winter months you can catch shad, kob and garrick and during the rest of the year, stumpnose and pompano.

Visit Blythedale

 

Diamond Ray Skate Duckbill ray

 

Zinkwazi
Zinkwazi fishing spots

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The Nkwazi River mouth is closed for most of the year and forms a large lagoon low in salinity. Fishing for marine fish in the lagoon will not be very productive. Every now and then after heavy rains the river will break through the sandspit and the dirty waters from the Tugela further north will colour the water. For some reason these conditions attract kob and sharks – excellent catches can be had.

To the south of the lagoon and two rocky outcrops provide great fishing spots – Black Rock and Line Rock. Black Rock, About 500 m from the river mouth is the bigger outcrop. Line Rock is another 500 m down the beach and it has formed a reef that runs out to sea. Another 400 m south will bring you to the tidal pool where the rocks create a number of gullies – there are many places where it is possible to catch shad, blacktail, stumpnose, bronze bream and strepie.

At the southern end of the beach is Iti Bay where you can catch kob at night and during winter and spring, small dusky sharks and the occasional garrick. In summer skates, rays and sand sharks can be caught.

About 1500 m to the north of the lagoon is a rocky outcrop called Boiling Pots. This is an excellent spot for catching shad and kob particularly when the water is dirty.

Visit Zinkwazi

Tugela (Thukela) Mouth
Thukela Mouth fishing spots

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Apart from the Mlalazi River estuary, this area is all about surf fishing because there are no outcrops of rock on this long expanse of beach. The sandbanks and channels tend to change from day to day and the angler should check for the spots where the fish are feeding. Deep holes produce fish such as kob, kingfish, shad, sharks, skates and rays whereas the shallower parts will produce stumpnose, grunter and pompano. This area is particularly good in summer if you are looking to hook large skates, rays and sand sharks. Use fillets, cutlets, mullet heads shad and mackerel as bait.

The estuary can produce good catches of spotted grunter, small kob and river bream. However, don’t expect too much here. The surroundings, though, are really beautiful so if you’re looking to have a relaxing day outdoors you will enjoy fishing from a boat on the river. The lush vegetation, the mangroves on the banks and the kingfishers and fish eagles, create a restful ambience that is ideal for some quiet fly-fishing.

Visit Thukela Mouth

Zambezi shark Sand shark ragged-tooth shark
Mtunzini
Mtunzini fishing spots

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Fishing here is very similar to the beaches of Richards Bay as there are no rocks. Kob, garrick and shad can be caught during winter. Most kob and garrick can be caught with sardines and fillet or live bait. Natal stumpnose is produced in summer using mole crabs, prawns, chokka and crayfish as bait. Large skates, rays and sand sharks can be caught between the shore and the sandbanks using fillets, cutlets, mullet heads, shad and mackerel. This bait is also suitable for sharks and large kob.

The Mlalazi River is not overly productive but you are surrounded by forest and the beauty of nature so you are sure to enjoy the tranquility of fishiong from a boat even though your catch may not be the best. However, you are still likely to bring in small kob, spotted grunter, river bream and if your luck is in, shad, garrick and small kingfish. There are numerous spots along the river bank and the river is ideal for fly-fishing.

Visit Mtunzini

 

Richards Bay
Richards Bay fishing spots

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Richards Bay is a fairly large industrial town with the largest coal export terminal in the world. However, the harbour is still a popular fishing spot. The southern breakwater is out of bounds for fishermen as is the beach immediately south of it but the northern breakwater is open for fishing. The breakwater protrudes some 200 m out to sea and the bays and the deep water channels leading into the inner harbour can be fished. The edge of the channel is marked by a row of bouys.

Take heed that the breakwater is constructed from dolosse so it is difficult to get to the waterline and a gaff is necessary for landing larger fish.

You will most likely hook a fair number of sharks in the harbour area. Research has discovered that Zambezi sharks move into the harbour area at night. There are signs warning people of the possible presence of dangerous sharks, crocodiles and hippos – do not ignore them.

There are extensive rock-free beaches stretching up the coast to north of the northern breakwater with the same characteristics (see above) as the beaches at Thukela Mouth – the surf will produce, kob, kingfish, stumpnose, grunter, sharks, pompano, skates and rays and will vary according to the depth of the water and where the fish are feeding.

To the north of the main channel leading to the inner harbour, light tackle enthusiasts can catch kob, shad, grunter, garrick, stumpnose, perch, skates and sharks from a boat.

Visit Richards Bay

King mackerel
St Lucia, Cape Vidal and Mapelane
Lake St Lucia fishing spots

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This is the fishing mecca of the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast and the entire economy rests on tourism and fishing so the infrastructure and the facilities are excellent. The sheer variety of fishing opportunities at St Lucia is breathtaking. The beautiful unspoilt beaches stretch for nearly 7 km to First Rocks accessible only from the beach and a further 4 km takes you to Mission Rocks which can be accessed via Cape Vidal road branching off at the sign to Mission Rocks.

The estuary itself is spectacularly vast and with changes in tides and rainfall the position of the mouth can move from year to year. But the deep channel always allows the tide to flow in and out of the estuary freely.

Any fishing preference can be satisfied in this pristine natural coastal wonderland – ski-boating, rock and surf fishing, estuary fishing from boats or from the shore and fly-fishing. A number of competitions are held annually.

Kite fishing for sharks is very popular here particularly from May to July when shoals of mullet visit the area. Live mullet and shad make perfect bait to catch large sharks, kob, kingfish and, with a bit of luck, king mackerel. Surf fishing along the never-ending beach north of the estuary is also very productive and you can expect to make good catches of shad, grunter, kob, sand sharks, skate and rays. The beach is so extensive that literally hundreds of fishermen can easily spread out along its reaches.

Between August and November, spotted grunter make their annual migration to the area and shark fishermen use grunter heads as their bait. From September to November the season for shad is closed.

Depending on the salinity of the water in the estuary, fishing from a boat can be very productive but when the salinity is low due to rainfall it is better to stay on the beach and on the rocks. When conditions are right you can make good catches of grunter, kob an shad. The best bait for grunter is prawn and sardine at times. Kob prefer sardine to prawn and shad can be taken with spinners, sardine or fresh fillets. When the grunter are running most fishing takes place from boats near the mouth opposite the ski-boat club. Be warned – there are crocodiles, hippos and sharks in the estuary and there have been some fatalities.

Cape Vidal in the north is a small KwaZulu-Natal wildlife resort consisting of a few log-cabins and a campsite. Access from St Lucia is only possible on a 30 km dirt road which can be difficult to negotiate in the rainy season. At the resort, ski-boats can be launched in a protected bay which is ideal for casting a salt water fly in the lee of the rocks.

In the St Lucia Marine Reserve no bait organisms can be collected. The southern boundary is just south of Cape Vidal but to the north of the bay up to Leven Point you can catch the usual fish from the beach. Just before Leven Point there is a white beacon marking the sanctuary area between the Point and Red Cliffs further north and no fishing is permitted here.

At Cape Vidal there are a series of rock ledges stretching southward that are only accessible at low tide. Excellent catches of game fish can be made here. Exercise care on these rocks as they can get dangerous at times.

To the south of St Lucia estuary is a short beach stretching toward the mouth of Mfolozi River. Mapelane, controlled by Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife is situated just south of the river mouth where you will find log-cabins and a campsite. Fishing conditions are very similar to the St Lucia estuary but it’s less crowded. To the south of Mapelane there are a series of rock ledges where excellent catches can be made.

Visit St Lucia

Kosi Bay and Sodwana Bay

This is the most northerly area of the North Coast bordering on Mozambique and apart from the wide sandy beaches it consists of a series of lakes. The stretch of coastline between Cape Vidal in the south and Kosi Bay is a marine reserve. Fishing is permitted but not bait collection. There are two sanctuaries where no fishing is allowed.

The salinity in the lakes is rather low but it is still possible to fish successfully with light tackle in First and Second Lakes where it is possible to make good catches of bottom fishes such as spotted grunter, Natal stumpnose, river snapper and perch (river bream). Access to the lakes is through a channel which winds its way through tall reeds. No fishing is allowed between First Lake and the mouth and the fishing kraals of the amaThonga people must not be interfered with in any way. The game fish you’re likely to catch in this area will be limited to pickhandle barracuda (sea pike), greenspot kingfish and if you’re lucky a giant kingfish and springer. The summer months are the best time for game fish.

Access to the Kosi Mouth from the campsite is via a poorly maintained dirt road so it is advisable to check on the conditions before making your way to the mouth and to Banga Nek. The trip will take at least one and a half hours in a 4X4 but if conditions are fair the trip will be well worth it – the fishing can be exceptional. There is a 2 km stretch of beach to the north of the mouth up to the Mozambique border where you can catch Natal stumpnose and largespot pompano.

The actual mouth is excellent for catching large sharks, kingfish and spotted grunter but it is even better on the south side of the mouth. You will, however, need to paddle across because power boats are not allowed. The rock can only be fished at low tide and you are advised to wear a good pair of shoes as they are rather craggy and slippery. Apart from the usual pan fish it is possible to catch large game fish such as giant kingfish and large sharks. You may also catch exotics like mata-hari and speckled snapper.

You will have to take a boat across to Banga Nek daily as there is no accommodation here. Be sure to remove your possessions from the boat. To get to the Point, you’ll need to walk on the path to the KwaZulu Wildlife turtle survey camp. The fishing here is similar to the conditions in the mouth.

Black Rock is about 20 km south and a permit is required from KwaZulu Forestry for a day visit. Access is via a dirt track and a 4X4 is required but it is well worth it as it is a great spot for game fish and large sharks.

To the north and south of Sodwana Bay the beaches provide some really good fishing. There is a flat rocky ledge that rises above the waterline which can be reached at low tide. Deep water can be accessed from the ledge and kingfish, kob (at night), shad (in winter), queenfish, Natal and big-eye stumpnose and pompano can be caught. Nine-mile Point and Mabibi (good for kingfish) are popular spots to the north of the bay. The bay itself is excellent for shad during winter.

More info on the town of Richards Bay More info on the Zululand area



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