2019 Sardine Report featured image by (c) FOX

12 July 2019 Sardine Report

12 July 2019 Sardine Report

Sardines and surfers have been seen everywhere up and down the Natal South Coast, over the past two weeks. Outsized sea conditions have brought on the KZN winter proper! Your July 2019 Sardine Report…

A special thanks to Ant Fox for the featured image of this post – a school of dolphins enjoying the surf conditions way down south.

Many shoals (over 10 for sure) of genuine sardines have been netted. The price per crate sitting at R1300 or so. Equates to about R43 per kilo. Cheap at the price! But these are merely the so-called pilot shoals. Small pockets of sardines that break ahead of the main shoal, arriving a little earlier in the season and getting everyone warmed up.

The main shoal is reportedly still in the Transkei, making it’s way up the coast slowly. The warm water is troublesome for sardine hunters at the moment, however.

We are going to need a few days of Nor’Easter wind to chill the water back to where it was when the pilot shoals first pulled in. It’s way over 20 degrees right now, where ideal temperature for sardines to come in shallow is about 18 degrees.

At the moment a new low pressure system is kicking in. Warm Berg Winds this morning indicate the arrival of a stiff Sou’Wester later today. It’s gonna blast, and then swing around to offshore mornings with easterly afternoons. A great formula for bringing the water temperature down slowly.


Many anglers who have taken up shark fishing from the beach and rocks, are having an absolute blast right now. Big reels. Big baits. Big fish.


Well unfortunately, DAFF and friends are not coping with the volume as sack loads of shad are leaving the beach. It is unashamed murder as some guys load 50 and more, take that load home, and return for more. This is happening at all the usual spots but Margate Pier and Splash Rock have been particularly busy lately.

Overall the shad have been on the small side.


It seems to just get worse as piles and piles of rubbish are left at all your favourite beaches. The shift in fisherman behaviour is going to be a massive requirement as it seems to be hardwired into some people that you can, in this day and age of polluted oceans, throw your trash into nature.

But, what a bad name we all get from this indolent behaviour. Please take your trash off the beach and rocks with you. You know who you are!


The surf has been cooking the entire time with carparks packed by locals who have been waiting all year for the favourable offshore winds and strong swells. And warm winter water.


Whilst surfing we have encountered some huge GTs, that circled us a while and then basically obliterated a shoal of shad right next to us. Shad were flying everywhere as the huge fish pummelled them in a team effort. Better bring your elephant gun if you want to tackle these fish. Skib-oater Greg Defilippi has released two GTs over 20kgs just recently. Cannot tell you where this was unfortunately, you will have to do some searching yourself!


It is humpback highway right now on the Natal South Coast and down into the Transkei. As these beautiful mammals make their way up to the calm and warm waters of the African East coast. Where the big mommas suckle their young and avoid eager males chasing them all over the place. Great spectator fun. You can get right up close and personal with the humpbacks, there are limitations, but we can get you in amongst them safely and legally anytime. The whales have arrived in the Bazaruto waters too, and continue quite very far north. They stick around until November and even into December on occasion. The Sardine team will be busy with whales and research in October this 2019, for a few weeks.

And a word from our sponsors…

After a big day out on the ocean, there is nothing much like winding down on a sunset river cruise on the Umzimkulu River in Port Shepstone. This cool little clip was shot by Sardine correspodent Neil Campbell with his new drone…

VIDEO LINK: https://youtu.be/hsDubs5Zo8A

Email Sean on umzimkulu@gmail.com to arrange a ride. Corporates and team builders welcome.

Stay up-to-date with The Sardine News as we search daily for news of the main shoals and the marine life with them, this 2019. You can join the weekly newsletter by entering your email on http://thesardine.co.za.

The 2019 sardine report series is brought to you by the Umzimkulu Marina, MYDO Fishing Lures and The Fishing Pro Shop (Pta).

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Post by http://thesardine.co.za

Jimmy Bonefish regularly catches these world record potential bonefish in summertime

The Bonefish of Mozambique

The Bonefish of Mozambique

The bonefish of Mozambique – well Inhambane in this case. Often this time of year (Summer), whilst working the shallow waters between Tofo and Tofinho, big silver fish can be seen lolling about the surface. Their silver backs are exposed as they dart this way and that, seemingly on the feed. But cast after cast and all you might get out of them is a look. Dropshots don’t work, nor do spoons or plugs. I am sure they will take a well-presented fillet bait, but they won’t touch a rapala or even a daisy chain.
Right behind the Tofo headland is where the shoals of huge bonefish swim...
Right behind the Tofo headland, is where these shoals of huge bonefish swim…
Some local subsistence fishermen know where and how to catch the smaller ones. Right in the surf zone, in the white waters below the cliffs, with bait won off the rocks at low tide.
But Jimmy, our fishing champion, based on the point at Tofinho…knows how to catch the big ones.
He has taken 5 in an evening…on squid bait!? And the size? Average 6 or 7 kilos!
Even Jimmy’s clients (he is a great rock ‘n surf fishing guide), have taken 2 or 3 in a session, using this method.
Highly acclaimed as a prizefighter, bonefish are extensively hunted on the flats of the Florida Keys in the USA. It’s one of the biggest sport fishing industries there is. And all on fly.
Saltwater fly fishing grew enormously as a result of these fiesty and fussy game fish.
Permit (pompano to us) and tarpon frequent the same waters as bonefish and many fishing guides and charters take their clients fishing for these acclaimed fish, all over the South.
But. In the USA,  they hardly get half the size of the behemoths hanging out on the backline off Tofo and surrounds.
IGFA, the International Game Fishing Association, is the custodian organization for world and regional fishing records. And the all tackle world record bonefish is recorded as being caught in Zululand, South Africa, by Brian Bachelor in 1962. 8.6kgs.
When the bonefish come through here, they are really active. They seem to feed on tiny surface fish and organisms on the backline and the edge of the surf zone, with their otherwise suggesting down facing tiny mouths. In the USA they are fished on the flats on an incoming tide, where they feed on the sand bottom and in and about seagrass fields.
If you are super keen to get onto whipping a few flys about the back line, between Tofo and Tofinho points, and if you can handle a 9 weight, give us a buzz on umzimkulu@gmail.com.
It might be an even better plan…to bring a 12 weight rig too, as kingfish, sailfish, tuna, king mackerel and queen fish also patrol the shallows behind the long, shallow ledge just off the Tofo headland.
And 8.6kgs is an easy target.
Jimmy says he has caught many 9kg bonefish! And bigger!


JP Bartholomew with his noteworthy Giant Kingfish taken on the KZN North Coast on fly!

So you wanna catch a kingfish on fly?

So you wanna catch a kingfish on fly?

A kingfish on fly.

Even a small one will knock your socks off. Their dogged fighting style transmits back through the fly line direct to your hand and fingers as you battle with the one to one ratio. Luckily the soft fly rod allows the kingfish to fight back a bit, and usually, they are not as tired when you finally get to release time. Gentle on the fish, fly fishing is true sport.

But you best tackle up for the GT. And for keeping pace with JP Bartholomew. Your most direct access to your dream fish.

JP works the KZN north coast for his ultimate nemesis – these GT’s. And along the way, he catches everything else. Including the ever elusive bonefish, the seasonal garrick, huge shad, all the species of available kingfish, pompano, queenfish, mackerel – all on artificials.

JP has recently joined The Sardine team of guides and operators, and his services – available from GT Adventures, can be read all about, right here.

GT has long been a contributing author to The Sardine News. You can read all about just some of his fishing antics at the following posts…

Catching Kingies from the beach with JP Bartholomew


KZN Bonefish by JP Bartholomew 

Fly fishing Umdloti with JP Bartholomew

JP Bartholomew and his GT on fly

There are many more where those came from, and there will be many more to follow.

If you want to get out their and right into the thick of it, go fishing with JP for a few days.

To get in touch, click over to GT Adventures enquiry form, by clicking here. GT Adventures






Catching Garrick on fly with JP Bartholomew

Catching Garrick on fly with JP Bartholomew

I’ve often  wondered why I have this obsession for catching Garrick on fly, maybe it’s those heart stopping chases and the fight as they they try to smash your fly on the surface which play a major role in driving up my adrenaline levels.
Throughout the year I spent My time chasing Kingfish,Snoek and other Game fish, but come May when the first Garrick start arriving  with the Shad- and hopefully the annual Sardine Run – we all get excited.
Garrick are found right around our South African coastline, in summer they prefer the cooler Cape water’s ,but in winter the arrive on our doorstep in KwaZulu-Natal ,and stay here until they spawn in spring before undertaking the long haul back to the Eastern Cape in summer.
They prefer sea temperature’s between 17’C and 23’C and they are able  to tolerate water’s with low salinity levels like Estuaries where they spawn.

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Guinjata Kingfish

Guinjata Kingfish

Guinkata kingfish in the early morning – working at Guinjata in Southern Mozambique, left me with many indelible memories. Fortunately, as it turned, as kids, we grew up with two ruffians named Ralph and Greg Jones – and it was this very same Ralph, that I was now working with – fishing together with Seabound Charters! Our Dads had fished together in the seventies, our Mom’s ratted us all out together. We had fought and ambushed each other daily…and here we were, fishing for marlin together, 40 years later!

Guinjata kingfish are best hunted down with Seabound Charters in Guinjata

Guinjata kingfish are best hunted down with Seabound Charters in Guinjata.

We were running three boats back then, this was a good ten years ago (2007 odd), Ralph Snr, Ralph Jnr and then me. Launch time was set at 7am each day. This gave time to skirt the beach with a spinning stick each morning, before getting into the shorebreak. This particular morning, I had found a shoal of angry baby kingfish, that were being sucker punched by my little red fly – tied half a metre in front of my dropshot.

The Mydo dropshot got the rig way out the back and presented the fly in mid to top water as it dragged through the shorebreak, about 10 metres out. Bang on literally every time. I was having such a blast and this particular morning, had caught and gently released about 30 of the beautiful little kingies. Glorious.

I almost never noticed the little kid sitting up the beach watching me.

But eventually he approached me with a defiant posture and gait, and blurted out in Portuguese – “Se você deixar um peixe mais, eu chamarei a polícia”.

Translated means…

“If I let one more fish go, he would call the police?!?!”

Estimated 60kg GT released in southern Mozambique.

Estimated 60kg GT released in southern Mozambique. Just a few clicks north of Guinjata

To fish the crystal clear and warm waters of Mozambique, browse the Tips and Travel menu item at the top of the The Sardine News.