21 July Sardine Report 2019

21 July Sardine Report 2019

It’s been another cracking sardine season for the sardine run operators down in the Transkei and Natal. These guys have encountered bait balls daily and have been getting some spectacular video material, which we will get to see soon enough.

To make sure we are on top of things, we headed south on sardine patrol, and have the following to report.

July Sardine Report 2019

Port St Johns

Arriving in Port St Johns, we could already feel the buzz. The Umzimvubu was looking delightfully clean and there were boats everywhere. Anglers anchored in the channels, we saw one guy boat a 12kg class Garrick and a little Kob. Sardine safari boats moored at the line of jetties, all prepared for the mornings adventures.

We visited Offshore Africa down on the river, who run sardine run trips for two months through the season. Rob Nettleton and Debbie Smith (The Shark Lady), the operators, live in Port St. Johns and are consummate professionals in what they do. They chuck you right in with the sardines and sharks!

Chatting to Richie O’Connell who leads one of the boats, “You don’t even need a baitball to find and swim with sharks. They’re everywhere!”.

Rob showed me some of this year’s footage, the cameras are dressed up with much better and wider lenses making it possible to really capture all that is going on down there. Stay posted for this material when it comes out, it is truly work of underwater art.

Through the three days we spent scouring the views around Port St. Johns, we saw lots birds running south still. Some just sitting on the water too full to fly. And the odd dive bomber as sporadic shoals moved through under the surface. But the sardine spotters travelled north and south and every day out they have jumped in with sardines. Rob was on day 33!


Great views and nice swells greeted us here. But again, we never saw any real hot action from the shore. Lots of birds. Oil slicks from previous sorties. Crystal clear water. Very fishy looking.

21 July Sardine Report 2019
21 July Sardine Report 2019

Coffee Bay

We stayed at the pretty Coffee Shack where they installed us in the King’s House. A delightful cottage overlooking the entire bay flanked by the Sugarloaf and the Mbomvu point. Four delicious shad for breakfast.

The action was absolutely wild!

Shoals of sardines were being driven to the surface. Mainly it was dolphins but we also saw sharks breaching and some outsized yellowfin tuna. The gannets were raining down like bombs. And this was just the first shoal. They just kept coming through sporadically throughout the entire day. The huge waves, well ok 2 to 3m, were kind of keeping the action on the backline and only one occasion did they come right into the white water where they were obliterated.


When we came over the hill, the vista was unexpected. Waves were reeling down the point, the sand was connecting across the entire bay! There were a bunch of guys on it but the waves were plentiful and everyone was mellow.

There were birds diving and some dolphins were hunting but the water never smelled fishy and the surf continued even better the next day. When a fabulous Berg wind kicked mid-morning and painted the prettiest surfing picture I have seen for a while. Then the huge west that is currently blowing a gale at about 40 knots hit hard and so we moved on to the other side of the river to Freedom O’ Clock to catch up a bit.

And we got to throw a little video together quick…

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Get in touch via umzimkulu@gmail.com if you would like to join us for The Sardine Run next year.

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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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Matt Wainwright down on the water at the Umzimkulu Marina with a fresh kob

Captain Matt Wainwright on the Umzimkulu

Captain Matt Wainwright on the Umzimkulu – “It’s my favourite place to fish away from home!”

Matt Wainwright down on the water at the Umzimkulu Marina with a fresh kob
Matt Wainwright down on the water at the Umzimkulu Marina with a fresh kob

Matt Wainwright has been coming down the south coast to Port Shepstone from his home waters off Durban, for quite some time now. He used to just fish with us on the Niteshift, but soon he was towing his own little super fun and totally cool duck around with him. All over the place and to the Umzimkulu Marina in particular.
We had some amazingly fun launches on that ultralight boat with a powerful 40hp behind it. Full speed boogie band through the waves and back again. And we caught some lovely fish together.
But now Matt has upgraded and sports a real well-built and thought out cat. It’s in the 16ft class boat size and once again, is super well powered. Acceleration out of the hole is what is needed the most in surf launching, and that is exactly what Matt has got plenty of.
This last weekend Matt brought his guests back down to the Umzimkulu, where they were lucky enough to get right in on some long-awaited bottom fishing action. Just before the sardines make their appearance, all sorts of fish start to gather along the KZN coastline in ambush formations.
It is kob (daga salmon), that are making the news right now. Very susceptible to over-fishing, we need to protect these fish. By sticking to our bag limits. And kind of keeping the mission a secret – just don’t tell the other boats, let them work it out for themselves. If you help other people onto these vulnerable fish, the damage is done and cannot be undone.
Other fish that get extra active in this exciting time of the year, down deep, are black musselcracker.

A real honour to get a fantastic fish like this black musselcracker.
A real honour to get a fantastic fish like this black musselcracker.

As you can see, Matt’s guest Ziets got himself one over the weekend down at the Umzimkulu Marina.. A cracker of about 20kgs. Delectable. And endemic. Slow growing. Luckily they can really fight back and many get away. Once again, really vulnerable.
The Geelbek have been slow for many years now. They used to come in huge numbers, but fleets of ski-boats would descend on them, in their spawning mode. Huge catches were made. All of us did it. But the damage is done, that’s for sure. Even to catch just two of these delicious fighters these days would be a luck!

Dejan has also joined the Niteshift as crew and is loving it
Dejan has also joined the Niteshift as crew and is loving it. Here he is super stoked with his two geelbek salmon a few weekends back.

But it is the dusky kob that is hurting the most. These guys look just like daga salmon, but are smaller and very slow growing. Hardly any of these fish get over 1000mm, which is almost their sexual maturation size, before being caught. Very rare now, it is thought that if fishing for dusky kob was banned, it would take 40 years to restore the population.
But ok, enjoy the sardine season and let’s hope for a good showing. The red hot pokers have started to fire up with that gorgeous red colour and the waves are starting too, with the desirously warm offshore winds.

Roosta with his catch of the day! Hope he ain’t paddling around with lot in tow?!?

In the meantime, if you would like to join us, and Captain Matt Wainwright at the Umzimkulu Marina, drop us a line on umzimkuklu@gmail.com or WhatsApp +27 79 326 9671. We can fish for kob outside, we can load surfboards on board and catch the low tide somewhere with nobody anywhere, we can fish the estuary at night for rock salmon, and we have the world famous Sandspit Beach for night time and lure fishing.

The very same weekend, Matt’s other guest was more into catching kob on lures, and being right at the Sandspit he rigged up took the delightful walk along that amazing beach. And look what he got!

And then another one!

Dallas with a groovy little kob at the SandSpit in Port Shepstone
Dallas with a groovy little kob at the SandSpit in Port Shepstone

More about the Umzimkulu Marina right here.

Catch winter kob or dagas on Mydo Luck Shots, available here.


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The Crocworld Conservation Centre kicks off another series of conservation lectures this year, with the rescuing of baby flamingos

Crocworld Conservation Centre reintroduces Monthly Lecture Series

Crocworld reintroduces Monthly Conservation Lecture Series

Crocworld Conservation Centre is delighted to announce the return of its monthly environmental lecture series, which will be hosted at the newly launched Fish Eagle Café.

The first lecture in the series will take place on Saturday, 9th March. It will explore the rescue and rehabilitation of abandoned Lesser Flamingo chicks at Kamfers Dam near Kimberley in the Northern Cape.

According to Birdlife Africa, the Lesser Flamingo is listed as “Near-threatened” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List. This is mainly because of a declining population, few breeding sites, and human-induced threats to the breeding sites.

Kamfers Dam is one of only four breeding localities for Lesser Flamingos on the African continent and the only breeding locality in South Africa. It supports the largest permanent population of the species in Southern Africa, with an estimated population of sixty thousand Lesser Flamingos.

However, due to the severe drought, more than five thousand chicks and eggs were abandoned in January this year. The Kimberley SPCA approached various rehabilitation centres around South Africa, including the uShaka Sea World Animal Health Department, to assist in hand-rearing the Lesser Flamingo chicks.

The Crocworld Conservation Centre kicks off another series of conservation lectures this year, with the rescuing of baby flamingos

The Crocworld Conservation Centre kicks off another series of conservation lectures this year, with the rescuing of baby flamingos


Since 27th January staff at uShaka Sea World have worked tirelessly to rehabilitate more than 250 chicks. According to Ann Kunz of the South African Association for Marine Biological Research (SAAMBR), staff and volunteers have spent hours feeding chicks special feed through syringes and constantly monitoring the birds, many of which were initially in uShaka Sea World’s hospital.

“Last week, chicks were a delicate creamy white colour with some darker down feathers. Most of them are now sporting a pinkish tinge on their feathers with bright red faces and scarlet mouths. This week was a milestone as many of the chicks in special care have left the ICU and are spending a couple of hours each day in the high care enclosure outside, enjoying the sunshine,” said Kunz.

Join the staff from the uShaka Sea World Animal Health Department who will be sharing their fascinating experiences rearing these flamboyant birds at Crocworld Conservation Centre’s recently launched Fish Eagle Café. The restaurant boasts exquisite views, delicious food and great service, under the management of the vastly experienced Executive Chef and manager Morne van Zyl.

Martin Rodrigues, Crocworld Conservation Centre’s manager said, “We are ecstatic that our monthly lecture series is launching with such an interesting subject. We look forward to our guests enjoying a combination of knowledgeable experts in a picturesque venue.”

Registration for the event is at 08h30 with the lecture beginning at 09h00. Tickets will cost R50.00 and include an Early Bird Breakfast with a cup of percolated coffee, as well as entrance into Crocworld’s indigenous gardens, and bird and reptile centres.

For more information or to make a booking, contact Morne van Zyl at the Fish Eagle Café on083 658 7073 or email mvanzyl@cbl.co.za. Alternatively contact Martin Rodrigues on 078 484 1859 or Crocworld Conservation Centre on 039 976 1103.

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Sharks in the Shorebreak! Sardine Report July 2018

Sharks in the Shorebreak! Sardine Report July 2018

Sharks in the Shorebreak! Sardine Report July 2018: It’s been an incredible sardine run this 2018 with images of the good old days seen all over. Sharks right in the shorebreak gorging themselves. Nets filled daily. Spin casters everywhere. Kids with packets. Grannies with washing baskets. Traffic jams for miles!

The sards have featured at literally every beach up and down from Port Edward and even past Durban. They were at Ballito recently! However, some beaches are very popular with the sards – The Sandspit, Pumula, Scottburgh and a few others have seen non-stop action.

Enjoy the shark video submitted by Dez way down on the lower south coast somewhere. Thanks Dez!


As usual, the fishing has been a tad slower than what would be expected. The fish are actually everywhere. Yellowfin tuna, couta, snoek and all vie with dolphins and all sorts for the bounty. A good bit of advice from the old timers – don’t fish with sardines in the sardine run!

Shark anglers are having the most fun. The guys down at Port Edward have refined their attack to include drones that drop their baits off way out the back. With amazing results. The controversy over drone use has however also been on the rise.


And from Jason Heyne, underwater correspondent and veteran spearfisherman…with his report from just before the weekend.

The diving conditions have been average this week with 3 or 4 days being diveable. The sardines down south coast are attracting some decent fish inshore with wahoo, sailfish and daga salmon coming out. Saturday a moderate south west blows all day with the swell running at just a tad over 2m. Sunday the south west continues to blow and it starts dropping off around mid day with a 2m swell running all day. So Saturday early and Sunday afternoon might be diveable. Andrew gets his first saily and fish of the week and Dean gets club merit fish of the week with a decent winter garrick.
We are having our 8th annual crayfish comp on the 4th of August which is always a cracker event. Family welcome at the weigh in at The lapa pool area at Wings Virginia airport. Wors rolls and cash bar. Entry forms available at Freedivers and email umhlangaspearos@gmail.com .
As always dive safe and straight spears
And the very interesting and informative gallery that always comes with Jason’s reporting…

This report was sponsored by Splash Saverite in Port Edward. Right close to the infamous Splash Rock fishing spot, pop in for latest catches and good advice on fishing the KZN South Coast and into the nearby Transkei Wild Coast.

The Sardine Report July 2018 was brought to you by Splash Saverite in Port Edward. Full of fishing tackle and advice.

The Sardine Report July 2018 was brought to you by Splash Saverite in Port Edward. Full of fishing tackle and advice.

Check Splash Saverite on Facebook at https://web.facebook.com/saveriteportedward/

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