Kob slaughter at PSJ

Kob slaughter at PSJ

As the Moka Pot finally starts to bleed rich black coffee this early morning, to the sound of the cold front – the driving rain, the wind through the trees – I reflect on my last fishing experience. Spending time down in our beloved Port St. Johns is always too short. Driving into town and driving out seems the same trip. Lost somewhere in the middle are the layers of imagery, sounds and scents that come out of PSJ each time. Lucky for cameras!

Beelining for the point, rods already ready with leaders and even lures tied days before, is how it always starts. Heart in mouth as the ocean comes into view alongside another favourite carpark. But no crowds this time. No traffic jam. Nobody. Looking up towards Cape Hermes and into the corner, a few fishermen are dotted along the usual spots. Looking quite active. But not in a frenzy for sure.

The frenzy is hard to describe. Kob frenzy. This what happened to me once upon a time…two years ago this time…

I grabbed a coffee with Brucifire, after breakfast, at the Jungle Monkey. I was going fishing anyway, but was super excited this crisp and clear Wild Coast morning. As I collected my fishing thoughts and things, owner Mike came up the ramp.

“I am just gonna go and catch a fish quick ok”.

Mike chuckled. Bruce cheered him on with a laugh too. I had been there a week with no results!

Bruce elected to stay. He was entertaining, and being entertained, by two genuine Ethiopian Rasta priests, that happened to be passing through.

The adrenalin, came like this. I have seen plenty sharks, casually lolling on the surface. But never a kob. Never mind a huge one. And so when I jumped from the car at favourite carpark, shouldered in pass the spectators to get a better look – there they were. But my brain could only process that these fins and fish were zambezis.

“Hey howz those sharks man!”

The guy next to me goes…

“Nooit bru, dey kob.”

From that second and onwards, is all a blur. I do remember every thought leaving my head, as the adrenalin surged. Time stopped. The world stopped. I managed to get back to my car to my favourite rod at that time, a 20lb braid packed Okuma Ceymar with a red and black Sensation Adventure 9 footer. I flew off the cliff down to the players area and found a spot. I let that Mydo SS Spoon fly right over the estuary – and then didn’t know what to do. Crank it? No ways. Slow on the sand? Ok. The fish had shown themselves to me, and I was gonna get one. But not with that spoon. It just made no sense in this scene. So after my second nerve wracking slow retrieve, I clambered back up the cliff to my trusty old VW mobile tackle box, and grabbed the biggest plastic and jig head I could find fastest. The plastic was a good 9 inches, split tail, and in light pink. Huge. The jig head was an easy choice – my very own Mydo Luck Shot, but this time in 2 ounce configuration, with a solid 9/0 hook – that stuck out from the plastic a good 20mm. The plastic sits way further back on the hook with a Mydo jig head, a huge advantage over regular jig heads. The hook was super sharp. And for extra effect, I placed a Mydo Bill plate, in shiny stainless steel, over the jig head. This adds more flash and action, and in as much as this all sounds like a Mydo ad, this is how I did it ok!

My first cast.

I first threw the rig into the deep channel to start with. I just wanted to get my swimming action right. On my second twitch off the sand, my rod went double. I love this outfit as it put on enough brakes to set the hook with the huge 9/0, but maintained enough tension through the famous kob head shake – by being so nice and soft in the front part. The little Okuma was filled with braid, and the fluorocarbon leader very carefully tied back in Port Shepstone already. Figure of eight system as described here.

It was a huge battle. And the kob showed itself quite soon into the fight. A magnificent performance right on the surface, in front of a riveted crowd up top. A guy was fighting a garrick alongside me and we had to switch places many times. My fish loved to drag me all the way up the slippery and loose rocks. To the top, and then all the way back down to the mouth. A pushing tide. Anglers everywhere. So much fun!

But it was a really difficult time for the fish too. Being on 20lb meant my rod had to do all the work. The leader was tied short too. I don’t like my knots in my rod eyes for exact situations like this – where a longer leader would have had knots being damaged each time the fish got close. But I was determined as this would do wonders for the Mydo PRO campaign. I ducked and dived and pulled and pushed my way up and down that strip for 45 minutes before I had him close.

A few of the local pros had gathered around me, and were being wonderful hosts, hauling me across the treacherous terrain when I needed it. The guy next to me eventually lost his garrick – a monster of over 25, I saw it a number of times. The split ring on his lure failed. Man was this guy broken. The kob had by now disappeared and nobody was throwing anymore. It was just me and this kob left.

And so It came to the gaff, which I never even saw. I had given up on a healthy release, especially with the shark factor here, but when that fish came close, a gaff flew past me at lightning speed and bang into the fish. And as the guy dragged the fish up the rocks, the hook fell out! It had been a solid hour of battle.

And so it came to be, that I hauled this kob up the cliff, and never set it free. The light tackle was the problem. But I fish light – so many more strikes. So much more fun. The penalty is this. Big fish get worked too much, and if you release them, they die. I should have had 50lb braid for sure.

I should have had 50lb braid for sure. I have been fishing heavy (40lb), in PSJ since this fish.

Which brings me to today’s story, and what has been on my mind.


A pile of kob in PSJ lately. These fish are in their breeding cycle and spawn in our estuaries. They are extremely vulnerable and need protection, not exploitation, at this particular time.

A pile of kob in PSJ lately. These fish are in their breeding cycle and spawn in our estuaries. They are extremely vulnerable and need protection, not exploitation, at this particular time.

Kob are subject to whims to feed which come from above, or the stars, or the moon. They just go dilly. Sometimes they congregate to spawn, and enter a feeding frenzy just thereafter to replace energy used. I was lucky enough to have had invested enough time casting from those very same rocks, to get the timing right for one of these magical moments.

And when I loaded the fish, which once again goes down at 25, because that was the limit of the scale we could find, one of the locals said to me…

“Hey stash that fish or you can’t take another one…”

I was taken aback. I told him that no way would I take another one?! What for? But as reality set back in, I had to think that this guy, who has been here and caught these kob his whole life, feeds his kids this way. Me and the locals have had long conversations about this, shoulder to shoulder, casting lures until we convinced ourselves to save it for the next session. They all get a few. And they are worth a packet. R1000 a fish easy. He reckons he gets 5 to 10 a year. Some of his mates get more than that. All on lures. Subsistence? Could be? Borderline.

And now we have these two guys, being photographed with far too many kob, all at once. You are only allowed one big one and smaller one really. These guys had the whole family. The smallest looks about 10. And the biggest look 25 or more. Story so far is that these guys had a military-style operation going, with trailers with tanks of livebait. Motorcades of 4×4’s. All the best kit. Not subsistence.

The pics were shot about a week ago. And has already been doing the rounds on the internet as most if you will have seen. These are the breeding stock of our kob population smack bang in the most vulnerable time in their lifecycle. Breeding time.

DAFF have the pics and have asked for assistance in this matter. They need to know how many anglers were involved. Where and when this was. They have a marine inspector on it right now. He is in PSJ, where the community is assisting him. In the meantime, mail any information to umzimkulu@gmail.com so we can pass it on.

Trawler Watch 2017: Fishing Trawler spotted trawling at Mdumbi!

Trawler spotted trawling at Mdumbi!

Trawler spotted trawling at Mdumbi!

Our deep undercover sardine spy Robbie van Wijk reports of an alleged trawler spotted trawling at Mdumbi just yesterday! Could this be one of the three “legal” ships (Japanese with permits from the totally ineffectual DAFF), that have been spotted up and down all over? Robbie just has this photo for proof.

Fishing Trawler spotted trawling at Mdumbi!

Fishing Trawler spotted trawling at Mdumbi!

The trawler had nets out and was heading NE, at trawling speed!

Targeting sardines no doubt! But imagine the destruction they are causing to the reefs and eco-system! Trawls carry the most destructive fishing equipment known to man. And are illegal in most places. They are most likely purse seine fishing, but still – WHOSE FISH ARE THEY?! The Japanese’? And who is policing their methods?

And there is more, when I contact DAFF (Department of Forestry and Fisheries or whatever), they could NOT TELL ME WHERE TO REPORT this type of suspicious activity!

We checked the AIS system (a global map of every legitimate ship on the planet – please check it out at http://marinetraffic.com – such important information to cross reference with), only to find that the “legal” Japanese KOEI MARU No. 1 was in fact off Durban. And the only other boats in the area where Robbie spotted the trawler, are a patrol boat (weirdly enough – full of gunmen as reported by AIS – could be the Sarah Baardman – hopefully), and another unpurposed one, as far as AIS is fed this information. The MSC Rania (not guilty of anything I assure), was the only other vessel reporting itself, for hundreds of miles up and down.

So, a ship without it’s AIS system on. That surely is a guilty ship.

It was a very ironic post that Robbie made from Mdumbi last year this time. It says it all in one photograph. How far did these “South African” sardines travel, before going on sale, back where they came from? I know Lucky Star is a local brand, but are they catching these fish? Is this their boat? Then why the Japanese and Chinese boats? With permits? From our very own DAFF?! (DOFF).

Lucky Star South African Sardines spotted off Umzumbe

Lucky Star South African Sardines spotted off Umdumbi

I have been receiving offers for fresh frozen sardines in my inbox (someone spammed me with a subscription to this seafood industry bunch, so I play along, to keep getting the info), way before the sardine season even though of starting. In fact back in January and February were my first emails received – selling by the tonne!

Enjoy the read…

Dear Sir,

Good morning.

We now have several containers’ products coming soon, please kindly advise, thanks.

#15 Frozen Seafood Mix

Ingredients: Squid Rings/ Tentacles/ Strips/Cut/Head, Octopus Cut/Strip, Baby Octopus, Mussels meat, Shrimps, etc.

Glazing: 0-20%, Package: 24 *1 lb.

#1 Sardine 6-10 pcs/kg Market / Bait

Product Name: Frozen W/R Sardine for Market / Bait purpose

Specification: 6-10 pcs/kg, BQF, Light Purse Seine, Land Frozen

#2 Sardine 6-10 pcs/kg Canning

Product Name: Frozen W/R Sardine for Canning purpose

Specification: 6-10 pcs/kg, BQF, Trawl, Land Frozen

#3 Scad (Horse Mackerel) 8-10 pcs/kg Market

Product Name: Frozen W/R Scad (Horse Mackerel) for Market purpose

Specification: 8-10 pcs/kg, BQF, Light Purse Seine, Land Frozen

Kindly let us know the name of your destination port. More products information including pictures and price will be sent according to your respond.

Thanks and warmly regards.

I accept that most of this seafood is likely not from our waters. But who is to tell?

And a few more pics of Mdumbi, by Robbie van Wijk, showing the beauty of the place’s waters that we need to protect from exploitation by few, against the will of the public whole. One shot featuring the Sarah Baardman on patrol, about a month back. That is one mean boat and they would know about every ship for a thousand miles around, just with their own equipment, let alone AIS. So hopefully they have their orders to chase and apprehend, as they did last year, with three captures out of nine reported incursions, by foreign vessels. Or are they just on parade?

Ok, but there is something we can do. Since we are the culprits in the first place.

Yes, it’s us.

The buyers of canned fish. We pay for those ships. We pay those politicians their bribes. We pay for the destruction. We even pay for the Sarah Baardman, through taxes! We are paying for both sides?!

And only we can stop the mayhem. By not buying tinned fish. Ever again. No sardines. No tuna. No mackerel. No Anchovies. Etc…

Take the power back!

You would be doing so much good, on so many levels.

Caught at sea in a cut off low storm

Caught at sea in a cut off low storm

Our current weather scenario prompted a rewrite of an old favourite yarn. It was first published in 1992.

“It had been a long day, way back in 1992, and we had not caught too much. Stubbornly we anchored off Boboyi, in the 26 metre area, to see if we could find a daga salmon or a geelbek. And we had to wait a bit longer for some water to come into the bay.
On board were the three of us Langes, Dad, Marc and myself. And guest that day, and many other days those days, was Brian Davey – the inventor of the MYDO.
Having been fishing hard all day, I was over it. But I also sensed something else going on around us. The atmosphere was electric. The sky around us was brown. The sea unruly. Looking to the south I could see no problem. Weather from the south is what normally catches us out.
I went up and over to the bow, ready to pull the anchor, when it was time. I was calling it, suggesting more than once we go. Marc is a bottomfishing loon like my Dad, and Brian Davey has also been known to raid the odd reef. Not I. So the three of them upped and downed until finally the tide gave reprieve and my Dad called “lines up”.
Weighing our anchor on the big old Niteshift wasn’t always smooth sailing, but this day we managed to drag it free with only one circle. I was pulling and Marc was packing the rope fast as we could go. I looked up.
And I saw it.
A plume of spray and water was being blasted right out of the Umzimkulu River mouth and a kilometre out to sea in front of us. Windsurfers, umbrellas and deck chairs cartwheeled through the sky. Towels and things were flying past. It was as if a giant fire hose was sticking out into the ocean.
Instantly the skies went black. A raging wind blew from every direction. Lightning struck the water all around us. The thunder and the wind combined in a crescendo above which we could not talk – only scream. Rain drops stung at every part of us.
My Dad put my diving goggles on. We flattened all out graphite composite rods on the deck. And Brian Davey. And everything else. Anything else was thrown into the cabin or it blew away. We could only move along at about 4 or 5 knots, and we could not see anything at all. It was like being caught in a dark forest, we never knew which way was land – even the compass was spinning wildly. We hammered on hoping for northwards, the sea was not big but it was violent. Hard to hold on. We radioed Pan Pan warnings over and over – to warn the other guys who operate south, from out of Shelley Beach.
And then it was gone. In an instant, this monster just upped and left. But headed straight to Shelley Beach where boats were still on Protea and many waiting on the backline to get in. It hit them full force with winds at Force 7. Mowed them down. And then kept going.
Building momentum and now officially a “cut off low”, the storm raged through the Transkei, seriously damaging and/or sinking 6 ships, some on anchor, on it’s way to into Cape Town, where it turned the corner and traveled north, terrorising as far up as Lamberts Bay, until it petred out.”

And yes, the storm lambasting Cape Town now and the rest of the coast since it’s inception on Sunday/Monday, is a type 1A Cut Off Low storm. Rare in that they are somehow tied to the el Nino phenomenon, and appear every 5 to 7 years. On the south coast I have endured three of these absolutely crazy storms.  Fortunately I missed a few. Including this one – I am in Tofinho, Mozambique today. Where the weather is a bit untoward, the wind swinging slowly from north east to southerly onshore. We shall keep you posted as to what the effects have been up this side, of our awesome July 2016 cut off low.

Gallery and video by Jay Steenkamp

And another great video by Jay…

Sardines at Sunwich Port, on the lower south coast of KZN Natall

Sardine Run Report 1 July 2016

Sardine Run Report 1 July 2016

For a Sardine Run Report 1 July 2016, we have a few tidbits of encouraging information, from our undercover Sardine Agents, way down in the Transkei.

Robbie van Wijk is the deepest undercover, way down in Mdumbi. Where he has reported sporadic sardine activity, coming right into the bay at times. And then at Luandile around the bluff, and at Presley’s, sardines really put on a show for two days in a row, coming right in close, but not beaching. Shad and garrick were hammering the shoals and fishermen were hooked up all along the beach simultaneously. The staple breakfast of fresh shad has not stopped in the Mdumbi area for a while now. Robbie has also noted some great garrick and kob catches being made by locals and visitors alike.

Then moving up the coast, we have Debbie Smith and Rob Nettleton of Offshore Africa, in Port St. Johns. They are out to sea and in the water every day possible, and are having a great Sardine Run once again. It pays to be so far down the coast – getting in on the action so much earlier. Debbie reports that there are many, many shoals of sardines, but that they are scattered far and wide – all over the ocean. The predators seem not to be too interested, so maybe it’s that moon again. It’s not ideal for fish activity right now, but as the moon disappears this weekend – the stars may line up. She also reports 22 degrees water, with visibility varying between 6 and 10 metres, on their dives with sharks.

Then Jay Steenkamp works the area from Margate into the Transkei, connecting the dots for us. He has reported the usual shoals and shoals of baitfish. Mackerel, red eyes, and maasbanker, big and small, just everywhere. He has not reported in any sightings of sardines yet, but he feels the conditions are coming right day by day. He gets to fly in the NSB plane. Nothing gets past Jay. Not even the waves.

The Roosta in Umzumbe reported also that shad fishermen up and down were having a great time breaking the law and making a mess of the beaches. And the only sardines he saw were the ones strewn about the beach and rocks, still in plastic and boxes. Sies man.

Jason Heyne in the greater Durban area, also has his ear to the reef. Check out his informing and invaluably inspiring weekly spearfishing report, right here on thesardine.co.za, every week. Nothing to report. Yet.

And there we have it, as far as the sardines are concerned, we are on it with accurate and reliable reporting from all over a wide coverage area.

Check back soon…

And in the meantime – this is how we do The Sardine News, when it all goes down…flying with Captain John Marshall…Click HERE for fun!





Any of us who have had the sheer pleasure of eating and partying at The Jungle Monkey in Port St. Johns, will have been reeling at the news, that the place burnt down.

Yip, a fire in the kitchen brough the bar, the restaurant, and the office down in flames.

Fortunately, the main house and all accommodation survived. Nobody got injured. But the loss is devastating and all has to be rebuilt from scratch.

This is a chance to pitch in and help – a financial donation from each of us will go far in helping The Jungle Monkeys get their place of work back in order and producing the amazing food, live entertainment, cold beer, hot coffee and laughs and smiles we all get from being at The Jungle Monkey.

Please click on over to their website, to see the damages, and pitch in!

Use #rebuildjunglemonkey wherever you can please!

Thank YOU!