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Fishing News March 2024 featuring Mattski vs Blacktip Kingfish plus #Vilankulos #NorthCoast #SouthCoast

Fishing News by The Sardine Ides of March 2024

Fishing News March 2024 featuring Mattski vs Blacktip Kingfish plus #Vilankulos #Northcoast #SouthCoast

Fishing News March 2024 featuring Mattski vs Blacktip Kingfish : Matt Wainright pushed his custom estuary killing machine out off the jetty and started drifting away as he prepared for a gamefish session in the Umzimkulu. He hadn’t even turned his camera on and the kingfish just came up all around him. Right in front of the guests staying at the Umzimkulu Marina lodge. His first two got away, but for the third, he was ready – Insta 360 camera and all.

First cast

Once Matt had upped his leader and tied on another plastic prawn, with the camera rolling, his very first cast produced the BANG he was ready for this time. Alas, it was a small fish, and after dodging the net once or twice, and clearly jumping right of the net once too, Matt brought it aboard for a lecture. And set it free.

3kgs

The next fish, was slightly upriver from the jetty, and once again, in full view of the growing crowd. Matt had cheerleaders!

But this fish was proper. And it took a full 10 minutes to be finally sent to detention for a minute or two. Get given it’s lecture about taking things with hooks on, and set free to avoid lures from now on.

Although we sped up up some sections, it was a long fight. And so, we decided to read the news during the epic battle. Vilankulos. Natal North Coast. Port Edward. Port Shepstone where we are at the moment…

Enjoy the picture show…and the Fishing News…Ides of March 2024…

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Sharks on my Sonar!

SHARKS on my SONAR

Sharks on my Sonar!

Sharks on my Sonar!: we head out to the Noosa River in Australia for this story…where we get to see how Humminbird have perfected their sonar picture underwater.

It is true genius. The machine doesn’t lie. The sharks on the screen are no doubt sharks! As a bunch of Zambezis aka Bull Sharks, are attracted by splashing in the water of this wild river.

And this is all recorded for us ALL to see…that sonar can undoubtedly detect a shark. Especially in calm waters like the Noosa River.

Enjoy the display…

Sharks on my Sonar!

Sharks on my Sonar!

Here is another great article referencing the same fact.

https://recfishwest.org.au/news/spotting-sharks-on-your-sounder-to-help-reduce-bite-offs/

Sharks Board

I first approached the sharks board, back in the ‘2000s’, about replacing their defunct killing methods, with sonar detection. It’s the most straightforward solution under the sun. Sheldon Dudley of the sharks board vehemently opposed my suggestion back in the 2000’s. With him was Graham Charter. The other guys just did nothing. Said nothing. Many meetings went nowhere. It was not their idea, and so was not going to be deployed.

The main excuse offered by the team back then, was that sharks have no swim bladders, and so could not be detected with sonar?!

I never wanted anything except some involvement. However, as it turned out – it was not the right channel to go down, to try to effect change.

My Motivation

I had back then recently come across an entire pod of dead dolphins. On the back of a shark’s board bakkie. I was furious. And I still am. Those dolphins died (suffocated to death), in the shark nets of Umtentweni. Whilst there were zero beach users at Umtentweni. It was a Monday morning. None of us were even surfing. Nobody was using the ocean at Umtentweni that fateful day.

During the week there might be a few surfers. And on weekends the weekend warriors. Some families come down on weekends to enjoy the granny pool or the shore break.

Are these enough people, this risk so big, that a whole family of dolphins…must die a horrid death in gill nets?

Sonar alternatives

The Australians also kill bull sharks and the like, willy nilly, with shark nets. Archaic gill nets. That kill everything. They kill whales over there in the nets as successfully as our guys. They also use drum lines to actually catch the sharks, and then drag them away from their homes. Forced relocation. This does not work since bull sharks always hang around their own river mouths.

But the Ozzies have developed something clever called Clever Buoy. I am not sure why they don’t use off-the-shelf available sonar equipment. To mitigate development and deployment expenses. But they are definitely on the right track.

Municipalities and you pay for the shark nets

Yip, you are the ultimate payer of the death nets strewn along the coastline of Kwazulu Natal in South Africa. Along with your municipality.

The shark’s board costs hundreds of millions per year. With this money, they kill (annual average):

Sharks Board kill rate average per annum
Sharks Board kill rate average per annum. That is 320 odd sharks per year. Almost one per day.

Harmless Catches

And these they call…”HARMLESS CATCHES”?!?!

Note the lack of whales in this chart. I have interviews, photographs and video to prove otherwise…

Please see the following irrefutable proof that the shark nets have been killing baby whales…here in South Africa. And in Australia.

shark nets Archives – The Sardine News

So all these animals must die…and nobody is swimming anywhere. The water is chock full of ecoli and other nasties right now too. Nobody should be near the ocean. And nobody should be killing sharks in these wayward flood conditions. Brown water to the horizon.

These conditions prevail for months at a time. The nets should be OUT!

More alternatives

Yes, there are more ways to stay safe…

  1. Exclusion nets: deployed perfectly at Fish Hoek (Cape Town) recently, these are proven winners. And these were deployed successfully long before there was even a sharks board. At Umtentweni Beach, and most other popular tourist spots along KZN, still have remnants of the infrastructure used. Concrete pillars with poles set into them. And tennis court netting stretched across them. Stopping any access for sharks. All the while allowing nature to continue along around them unimpeded
  2. Shark shields: for a tiny fraction of the cost of running the entire sharks board, they could equip all ocean users with shark shield devices. They are proven to work and are really cheap nowadays. Get it from the lifeguards and return it after swimming. They could even be rented out.
  3. Tracking devices: many great whites have already been tagged with devices that track their activity in real-time. Right now you can go to the Ocearch Project, and see where the whites are congregating. Let’s just tag the tigers and Zambezis too? I notice some Tiger Sharks, and even whale sharks have been tagged and can now be tracked too on that website. Go check it out, incredible technology applied so well. Some data is old. But new pings are popping all the time.

I have given up on trying to convince the sharks board to stop their heinous acts. We need to get rid of them ourselves somehow. Working with municipalities directly or something.

Please get in touch with Sean on +27793269671 or umzimkulu@gmail.com to discuss any of this further. Especially if you work at a municipality and want to save the people’s money from being used to kill marine life. The backbone of our tourism industry here in KZN.

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Catching Kob

Surf fishing during the sardine run for big kob

Catching Kob

Catching Kob: Our fish – the kob – could be a more relevant national fish than the galjoen. We get kob right the way from Mozambique to Namibia.

And everybody loves to catch a kob!

Since kob can be found out deeper, where ski-boats have been targeting them in waters between 10 and 40 metres, and in the surf zone, and in our estuaries – we have divided this Catching Kob how-to into three seperate parts.

  • Deep-sea
  • Rock and surf.
  • And Estuary

But first, a quick kob gallery…

Kob Gallery

Deep-sea


Kob feed at odd times. And sometimes they don’t feed at all, even when you can see them clearly to be there. I have seen kob underwater – huge kob, lined up in tight formation, wallowing behind the surf zone. Baits all around them. And they won’t touch anything!
And then other times, the kob could bite so hard, commercial boats of old would literally sink themselves loading too much fish. Luckily this heinous practise of hauling out fish for profit, is not really practised any more. And the stocks of kob have stabilised, albeit at a fraction of the numbers of before. Hopefully, the more stringent regulations governing the selling of kob might ease the population back to strength. Unfortunately, it’s up to the current political controls in charge of DAFF. Which does not paint a pretty picture at all.

Back to catching kob…launch anywhere up and down the South African coastline, and kob could be on your target list. They really are literally everywhere.

Live Bait


Some spots are blessed with a constant supply of liveys. Mackerel are by far the favourite. Although a little live shad is close behind. Really serious anglers are keeping live bait alive, in cages and tanks in the harbour. So that when they go fishing, no time is spent gambling on catching live bait. Not sure how legal this is, but it’s really effective. Especially for night fishing, since time is always limited.

IGFA allows two single hooks on a trace. Which is a tad risky when fishing with live bait, since a tangle might be in the offing. So, a nice metre length of soft leader, a good 9/0 hook, two swivels and a sinker – is all you need. Drop that rig rigged with a live mackerel onto a showing and hold on tight. Normally at a bit of depth, and the running trace on the sinker snoot, the fish hook themselves when fished with a live bait.


Frozen Bait

Fishing with frozen sardines or mackerel also works. But only when the fish are hungry. This is when advantage can be taken of the IGFA suggestion of two hooks per trace. But. Be aware you may end up with two big kob hanging onto your line!


Lures

Turns out that kob love a plastic bait. A paddletail. Colour not so important. But weight is. You will need a solid 2 or 3 ounces to get down there. Bounce it around on the bottom and hold on tight!

Rock n Surf

Circle hooks have really changed things for the better. The trace used is simple. A single 8/0 to 12/0 circle hook on a metre of soft leader.
You can throw out a grapnel sinker and slide your bait if the conditions allow. You need a bit of height above the water for that. Or just tie it all up and throw into the channel between the shorebreak and the middle break. Kob hunt in the absolute shallows in the surf zone. You do not have to cast very far at all.

Live Bait

A live mullet or shad puts you square in the game to catch your trophy kob. Although, if you could get any other live baits, like mackerel, pinkies or mozzies, you would be in the same game.

If your live bait is going to be battling a current, you will need to rig him from the nose or top of the head. Two hooks can help but a single – preferably a circle hook, with the bait nicely fastened on, is the outright winner for successful hookups. Keeping a big needle and a roll of wax thread is a very good habit for live bait fishing. The fish last so much longer when carefully tied to the circle hook. About a centimetre away from the bait. Much like marlin fishing.
If the water is calm and the sea is flat, with no current, then put the hook in at the tail area, so the bait can swim away from you.

Once again, sewing the hook on with wax thread is so much better all around for everything. And it is a good feeling to let your hard-working live bait go without injury, at the end of a slow session.


Frozen bait

Well you can fish a frozen bait much like a live bait. A whole sardine is the go-to bait and has caught shoals and shoals of kob.

Belly bait


A decent belly, freshly cut from a shad or mackerel, is a deadly kob bait. You might want to master the art of the pencil bait. Highy recommended.


Lures


Kob have been an enigma to many, for a very long time. What would they be thinking, taking a hard plastic clangy lure, in the middle of the night, cast out there from the beach? Sure, I understand the soft and silent paddle tail, relying on its tail vibrations to get the message out there – but those noisy lures – Eish, they work too!

Kob also take a spoon. A very slow spoon. Literally dragged along the bottom. The Sheppy Bomber spoon, an infamous design from down south, has been revered far and wide for catching kob. Similair S-Bend spoons with half bronze and half silver have been reliable over the years.

Estuary

Catching kob in our estuaries here in South Africa is over-the-top fun. Challenging for sure. But catching koblets (kob of up to about 5kgs or so) on light tackle and lures is insanely entertaining.

Check this video of my Dad catching 3 at the same time!

Flicking and trolling lures

Tie up a little tiny paddletail, and off you go. The smaller the better. The lighter the better.

Live bait

These little koblets love a live mullet. Its got to be small though, like 3 or 4 inches maximum. To make them perform properly, I thread my live baits under the skin with a needle. And then tie my circle hook to the thread. And then when the day is over, you can let that little soldier go without having done him harm to his vital bits like his mouth and nostrils.

Fresh bait

You need to master the construction of a pencil bait, to get these fish to take a hook inside. Pencil baits are designed especially for shy feeders. Like these little kob. And the spotted grunter that are found with them.

Use a MYDO Silver Bullet fillet trace made up with nylon to make a really interesting pencil bait. You could use a MYDO Shad Trace made with wire too. Especially if those teethy shad come into the scene. A good compromise would be to use wire between the hooks, adding some rigidity to your pencil bait. And then a nylon leader.

The fish approach the juicy long pencil bait, and start to feed from the sides. They don’t get much and soon enough they get greedy and move down to the end of the bait. Which is easily sucked in giving you chance to set the tiny hook hidden in the end of the bait.

Kob lures by MYDO

These are recommendations from MYDO lures for catching kob off the boat, the beach, or in the estuary…

If you stay with us here at the Umzimkulu Marina in Port Shepstone, you will be right in the middle of all the kob action. We have many secret rock and surf fishing spots in really close proximity. And the estuary right our front for all day fun and fishing. Kids love it here!

Also check out Umzimkulu Adrenalin, for lots of things to do in the Port Sheptone area.

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Double-up Garrick for Team Karl and Candace at The Sandspit

Double-up Garrick for Team Karl and Candace at The Sandspit

Double-up Garrick for Team Karl and Candace at The Sandspit: some trips go better than others.

A LOT better!

Team Karl and Candace

Husband and wife charters are always so much fun. The husband is totally fish-mad. And the wife happily plays along. Gets her all over the globe. Only thing is…she almost always catches the fish!

This time was slightly different…they BOTH got the fish!

After a long morning of catching nothing on over-sized live mullet, we drifted back to the Umzimkulu Marina for coffee and things. And entered phase 2 of the trip. Which on this day was to be the favoured incoming high tide down at the mouth. This is our tactic generally, at the end of a low tide, we head up to the bridges, about 2kms, and set up a drift back downriver. This takes us down through Kingfish Corner, and over the big holes. There are three deep spots, sometimes down to 12m. At the bottom are huge boulders and rocks. And…clean water!

The halocline (fresh vs salt water line), even when the top water is brown, sits like a big wedge under the water. The point of the wedge being right up the river at high tide. When the tide recedes, this dense and beautifully clean and aerated water gets trapped in these deep spots. The tide and the river flow move happily overhead on the surface. But down here in the depths, there be monsters lurking and hunting.

Anyway, none this particular drift.

We gonna have to count on Phase 2. Which today included a braai on the beach at The SandSpit. Karl had a decent 30lb spinning outfit and so I easily convinced him to walk over the spit and throw a few luck shots into the channel behind the shorebreak.

The beach was lined with live baiters. But the Garrick had been chowing sprats in the river earlier during the week. I gave Carel the exact right lure to use. Evidently…because on his fourth cast…

BANG!

“Sean! Sean!”, I hear that distinctly urgent but cheerful call. Without believing me and Chelsea hop off the boat and run up the dune. What a scene that unfolded before us. Karl was VAS! His little fishing rod bending in a circle from the strain as he followed instructions. From BigZ, local garrick legend, who happily came to Karl’s assistance. Freeing me up to do the filming.

Pulling a big garrick out of a big shorebreak on a big day is immensely difficult and dangerous. BigZ lost his hat as waves knocked him right over a few times. But eventually, after 45 minutes of truly heart-stopping moments, BigZ grabbed the monster by the tail.

The tagging kit was all the way up the beach and the fish had put on quite a show. So we decided to hurry it back into the water. Karl’s very first garrick (he had asked me earlier to get him one), and he releases it healthily into the very same wild shorebreak. Garrick are very strong and this guys was in perfect shape as he swam away.

Mombakkies Af

So now I have one helluva happy charter. He is beaming. Levitating. And so am I at this stage…the pressure for me get the “mombakkies af” is completely gone. I can really now enjoy this lovely arvo down on the spit.

And so Chelsea and I meander down the dune back to the boat. To start the braai! Next thing…

“Sean! Sean!”. Again!?

So we turn around and gallop back up the dune. This time it’s Candace! She is VAS!

In a disbelieving daze, the whole process gets repeated. BigZ comes to the fore and gets the fish by the tail. But only after another gruelling 45 minutes. He is exhausted by now – after risking the huge Sandspit shorebreak for two in a row! Luckily BigZ also releases every fish he catches and this time the tagging kit was brought to hand. Tag in…Candace into the shorebreak with her first Garrick. Also released!

I am not sure that it can get better than that! Enjoy the saga in video…

Today

As of today, the recent rains have certainly muddied the waters. If that halocline is still around I’d be somewhat surprised. But at those 10 metre depths at Royston Bend area, there just may be clear water still. Someone will have to swim down there and check for us!

If it stays dry for a little while longer, the brown water will eventually run off and the tides will come back in the river. Hopefully one more time before it really starts to rain.

To get in on the upcoming summer gamefish action, get in touch and lets put together a cool weekend of fishing and relaxing for you. You can stay at the Umzimkulu Marina. Umzimkulu Adrenalin can take you fishing, surfing, or diving. You can learn all about fishing at the official MYDO web page.

Shad season opening on 1 December! Check out some of our Shad fishing kit right here (perfect gift for fish hungry girls).

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Champagne Breakfast at St. Helen’s Rock, KZN, Port Shepstone

St Helen's Rock 2021 Expedition

Champagne Breakfast at St. Helen’s Rock, KZN, Port Shepstone

Champagne Breakfast at St. Helen’s Rock, KZN, Port Shepstone: Sian and her friends visiting the south coast down from Jhb had pre-booked a ride with us quite some time before. But we had a surprise in store. For Sian and her enthusiastic crew.

St. Helen’s Rock expedition video

They were going on an ancient tradition this time round – a river ride from Port Shepstone harbour – up to St. Helen’s Rock. 14 Kilometres of winding river and deep nature. Starting early and not without the usual confusion and chaos of a big crew, we were soon racing with the tide and current. In order to get under the low-level bridge but up the first rapid, or Berm ONE as it is affectionately known, we had to time it just right. Berm TWO was easier but took a while as we skirted sandbank and reef to get in and around the corner. But then it’s plain sailing and we cruise past the pump station and onto the bend that hosts St. Helen’s majestic piece of Africa.

The champagne was soon flowing and the breakfast was spluttering on the skottel. There is a helluva lot of exploring to do up at St. Helen’s Rock. Just about where the Umzimkulwana and the Umzimkulu come snaking out of the Oribi Gorge. We are actually able to go even further up into the Oribi Gorge. But that is going to be for the next boundary-pushing adventure. We did bring a kayak and next time we will bring even more, to enable even more exploring of this historic site.

History

There was certainly trade and business going on here back when this was the commercial junction from Durban to all of southern Natal and beyond. This exact spot! There are ruins everywhere. And rumours of a complete village settlement on the north bank still need to be verified. There is the wreck of a beautiful European looking boat half-buried into the mountain bank. There are railway tracks and even sidings strewn about by the floods, at the confluence of the two mighty rivers – the Umzimkulu (comes from the Berg) and the Umzimkulwana (comes from Lake Eland).

This wreck we encountered whilst surveying the upper reaches of the Umzimkulu Estuary
This wreck we encountered whilst surveying the upper reaches of the Umzimkulu Estuary

And just wait ’til you hear what St. Helen did to get that beautiful big old rock named after her.

Forthcoming attraction!

Let’s gooooooo!

So please get in touch anytime on umzimkulu@gmail.com or call me up on +27793269671 although WhatsApp really works best. If you like this type of adventure. Rates are roughly R100 per person per hour. And we can cater and bring loaded coolers.

BTW we run on solar power and electric engines. SILENT! And you are welcome to bring a fly-rod.

There is a lot more to see and do on The Sardine News website at https://thesardine.co.za and the MasterWatermen at https://masterwatermen.co.za.