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A Foreign Fishing Fleet Gathers Before Sardine Run 2024

Leave our Sards Alone Foreign Fishing Fleet

A Foreign Fishing Fleet Gathers Before Sardine Run 2024

A Foreign Fishing Fleet Gathers before Sardine Run 2024: it’s not all good news here at The Sardine News. An armada of foreign and unidentifiable fishing boats has been gathering just outside our internationally recognised waters. And slap bang in the middle of the sardine migratory path.

Hundreds of them.

AIS Identification

These vessels are all however still sporting their AIS transponders (the law) as they try to secret about in keen anticipation of robbing the natural resource from right out under our noses.

Some of the boats are identifiable on the AIS system. But about 95 % are labelled grey. Which means we don’t know where they come from. And it’s too far to send a boat to go and take a look. Hundreds of Nautical Miles out.

Please take a close look at the situation by following the link below. It will open in a new window. You can look about and become familiar with the extent of the problems both the sardines and we are facing.

MarineTraffic: Global Ship Tracking Intelligence | AIS Marine Traffic

The plate below is zoomed right in over the area where about half the mystery fleet are milling about. In some kind of pattern or formation. We can only hope that they are not catching all the sardines already!

Aerial Surveillance

This is the only way we will ever document the fishing as evidence and move to do something about it. If the Chinese or any other foreign fishing fleet is damaging our economy and tourism industry by robbing us of this resource, then we best do something about it. The days of being complacent and relying on the government ended in the mid-90s. The ANC has no will to achieve anything except maximise profits through Luthuli House and its business puppets.

For all we know right now, these particular powers that – be could be fully aware of this fleet gathering at the moment. And they could be sanctioning, and profiting from it. We will not know unless we find out ourselves.

We then need to lobby until we find the right person. And then help that person to do the job. This is the only way it works these days. Any assistance would be appreciated! Please send information to Sean on if you have something to contribute to the mission. There used to be sardine runs all around the UK. Ireland. Scotland. There are none there now.

My gut feel is that because it is all happening outside our internationally recognised waters, it’s open season on the poor sards. Unless we can use international law to stop the depletion of this resource. By arguing that the value of the sardines to our tourism industry, far outweighs the value that these foreign ships will get by killing the whole lot. Any potential PHDs interested? Probably not.

Dreams are free. And so are the nightmares in between…

“NEVA buy SARDS in a CAN! You are supporting the demise of your very own sardine run if you do this. Tuna too. Don’t do it. ” – Xonalanga (Editor)

Affiliated YouTube Channels – entertaining surf reporting – neva miss out – highly technical sport fishing – getting out there safely – complain here

Affiliated websites – self-catering right on the Umzimkulu River – sardine run coming up – never miss a single sardine – news from deep down – surf and conditions reporting – your dreams are out there – technical sport fishing

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Shoal of Sardines off Mazeppa

Which Way to Mazeppa Bay

Shoal of Sardines off Mazeppa

3km Shoal of Sardines off Mazeppa: Kevin in Qora Mouth, deep south Transkei, Wild Coast, is perfectly situated to give us the heads up we need this 2024 Sardine Run.

In this video, Kevin explains the interactions that go on between whales and sardines each year.

And then we get to chat about all the different whales we will be seeing at the Greatest Show on Earth this year and every year into the future.

Enjoy the report from just north of Mazeppa Bay, way down in the Transkei


Contradictory to common belief, these guys eat a lot of sardines. They team up, surround the shoals, and force them together. Then take turns in taking mouthfuls, gorging themselves.

There are three distinct populations. B2 Humpback Whales: Dr. Oz Goffman (Head dolphin project of Haifa University -IMMRAC – The Recanati Institute for Maritime Studies/School of Marine Sciences) spends his life stalking and saving cetaceans of all kinds and in all places. But specifically these guys. The B2 population. And the C1 guys. These are the ever-entertaining humpback whale communities that visit us, and Mozambique, this time each year. (see graphic by Dr. Oz and colleagues below).

These guys even know the whales by name…

Brydes Whale

And be careful of these sardine gluttons. They have been known to take the odd diver by mistake. Luckily neoprene seems to turn them off and they regurgitate the snorkelers each time.

I am pretty sure that this is the guy that got Jonah.

Southern Right

These guys are also stated to be zoo-plankton feeders almost exclusively. But they love the sardine run too! Not nearly as common as the Humpback populations.


These little guys only get about 10m long or so. But they also love sardines! You’d be lucky to spot one or two of these rare cetaceans in amongst the more common Humpbacks.

Affiliated YouTube Channels – entertaining surf reporting – neva miss out – highly technical sport fishing – getting out there safely – complain here

Affiliated websites – self-catering right on the Umzimkulu River – sardine run coming up – never miss a single sardine – news from deep down – surf and conditions reporting – your dreams are out there – technical sport fishing

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GANNETS! 2nd Sardine Report for 2024 from Kevin Qora

Gannets in 2024 Sardine Report Number Two

GANNETS! 2nd Sardine Report for 2024 from Kevin Qora

GANNETS! 2nd Sardine Report for 2024 from Kevin Qora: big thanks to Kevin in Qora for yet another report…

Kevin in Qora is keeping us on the edge of our seats as he scans the horizon north and south for signs of the incoming sardine migration. Kevin is perfectly situated in the deep south of the Transkei Wild Coast. In a beautiful place called Qora.

Kevin has splashed through many sardine runs throughout his illustrious fishing life. Along with Kevin, our network of sardine spies extends far and wide.

But we welcome any news of sightings, especially with video.

Please submit your videos or photos to and if you would like to credited, or get some exposure for your business, include a logo and a link and let’s see what we can do together.

The Sardine News Sightings Map for 2024 is being prepared at the moment and will launch within the next few days. On this map we log all verified and meaningful sightings as they occur. You can reliably use this map to plan your next sardine ambush or holiday destination.

Keep an eye out at the following hotspots for this time of the year…

Usually in these areas…

Mossel Bay

This is one of the sardine’s favourite first landing areas. Shoals can be seen way out to sea on flat, glassy days. Moving north slowly as they gather momentum and numbers.

Plettenberg Bay experiences similar action early on in the season.

Port Elizabeth

By the time they gather here, the congregation will have grown heaps. And so will the predator population that follows them. Diver operators get in on the action real early all this way down south.

More and more sardines will start to form huge shoals at this time of the run.

East London

Another favourite check-in to the sardine run for sardines. With even more predators gathering.

Port Alfred

Every year, consistently, Port Alfred receives a lot of sardine attention early.


With Kevin in Qora reporting that gannets are already on the scene, feeding and rafting, we are pretty certain that some pilot shoals are sneaking through. These first sardines get absolutely obliterated and it just so much fun to watch.

Affiliated YouTube Channels – complain here – neva miss out – highly technical sport fishing – entertaining surf reporting – getting out there safely

Affiliated websites – self-catering right on the Umzimkulu River – sardine run coming up – never miss a single sardine – news from deep down – surf and conditions reporting – your dreams are out there

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Bucktails vs The Law

The Umzimkulu Special bucktail by Dirty Prawn

Bucktails vs The Law

Bucktails vs The Law: “Sean, Sean, please man, we need your assistance. We’ve been arrested for jigging with bucktails! Fishing down here in PSJ!”, came the call.


And so I sprang into action. Called up my dear DAFF contact Bongani, and asked him about it all. Bongani pulled out of the Mtata traffic he was in at that moment, and we discussed the situation. Over the following piece of legislation.

The law!

While there is literally zero chance of misinterpreting the intent of section (c) – its application to real-life normal fishing methods and styles is alarmingly loose.

Back to the victims

And so I called up the two dudes with the R2500 fines in their back pockets. And asked them how hard they were jigging. The response was kind of really vague as he started comparing his “medium” jigging style, to the guys on the boats out at sea. Who jig like crazy, he claimed.

Blame mentality for justification

But ok, I’ve been picking up on a new environmentally destructive mentality all over recently. It goes like this…

“But the trawlers take everything…”. Or, “Have you seen those netters in the Cape…”. Or. “The deep-sea ous catch it all anyway…”. “The spearos shoot them”. And so on…

All kinds of blame is used to justify catching 10 shad, or 5 brushers. And with The Parks Board, nee Ezimvelo, gone and stripped of its guts and morals by corruption under Zuma. And DAFF totally untrained and unready to take on the sophisticated networks of poachers that exist now – it’s a literal free-for-all as the ocean gets looted every day. And people just look on and say nothing. And do nothing. And worse still, use one of the claims above, to become an ocean looter too.

Back to Jigging with Bucktails

Yes well if you gonna jerk up hard with apparent or seeming intent at jigging something in the body, you gonna get busted. This is the price it seems we have to pay, to have the law enforceable. I am sorry for the seemingly innocent dudes who got busted. But maybe in the future, legislation allowing certain lures to be jigged hard across estuary channels teeming with breeding fish will be passed.

But for now, it’s definitely possibly maybe illegal.

I was an illegal jigger

True confession. I was an illegal jigger! Yip. For absolute real. This is the story…

Brucifire and I were staying at Jungle Monkey. This was a long time ago. 2015 to be exact. I was in PSJ with Bruce making a movie about surfing 2nd beach. Which we did, made our point, and got out. But man did we get in trouble for that.

But ok, I woke up at that beautiful backpackers, joined Bruce for a coffee in the lookout. And watched the sun climb through the clouds. The tide was gonna turn soon and it was an idyllic morning.

Something weird was abuzz too. Something in the air, the atmosphere. It was all electric.

“Bruce, I’m just gonna go catch a fish quick, ok?”. Bruce grumbled something encouraging through his coffee-stained morning beard. And I trundled down to the beach. As I pulled up, there was quite a scene going on. I jumped out and looked out over the water towards Agate, and there I saw them.

“Zambies!”, I exclaimed.

“Nay Bru, kob!”, he corrected me in the local PSJ tongue.

I nearly had a heart attack. I’ve never seen it since. Those huge fish were lolling and rolling over each other, as they spawned. In front of my innocently bleeding eyes. I went into that mental state of flow, but it never worked at all. I first put on the wrong spoon. Then clambered back up and changed to a 2 Oz MYDO LuckShot Jighead and a 7 inch plastic jerktail. Pink?! Crashed back down the bank and started at a spot where I was kind of on my own. I saw a guy in the distance lose an honest 20kg garrick right at the bricks. Split ring broke right at the gaff! Fish were everywhere this crazy memorable day. Adrenalin pulsing.

And then it was me. A solid thump. Something really big. And I was vas. For the very first time in all the years, I have tried to get a big fish from the shore, finally, I was in the game. And an hour and a half later, the gaff went in. And the hook fell out.

I had hooked the fish under the chin. Not in the mouth.

I had illegally jigged the fish.

But it was totally by accident I tell ya!

Luckily, the 20lb light tackle had served its purpose and the hook stayed in without its barb helping once, for the entire 90 minutes. That fish was my first, and most certainly will be my last big kob.

You only need to catch one of these magnificent fish - in your whole life!
The TWO wise men -according to Brucifire! Visiting priests from Ethiopia to PSJ were mightily impressed. And took a photo op! You only need to catch ONE of these magnificent fish – in your whole life!

But ok, this all I had to process, before being able to resolve in my head, the fact…that jigging up hard and with seeming or apparent intent, is illegal.

No matter what lure you have tied on.


The two victims that initiated this story, took legal advice. Which was to contact the public prosecutor before the court date, and try to explain the situation.

However, the fines were totally invalid.

They had a court place that doesn’t even exist. There was no public prosecutor to contact. No information on the fines. The actual fining was invalid too. On video taken during the incident, many requests were made for the identities of the arresting officers. One of whom gave a first name, the other flatly denied. It was a $%^$% show and would never have held up in court. Even if there was one.

All the while, the real jiggers, were hiding in the bush laughing their heads off.

And the minute the DAFF dudes left, they were back at it.


Watch this video for some alternate ways of working estuary lures. Bucktails included. Pay special attention to the extremely gentle nature of any rod tip actions during fishing with these lures.

Gently. Is the key. To an estuary.

These days that’s by law!

The Sardine News and the Master Watermen are powered by TLC for your Business. E-commerce pros.

Just in case you’re not aware of who Brucifire is…

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The Sardine News best seller: Mkambati and the Wild Coast

Mkambati and the Wild Coast

The Sardine News best seller: Mkambati and the Wild Coast

The Sardine News Online Shop sells all sorts. Fishing lures. Surfboards. Marine Art. Plastic recycling machinery. And books.


One book. And it outsells every other item, individually, in the entire store.

Mkambati and the Wild Coast. By John Costello and Div Devillers. A coffee table book, evidently of the highest order, as sales just keep pouring in.

John Costello himself processes the orders, using the good old post office service, right from where he lives. In jolly old Port St Johns. Deep Transkei. Deep Africa.

The post office has been pleasantly reliable and not one of our deliveries has gone awry. We also use PostNet for an extra R50. But this can take longer since there ain’t no PostNet in Port St Johns yet. So we send from East London or Mtata.

The book is filled with information on the Transkei Wild Coast, and radical imagery. This photography is first class, even using helicopters as props. Just for perspective in some shots of those deep valleys and fissures!

The Transkei, and Mkambati in particular, are so ancient and beautiful at the same time. John and Div have certainly captured this in their extraordinarily successful coffee table book.

It’s a great gift to give someone and if you place your order now, there is a mild chance you will get your copy of Mkambati and the Wild Coast, around Christmas time.

Use the shop facility at the link below (EFT only), or just send an email to for personal attention, or trade enquiries.

Catch us on Facey at