KZN sardine run: Fish still in hide-and-seek mode

Peter Coyne, a North Coast fishing guru, shares his insights about the sardine run as well as fishing conditions along the KwaZulu-Natal coast.

There was still no news of sardines last week, although it is still early days. But it is encouraging to see that the seawater temperature is beginning to drop and is averaging around 23 degrees at present.

It was a similar beginning to the sardine run last year: Shoals were seen gathering in the East London area and then disappeared, only to turn up a couple of weeks later on the southern KZN coastline, taking everyone by surprise.

The sardines were trailed by plenty of sharks but no birds.

Last week rock and surf anglers on the lower South Coast enjoyed some improved fishing, with both edible and non-edible species being caught.

One angler caught a bus of a catface rock cod while fishing from the Margate pier, and decent fish were caught at other angling spots as well, including nice salmon and big sharks. Sea conditions were more favourable as well.

It is the upper South Coast fishing that interests local anglers and the early morning guys have begun to catch some nice shad at last. Several garrick were landed as well. Here again the fishing conditions were more favourable and the water a lot cleaner than this time last year.

Several small pompano were also caught along the upper South Coast and the popular night fishing spots such as Umkomaas are beginning to come alive again with small salmon plus a few grunter and stumpies.

No doubt anglers will be coming out in force now that the fishing has improved, but hopefully the guys stick to the rules because the fishery officials have been busy down south.

Although the Durban and lower North Coast angling spots produced some fish last week, activity was said to be slow. This is quite normal for this time of the year but shad were feeding during the early morning periods. They have not arrived in numbers as yet.

The odd garrick was caught last week and these fish should become more numerous from now onwards. There still seems to be plenty of small salmon around and I heard one big stumpie was caught in the Umdloti area.

Durban bay is still producing the goods with grunter making up most catches but springer and small kingfish have made up catch bags as well.

Although the water temperature has dropped a bit, offshore anglers continue to catch big barracouta and snoek in some areas.

Apparently, anglers found fluctuating water temperatures offshore and a lot of fish were found where the temperature was at its highest.

Many of the couta caught weighed more than 20kg, and the usual spots such as Umdloti, La Mercy and Stud Rock all produced big fish. Apparently live bait is difficult to get hold of but red eye sardines have become numerous and these fish are excellent bait, especially for bottom fishing.

Some excellent bottom fish are being caught by those that have managed to evade the many sharks offshore. Some very nice half kob, the usual rock cod and red fish have made up catch bags.

The guys seem to be fishing fairly deep these days but they have been rewarded – although the sea conditions out in the deep water have made angling tough, especially when most fish have been lost to sharks just after being hooked.

Chokka and red eye sardine has proved to be productive baits but anglers should be prepared and head to sea with more than one bottom trace as a lot of tackle is being lost because of the sharks.

Apparently fresh water angling has been pretty good lately in local fishing areas with big bass being caught on different lures.

Hazelmere Dam was one of the local areas producing good results. Rivers down south have also been producing decent results and I have seen photos of some spectacular fish caught in these rivers.

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