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Fishing in South Africa
If there’s one thing that defines South Africa fishing, it’s the country’s unique location and over 3,000 miles of coast – exciting angling action happens everywhere from backwater streams all the way to blue waters. The fishing is just that good!
Where to go
There’s a fish for every breed of angler in South Africa. You can head inland in one of the 3 large natural lakes: Lakes Barberspan, Groenvlei, and Zeekoevlei. Although it’s just 3 lakes, they make up for it with the quality of the fishery. Most freshwater anglers go after Carp, Sharptoothed Catfish, Blue Kurper (known as Tilapia to the rest of the world), Yellowfish, as well as Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass. Additionally, the rivers and streams of the country are chock-full of Rainbow and Brown Trout – the fishing pressure is pretty low so it’s likely you’ll have the stream to yourself!
The East Coast of South Africa is developing a strong fishing industry, with several towns investing in good marinas and boat launch locations. Richard’s Bay is one of those towns, great for offshore and nearshore action. You can go after pelagic predators like Sailfish, Black Marlin, and Striped Marlin stalking the blue. Interestingly, the nearshore action is more popular than offshore, especially on light tackle. Anglers from all over come to test their fishing skills against Wahoo, Kingfish, Queenfish, Tuna, and Mahi Mahi.
Kwa Zulu Natal, also known as Durban, is one of the only deep water harbors on this coast. It’s very close to a great natural boon – coral reefs stretching all the way to vast offshore trenches. This creates the perfect place for pelagics to feed, attracting trophy-chasing anglers in turn.
Port Shepstone is also a popular launching location, thanks to the deep waters starting around 6 miles away from the shore. This allows charters to bring their clients to top-tier offshore action a short ride away from the dock.
The south side of South Africa is arguably the best region for saltwater fishing in the entire country. The Atlantic and Indian oceans and their undercurrents meet just south of Cape Point – perfect fishing grounds for Yellowfin, Skipjack, and Albacore Tuna, as well as Black and Striped Marlin, and Mahi Mahi.
Right next to Cape Point is the famous Cape Town fishery of False Bay. The one thing Cape Town fishing charters share are sheltered waters that allow for great inshore fishing. The water infrastructure is well-developed – there are many great slipways and two good harbors. It’s not hard to see why it’s a popular location for charter boats! Anglers can look forward to hooking up Yellowtail Amberjack, Kob, Red Steenbras, and Garrick closer to shore. There’s a bounty of various Sharks to go after, as well, including Hammerhead, Dusky, and other species.
The cold-water-carrying Benguela Current limits offshore action on this stretch of the coast. Most of the sportfishing action is close to shore and consists of Snoek. Yellowfin Tuna move around in the offshore waters, but it’s rare to find a charter willing to go that far out for sportfishing. Sometimes shoals of Tuna will move closer to the shore and within striking distance of small boats, starting a fishing frenzy on the coast. Anglers can land Kob, Elf, and Yellowtail Amberjack, usually done on light tackle for a greater challenge.
Need to Know
Anglers need a valid fishing permit in order to fish in South Africa. You can buy it at any government-approved office. You also need special permits in order to harvest Lobster, or to go spearfishing with diving equipment.
There is a cumulative bag limit on almost all species that you can legally target in South Africa. You can keep a total of 10 fish, unless your catch includes a species whose bag limit is larger than 10 (such as Halfbeaks, Mullet, and Squid). It’s always best to check local regulations with your charter captain, as they are updated and changed regularly.
A standard half day fishing trip in South Africa lasts between 4 and 6 hours on the water and the price is in the $200-$400 range on most charters, offshore or inshore. Full day trips, especially ones going offshore, start at around $500 and go to around $700. Trophy-chasing bluewater trips like 10 hour Tuna runs or deep sea Marlin fishing start at $800 and go up to $1200. The price varies based on the size of the boat and how far offshore you head out.
South Africa has good air connectivity, with major airports in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Durban, and Pretoria, as well as smaller ones across the countryside. The entire coastline of the country is connected by Highway 2 – perfect if you want to take a tour of all the saltwater fisheries!
South Africa Fishing Seasons
January has good action around Cape Town with reliable bites from Geelbek, Skipjack and Bigeye Tuna, and Kob. Blue and Black Marlin can be targeted in deep waters.
Offshore fishing charters in Durban are going after Yellowfin Tuna, Mahi Mahi, Wahoo, and Blue and Black Marlin. This is the month to try for that new personal best.
The offshore fishery moves west in March. Yellowfin and Longtail Tuna, as well as Kob, Mako and Thresher Sharks can be hooked up in the southwest waters of the country.
This is the last month of intense offshore action around the West Coast with good strikes from Yellowfin Tuna, Blue and Black Marlin, Wahoo, and other pelagics.
Deep sea charters are still going strong with reliable Sailfish, Kingfish, and Skipjack Tuna action. Closer toshore you can land Geelbek, Amberjack, Queenfish or Bonito.
Offshore fishing slows down as the summer picks up and the fishing moves closer to the coast. Sailfish and Kingfish are still reliable off the East Coast.
Bonito and Geelbek are some of the most active species off the East Coast. Closer to Cape Town you can go after Thresher, Mako and Black Sharks, as well as Gurnard.
Skipjack Tuna is going strong and can be properly targeted in nearshore and offshore waters. Shad is also good.The temperature is in the 15-18°C range, perfect for some sightseeing after your trip!
Sailfish start increasing in number during September. Black Marlin are good targets in September. Leerfish and Gurnard also bite well.
You can’t catch Shad during October at all. Blue Marlin slowly arrive, and Black Marlin and Sailfish are some of the staples of offshore fishing.
If you’re a bluewater fanatic this is the month for you! Blue and Black Marlin, Wahoo, Sailfish, Mahi Mahi, Yellowfin and Skipjack Tuna, and more – offshore action is red-hot!
The bluewater bonanza carries over to December. Shad is back on the catch list and you can hook up Amberjack, Cobia, Giant Trevally, and other fighters in good numbers.