Coast KZN

26 Feb 2021

#FishEagle: Billfish on the bite

(North Coast Courier)- Sealice Picture: Local photographer Barry Bowditch captured this stunning sunrise from The Boulders where fishermen can be seen preparing their gear for an early morning angling session. Camera details: Canon 5D Mk 4, 100-400mm lens, focal length 140mm, F6.3, ISO 2000, shutter speed 1/640.

The excellent game fish season continues and the billfish continue to surprise anglers by their abundance with several small marlin and a few large sailfish being caught again last week. Anglers fishing up north in the Vidal and Sodwana areas have the most hook-ups, but there have been a few fish along the lower North Coast as well.

Some big barracouta have also been caught with a few crocodile fish up north as well.

Unfortunately, discoloured water has hampered anglers at times as well, and for the first time in a long while the Tugela River is in flood just like all the other rivers along the coast.

Palm Lakes resident Dean Zwiers (15), shows off his 12kg tuna caught with a live bait at the Salmon Bay launch site last weekend.

Off-shore fishing conditions during the week made it difficult and I did not see too much action on the local in-shore game fish reefs during the week, but I believe that the South Coast guys are now pulling some nice couta as well as a few wahoo.

The mixed fresh and salt water has seemingly brought the snoek on the bite and anglers have had some decent fun during the week. On Saturday morning I saw several guys fishing the backline at Virginia Beach after I left Westbrook. There were several rods bending so it looked as if the anglers were having a productive time. Fillet baits have proved to be productive but small spoons have also worked.

Fishing for snoek can be very frustrating because at times one would see fish jumping out of the water all around, but they would not eat anything offered. The beauty of fishing for snoek along the backline is that one has the chance of catching other species as well, such as the queenfish and springer at this time of the  year.

This summer season has seen a lot of big yellowfin tuna caught as well. A tuna weighing between 30 to 40kgs will really stretch one’s arms. Live bait seems to entice the larger tuna but lures have worked just as well at times. Anglers targeting tuna have said they have seen plenty of action in the water at times with one telling me last weekend that he found half beak garfish at Umdloti and, had some excellent fun catching these small fish.

Although I checked every morning, I never saw many surf anglers at the beaches but conditions were hardly favourable. At the weekend the surf was almost ideal for the stumpies, but anglers still seem to be fishing for the small shad at first light. Shad are small and hardly worth the time needed to catch a limit bag of four fish over 300 mm.

Soon, it will be time to target pompano but this species like the calm clean conditions and anglers need to be really patient when targeting these beautiful table fish. In the past I have caught some beautiful stumpies while targeting pompano and my bait preference has always been live ghost crab.  Other baits to use are sealice, mussels and crayfish when in season, plus chokka has been known to work with fish tending to feed during the mid-morning periods when the tide is right.

More wet weather is predicted for this week, so the rock and surf anglers will have to plan fishing trips carefully.