Coast KZN

30 Jun 2023

#FishEagle: E.coli closes Durban beaches as sardines push north

Sealice (North Coast Courier) Picture: Noel McDonogh. An aerial shot of sardines being netted at Scottburgh earlier this month

As sardines are expected to arrive in Durban this week, several eThekwini Metro beaches have been restricted for swimming, putting stress on net haulers who may be forced to cut back on catches and the sale price of their sardines. The beach closures north of Durban because of high E.coli readings are likely to pose problems for sardine sellers, who may be forced to reduce prices per crate from as high as R1 200 to as low as R100.

Early reports last week indicated sardines to be in the vicinity of Port St Johns. While the shoal was expected to move on to South Coast waters, a groundswell moved up the coast and news concerning sardines became patchy.

By Wednesday, sardines were moving north in the deep waters off Margate before again being spotted on Thursday when small pockets were netted at Rocky Bay. Adding to the volume of sardines expected this year, more shoals were reported to still be in the vicinity of Port St Johns, with netting also taking place at Port Shepstone, Scottburgh and Umkomaas.

A full net was brought to shore at Pumula on Friday despite a strong swell, with more successful nettings over the weekend at a number of South Coast beaches. Local rock and surf anglers had some challenging weather and big seas to contend with last week, but some excellent fishing was nevertheless recorded.

There must have been baitfish and perhaps even sardines passing the local beaches judging by what the anglers caught. The stretch from the Tongaat River mouth in the south to Sweet Waters in the north, produced shad and plenty of garrick. I believe anglers mentioned garrick were thick and they compared some periods to a shad run. Word was that a couple of barracouta were caught from the beach, one weighing in at over 20 kg.

The area from Westbrook to La Mercy also fished well from the rocky outcrops and a number of copper bream and stone bream were on the bite.

Some shad were caught as well from the recognised shad angling spots in the area, plus a few small salmon. Blacktail are now also on the increase, and karranteen are beginning to appear. It seems as if the winter rock and surf angling season is now in full swing.

Anglers fishing the Durban and Durban North beaches have been surprised with this year’s shad season because of the number of sizeable fish being caught. Normally at this time of the season shad are all small with many being undersized.Anglers fishing at night have also managed a few nice sized stumpies plus a few small salmon and some snapper salmon at times.

There was very little launching through the surf by local anglers last week because of the strong surf conditions and adverse sea conditions.

Those who did manage to get out caught a few nice couta and sizeable snoek, but fishing was not easy in the rough conditions.

No doubt anglers will be targeting the backline from south of Ballito to the Tongaat River mouth in search of garrick. In-shore game fish grounds at Stud Rock and Seabelle to La Mercy would also be a good bet.

Potentially passing by the area this week, sardines could have an impact on fishing.