KZN Natal

Dorado water off Port Shepstone KZN

This is what happens when your freshly gaffed dorado misses the hatch!

This is what happens when your freshly gaffed dorado misses the hatch!

Pro angler Shaun Begg features in this video of his dorado almost getting clean away!

Dorado! Magnificent in character. So keen to smash your live bait to into pieces and devour it. All lit up. High speed. Agility. Strength. The strike is explosive always resulting in an ‘aerobatic’ dance that only a dorado can perform. Cartwheels. Tailwalks. 180s and 360s. Lightning changes of direction.

A real challenge no matter who you are!

And so this beautiful Thursday morning dawned still and colourful. Clouds were pink and orange. A super keen Shaun had driven down from Johannesburg yesterday, and was at the gate dead on 4h30 bells.

Shaun was here for his first dorado. And things were on his side. Yesterday we caught two fish. On live red-eye sardines. That video is taking a little bit of time, but will follow shortly. Dorado are really funny feeders, and demonstrate some weird quirks, as they did yesterday.

The day before

We had gotten ourselves a live mackerel each. It took ages to find the little guys dodging around our usual reefs. We also had a mozzie or two, and a pinkie. I had caught two razorbellies in the estuary a few days ago and they had been waiting patiently in the freezer, just for this chance. So the spread was well populated when my Dad nabbed a good sized and frisky red-eye sardine, as we were slow trolling along the well-formed water line.

Bang!

As the live sardine hit the water, we got our first dorado of the morning. There were only the two of us so the video really comes out dodge. Then twenty minutes later, Pop got another one. Which I rigged in seconds and seconds later I was vas again. Again the video is really abstract, with only the two of us out there. Camera person required!

Shaun’s dorado

After another fun-filled launch, we (Sean, Shaun and Brian), headed back to the bait spots. Where we found bait. A lot of bait this time. We loaded about 20 mozzies, one shad, a few pinkies and not one mackerel?!

But it sure was enough to go on, and soon the Niteshift was heading north to the start of our patrol. The water was 26 degrees again, but it had that Cape Town green tint to it, and was filled with sediment and things. Not really couta water, like it had been the day before.

Anyway, we got a strike straight away, and typically enough, the fish bit through the nylon leader meant for dorado. Does happen a lot when you use nylon to target dorado specifically, and then a toothy comes along and bites you clean off. And so we rigged again and headed back along south with the current. Towards Port Shepstone, where the fish were the day before.

Luckily the fish were hanging around and soon Shaun was fighting his first dorado. Which typically tail walked and jumped all over the other lines! Which were quickly sorted out and Shaun and the dorado squared off lekker at the front of the boat. For a good fight.

The gaff went in and the fish seemed calm and subdued when all hell broke loose. The wily fish had flipped over and gotten itself clean off the gaff and was now dorado wild on the deck! I got tail smacked once properly before I was able to literally sit on the fish, grab it, and get it into the opening in the hatch! That fish almost jumped clean out of the boat!

The tides at the moment meant we couldn’t really stay out too much longer or risk touching sand on the way back in through the surf zone. And so we packed up and returned to base. Where Shaun was to start up a whole new chapter of fishing. This time we were focusing on the estuary, and the monsters that lurk therein.

Shaun had quite a few species on his target list for saltwater. He has literally caught all the freshwater challenges on offer. Even fishing abroad for catfish and other exotic looking fighters. And so the notorious rock salmon and the inimitable Zambezi shark made it onto our priority fish list for the next few days.

Stand by for that chapter!

Post by The Sardine News. Stay up-to-date with the fishing conditions and seasons on http://thesardine.co.za. Check out http://umzimkulu.co.za for more information and pics and vids of the Umzimkulu Marina down in Port Shepstone. Port Shepstone is only a half a days drive from Pretoria so we get many anglers coming in on Friday, and leaving back for work on Monday morning real early, getting into JHB before lunchtime.

A fantastic weekend away that the family will really enjoy too. Blue flag beaches. Shopping malls. Banks. Restaurants. Even a golf course…is a few minutes drive across the river bridge.

And fishing are options are all over and exciting. Shad and karanteen at Grannies Pool in Umtentweni. Gamefish out deep-sea. Kob and garrick off the Sandspit. Grunter, perch and rock salmon in the estuary. Catfish and tarpon up near the new bridge. Or just enjoy fishing right out the front of your chalet.

Get in touch with me, Sean, on umzimkulu@gmail.com or WhatsApp +27793269671. Or. Chat to Johan in store at The Fishing Pro Shop

Summer gamefish season dorado

Summer gamefish are almost here

Summer gamefish are almost here!

The KZN Natal summer gamefish season is almost upon us. And after a reasonable sardine season, and plenty baitfish about right now, we’re looking forward to the annual visit of wahoo, king mackerel, dorado and billfish. And other suspects.

Early adopters of the warm summer conditions are the dorado and billfish. It is actually smack bang in the middle of the big black marlin season right now. Although sailfish and blue marlin will also be popping up all over, it’s mainly about the big blacks. The big mommas. 1000 pounds is the magical mark. Every attempt is made to release these fish by true conservation minded sport anglers. Even though the commercial fleet is catching and NOT releasing, we need the information gathered from the tagging programs urgently.
The magnificent and angry striped marlin usually come only in February or later. These exciting billfish swim together hunting in shoals?! Beware the double or triple header!

As soon as the rains hit Natal, and hard enough to bring the ever-important brown water down the rivers and into the ocean, where it’s alkalinity helps balance the acidity of the sea, the dorado arrive. It’s like clockwork, as soon as that clear line between the brown and the deep blue forms, it’s on. Especially after or during a stiff southwester. The same conditions that bring the sailfish and marlin. It’s quite a spectacle from up high on the cabin roof, looking down as shoals of dorado swim past and into the spread, annihilating everything in their path.

Still later into summer, and actually almost into winter, come the ‘couta. We used to get the first fish in November. Now they have moved their visit way to after New Year. Sometimes they only pitch as late as April. Their spawning season here, bringing the huge crocodile couta that the KZN coast is famous for. Some of over 50kg’s have been taken over the recent years. This is most certainly the breeding stock of these prized fish, and the amount of ‘sport’ fishing events through the season targeting these fish, is really worrying. All these events should be, could be, run in the name of conservation and sport, rather than killing fish for prize money.

Summer gamefish season is coming up: In February 2015, Roger Davidson put out a live bonito whilst fishing on his jet ski off Hibberdene, and this is what happened. The couta went 45kgs gutted.
Summer gamefish season is coming up: In February 2015, Roger Davidson put out a live bonito whilst fishing on his jet ski off Hibberdene, and this is what happened. The couta went 45kgs gutted.

The baitfish like shad and mackerel can be found marauding around the inshore reefs all up and down this fish rich coastline. They move around all the time so as long as you are in the right area, they will find you.
Chuck one of these precious items on a decent live bait trace, set the drag to about 2kg’s, and wait for that sound!

Post by The Sardine News