Flyfishing report: Saltwater - Upper South Coast

Date of Report: Friday, 1st April 2022
Name: Martin Smuts
Phone: 078 9620111

I feel a chill in the air, that could mean the change of season, or not, as the weather here on the East Coast is very unpredictable. This past month has had a couple more cooler days then last month and fewer scorching hot days. Rainfall over the last month has also been plentiful.

Few reports have come in regarding fly caught fish recently. With just a few small GT's and Brassy Kingfish making an appearance in the harbour, taking small Clousers and Shrimp patterns subsurface as well as small poppers off the top.

Mention must be made of some big fish activity that has been seen on a number of occasions recently in Durban Harbour. The activity usually happens closer to spring tides, at the bottom end of the tide or at the start of the incoming tide (not specific to time of day). The action is usually limited to one or two chases per tide. There could be and probably are more chases that just aren't being seen.

So, what happens is that, either a big eruption of water starts the action off or a single fleeing Mullet (usually about 20cm in length) can be seen leaping for dear life as it leaves the deeper water of the Esplanade Channel and moving towards the shallows of Center Bank. Followed by big smashes at the baitfish every couple of times that it hits the water. You can almost see the exhaustion get the better of the desperate mullet, as the leaps get weaker, the swirls and smashes don’t seize until there is no longer any sign of the mullet.  The action normally comes right into the shallows and often within casting range, but the whole thing only lasts a few seconds. It all happens so fast that by the time you get a fly out, usually the small little shrimpy fly that I have on most of the time, the action seems long since subsided. Leaving one shaking with excitement and with little confidence that a little shrimpy fly will get that kind of fish’s attention.

I am not sure what fish is responsible for these chases, although I am thinking it is one of the Kingfish species. A photograph was sent around on social media earlier this month of a really nice size Kingfish (GT if I am not mistaken) that was caught in the harbour and the comments mentioned it being around 6kg's. Showing that the big Kingfish are there.

Fly fishing the surf around Durban has also proven to be on the slow side. Very few Wave Garrick have been coming out on fly over a couple of outing on the beach between Virginia airport and the Umgeni River mouth, I don’t think it is a result of no fish, as plenty small Wave Garrick can be seen being caught by groups of handline fishermen. The surf zone in this area is only really suitable to fly fishing on the low tide, due to the steep gradient of the beach the incoming and high tides make for a surf that becomes very unsuitable for fly fishing. Perhaps the calmer surf zone beaches between Umgeni River mouth and the harbour entrance would produce more Wave Garrick.

The guys flicking a fly around Ilovo River mouth also report of only a few fish in the surf zone mainly small Wave Garrick, with the odd decent size one the mix, taking the fly.


Durban harbour- photo by Peter Lehman