Flyfishing report: Saltwater - Upper South Coast

Date of Report: Friday, 10th May 2024
Name: Martin Smuts
Phone: 078 9620111

This past month started off with a chill in the air, signaling the change in seasons. That was not the case for the rest of the month. Temperatures climbed again, warm winds were a regular occurrence, adding to the challenge of fly fishing the coast. The daylight hours have shortened, the winter fish species have started to make an appearance and again there is a noticeable drop in temperatures of late.

As mentioned, strong winds have made fly fishing over the past month challenging, especially for those of us who fish from a kayak. Be sure to check the wind conditions before setting out on a session. Durban harbour is a good example of how the wind can change within a day, from perfectly manageable to seriously challenging and exhausting.

Another cause for concern in this day and age that we live in, is the reality of crime. I have heard of others experiences of it and I never considered myself to be at risk. Being ever eager to get onto the water at prime fishing times lead me to launch before sunrise on a Saturday morning. The place is a hive of activity over the weekends, but before sunrise I found the parking lot completely empty. Again, having no concern, I proceeded to load my kayak onto the trolley and pack my gear. In my peripheral I noticed a man come out from behind the clubhouse, again thinking nothing of it, I mean hey, there is almost always somebody around, right? I again thought nothing of it, until the sound of a knife being flicked open just meters away from me sent me back stepping and tripping over. The assailant was on top of me in a flash, with his knife pressed against my chest. “I just want your phone”, were his words. Once he had that he demanded my wallet, which was thankfully empty. He had a look at the loaded kayak and grabbed my Gopro camera bag and asked, “what is this”?. “It is for fishing” I replied in his language. He was none the wiser and put it back in my basket and disappeared around the corner. I was in shock and just sat there in my car, thinking it should be getting light by now.

After heading back home and explaining to the family what had happened and that I would not be available by phone, I went back down to the water, parked in the same spot, this time there were other cars around. Launch and had an awesome outing on the water and was rewarded with two lovely River Snapper.

The River Snapper have become quite the regular catch on fly in the Umgeni Estuary. Over the next few weeks many more were landed and released. On one particular day, eight Snapper were caught and although the majority were small, one was roughly 45cm in length and another about 30cm. This has not been the case on every outing though and joined by other fly fishermen we have been back there only to get a host of other species and not a single Snapper. Another species that has become regular over the last week or two are Oxeye Tarpon. Though they seem to only come on or show up after dark, which presents the afore mentioned concern, though the hype of activity and lots of other people, means that you are at least not alone.  The Tarpon were taken on a modified foam Flipper pattern, similar to the Gurgler. Another unheard-of species was caught on fly in the estuary, after much research the fish was identified as a “Harry Hotlips” also know by a few other names including Dusky Hotlips or Sweetlips in the land down under. It was caught on an olive prawn pattern fished deep on an intermediate line closer to the neap tide when the current is less forceful in the river.

Durban Harbour has been less productive recently; Small Kingfish and Sand Gurnard have been the regular catch.

Congratulations to Kevin Joubert, he has accomplished what many may have thought impossible in our waters. That is getting Spotted Grunter on fly, in the surf. Kevin not only managed to get this right once but did again on another occasion. Fishing a Clouser Minnow right down on the sand proved to do the trick. Kevin also caught a nice size Threadfin of 1.2kg.

So, with all the challenges that we face as fisherman in this day and age, it is really reassuring to see that the guys are still getting fish on fly. Spending time on the water and getting to know the area you fish seems to be the secret to getting that “pull“ halfway through a retrieve.

Until next time, tight lines.



Kevin Joubert and his catch.