Rock salmon setting ambush in KZN estuaries right now

Rock salmon setting ambush in KZN estuaries right now

The Umzimkulu Estuary (famed for rock salmon), and a few others here on the KZN South Coast- are almost open for business again. The floodwaters might finally have cut it out. And the tides are about to start pushing back into the river mouths.

There has been a lot of rain! And it sure is time that it lets up!

Rain in May?!

Brown water

This fish was caught in the ultra-brown and ultra-fresh water, during a flood, 7mks up from the ocean. The river had been flooding for weeks before this so this guy was completely cool and accustomed to the place and the freshwater conditions.

After all this nutritious brown water has been swept down the coast by the high-speed conveyor – the Agulhas current – and done its job of stabilising the ph of the ocean. And feeding all its micro-organisms and other tiny critters that rely on this stuff for survival – that’s when the fishing gets really hot around here.

It’s also exactly now, when all the rock salmon that are not inside an estuary already, will be heading for the nearest one. Almost all the estuaries have managed to open with this year’s absolutely delightful deluge. And it’s in this time, as the rains subside and the estuary mouths narrow, that the fish migrate into and upriver. Right upriver. Right into the freshwater. Where they hunt prawns, crab and mullet very happily. How they see underneath there in all that brown, is a whole other story?! They must have very powerful lateral lines and sensors. Tesla style.

Other fish that can ‘see in the dark’ are the perch. And the grunter. Both these species seem to handle the freshwater just fine too. Although it’s mainly small grunter these days. The big ones are really fussy and hard to catch. There have been some handsome perch whenever the flow backs off and it becomes fishable.

The problematic barbel and eel gang dominate, however, in the flood conditions. And it’s been a bumper run for both of those ugly species here recently. Luckily, the barbel (short-toothed catfish), don’t like the salt at all and disappear fast. The eels hang around and vie with the huge mangrove crabs for attention in the shallows. Both are delicious but I’ll pass on the eel.

But it’s in those deep holes up top, that most of the action is going to unfold this season. We have 3D mapped the place and it looks like Disneyland down there. Huge holes, walls, channels – all sorts of obstacles.

Clean water means artificials

But as the dry season kicks in, and the flood pulse retreats completely – that’s when the water clears up. And it’s time for artificial.

Fishing with poppers, right in amongst the fallen trees and vertical rock faces, is heart stopping. Some explosions are a metre squared and as high! That flash of crimson showing you in the moment you just how much trouble you’ve gotten yourself into. One of my poppers last year, after 26 fish, got smashed completely in half.

Sardine Run 2023

And it’s the start of the 2023 Sardine Run!

You can follow all that action on The Sardine News. There is an interactive and real-time map on that sight to keep you right in the know at all times this and every year.

You can stay with us here at the Umzimkulu Marina and Umzimkulu Adrenalin will get you right into the middle of the action.

And you can follow our YouTube Channels right here too…

The Sardine News

MYDO Tackle Talk

Surf Launching Southern Africa

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