Jarrod Gallagher and his early season Dorado

The Dorado Season is OPEN for 2020!

Posted 2 CommentsPosted in Fishing Report, Ocean Charters, River Charters

The 2020 Dorado Season is OPEN!

It’s Dorado time again! And the instinctive attraction these fish have for the brown water plume that forms out of the Umzimkulu River mouth when the rains start-up in the wet season, makes for real fun fishing times.

Luckily these rare water conditions also attract marlin and sailfish. Many a billfish have been taken along this wonderfully distinct line between deep brown of the river and the almost purple-blue Agulhas Current. Baitfish congregate along the length of the line and catching live bait while dragging normal baits is the go-to system for us on the Niteshift. (The Niteshift is a purpose built gamefisher that we run out of Port Shepstone whenever the river mouth allows. She is available for charter, but only when the conditions are right).

When we don’t have live bait, we drop one or two really big baits down a bit deeper on MYDO Baitswimmer rigs. Then we slow skip another bait or two on the top way out back. And depending on crew, we also intersperse these primary targets with a few sardines on nylon traces. Sometimes with a float to keep it near the surface where dorado like to hunt and hang out.

The dorado hunt in packs. And there is nothing more exhilarating than spotting a shoal coming down the line when sitting on the fly-bridge. Their sleek appearance is bolstered by the way they swim in formation and ready to mercilessly rain our down fire on any errant or careless baitfish.

Or lure.

Dorado jump on well-presented lures. Dropshots are favourites for dorado with their realistic swimming motion and soft texture. Dorado will also jump on a flashy spoon. And will never pass by a slow chugging popper of any size. Spinning off the front of the boat whilst on a slow troll is in fact the most important job of all. What this does…is increase your overtall range around the boat by far. Each cast, maybe 20 or 30 metres to port or starboard, will get the attention of any fish in that area. The fish might then even chase your lure and into the spread the fish finds itself. Surrounded with tasty looking offerings and already excited into hunting mode by the lively lure from the front.

In fact, best results are definitely always achieved when two or even three lures are flying off the front non-stop. Making your entire effort into a fish-attracting scene. NB. Any experienced angler knows not to throw in front of the moving boat, but to cast at a good 45 degrees forward and out. This means that if you have a problem, the lure will not go back and near propellors or the spread.

Some video we shot when we got our first dorado on Wednesday morning…

Some more action shot the very next day with our pro angler and guest at the Umzimklulu Marina, Shaun Begg. Shaun has just recetly, with his team from North West Cebtral, won the South African National Feeder Championships. SO he certainly knew what he was doing when he hooked up to his very first dorado.

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Shaun made the trip down to the KZN South Coast specifically to increase the number of saltwater species on his bucket list of fish. And aside from this lekker dorado and a wonderful weather morning out at sea, a whole lot more target list species were to come his way.

For those that have not been down this way, the Umzimkulu River hits the Indian Ocean and the Agulhas Current at the lively Sandspit, and The Block. These two hotspots are world-renowned for surf fishing. Gamefish. Inedibles. Edibles. And SHARKS!

Zambezi Sharks!

That swim up the river during the rains, to give birth to 12 or 13 pups. The pups are born like mammals! They pop out in perfect shape and are ready to hunt and eat right away. On Saturday we had this big momma navigating her way up against the strong brown water, where she surely will pop her pops and go back out to sea again. The pups stay in the river system until they are about 1.5 to 2m long. At which point thet head out the estuary waters and out to sea, to find the reef system they will now call home. Zambezi sharks are not known to travel far distances from where they were born.

Another trophy and highly sought after fish that also does not mind water with less salt in, is the formidable and violent striking Rock Salmon.

This is the fish that most anglers come to visit us for. And Shaun was no different as we started out on that campaign. Which will be the next story…

Come and join us down here in Port Shepstone. The dorado and billfish spell on at the moment has really only just begun and so we have a good two or three months to enjoy the great water conditions and fishing. The water has been right up at 26 degrees, and the river has been even warmer! We are hoping for more rain as usual, to keep the river flowing and pumping that ever-important alkaline brown water out there to balance the ever-rising acidity levels of the sea.

And presenting us with all these species that rely on this brown water for survival. Perch love it. Rockies too. Big catfish also get swept down to us by the swift-running river. AND. The most important trophy fish of all – The infamous Oxe Eye Tarpon.! This wily and elusive fish makes it’s annual appearance with the brown water too. This angry animal comes down with the brown water, to the salt, where they spawn. And feed. They take a lure or a fly readily when you can find them!

So stay in touch via http://umzimkulu.co.za.

Post prepped by The Sardine News at http://thesardine.co.za.

Nice fish! Yussuf and Hamza Spotted Grunter

Great looking water in the Umzimkulu for catching fish right now!

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Great looking water in the Umzimkulu for catching fish right now!

There is great looking water in the Umzimkulu for catching fish right now!

It’s brown. But only on top! Underneath the brown layer of water, is the clean stuff. At high tides you can see the two bodies of water interacting and forming seams all over the estuary. And on these seams, do the gamefish hunt.

On these nice and high tides (we are in a fairly decent spring tide system at the moment, with quite a high co-efficient), as we cruise, the propwash churns up the top layer allowing the clean layer to come up to the surface. These are very good fishing conditions.

We have bookings for today, and tomorrow and Saturday is fully booked, but the rest of the time and tides, we are available to fish.

The boat is a retired commercial fisher and is so much fun as a fishing platform. Licensed for 17 (parties and things), we are very comfortably able to fish 4 to 6 people. There is bench seating along the length of each gunwhale, and the boat, being a catamaran design, is completely stable.

And safe! The boat has life jackets for everyone. It has two motors. And experienced skippers.

Grunter water

Grunter like the water dirty. And they love a live prawn! And right now there are prawns available, easy to catch, with a cast net. Right from the jetty at the Umzimkulu Marina.

Nice fish! Yussuf and Hamza Spotted Grunter
Yussuf and Hamza Spotted Grunter

You might be lucky enough to get not just prawns, but little fingerling mullet too. We have even gotten ourselves a few live shad from the cast net. Chuck one of these baits out off the back on a slow troll down rock salmon alley and you will be in for some serious fun. Giant Trevally and all of it’s cousins patrol these channels. Big eye. Blacktip. Yellowfin…

And then there are other gamefish to hunt. With lures or bait. Flagtails jump on a plastic lure, and they fight so good. A worthy fish. Little kobbies also readily take a dropshot and a soft bait. And the biggest kob so far came in at 36kg’s and was caught just a few years back, from the wharf at Spiller’s. We get the square tail kob too, and the tasty little snapper salmon too. And some huge barbel! 30kgs plus!

My most fun catches in the Umzimkulu Estuary were the ox-eye tarpon that I caught on the troll, a fish that tested my skills the max as it fought exactly like it’s huge cousins from the West. It tail walked, cartwheeled and everything a real tarpon does. It took all the line off the reel on the first run and we had to turn the boat real fast to give chase. he fight lasted a good nerve-wracking twenty minutes before we got the boat on deck, photographed, and released. These fish come from way up the river, where they live in fresh water. And then come down to the salt to spawn, before heading back up the river. Man what a fish! The. One day, making a huge noise on the parked boat, up the big hole, I was casting and casting until bang! I though it was another tarpon. It wasn’t. It was a beautiful cute looking little Zambezi shark! Both of these fish were also caught on video, you can enjoy the zambezi catch right here, which will lead you to the very many other videos of catches we have on YouTube.

This is the link to the Umzimkulu Marina fish-catching playlist…


Shad come in the river too. River perch love it here, the biggest that we caught being up to 4kg’s! We even got a double strike from a shoal of perch – on lures, one time!


The Umzimkulu Marina is a fantastic family getaway spot. Kids love it here! Especially fishing kids! The chalets are self-catering and sleep from couples, up to 6 sleepers. There are four units available. Parking is off-street and secure. You can fish right out front of your chalet. Prices range from R600 to R1800 per unit.

If you stay at the lodge, then boat fishing and cruising trips are half the price that we offer to the public. For the public, we charge R100 per person per hour, minimum R800. Two to three hour trips are great for fishing. We fish the mouth area on the incoming tide, and move up to the big hole (12m), as the water slackens. Along the way trolling for gamefish with lures. Spinning off the front whilst on the slow troll produces the most fish for sure. A well-placed cast can result in an explosive surface strike, right in front of your eyes!

Fishing School is back on at The Umzimkulu Marina for July 2017 holidays
Fish keeping the kids very busy!

The MYDO Lure factory is also located right on-site at the lodge, and you will be welcome to take a tour and buy a few lures designed exactly for fishing the waters of the Umzimkulu River, and the other estuaries around here. The factory produces the SS Spoon range, MYDO Luck Shots, and MYDO Baitswimmers. You can read all about the MYDO at the following link: http://thesardine.co.za/mydo/

This fish fell to a MYDO Luck Shot dressed up with a soft plastic from Gummy

This tasty little kob fell for a MYDO LuckShot dressed up in a nice and soft plastic from Gummy.

Venue hire

You can learn more about the Umzimkulu Marina and it’s facilities including being a great venue for smaller weddings and celebrations, at the Umzimkulu Marina website on http://umzimkulu.co.za. For venue hire, we have a 80 seater tent, and dedicated ablutions and braai facilities.

Get in touch with Sean on umzimkulu@gmail.com or WhatsApp +27793269671, anytime.

Turtle in the Umzimkulu News too, he was upside down in the river?!

Umzimkulu News Nov’19

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Umzimkulu News Nov’ 19

Umzimkulu News: Well it’s been a busy time down on the river, as summer has unfolded. Bringing with it the rain. Which brings the fish!

Jason-Heyne-from-MasterWatermen-with-early-season-couta makes the Umzimkulu News
Jason Heyne from MasterWatermen with early-season couta makes the Umzimkulu News

This theory is supported and backed up by Jason of MasterWatermen, who just this week shot his first ‘couta of the season. Jason reckons that the brown water stimulates the ocean radically, as horse mackerel and all sorts of bait converge.

Chuck in a few late pockets of sardines and you really have a good recipe for summer gamefish in Natal waters right now.

Umzimkulu News:  Fishing Report

Jarrid Gallagher with his lekka lekka 6kg Dorado also makes the Umzimkulu News
Jarrid Gallagher with his lekka lekka 6kg Dorado also makes the Umzimkulu News

Well as you can see from pic, the dorado have also come to the party. Jarrid look’s stoked with his 6kg model. These fish also come running when the river’s break through bringing down with them all that delicious brown water.

Some gas bottle sized tuna have been spotted on the backline, with one of 27kg’s reported so far.

And we know the couta are here because of Jason’s fish above.

And that nice-looking yellowtail at Orange Rocks in the gallery proves that these formidable guys are also around.

The river mouth is open so it’s all lining for a great fishing season.

Upside down turtle?!

Yip, found in the river, lying on it’s back? So, the kids simply righted the rather big animal. And it just swam off fine.

We get plenty of turtles in the river, adding to the wildlife you can encounter in the rich estuary zone. Fish eagles. Otters. All the birds. Even sharks! We have been bumping into more and more free-swimming sharks in the river. And anglers catch and release them every now and then, whilst fishing for kob or rock salmon.


But the biggest news of the year must be Moo Fraser and family, discovering and diving with a genuine coelacanth, in 67m off Pumula somewhere?!

It’s very surprising then, that nobody fishing that area has hooked a coelacanth?! This is the exact waters where those huge copper steenbras and amberjack come from. Maybe the coelacanth are way too developed to take a live bait with huge visible hooks hanging out of it.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Umzimkulu News roundup for November 2019. Get in touch if you would like to plan a fishing holiday for the family or group of friends.

Post by The Sardine News

Late season rock salmon fishing waters of the mighty Umzimkulu River

Late season rock salmon on the Umzimkulu

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Late season rock salmon on the Umzimkulu

Late season rock salmon: Usually, we target and catch rock salmon down on the Umzimkulu River estuary, in winter times. In the clear water. 

But, another late season rock salmon was caught recently from the marina! The angler’s name was AJ Koortzen. He is from Durban. And caught his awesome rock salmon on a little fish head. Good fight. Great experience. The fish went a good 3kg’s or so. 

AJ Koortsen and his lekker Rock Salmon
AJ Koortsen and his lekker Rock Salmon

Those icy cold winter evenings on the water can test your endurance and patience. But, if you sit it out long enough, you almost always get your reward. It’s mainly night time fishing we do. Out on the good ship Umzimkulu, our licensed 28 ft river cruiser. Or from the bank right out front of the lodge.

Live bait is first prize and luckily there are all sorts on offer. Sometimes we catch huge prawns, of all varieties. Grunter jump on a well-presented prawn live-bait. In fact, all the fish in that river do. Here is a quick list of the fish you can catch in the mighty Umzimkulu;

  • rock salmon
  • grunter
  • GT
  • big eye kingfish
  • blacktip kingfish
  • oxe-eye tarpon
  • zambezi shark
  • flagtail
  • shad
  • perch
  • square tailed kob
  • daga salmon
  • snapper salmon

We don’t even list the inedibles, but there are plenty too.

All the above fish will jump on a live-bait. But. They also take a well presented and placed lure. The advent of plastics brought about new zest as we started catching on these versatile and fun artificials.

Kob love them. Rock salmon too. All the kingfish. Shad obliterate them.

At the Umzimkulu Marina, we make our own powerful and high-performance jigheads. Using technology from the aerospace industry, the late but legendary Brian Davey devised a lure that made a dead bait appear swimming like a live bait. This tech was adapted to the dropshot fishing sensation and work perfectly. These lures make the plastic bait swim and veer and jump and splash, all just by variating your retrieve and rod tip action.

The MYDO factory is upstairs in the boathouse, ask to take a look when you are there.

You can read all about the MYDO Luck Shot at the following link…

MYDO Luck Shot

You can place an order online, and pay by EFT. Delivery takes a few days to a week sometimes more. We use the Post Office, or there is a PostNet option, for reliability and convenience.

If you want to spend some time fishing the Umzimkulu, looking for those late season rock salmon, the river is still crystal clean

Guest angler Dejan and his powerful rock salmon caught at 3am in the mouth area of the Umzimkulu River
Guest angler Dejan and his powerful rock salmon caught at 3am in the mouth area of the Umzimkulu River
The Umzimkulu Shark Report Winter 2017

Umzimkulu Shark Report September 2017

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Umzimkulu Shark Report September 2017

It’s been a great year for the sharks of The Umzimkulu – starting right back in February, with the rains. For hours, and day after day, the the brown water literally poured out of the mouth, huge Zambezi moms could be seen making their way tentatively under the bridge and up into the river. Three at a time on one afternoon. Having only really seen this at Tugela and Port St. Johns before, this was a real stoker.

These huge mommas head way up river, to give birth. To 12 or 13 young eager pups that swim away from their mother immediately at birth. These guys go straight into feeding mode – highly developed instinct being their only teacher. They grow like most bigger fish do, at about 5 to 7kgs per year. Which means that the cute little Zambezi we caught 4 years ago – would be cruising at about 30kg’s. Chris Leppan (the south coast one), got one at about that size last year, which he also released in perfect health. It ate a live bait.

Then at the end of a charter on the river, it was after golden hour (the second one, we have figured there are two down on the river), I was peering into the overcast afternoon, back over the lines, when all of a sardine, here comes a shark, clean out of the water! He looked at least a metre and a half! And he fully breached! With a gentle spin, and splash! Back into the water. I yelled, “Did you see THAT?!”. But no-one else did. Only me. As usual.

But I was avenged the very next day. We had the Farinha clan aboard, about 12 of them, and were fishing for kingfish and rock salmon, trolling the deep spots, underneath the Ghost House. When SPLASH! A huge sound, right next to the boat. This time I missed it, but everyone on the boat exclaimed, “SHARK!”. By now every one of us were looking forward and here it come again! It’s full body length out of the water. A mean looking Zambezi on his way the 2metre mark. Maybe 50kg’s or a bit more. Then he breached a third time. With his trademark slow spin. It most definitely was an interaction with us. It sure felt that he wanting us to acknowledge him or something.

So we told the story back at the Umzimkulu Marina that afternoon, and found out that the very same shark (or his twin), has been spotted doing this pirouette leap, up and down the river mouth area. Some guy was driving over the low level bridge and a Umzimkulu shark leapt out of the water right next to him!

And to round off this Umzimkulu shark report. Earlier in the year, when the river was still flowing, I went down to The Block to check the launch. Over and away from me on the other side of the river mouth – the fishing famous Sandspit, some idiot had let his kids swim, albeit in the shallows. They were knee deep, when in between me and them, a zambezi came clear out of the water, doing the very same pirouette!

Same guy? Maybe? Let’s just hope it stays away from the shark nets, when it finally matures sexually, and leaves the safe haven of the Umzimkulu River. Slim chance.

Hook up on Facebook at…https://web.facebook.com/UmzimkuluMarina/

Report by The Sardine News

Really good kingfish in the Umzimkulu lately

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Really good kingfish in the Umzimkulu lately

There has been some Really good kingfish in the Umzimkulu lately, in amongst kob, shad, rock salmon and some huge grunter!

We have a great run and overall our charter trips on the river in the past two weeks, have released over 20 estuarine gamefish.

Dustin van Biljon showing who's who at Fishin's Cool, down on The Umzimkulu River. Another baby giant kingfish on the Mydo Luck Shot #1
Dustin van Biljon showing who’s who at Fishin’s Cool, down on The Umzimkulu River. Another baby giant kingfish on the Mydo Luck Shot #1

The fish are readily taking our little Mydos, and two old rapalas, from the eighties. These benchmark old lures are black on top, a bit of gold and leading to silver/white bellies. We straightened the older hooks twice in one afternoon – the fish screamed off so fast that even with hardly any drag the hooks failed. The Mydos have been the #1 Luck Shots, with either a firetiger paddletail about 4 inches only, or clear/white split tails same size. These lures are rigged with 3/0 to 5/0 Mustad Kendall Round or O’Shaugnessy singles. Strong and reliable. And easy to remove for quick releasing fish with minimal damage.

There are many ways for you to get fishing with us on The Umzimkulu. The easiest is to come stay a few days. You get half-price boat excursions as a guest. And you can fish from the bank or jetties all day and night. It’s where we caught a bunch of grunter on Friday night.

Or take us up on a guided sport fishing estuary and surf package. Where we use the boats to get ourselves into all sorts of fishing opportunities. Loading the boat with coolers boxes and even a braai, keeps us on the water for ages! Parking the boat under the Umzimkulu bridge means you can fish the estuary side and cast into the surf from the famed Sandspit. And you don’t have to carry a thing! Perfectly safe too. Cars parked at the lodge is secure way off street parking.

More packages and fishing experiences on http://thesardine.co.za

Fishing School at The Umzimkulu Marina July 2017

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Fishing School at The Umzimkulu Marina July 2017

There is a real cool option for this July 2017 school holidays- Fishing School at The Umzimkulu Marina!

Due to popular demand, the fun and well attended Fishing School down at the river in Port Shepstone is ON!

Starting early, drop the junior anglers at the Umzimkulu Marina – and thereafter they are our story! Collect at 3pm. Extra hours available on request.

The Umzimkulu River is a beautiful piece of water, safe and calm. Our boat is 26ft long and completely stable. The skipper (Sean Lange this year), is a qualified lifeguard, and is assisted by a second mate.

We supply:

  • tackle and bait (bring your own rod – bass size)
  • tutoring and guidance (safety, tides and weather, baiting up, casting, fishing with lures)
  • cooldrinks (fruit smoothies)
  • lunch (hotdogs)
  • certificate of estuary boat fishing competence (after 5 complete days)
  • lifejackets (if you have your own bring it along)

The day costs R150 per person. We run from Monday to Friday, if you take the week, you can pay R600, giving you R150 discount (R120 per day).

It’s chilly in the mornings and sunny in the daytime – hats and jerseys, and spare clothing pls.

We have a maximum limit of chaos set at 10 kids per day, so get in touch on umzimkulu@gmail.com, or call Sean on +2779 326 9671 to make a booking. Or fill out this form for lightning quick response;

Click on over to The Sardine News at http://thesardine.co.za to see more about the current fishing conditions. Or here for our last good catch, a lovely Giant Kingfish taken on a lure just before sunset.

A GT and four spotted grunter released in one evening at The Umzimkulu Marina

Catching and releasing GT’s and Spotted Grunter in the afternoon

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Catching and releasing GT’s and Spotted Grunter in the afternoon

The Umzimkulu is in pristine shape right now, slightly smelly in some places, but the fish seem to dig it. The water is however crystal clean, even at low tide. These huge tides are a great opportunity to see it at low tide, and fish it all at high tide.

This trip, read all about it below, gave us two species. A GT and 4 Spotted Grunter. All of which were released healthily back into the river, except for one lovely fish that went home for the currying pot.


Umzimkulu GT in the evening

It’s also the beginning (both have kicked off), of the sardine run, and the shad bite. Both fish are scattered up and down the KZN and Transkei coasts, getting hammered mercilessly by anglers and marine predators alike.

It seems the DAFF ous have absolutely no chance against the hoards. At least Ezimvelo had a few tricks up their sleeves, from their decades in experience in marine law enforcement. These new guys are absolutely hopeless. It’s open season at many places. And most of the shad are still undersized. But they are still being taken. Stashed in bags in cars. And driven home unhindered.

Out in the ocean it’s birds and dolphins criss-crossing and up and down the coast non-stop. Whales rejoicing out back. The ski-boaters are getting the odd daga salmon in amongst good hauls of reds. Garrick anglers are waiting impatiently for National Garrick Day. The night time is the right time to target the grunter and kob at river mouths, I am SURE that many fish being caught are NOT being reported. Never on Facey, that’s for sure.

Anyways, I am home (Sean) for two weeks and am available for fishing on the river or the sandspit, DAY AND NIGHT…get in touch on umzimkulu@gmail.com or WhatsApp +27 79 326 9671 to chat.

Fishing packages available at http://thesardine.co.za/



Posted Leave a commentPosted in Fishing Report, Ocean Charters


How about this for a musselcracker! With Uncle Skomolo himself hoisting it for a photo.

Musselcracker by Brian Lange
Musselcracker by Brian Lange

We don’t often catch these magnificent and tasty fish – this one would last us for ages! Cooked any way you like, the flesh is sweet and oily.

They are kind of vulnerable as they are resident, and endemic to our coastline. And easy to catch, they live in any reef system from the shore to 60 metres or more. And when you pull one up from the deep, it’s very difficult to get the fish back down for a successful release. But on a quiet day, with the right bait and right tackle, you can get your bottom fish of a lifetime in the form of a big black steenbras, as they are also known. Skomolo is another name for these mean fighting and angry looking fish. And Poenskop?! Latin name  Cymatoceps nasutus.

You are only allowed one of these fish per day, and it must be half a metre in length. But even one a day would be too many. It should be one per month or something more meaningful.

In the meantime, don’t miss out on our next fish braai – there might even be some musselcracker on the menu!

And a few scenes taken down at The Umzimkulu Marina…

Get in touch for your next fishing adventure – umzimkulu@gmail.com, and let’s put a package together for you…


Spearos also encountering big Couta now

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Spearos also reporting outsized king mackeral Jason Heyne checks in and also reports that the king mackeral they have been encountering underwater are all way above average. And more exciting news is that the Garrick have turned up in KZN waters in reasonable numbers – Xona The diving conditions this week have been average. Garrick…

via Spearos also reporting outsized king mackeral — thesardine.co.za