Posted on Leave a comment

Ox eye tarpon dreaming in the Umzimkulu

Estuary fishing in the Kulu - Ox eye tarpon by Chris Leppan in the Umzimkulu. Come and join us to catch your own trophy tarpon right here in South Africa!

Ox eye tarpon dreaming in the Umzimkulu

So when the photos came out, of the Happy Daze crew onboard their river cruiser down on the Kulu, hoisting a brand new very recently caught ox eye tarpon, I could hardly sleep.

I have seen quite a few of these majestic fish here in the river. And I have been lucky enough to fluke one on a hard trolling lure over a decade ago. The morning early, before we hooked and released that famous fish, I saw a different kind of attack happen in the reeds right near me. The fish showed itself, with huge shoulders and broad fins, as it smashed into the bait hiding in the shallows. All day that day I was left wondering what the hell fish that was.

Then that afternoon, all hell did break loose as we were busy entertaining a barge ride of foreign tourists, down near the mouth area. The fish took almost all the line off the reel in a few tailwalking cartwheeling jumps that took him way off into the distance. It took ages to get him back to the boat and then the party really started. As you can see in the video. That famed tarpon display of sheer aggro and agility. Spectacular.

The fish tired after some time, and was released healthily back into the salty water, to continue their purpose for being here in the first place. Ox eye tarpon are not saltwater fish. They do in fact, live way upstream. But they need salty water in which to spawn and breed successfully. And so this is why they are here right now. To breed.

I have however, also caught a much smaller one, when I was a kid. And I have heard many stories from fly-fishers who used to target these fish under the bridge. Which bridge I dont know. And then Mr. Andrew Olden who also is an Umzimkulu swampie by childhood, mentioned in a comment yesterday, that he used to observe them lolling on the surface! And there is only one reason any fish loll on the surface. Spawning.

This very morning on the jetty

And so, I awoke in the dark, and got the coffee on. I have been fishing with the Mydo SS Spoon, really fast. I like fishing fast and fishing fast in the river is quite a novel idea.

There was little going on early, except the millions of little mullet, that were hiding in the shallows and around the boats. I invested a good 30 casts. Then another 20. In between coffees from my flask next to me. After about 100 of these high-speed surface disturbing retrieves, I was taking another break when I saw something. I flicked to a projected target spot and started my crank. Half way and my spoon was hit twice in a quarter of a second. Huge fins broke the surface as it turned back on itself in an instant for the second go.

My single hook, especially bent out a tad for the tarpons bony mouth, and extremely sharp, never even stood a chance.

Tarpon hook up in a ratio of about 1:15. Yip. You will have to fish really hard to get your ox eye. I am not sure what Mr. Leppan was using when he got his over the weekend, but those guys are putting in the hours throwing poppers of all sorts at the fish. Its an impressive act as the lures fire like mortars and all come back to the boat together like that. By fishing like this, they are actually covering huge expanses of water as they search around.

Fishing options

If you stay with us here at the Umzimkulu Marina, it’s all very easy. Bait is literally on tap (catch your own), and the action is right out front. We literally watch Rory and friends fishing the afternoons away right outside the door.

If you day fish, that works too. We have a choice of boats that will suit you or your group. Or you can fish from the jetty or the river bank.

The options are listed in the Shop, so choose one that will suit you best as you come and hunt for your extremely challenging fish of a lifetime.

Enjoy this fun video of the ox eye tarpon we caught 11 years ago…

For The Umzimkulu Marina by The Sardine News

Posted on Leave a comment

Fishin’s Cool at Fishing School this 2020

Victor and Sean Blacktip Kingfish at Fishing School 2020 in the Umzimkulu

Fishin’s Cool at Fishing School this 2020

Fishin’s Cool at Fishing School has fired up again, this July, 2020. We are following all the rules and have therefore limited slots available. At this stage, we are offering Fishin’s Cool from 9am to 4pm, every Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. Just down from Durban in KZN, South Africa, on the South Coast.

And we have this action-packed video with which to announce Fishing School 2020 with…please don’t forget to Like and Subscribe!

With the clean, clear water of winter moving into the Umzimkulu Estuary, come the kingfish. And the Garrick. The Kob. And the Grunter. To join the resident hunters already inside the bridge. Like the perch and the formidable rock salmon.

What a fantastico spot to run a fishing school!

From the vantage point of the Umzimkulu Marina, and utilising our little fleet of boats, we can strike inland up to the reefs under the main N2 bridge. We can fish the channels and the deep hole, on the way there and back. Or we can head south and towards the ocean. Following either of the twin channels that skirt the huge mudbank in the middle of the wide river. And into the basin, where the oceans energised saltwater comes right in. Bringing all sorts with it!

This is the seascape on offer at the meeting place of the mighty Umzimkulu River, and the mighty Indian Ocean.


This year, we have broken the syllabus down into a set of curriculums based on fish by specie. The ecology and conservation of each species is detailed. With positive steps that can be taken by individuals or groups, for each one.

Our fishing teaching has also changed to accomodate the ethics and values required when fishing in our sensitive environments. We use circle hooks mainly. And all our fish are released, unless in extenuating circumstances. We carry a tagging kit on board, and we use it a lot. We are affiliated with the Oceanographic Research Institutes tagging program.

Equipment and tackle

We provide everything but sure, if your kid has a rod, please let him bring it along. We also have available, on the Umzimkulu Marina online store, all the tackle you or your kid will require.

In fact, the MYDO Fishing Lure factory is on the premises! Check them out online right here.

This gallery, is all of fish, taken at the Umzimkulu Marina, this year only (2020). And there are many more we never photographed at all too!

Post and SEO by The Sardine News and TLC SEO Agency.

Posted on Leave a comment

Video: Protea Reef in The Sardine Run 2020

Emperor Bream by Johan Wessels at Umzimkulu Marina

Protea Reef in The Sardine Run 2020

Protea Reef in The Sardine Run 2020: Well it’s been a fantastic few days as we had the very well fishing-centered Johan Wessels, of the Fishing Pro Shop in Pretoria, visiting us down here at the Umzimkulu Marina, in Port Shepstone.


His first day was spent catching GTs, shad and sardines – a whole lot of fun in an around the Umzimkulu Estuary Mouth. Trolling and casting lures all day long as we cruised the mighty Umzimkulu aboard our huge river cruiser boat.

Sardine Run 2020: Baby GT by Johan Wessels in the Umzimkulu River Port Shepstone
Another Baby GT by Johan Wessels in the Umzimkulu River Port Shepstone

Using tiny little hard baits an dropshots, even a spoon, will keep you busy for hours as you troll the channels and spin into the banks and ledges along the way.

The shad were so plentiful in amongst the shoals of sardines it was too easy. The garrick were there but they were full of sardines and just being plain lazy. There were sharks in the shorebreak too!

All-in-all, it has been a bumper sardine run which looks to continue as we expect a few more cold fronts to come along an do their part.

Tropical Yellowtail

His second day was a lot more serious as we took to the ocean in the late afternoon and fished into the evening. We were hoping for the elusive geelbek salmon but had to settle for some good rockcod and reef fish instead. But the highlight of this trip, was as we were sounding around looking for showings, Johan dropped his special Gomoku Slow Roller jig to the bottom an went vas straight away! He caught and released three shiny new baby tropical yellowtail in about ten minutes. Until a really big one said emphatically NO, to his 10lb ultra-light tackle.

Protea Reef

Sardine run 2020: Johan Wessels releases another Tropical Yellowtail on the Niteshift
Johan Wessels releases another Tropical Yellowtail on the Niteshift

Then, with Johan’s return to the Big Smoke looming, we spent his last day fishing hard. From very early, we launched out of the Umzimkulu Mouth at first light, and got to our beloved Protea Reef in no time flat on the Niteshift with her new 60hp high thrust outboards. It wasn’t minutes before Johan got his first of two yellowfin tuna. The he got us a bonnie, which was spooked by something big and flashy. Marlin! Since the sharks were all on the backline chasing sardines and bumping into eachother in the shorebreaks – we though maybe. But. Those huge trebles – meant for screaming couta or wahoo, were no good for the flashy fish, an the bonito survived the strike!

In fact, he survived right until we decided rather to use him as chum, as some really huge yellowfin (for our area) broke the surface wildly a hundred metres away. What a spectacle to see those gas bottle size YFT bouncing around on the surface like that! But, without hardly any current for a change, our baits did produce more reef fish, that took our chum baits meant for those huge tunas.

Luckily at least some of this action-packed day was recorded an we managed to scrape this cool 6 minute compilation, including a double-angle of the return through the surf launch.

The Umzimkulu Marina is OPEN for business. Regulations and guidelines apply. But we are stoked to report the sardine run this year is really on with loads of fun an excitement available on tap at literally any beach down here right now!

Possibilities are endless

We will get you and keep you in on the action, we can even take you out to sea to get right in the middle of the chaos! Bring your snorkeling equipment if you have the nerve! Its an amazing experience and the predators really are not interested in divers at all during this festive time underwater.

We have the river cruiser for fishing and cruising the estuary with. The valley is dotted with wildlife all over the place including the fish eagles, otters, turtle and even the odd zambezi shark! We fish for gamefish like kingfish (of which there are plenty right now) grunter, rock salmon, garrick and kob but along the way we are often surprised with perch, flagtail and all-sorts of good bait looking fishies.

Then we have the Niteshift, a 22 ft cat with two 60hp Yamaha four-stroked designed explicitly to handle the river mouth launch here at the Umzimkulu River. This boat is also rigged for night fishing which we love to do. We catch all sorts at night too but mainly we spend most of the time searching for those super-tasty geelbek salmon, which love the sardine run too! They are here at the moment, we have had a few successful outings but the stupid lockdown kept us at bay for the most part, these least few months.

And then last but not least, we have on premises at the Umzimkulu Marina, the MYDO fishing lures factory! Upstairs in the main boat house, we have all that it takes to produce baitswimmers, stripbaitswimmers, livebaitswimmers, luck shots, daisies and SS Spoons. Its a lot fun spending time up in the factory, where we have a collection of tackle stemming back from the seventies, for you to marvel at and draw inspiration from. We can make up lures exactly as you need them, for you and your mates. Or bring your boat and we can outfit the whole lot with the MYDO Fishing System, which featured in the video above.

Get in touch via many ways including Sean on or +27793269671 WhatsApp.

Watch our YouTube Channel right here. This is our Facebook page.

Post prepped by The Sardine News for the Umzimkulu Marina.

Posted on Leave a comment

Aiming for a KZN Broadbill

Karel du Plessis with his line class 30lb Africa and SA record broadbill swordfish

Aiming for a KZN Broadbill

Aiming for a KZN Broadbill: Well finally the government has pulled itself towards itself and we have our rights back. This was a very serious infringement, and I sure hope none of us forget about this when voting again. Some of the people in charge are an absolute joke.

Some are not. And a special thanks to all those who went out of their way to teach certain of these ignorant idiocracies at the top, what running a country is all about. Please stay in politics! We need you there!

And now, we are fishing again!

My Dad has been itching at getting out obviously, but this time, on another special mission. We have tried this before, way back in the days when 8 miles out was considered far out to sea. Nowadays we been going 28 miles and more in the quest for those 100kg plus tuna that we know are out there. But this time – we are after that denizen of the deep. The gladiator of the oceans.

The broadbill swordfish!

Brian Lange researching broadbill fishing in a 1991 copy of The Sardine News.
Brian Lange researching broadbill swordfishing in a 1992 copy of The Sardine News. Which covered the Harbour Island Broadbill Classic held way off Cape Town in that same year. Erwin Bursik won that memorable event. Co-sponsored by the infamous Koos Jonker and Francois Stemmet.


Broadbill on the KZN South Coast: Tony Potgieter caused quite a stir down here in Port Shepstone back in the late eighties, when he caught a cute but feisty little baby 5kg KZN broadbill whilst bottom fishing on the Boboyi salmon reef. Then the Harbour Island Broadbill Classic was staged in Cape Town. This was after Nic de Kok got the ball rolling with his knowledge of broadbill swordfish coming out of the Cape Canyons, on the tuna longliner boats way back then. We caught a bunch. I was in the team that got the first broadbill to the boat. I will never forget seeing that monster tail-walking and somersaulting in the full moonlight, 40 miles out off Cape Point. I was 21. Erwin Bursik got the winning fish that first year – and a piece of land in the superfluous Harbour Island development at the Strand back then.

8 Miles out to sea

Is full of sharks. Just after the completely successful and ground-breaking broadbill competition, we launched the Niteshift out of the Umzimkulu on the KZN South Coast, and headed for our then-proverbial horizon. As stated, even 8 miles was miles for us back then. I was in charge of making the traces and setting the lines. My brother Marc was along. My Dad was driving. And we had the all-powerful Glynn Williams with us too. Who hurt many sharks that night before we realised that at 8 miles, which is just off the continental shelf, there were just too many teeth.

Click on the image for the full story…

And we kind of lost interest.

Until recently, when some boats have taken the tuna quest further and further out to sea, reaching even 50 miles and more! And winning. A handful of really impressive tuna have come to the scales over the last few years. Including these monsters by Nitro. Two in two days this guy went!

Click on this link for the full story on The Sardine News.

It opens in a new window. Very impressive achievement, I can still actually hardly believe it happened. I fished here since I was a kid and this was a ground-breaking moment for all of us around here. As a direct result, the horizon has moved further and further out!

16 Miles out to sea

Well, the theory is, that sharks won’t be so resident out here, where the broadbill are. These big game fish seem to all have their very own fun zones, and out at 16 miles, where it’s 800m to 1200m deep, it’s broadbill water. It also is yellowfin, big-eye and southern-bluefin water, and so this mission is double-function in that we may hook a big tuna too.

Crew required

And so we can take two passengers, perhaps three, out with us on these missions. It’s an all-night affair and we can only really go when the moon is black or full. This is when the tides allow us in and out through the river mouth of the Umzimkulu River. It’s very comfortable at these times, and we only go when the sea is flat and we have perfect weather.

The plan would be to come and spend a few days with us down at the Umzimkulu Marina. at around these ideal times. They are on right now, with that huge moon lighting the way for us. And some real full high tides. The next is in two weeks again, on the black moon. Our favourite moon. And then again two weeks after and so on.

My Dad’s boat Niteshift, is a very practical and well built 20 ft Supercat with twin 4-stroke Yamahas. She features a walkaround cabin with two berths and plenty of fishing space. She is berthed at the right in the following image. And right behind her is the way out to sea – under the Umzimkulu River bridge.

Maybe we will come home with a handsome KZN Broadbill!

If you would like to be a part of this unique and challenging mission, please get in touch and we can chat it all through. I am on or +27793269671 WhatsApp anytime.

The Umzimkulu Marina has a Facebook page here, where you can follow us along. We run an action-packed and ever-growing YouTube Channel which you can watch right here.

Post by The Sardine News.