Many Many moons ago I went with my Brother in law to the Jozini Tiervis Bonanza. I still have the T Shirt 🙂 it is a little bit worse for wear. The mission was we drove down from JHB and my Father would come from Eshowe with the boat. We would then camp in the main site where the comp happened. It all worked out very well, lots of fun was had by all. We had no luck with the big Tiger fish.
I had even caught to tilapia out of my father in laws dam to use as dead bait. The big Tiger fish where just not interested. So we did lots of drifting around and lure casting. I saw lots of little tiger fish chasing my lures which is still such fun.
Meed to make a mission to go back there with my kids and see if we can catch a big one.
This has been plaguing my mind for a while. I went to the St Lucia lakes to do some lure fishing and exploring. I did a small bit of lure fishing but no exploring. We I look back now I did not drift the shallows casting a fly or a drop shot at fish. I did not go and look for the clean water to see if I could do some sight fishing.
This is nobodies fault but my own. I just wanted to get it off my chest and use this as a reminder to myself to not forget the kind of fishing I love.
I took my 3 kids on a Caravan trip to Roodeplaat dam. It was my first time caravaning and going to Roodeplaat. After a bit of googling I decided to stay at Mar Leo. Very easy to find as the road almost goes straight there. The turn off for Mar Leo is right after the 4 star blades place.
From a caravaning point of view the place is awesome, well to me it was. We had a site right on the waters edge so we could sit in our veranda and have our lines in the water. The other plus was we had power. It was a bit sad that they do not have showers but the kids enjoyed a version of roughing it. There is one trampoline out of 3 working, again the kid where very happy about that. The pool is clean but freezing when we went now in the beginning of september. The kids loved the pole over the pool. It was a great game to get across the pool without falling off.
We took our little blow up boat that we paddle around in. I need to get a battery so that I can rather use the trolling motor and stop the kids paddling us around in circles and fighting about it. I spoke to Andre the current manager for Mar Leo and he said it would not be a problem to use the boat. I had a concern because from the research I had done I was not sure if you could use a boat from Mar Leo. I had my fish finder with me and could see the water temp was only 17.5 degrees. We tried for bass from the boat and barbel from the land. We had no luck with both, but I think it had something to do with the temp of the water, as the structure around the dam looked perfect for bass. In some of the floating weed beds there were big fishing hunting and now and again it would whip up a froth as it was trying to get whatever it was cashing. I am keen to go back during the hotter months and see what we can catch. I also need to get up to speed on the best baits for barbel and maybe a few night time hand lines.
I have a barbel mission near the end of this month so need to get up to speed fast. What is the best bait? In my youth it would be chicken livers. When I fish emmarentia dam I use bread, but that is because that is what the people feed the ducks. I am keen to try viennas at emmarentia like I did at Roodeplaat dam. They do stay on the hooks nicely.
The place is a carp fishing hot spot and the guys around us where very kitted out the the carp fishing equipment. Mar Leo has day picnic sites available.
I have not worn things on my wrists for many years. If I need the time I check my phone or look at the computer. Ross got hold of me and suggested I review his para cord straps. Who does not like some goodies to test. My first challenge was getting the stuff in the post. The post office was having a strike, they could still be having one. The next challenge is using the ostrap for something. I can think of a few applications but I have not been hunting and fishing for a long time. I did think I could use it on my fishingski. Well the fishingski currently been fixed and I have not caught any big fish in a long time that I would need to tie down on my deck.
So I have a test that I am going to do when the weather warms up and the fish start biting, I will share it on my blog so sign up if you don’t want to miss out. I have given my word and I am excited to give it the Bear Grills treatment in the future.
I am very impressed with the workmanship of the ostrap and I do like the manly look it gives me. I have no doubt that I will find a moment when I need some extra para cord to do some task and I look forward to using it.
At the end of June beginning of July 2014 we had a family holiday at Makakatana, my mission was to do some fishing, bait, lure and Fly fishing. It has been many years since I have been to St Lucia Lake for some fishing and a lot has changed. We arrived and the weather was very warm. We had already been in Durban for the week so it was not a shock to the system. Just hard to imagine being in shorts and t-shirts after the freezing cold in JHB. There is a short road down to the lake edge from the house, this comes out in the Makakatana bay. We are not allowed any more to launch from this place but I can also see why. With the lake not having water for many years the grass had grown and the wind had blown the sand up between the point of the bay and Mitchell’s Island. With the water coming back this is now just full of reeds and grass. So it has formed a barrier to get access to the main lake from Makakatana bay. It would be a very interesting place to explore with a fishing SUP. I do worry about the crocodiles, I think you might also get into trouble.
The fishing was very relaxed. You are not allowed on the lake at night. The gate opens at charters at 6 am and closes 6pm. Gone are the days of night fishing for the big salmon. You are also not allowed to keep the salmon. It is catch and release for salmon. You are allowed to keep other species as long as you stick to bag limits and catch sizes. So we got to the charters creek launch site just after 9 and finished fishing between 12am and 1pm every day. It costs you R10 to launch the boat and often we where the only people to launch the boat. The gate entrance is run by SANParksEKZNwildlife inside iSimangaliso Wetland Park. The gate entrance is very run down with big holes in the thatch. You are no longer allowed to stay at Charters Creek or Eastern shores. Very sad to see this once amazing part of the lake going to ruin. The office where you could get bait and curious is all locked up and the thatch is also full of holes and the stuff inside covered in dust. The launch site is still in good shape with toilets. The jetty is still there and a great place to fish if you don’t have a boat. I believe there was a big crocodile that would stay behind the fish cleaning spot and it sound like the one that was there from many years ago. It has been relocated. Lets see how long it takes for him to come back.
The North Easter wind blew the whole time we where there and the water temp was 18 degrees. I would love to come back in the warmer months. The lake is very alive with fish, birds and animals, the seagulls still come and see if they can get some scraps from you. I also managed to get the fish eagle to come and take a nondi that I had thrown out for it. We saw buffalo at the lake edge grazing.
I made up a hand-line for the kids as this is fun and quick way to see what is biting. It could be some live bait for a big salmon. The kids and myself managed to catch some glassies. They where the biggest glassies I have ever seen. I also had some chum out the side of the boat and I could see lots of swirls out the back of the boat. It was very exciting to see so much life and action in the water. I did try throw a fly but had no takes. Due to the wind blowing non stop the water was not very clean. You still need to look for the water that is not chocolate but rather a weak tea colour with a drop of milk, maybe earl grey. We fished on anchor as I do not enjoy drifting, I have been told and shown that drifting works very well. My lines get so twisted I don’t want to even go there. There is a spot just South of the launch site that has some scattered rocks. There is a pole marking the rocks, we anchored around this spot just not to close, as the rocks will keep cutting you off. We did get hocked up a few times on the rocks and I had to replace some traces. We managed to catch a few size grunter for the braai. They where very yummy. The kids had lots of fun catching nondies. On one trip my dad took us up to Fanieseiland which is about a 14km boat ride. My son enjoyed it a lot as he just wants to go fast in the boat. It is surreal to see fanieseiland as it also was once an awesome campsite and huts for people to stay in. There is a hut on stilts in the water abandon and run down, I could live there. The Campsite is right on the waters edge and I can just imagine the fishing would be awesome and lots of fun. We did not catch anything size here but again lots of action in the water with the chum. I did manage to catch a mullet on light tackle that my dad put out live. He had no luck and we let it go when we finished fishing.
We did do a trip to eastern shores and found some clean water in the sand. We had lots of action here but all undersize grunter. The wind was screaming and made it very uncomfortable for fishing. I did do some drop shot and popper fishing but had no luck. The handline was snapped off, I can only thing it was a grunter as we where in very shallow water and we did have a lot of hook ups of them. I did see a big garfish make a jump at the back of the boat in the chum.
Very sad heart to see the run down places but I assume it is a park and they want to make it go back to nature. I think it would be a good idea to just break the places down, then let them slowly decay.
In closing I am very excited to see that the lake is full of water and it has lots of fish in it. I feel in summer it will be a awesome fishing destination. I am sure the fly and lure fishing will be lots of fun then.
These days a trip to Kosi Bay is a breeze for anglers intent on fishing the fish-rich deep sea grounds just south of the Mocambican border and the many lakes in the Kosi system. But it wasn’t always like this – and Myrtle Hall indulges in a bit of nostalgia as she takes us back almost half a century with her story of those old pioneering days at Kosi Bay.
LIONEL R Gunter (my father) first took his wife and young family to Kosi Bay in 1955. The weeks preceding the holiday were always spent in frantic preparation for a trip into rustic, undeveloped terrain. Without the luxury of a fridge, we had to ensure stages of food preservation and calculate its staggered consumption, saving the tins of bully beef and condensed milk for last.
The bait and prawns were even preserved in boracic powder which ensured that fillets and beautiful pink prawns were available for a good while. Fishing tackle was lovingly cleaned and polished, and the finest, deadliest traces prepared. Being promised fine catches of fish, my mother, Patty, would pack boxes of preserving jars and pickling spices, knowing she would spend many a day over an open fire pickling fish.
The journey would take a whole day, so we would leave around 2:00am and travel in convoy. The whole journey would be along dirt roads, and the idea was to reach the Ubombo mountain range very early. The mountains were treacherous to cross, and one could only hope that it would not rain. However, in the event that it did, we were always equipped with chains to put on the tyres if we had to traverse muddy roads. When the magistrate’s offices in Ubombo opened at 8.0oam, we would collect the vital permits without which we would not be allowed to enter Kosi Bay.
The descent from Ubombo brought us to the Makathini Flats. The earlier we could cross the flats the better, as the track was in shocking condition, the landscape was boring and the intense heat was often accompanied by severe thunder storms. We used prominent trees, large stumps and a peanut hut as landmarks which would lead us to Maputo Store and on to Kosi Bay. Lionel’s trained eyes spotted these beacons in an instant, and he never lost his way or had to retrace his passage.
However, things didn’t always run smoothly, and unavoidable delays would sometimes find the Gunter family still on the road after nightfall. We would then often chatter nervously about possible attacks from elephants, but never felt threatened by the local inhabitants. Evidence of destruction by elephants was everywhere, and we would later see how badly they damaged the peanut fields of farmers on the eastern shores of the Kosi Bay lakes.
At Maputo Store – then already owned by the Rutherford family – final fuel requirements were met with the aid of an antique hand-pump which had two “bottles” which filled and emptied alternately. The road from the store to the estuary would take at least another three hours, and only after a journey of approximately 12 hours would Lionel finally erect his camp. By that stage the group’s excitement would have reached fever-pitch levels. The camp consisted of a number of Bell tents and tarpaulins which were stretched and tied around trees and poles, and campers often found themselves gravitating to the heart of the camp – the kitchen and dining area.
During those first couple of years, camping was restricted to the area around the estuary. Most often there would only be two or three groups of campers, all of whom became friends before long. Visitors to Kosi Bay were few and far between, mainly because of the terrible roads, the relative isolation and the dangers of contracting malaria. While it may not have been Club Med, for those who took the trouble to get there it was a veritable fishing Mecca.
Continuing their ancestral traditions, the local people had erected very cleverly designed fish kraals which trapped fish and “led” them into a woven basket. Once a day the owner of each kraal would spear the catch in the basket, and it was usually a pretty good haul. These people were always very friendly and were a good example of how a community utilised their environment to the full for their own needs and sustenance.
In the early years, Lionel would walk many kilometres to the first or second lake to fish for the huge kingfish he so passionately desired. He would trade with the locals to get a few live mullet, yellowfin bream or pouter fish for bait, and would then spend the night at the side of the lake. During subsequent visits he started fishing off a boat instead.
Lionel’s family remembers well his unique techniques and fishing skills … He would pick an area alive with shoals of frantic mullet, bream or pouter fish being chased by kingfish in the first or second lake. Then, attaching a live- or deadbait of about a ruler’s length, he would use tackle consisting of a wire trace, 12/O hook and 25kg breaking strain line.
When he was restricted to the banks of the first lake, Lionel used a Scarborough reel and cord line. When he progressed to boat fishing, he used a Tattler reel and heavy boat rods as there was always a chance of being picked up by a huge sea pike or rock salmon if the kingfish were not on the bite.
Lionel also taught us to make bloody fillets of freshly-caught bream. The bream was filleted and smacked robustly on one side to encourage bleeding, while the veins along the bones were cut, all resulting in a fillet well soaked in blood. He would then attach it to a large hook in mock prawn fashion. This proved to be a highly effective bait.
Lionel himself boasted many a catch of huge kingies – one of 63 lb, two of 68 lb, another weighing 75 lb, and a monster of 83 lb which was his largest ever. The 85 lb fish was hooked just before dawn on lake one.
That day, early-rising campers were entertained by the sight of Lionel fighting this beauty. Indeed, we can still recall the great excitement that morning when he returned sweaty, victorious and highly elated – his trophy resplendent on the deck – a silent epitaph to a great fight and the bounty of Kosi Bay.
Lionel never succeeded in catching a kingfish in the estuary, but spoke of a massive fish he hooked and fought there at length one night. Greatly excited, he manoeuvred what he assumed was a brindle bass with great skill, but in an attempt to steer it over the rocky outcrops, he was misled by his lackey and lost the fish. Lionel swore it could only have been a brindle bass because the fight was entirely different to that of a kingfish.
During those early times, most of the fish caught were used for our meals, and the excess were pickled and bottled by Patty. Once the campsites at first lake were opened in about 1956, Lionel acquired a boat and a paraffin deep freeze. Conditions became easier, but the quest for the great kingfish continued. Lionel’s father, CF, also joined him on these camping holidays, but CF only fished off a raft which was, in essence, a wooden platform positioned on four inflatable tractor tubes with the added “luxury” of a Seagull outboard. The going was very slow, but that’s how CF liked it.
Lionel also established a rudimentary “network” consisting of the few local people who always helped when we camped. Some of them were Willem “Tell” Ndlovu,“Scotch Whisky” and “Palm Wine”. These people somehow always knew when we would be arriving: our camp would be cleared and a beautiful rooster would be sitting on its perch waiting for us. The rooster would crow Lionel awake very early each morning, and stayed with us our entire holiday.
“Scotch Whisky” was CF’s personal valet who would make CF tea at any given time throughout the day or night, shaved and trimmed CF’s beard and cut his toenails.
Willem Ndlovu was Lionel’s close confidante and a school teacher in Lionel’s absence. No distance was ever too great for Willem and the destination was always “just around the corner”. Willem’s son, Edward, was Louis’s big mate. “Palm Wine” was the minstrel of Kosi who danced ferociously while telling some really tall stories – all in direct proportion to the quantity of palm wine he had imbibed!
Making palm wine the way the locals do involves an intricate process of cutting and tapping an ilala palm to get its juice, and then fermenting it.
While the adults fished or pickled the catch, the gang of youngsters from the camp spent lazy days swimming in the channel of the first lake’s camping area. All were equipped with goggles to be able to watch the fish and their movements. I recall that there were large shoals of small fish of innumerable quantities. They fed off the fungi growing on the sticks forming the fish kraals, and one could see how effective the fish kraals were: fish feeding along the walls of the kraal would soon become trapped in the basket.
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We watched shoals of small kingfish and pike, and there was also an abundance of bream, pouter fish, grunter, springer and mullet. One might even have been lucky enough to have an unexpected catch of queenfish or milkfish which were attracted to the slime on the fish kraals. We often hooked really big rays, and after observing and admiring them, would release them.
The local youngsters were very skilled fishermen too – after a fashion. They would mark a fair-sized fish and collectively chase it into the shallows where it would flounder. They would then accurately spear the fish in the head so they wouldn’t damage the flesh. We saw many grunter and yellowfin bream caught this way, and the shallows were always dotted with youths running and spearing fish. The spears looked much like a miniature javelin.
On occasions they tried more conventional methods of fishing, and we would watch the young people of third lake skillfully manipulate a “new” plastic reel of line with rudimentary tackle. Using jerking movements, akin to jigging, they would catch sea pike and even kingfish.
Huge shoals of sea fish would enter the lakes on the spring tide which affected the lakes greatly, and kingfish could be seen swimming on their sides to negotiate the channels between the respective lakes. We were fortunate to witness many sea pike, garfish, rare Cape salmon and various species of shark being caught. One of our party landed the record garfish of that time.
Very often a “breakfast run” on the lakes would find bag limits reached by mid-morning, and campers would then relax for the rest of the day. Lionel would then quietly pack his boat and prepare to spend another night on the lake in his never-ending quest for the “big kingie”.
The first and second lakes were our most popular venues for boat excursions. Occasionally we would venture to the awesome third lake, but to get there we had to use great caution to negotiate the deep, narrow, winding channel.
Over the years Lionel grew more and more familiar with the big third lake and developed a great love for it in the mid-‘sixties and ’seventies. The fishing there was very productive which proved that the channel was fully open. Lionel even managed to find the nesting areas of the elusive rock salmon and landed many beauties.
Going out by boat at night with my dad, the water was alive with fish jumping, and these were often highlighted by phosphorescence, leaving a trail behind the fish stretching for many metres. It was a fairyland whichever way you looked at it.
Our daily fishing trips and nightly camping activities were always accompanied by the sounds of the bush, but most specifically the sounds of hippos. We never troubled the hippos, nor they us, although we often imagined they were attacking. The peanut farmers would beat drums throughout the night and light fires at the corners of the fields to protect their crops from elephant and hippo invasion. They stood guard and paced the fields between their fires until dawn broke.
Sometimes the elephants on the eastern bank would break through the boundaries and cause quite a commotion. On those occasions, “Palm Wine” had much to relate in his frenzied story-telling dance. Cattle also grazed all around the area, and in the evening or at low tide they would cross the channel to return to the eastern banks and cattle kraals for safe-keeping during the night.
Lionel also developed lasting friendships with Hennie van Schoor and Coenie van Rooyen, which would later find these wonderful people hosting our family at their homes.
During bad weather we would often take a trip to the Mocambique border where there was an alluring, simple little trading store. Of interest to us were the Portuguese wine, beer and cashew nuts, although the store undoubtedly offered more. This trip entailed crossing the border post on foot, and on one occasion a black rhino had become trapped between the two fences. We still crossed through but were very wary of being charged by the rhino. No doubt it was also a very daunting predicament for the guards who weren’t sure how to oust the enraged creature.
Through all the years, Lionel, his wife, Patty, their children, Myrtle, Marian and Louis, worked as a close-knit team, all sharing in Lionel’s enthusiasm. Initially they were always accompanied by friends, and – later – the daughters got married and sons-in-law also joined the expeditions.
Eventually Lionel acquired a cottage at Makakatana Bay on the St Lucia lakes and retired from fishing at Kosi Bay. However, Marian, her husband, Mike, and Louis and his wife took over where Lionel left off and continued to enjoy many trips and fine catches at the wonderful Kosi Bay lakes, all the while noticing the many social and ecological changes that were taking place at their beloved holiday spot.
Continuing in Lionel’s footsteps, Marian caught a 40 lb kingfish in the second lake in 1979, using a live yellowfin bream as bait, and in an attempt to outdo his sister, Louis managed a 38 lb kingie a year later.
In true family tradition, on one outing in 1987, Mike landed a glorious 85 lb kingfish at the estuary. It was caught using a wave garrick as livebait. At the end of the fight, Mike expertly lifted the fish over the rocky ledge before he, Marian and the fish all collapsed, totally exhausted on the beach. Mike and Marian were moved to release the exhausted giant, but were dissuaded by their friends. Today it is their policy to do so, and they only keep sufficient catch for the table.
The Gunter family traditions at Kosi Bay continue still, and Louis recently took his son, Jason Lionel’s grandson – there for a fishing trip. Their quest? You guessed it kingfish!
One night was particularly windy and stormy, but the two enthusiasts were determined to fish second lake regardless. With the weather deteriorating further in the very early dawn, they sought shelter on the southern shores of the first lake.
Light was just beginning to paint a foul, stormy sky when Jason saw a huge shadow in the water. He skillfully cast in a plug which landed right in the path of the prey. The kingie swallowed the “bait” and in the ensuing battle stripped off between 200 and 300 metres of line.
Louis and Jason followed the fish in the boat, but disaster struck when Jason’s reel popped. They followed the fish further and fought on, but with the wind and rain at full scale they eventually lost the kingfish. Exhausted and terribly disappointed, the father and son team collapsed on the deck to recoup and prepare for the next fight. One wonders if Lionel was watching from the campsite
Indeed, this magical northern Zululand resort holds unforgettable memories for our entire family, and if ever I was asked to describe a veritable paradise on earth, my answer would be forthcoming in the wink of an eye: Kosi Bay!
We are here a Makakatana doing some fishing. After eating a pear I threw the core overboard. I noticed that there were some fish around the core. Lucky this time Theresa had her camera with her and managed to get some very close ups. I think it might be big glassies. Check it out and let me know what you think.
This is not about fishing but what happened on some of my fishing trips to Makakatana (Lake St Lucia)
Julian Britz loses his glasses
So we are anchored on the lake and busy fishing. I am not sure what Julian is doing, but the next thing he turns around and tells us he has lost his glasses. They had fallen over board. He says he has to get them back otherwise he will be unable to see. So off come the clothes and into the water he dives. The thing is that when the boat is on anchor is swings a bit like a pendulum, so to find the correct spot, where the glasses dropped was not possible for us. Lucky the lake is only about 2 meters deep. But it is rather cold and zero visibility. After a few dives and feeling his way along the bottom he manages to get his glasses. He was rather cold after that but very happy.
Crocodile scares the hell out of me.
Again we are in the lake busy fishing we notice a croc out in the lake. We think nothing of it and carry on fishing as it seems to be keeping its distance. When we are fighting one fish and it gets close to the boat we notice that there is a lot of muddy water swirling up from under the boat. We think this might be just the fish churning up the water, as it is fighting hard, so we carry on as normal. I while later I am busy scaling a bream over the side of the boat. I am getting it ready to make some fillets to catch me a big salmon. The croc surfaces just under my hands, I get such a fright that I throw the bream at it and jump back into the boat. I am sure I screamed like a girl but my ears would never hear that. After the heart settled down we decided to move away from that spot. That also explained the muddy water getting churned up under the boat. The crocodile was trying to eat our fish.
In the old days it was not uncommon to stand on prawns while you were pushing the boat out into deeper water. The shallows was mud and grass so it was perfect for prawns. So we would just walk around in the shallows and collect lots of prawns. Sometimes to eat and sometimes for bait.
The Crab that got its revenge
During the fishing trips we would sometimes catch a crab or two. You were not allowed to keep them as far as I remember but my Goco would make such a yummy crab curry. So some went into the sack. My Oupa’s boat had bench seats, it just so happened that the crab was in the sack under the seat I was sitting on. Next thing I feel this very deep pain in my calf. I was a bit close to the sack and the crab had got hold of my calf through the sack with its huge nippers. No blood was drawn and the crab was turned into a very yummy curry.
Louis doesn’t flinch
As I mentioned in the prawn story you would need to push the boat out to deeper water. This would be about 100 meters or more. Then you could jump on the boat and drop the motors and start them up. During this walk it would be in mud and sometimes you would step on a crab. Jump like crazy then find you place at the side of the boat and carry on. My uncle Louis would be at the front side of the boat and I would be at the back. He would feel a crab and not react at all, the crab would be ready for war with its nippers up in the air. I behind Louis would have no idea what was coming and I would step on this angry crab, jump and scream and my Uncle would just laugh. Bastard! You get one hell of a fright.
Getting stuck in the mud
So one time my girlfriend (my wife now) and I decided to go to the Makakatana on our own. I had my landy and we towed the boat up. Launching the boat required you to drive out into the lake, to deeper water so that you could at least float the boat after you got it off the trailer. It was muddy and you never know if you might get stuck. Well we managed to get the boat off no problem. It was driving on the side of the lake that I suddenly got stuck. I tried reversing and going forward but all I ended up doing was making the Landy sink deeper into the mud. We decided to go back to the house and get some staff to help us dig. I managed to get 3 staff members so loaded with spades and stuff, back down to the lake we went. My wife said it looked like a picture from snow white and the seven dwarfs. Well we failed to make any headway. I spoke to a neighbour but he was too afraid that he might also get stuck. So as a last resort I phoned my dad to come help. Lucky he was working at Mtunzini so it was not that far away. He pulled my Landy out no problem. He just stayed on the hard ground and soon I was out.
More to come as I think of them. I know I have some mates that have some stories so please send them dudes.