Gem of a cottage For Sale R4.8million

Gem of a cottage for sale situated in a truly unique place, the Western Shores Game Reserve of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park (previously known as the Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park) in an area called ‘Makakatana.’

Regular visitors on the lawn around the homestead are Warthogs, Bushbuck, Nyala and Red Duiker. The variety of birdlife in the area is phenomenal. When the Night jar calls it’s last in the early morning the Fish Eagle gives his wake up call!
Self-drive game drives in the park are most rewarding and are only a minute away.
The sounds of Hyenas, Hippo’s, Buck barking/whistling, Bush babies, Water Thick-knees, Nightjars and Owls at night add to the magic of the area.
On those extra quiet nights or mornings, you can hear the waves breaking on the shores of ‘Mission Rocks’. You can also hear the throb of a distant ship in the Indian Ocean

For more on the park where you will find this gem click on this link:

A family homestead on the Western shores of Lake St. Lucia in iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Makakatana Lot 7 approximately 8000 m2  (2 acres) in extent with a house 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom, rondavel 5th bedroom, workshop, garage and caretakers quarters. The property and house has Eskom power with an extensive rain water harvesting system. There is an unobtrusive communal electric fence to keep elephant at bay. Homestead is 35 minutes away from St. Lucia, Mtubatuba or Hluhluwe and 6km from Charters Creek (launch site). Full access to game reserve – T&C’s apply.

Please Contact Neil if you are interested. Email Neilandmichelene(at) or cell +27 83 417 0045

A few of the many pictures of this awesome piece of paradise.

See my other posts on the history of Makakatana and some awesome fishing memories

The History of Makakatana

Our involvement in Makakatana Township began when Lionel Gunter, (our dad) purchased Lot 7, being 2 acres of land, from Frank Ivins on 19th June 1961. (Frank Ivins’s son, Everard Ivins used to be the Baker’s rep in the Eshowe/Zululand area.)

Co-incidentally in March 2013 a stranger started talking to me in the Pick’nPay in Mtubatuba.  When I told her I was on my way to Makakatana she proceeded to tell me that her Dad had owned a property there many years ago. He sold it shortly after building the outbuildings so that he could buy shares in a farm between the Nyalazi turnoff and Makakatana.  It turned out to be Everard’s sister. There was no need for them to keep Lot 7 as they now lived close enough to go to Charters on a regular basis.  We chatted further and discovered that she was a very good friend of Mike’s first cousin Jill Tayfield nee Mattinson.  Jill was married previously to a Davidson. Everard’s sister’s late husband was a great friend of Jill’s late husband. They did a lot of fishing together.

Frank Ivins bought the land from the state (Crown Lands), on 7th May 1958 for the sum of 200 pounds.  Unfortunately we are unable to trace what our Dad paid for this property.

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My Dad heard about the place through Jimmy Morrison. Lionel and Jimmy became good friends while attending the government school in Eshowe. Both stayed at the boarding establishment, Eshowe Boy’s Hostel.

Our cottage originally consisted of a garage with 2 inter leading bedrooms. The family bathroom/toilet was a separate building.  You had to walk outside to get to it, and even though it was a short walk around the corner, it was pretty scary as the grass around the cottage was still in its natural state. The vegetation/grass on the property became manicured years later. In the early years there was no such thing as leaving a caretaker at Makakatana to look after the place. The Locals could not resist poaching the animals!

My Dad’s boat, in those early years, was left here and was parked in the garage/kitchen.  When you arrived for your family holiday the boat was towed out and the garage became the kitchen. This is still the kitchen today. The inter-leading door into the nearest bedroom was closed up much later.

Over the years my Dad added on more rooms to accommodate the growing number of family and friends that joined in the fun at Makakatana.  It was a fishing holiday home.  It took the place of our annual pilgrimage of camping at Kosi Bay. My Dad together with my Mom had the good fortune of retiring at Makakatana at the age of 50 years. He died 3 months before his 71st birthday.

Sadly there are no written notes or stories relating to Makakatana left by Lionel or Patty.  My brother, Louis, and I decided to put something down on paper before our memories ‘left us’.

We are not sure how the name ‘Makakatana’ originated. There are various stories quoted.  Jabulani, our ex Caretaker told us that there is an old man, he lives near Jabulani’s home in the Nyalazi district, who says, that there used to be a woman by the name of Makakatana that used to live in this area.  Hugh Morrison tells us that his grandfather named the place after Chief Makakatana who resided nearby. Isimangaliso have just named the pan next to the homesteads of Makakatana, ‘Kwelezintombi Pan’. (‘Kwe’ means ‘@’ or ‘the place’. ‘Lezintombi’ – for the maidens.)  This is where the maidens used to bath. Never mind that crocodiles and mosquitoes abounded!

The following are extracts taken from an article written by Ursula Morrison: (Ursula attended the Eshowe school at the same time as Lionel and Jimmy)

The story of the Morrison family at Makakatana began in 1918, when David Brodie, one of the partners in a business called G. A. Challis & Co needed a young partner to take the place of Mr. Challis who had been so badly shell shocked during the great War of 1914 -18, that he was incapable of running the shop, known as ‘Lake Store’ at Makakatana.  David Brodie made regular trips to Scotland and needed a young and reliable partner to take care of the business while he was away. David Brodie and Mr. Challis were ex-Natal Government Policemen.

John Kemp Morrison (known as ‘Jock’) was eighteen years old, and was working in Mtubatuba for a shopkeeper called Fayle, when he was offered the opportunity to become a partner in the business of Challis & Co. In order to buy into the partnership he borrowed money from Mr. Percival, a friend of his parents.  In later years Mr. Percival’s grandson, Brian, married Mary Percival (nee Rogers). Mary is the sister of Ursula Morrison who married James, (Jimmy) the son of Jock Morrison. (Insert by Louis… Today in and around Eshowe lives Judy Steenberg and Heyden Percival, Mary’s daughter and son.)

During these early years there was no reliable transport. The railway line ended at Somkele, kilometers from Mtubatuba and from here all the goods for the shop had to be transported by ox wagon over rough tracks. During the rainy season the track often became water logged and detours had to be made around various pans of water.

Malaria was simply a nuisance to be endured if one wished to live on the Zululand coast.  Everyone kept a supply of quinine and although there were sprays, which were usually diluted with paraffin and sprayed from a pump action can, this had a very limited effect.  This was long before the advent of D.D.T. and aerosols, which did much to eradicate malaria.

The customers came from round about the shop, where their grass huts were widely scattered at the edge of the forest. Apart from the normal cash transactions, trade was also done by barter and store goods would be exchanged for hides and mealies.  Some of the customers came from the Eastern Shores, across the lake. To get to the store they had to cross at ‘Broadies Crossing’, at the start of what is called ‘the Narrows’.

Crocodiles abounded so the people crossed in a body, shouting, singing and beating the water. At Broadies there is a hard ‘path’ from one side to the other, reputedly made by elephants as they waded back and forth.  When the lake was high it was dangerous to cross on foot. Use was made of the shop’s ferryboat, which was rowed across.  The charge in 1949 was 3 pence or a tickey. This crossing was also used at night to illegally transport dagga that had been grown on the eastern shores.

(Insert by Louis…. Gabriel was the name of the African who was in charge of the ferry. The boat was an old wooden lifeboat, which was originally rowed and later powered by a Seagull motor. It was called “Skepe”. Zulu name for boat.)

Because the land was occupied and the local inhabitants continually burnt the grass for grazing, there was far less shrubs/trees than there is at present.  Aerial pictures taken in the 1940’s show this very clearly and also that the population was widespread but not large.

In 1924 ‘Jock’ Morrison married Agnes Bouverie Hamilton Leys, born in Aberdeen, Scotland. (She was the daughter of James and Agnes Leys. Her father, an engineer, emigrated to South Africa in about 1904 to work first for De Beers in Kimberley and then on Durban Harbour. Unfortunately James leys died a few months before his daughter married Jock as a result of contracting malaria at Makakatana). James Robert Hamilton Morrison, known as Jimmy, was born on 24th July 1925.

According to Ursula’s notes, some time in the early 1930’s a man by the name of Mr. James, from Verulam, asked the provincial authorities to sell him land at Makakatana in order to build a hotel. Challis & Co. had 100 acres of land on a 99 year lease from the province and in order to sell land to Mr. James this lease would have to be cancelled and Challis & Co. were approached to exchange the lease for 5 acres of freehold land.  This was agreed to and a start was made to the hotel, two rows of rooms being built.  Stone was blasted out of the lake to use in the building. (According to our Lot 7’s original Title Deeds, Makakatana was surveyed into Lots of 2 and 3 acres in March and April 1932.)

A concrete block store was built in about 1930 on the two acres plot on which the present Makakatana Lodge stands. This was used to store fish and the large swimming crabs which abound in the lake. These were packed up and sent by train to Durban. Due to the long journey and hot summers, fish did not travel well. The crabs, packed in grape baskets in layers of seaweed, survived.

Due to the poor state of the roads and distance from large centers, the Hotel scheme was non-viable.  The James’s had to give up their plans as they ran out of money.  They owed Challis & Co. a lot of money so ceded ownership of their 5 acres of land, (two where the lodge stands today, on the lake edge, and three next to ‘Lake Store’) together with the buildings, to the company.  Nothing was done about the land until Hugh Morrison built the present lodge, called Makakatana Bay Lodge.

Jock Morrison, as did everybody who lived in this part of the world, suffered regularly from Malaria. This had a bad effect on his kidneys and he died in 1938 at the age of 39 years, from black water fever leaving his wife Nan, son James (13) and daughter Nan (11).

This left Dave Brodie, the older partner, in the position to buy out the Morrison’s but for some reason he did not.  When he died in Scotland in the early 1940’s his heirs sold his share to Nan Morrison and her brother James Leys. James Leys had a small share in the Company.  Leys then ran the businesses from 1938 to 1948, which is when the partnership between brother and sister ended. James Leys then took over the shop at Mposa and Nan Morrison retained ownership of the other three businesses being Lake Store, Nyalazi Store and Hluhluwe Store. She handed the running of these three stores to her son James, all of 23 years old.

When Agnes Morrison, fondly known as Nan, and her twin brother James Leys parted company one of the conditions was that neither would use the name Challis & Co.’ Nan and her son James decided to name the business ‘JOCK MORRISON & SON’ in honor of their late husband and father, a man who had been much loved & honored throughout Zululand. The name of Challis, who had ended his days at Makakatana as a mental casualty of the Great War, faded from the scene until it was revived many years later as the name of one of the family companies.

The businesses were not in good shape, only one of the three shops showing a fair return.  The buildings, which were built of wood and iron, needed replacement.  There were shortages of goods for a number of years after the end of World War 2 and customers would queue for their daily rations of brown sugar, as this item was necessary for the brewing of homemade liquor.  Black people were not permitted to buy ‘white liquor’ at that time so concocted & sold their own version of moonshine (shimian) as well as tapping the Ilala palm to make palm wine, a potent liquor (Njomane).

In February 1949, James, known to most as Jimmy married Ursula Rogers and their first son John was born in December of that year to be followed by Barry, Pamela, Bruce, Keith and Hugh.

Following the tradition of Jimmy and Ursula, who attended the Eshowe Government School, their children were sent off to the same boarding school in Eshowe. Due to the bad roads in those days it was necessary for children to become boarders in Class 1, (now called Grade 1).

Business began to prosper and the Morrison’s were able to build their new home next to Lake Store. The old house behind the store became abandoned.

Now for a few Gunter stories:

Myrtle and I were already at boarding school when John and Barry arrived on the scene.  I can remember us girls befriending these dear boys.

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Our early memories, of traveling to Makakatana was having to drive into a huge shed, on the last stretch of road to Charter’s Creek, and having to have the inside of our vehicle sprayed with those old pump action insect sprayers.  This was to kill the Tsetse Fly we were told.

Makakatana is made up of 11 Lots, owned as follows (Open to correction):

Lot 5 belonged to Norman and Peggy Atkinson. Norman owned the original saw mill in Eshowe.  It was on your way to the Testing Grounds and the Old Fort. Norman used to make wooden spokes for wagon wheels. We suspect that Peggy might have taught the likes of Lionel and Jimmy. Years later I used to walk from the Junior School hostel to the home of Peggy and Norman, which was in the same yard as the sawmill, for extra arithmetic lessons.  Young girls were quite safe to walk around on their own, even through the bush. Penelope Atkinson, Norman and Peggy’s daughter, (she was at Eshowe school the same time as Mike) married Richard Rencken. They now own Lot 5.

A gentleman with the surname of Hodkins originally owned Lot 4. He sold it to Walter van Rooyen.  Walter and Priscilla’s children attended Eshowe High School. Walter farmed in the Monzi area. Their children now share ownership of this property.  His one daughter, Paula married John Morrison.

Lot 3 would have been owned by Mr. James and later ceded to the Morrisons. John and Bruce now share this property.  John and Paula have built a beautiful home on their portion and live here permanently.

The Morrison family owns Lot’s 1, 2, 3, 10 and 11.

Lot 6 belonged to people by the name of Surtees.  There was an occasion when my Dad had to rescue them and their boat which they had put a hole through in the middle of the lake. This property was later sold to my dad’s cousin Lionel King (also ex Eshowe boy). He later sold it to Wally Balcomb. This property now belongs to Cheryl, Wally’s daughter who married Mike Zunckel. Cheryl’s brother, Bryce was killed at a level crossing a week after Mike’s and my wedding.  Sadly Wally was traveling in a vehicle following his son when the accident took place.

Lot 7 now belongs to Myrtle, Louis and I.

Lot 8 belonged to the Roman Catholics.  In later years Ian Player managed to convince the Catholics to sell him half of their property.  All in the name of Conservation! He did not own it for long when he on sold it. It is now owned by Sid Rogers. My Dad built their home, which consists of 3 inter-leading flats. Two elderly couples took up residence in 2 of the flats for a few years.

Lot 9 was owned by Mr. Kent.  He was the lawyer/attorney in Eshowe. He used to practice where Sid Brien practiced, opposite the Police Station. The ‘Green’ and ‘Gathercole’ family are his descendants. Judy Green also went to school in Eshowe the same time as my Dad, Jimmy and Ursula. I had the privilege of going fishing with Mr. Kent on the odd occasion.

We got on well with all the Morrison children as we spent most of our school holidays at Makak.

There was never a problem, fishing for small Tilapia without adult supervision, in the little pans that formed amongst the grasses, on the edge of the lake.  We kept one eye open for crocodiles but never took them too seriously. Our Tilapia were used as bait to catch Sea Pike, King fish, Salmon and any other big fish that might be feeling hungry.

Prawns abounded in the lake.  On the odd occasion, shoals would be resident in the area where we launched our boats.  The shoal was so thick that it was very easy to stand on them while walking to and from your boat. We would quietly sneak them out from under our feet and use them for bait.  My folks were given the odd bag of prawns thanks to wonderful friends who worked for Natal Parks Board, as it was known back then.  We had many a feast on prawns, crabs and fish.  Our family being keen fishermen, were privileged to eat fish on a regularly basis.

Besides Pelicans there used to be huge flocks of flamingo. While fishing at night for Salmon, the Flamingoes appeared to never sleep.  They croaked through night!

My Dad’s first boat was an aluminum Bay boat with a 40hp Johnson motor. It had a ‘pull-start’ to get it going and a tiller bar to steer it with. My Dad took his fishing very seriously.  He did not have much patience with us children in his boat. He bought my Mom a plywood (more like painted Masonite) boat that looked like a bathtub. It had a flat bottom and was not at all sea-worthy. We would only venture out in this boat when the lake was very calm!  No life jackets! Those were kept in my Dad’s boat because he could not swim. It was propelled by a ‘Sea Gull’ motor.  The boat was painted red and cream. My Mom and I caught many fish off this boat, starting in the early years at Kosi Bay.  On one occasion while my mom and I were fishing off Mitchell Island a shoal of King Fish and Sea Pike came on the bite. When we looked again our sandwiches had curled up into bits of dry bread. You could not eat them! My mom and I were always hungry and if the fish were not biting we would eat. Invariably if we started eating the fish would come on the bite.

On the odd occasion, we would travel by vehicle to go fishing in the Nyalazi River. Louis remembers the strong fragrance that filled the car as we drove over the ‘Nsuzanie bush’.  Our dad had no problem asking herdsmen along the way where to find the best fishing spots. The Nyalazi River used to be a strong river that fed into the lake system. During the recent drought this river dried up completely. Hopefully it is running again as we have had lovely rains during the last 2 years. Big salmon were caught in this river, but only at night and mainly in winter. We would dress warmly and spend the night dozing on and off around the fire, keeping one eye open for crocodiles and the other on our fishing rod.  The sound of the bush-baby calling and the owls hooting was magic. You would hear the odd plop of a mullet jumping or a salmon slapping the surface of the water.  Young ‘herdsmen’ used to lie around the fire with us, waiting for us to finish filleting our sardines. They would immediately put the skeleton and head on the fire. It made tasty snacks. Some of the family slept in the vehicle. On one of these trips we could not understand why our sardines were being taken off our hooks without any noticeable tugs. Us children rigged up rods made from reeds. We attached a short piece of nylon with a tiny hook, made from a bent pin, and added a float.  We dropped these just over the bank into the river.  We found the culprits, huge prawns. This was while it was still light enough to see what we were doing. As darkness fell we improved on our fishing technique by putting a few sardines into the scoop net and balanced it just off the edge of the bank.  We would give it a few minutes and then sneak up to the net and lift it out with speed. This produced lots of prawns in one scoop! The prawn that stands out is the one that we managed to find under the jetty at Makakatana.  It looked like a crayfish. It’s head filled an old honey bottle. We kept it preserved in formalin for years. There was a stall on the main road where they sold honey in tall jars years ago. Honey in cones, is still being sold on the N2 by local hawkers.

On one particularly cold night, while fishing off the banks of the river, the only one left fishing was my Dad. The rest of us were huddled up in the Land Rover station wagon.  We woke up to my dad yelling and the sound of a steam train coming up the river.  Now and again you heard this loud ‘explosion’ on the surface of the water.  I am not sure how many of you ever read Zane Grey books.  In one of his books he explained about the salmon run coming up the river. Here we were experiencing our own salmon run! My dad was beside himself.  He spent more time running backwards and forwards from the vehicle to the river and back again, changing from one trace to another.  He could not decide what method to use. This resulted in his trace hardly being in the water. The sound of the mullet being chased by the salmon was amazing. Sadly as fast as they came up the river they disappeared, continuing up the river and into the night. My Dad was devastated as he stood there listening to the train becoming fainter and fainter!

The fish that surprised us all to come out of the lakes, caught by my Dad, was a huge Sawfish. Unfortunately after my Dad died and the dust had settled, after much spring-cleaning, we discovered that the chart where my Dad had recorded all the fish records caught at Makakatana, had disappeared.  None of us can remember the size of this Sawfish.

Before the area was taken over by Isimangaliso and stocked with game, there were the original game stocks of Bush Buck, Nyala, Reed Buck (including the white one), Hyena, Red Duiker, etc. One day while my parents were out fishing on the lake near Eastern Shores (this is the side nearest the ocean), they heard a Bushbuck barking frantically.  They thought it might be caught in a snare.  They reeled up and shot to the edge near the area where the noise was coming from.  They were able to run up into a slight clearing in the bush.  There they found a huge python coiled around a young bushbuck. The mother was jumping around the Python and barking furiously.  Unfortunately the sudden appearance of my folks frightened the Python and it released the buck.  It disappeared into the grass.  The mother, once she realized that her baby was dead also disappeared into the bush.  My folks, upset as they were, did not dare touch the young buck and hoped the Python would come back to collect its prey. They did not hang around to find out.

Just the other night we could hear 2 hippo’s fighting near the cottage.  We immediately thought of my mom and dad.  2 Hippo’s fought in their front garden, just off their veranda and outside their bedroom window. My mother was terrified. They quickly brought their little dog inside and made sure the front double door was locked. The bellowing and teeth (tusks) striking is quite something to hear.  Mom had visions of them crashing through the door.  Two days later a small area around the door was fenced in.  This later became a problem for the Wart Hogs who tended to beg for the mangoes, which fell into the fenced area.  To have a Wart Hog beg for food is also scary. They give a snort and give you a mock charge. You cannot be sure how ‘mock’ it is!

One of the builders that helped my Dad build at Makakatana, after visiting Agnes, the ‘shebeen queen’, walked into a hippo on his way back late at night. He was badly attacked. He had a hole in his back and a broken leg and arm.  He was found the next morning hiding in the bushes. He survived the attack.

Dick Herbert sent us a letter of condolence after my Dad died. In it he wrote, ‘Lionel will be remembered by his family and friends for years to come. Your Dad and his stories will be repeated around many a camp fire!’ How can we ever forget our Dad, Lionel?  He certainly taught us how wonderful it is to be permanently close to nature.

Notes by Louis:  The drought, during the early 1980’s, left a very high salt level in the lake. The fish that were caught were as thin as planks and could not be eaten. The homesteads that had swimming pools battled to keep the hippos out. Hippos also licked and nibbled at the condensation that had formed on the outside of the old ‘fuel tanks’ that were used to collect water from the gutters.  Then in January/February 1984 the ‘Demoina’ floods came. The lakes went from serious salt to fresh. Tons of fish died and drifted to shore.  Bushpigs, Hyaena, Water Mongoose, Fish Eagles, plus others thrived. What was not eaten was left to rot.  It was quite something to find the remains of Salmon in the region of 20-30kg.

Then came another drought. It was not pleasant to experience the stench that drifted up from the lake during these times.

Today Makakatana is a full on game reserve and falls within the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. This is thanks to Andrew Zaloumis, son of Nolly Zaloumis.  Nolly was a dentist in Stanger.  He was originally from Zimbabwe. Nolly was passionate about conservation and served on the board of the old Natal Parks Board for many years.  Andrew obviously inherited his father’s passion for conservation.

The only animals you are not going to see in our area at the moment are Lions, Cheetah and for some reason Impala.  When my dad was still alive and before Isimangaliso came on the scene, there were 2 Lions that found there way to Makakatana. These were duly tracked down and removed.

Even while Makakatana suffered years of very little water in the lake and fishing became a thing of the past, it never lost its appeal for the birding enthusiasts and those who loved the peace that you find in the bush.

In 2001 20 elephants that came from Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Park, were introduced on the western shore of the lake. We are on the western shore of the lake. Others were later introduced to the eastern side.  These elephants have multiplied and cross over the lake on the odd occasion.

The Buffalo that have been introduced also tend to cross the lake, even if it means they have to swim to do so.

Extracts taken from a brochure put out by Makakatana Bay Lodge:

St Lucia was first named in 1554 as “Rio de la Medaos do Oura” (‘River of the Dows of Gold’) by the survivors of the Portuguese ship ‘Saint Benedict’. At this stage, only the Tugela River mouth was known as St Lucia.  Later, in 1575, the Tugela River was named ‘Tugela’.  On 13th December 1575, the day of the feast of Saint Lucy, Manuel Peresterello renamed the mouth area to Santa Lucia.

  • In 1822 the British proclaimed St Lucia a township.
  • In 1895, St Lucia Game Reserve, 30 km north of the town was proclaimed. (Eastern Shores)
  • In 1937 the area around Makakatana fell under the jurisdiction of Natal Parks Board.
  • In 1971, St Lucia Lake and the turtle beaches and coral reefs of Maputaland were listed by the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention).
  • In December 1999, the park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • On 1st November 2007 the ‘Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park, was renamed iSimangaliso Wetland Park. The word ‘isimangaliso’ is Zulu for ‘a miracle’.

ISimangaliso Wetland Park, situated on the east coast of KwaZulu-Natal, is South Africa’s third-largest protected area, spanning 280km of coastline, from the Mozambican border in the north to Mapelane south of the St Lucia estuary, and is made up of around 3,280 km2 of pristine natural ecosystems.

DIY fishing spoons

A quick tutorial on how to make your own fishing spoons for cheap. Also for once it is with products you can get here in South Africa.

I found this tutorial on Salt fishing South Africa Facebook group.  I see it is from the  East Coast Angling Guides Facebook page. It is so simple and clever. Might be time to hit the water and dive for some sinkers. I am also keen to take it a bit further and make other kinds of lures with resin. The mold is simple and awesome.

Anyway enjoy and hope you make some fishing spoons of your own.

DIY fishing spoons

Longtail outboard motor South Africa

This looks like a awesome idea. I could imagine exploring some awesome places in an aluminium boat. The shallow draft of this outboard motor for those river mouths and going far upstream to some uncharted fishing water.

Check out their website for more details.

picture from

Fishing Freaks are back

So exciting to see the fishing freaks back.

16 things only fly fishers will understand

As a highly addicted bunch of individuals, its not surprising that there are a few things which are common amongst all of us who dream about throwing flies at fish.

In no particular order, herewith things which only fly fishers can relate to:

  • Your first fish on fly. No matter what fish, fly or age almost all of us can remember that first fish we caught on fly. That surge of adrenaline when you saw your fly line disappear in to the depths for the first time – welcome to the addiction.
  • Thawing out in front of a fire. After a long day wading/float-tubing or hiking, there is nothing more relaxing as being memorised by a fire at night recounting the days fishing in a sleepy haze.
  • Your first fly behind the vice. Inevitably, once the bug bites we all fall for the next addiction in line – fly tying. No matter how mangled your first attempt behind the vice is, we just cant stop feeling that pride of knowing that we just tied our first fly.
  • Following from point 3 – your first fish on your own tied fly…This is what its all about right? You made something which artificially imitated nature and enticed a fish to take it.

For the full list head over to fly loops

Also thanks to on the vise for the image


Portable fishfinder update

I went on a bit of a mission over the weekend to make this portable fishfinder suction mount with a GPS on the side. I first modified my fishingski hatch to open forwards. It used to open on the side. I then also covered the  lid with black perspex ( Or some sort of signage plastic, they joys of working at rent a store you find some interesting things in the waste skip). A while ago I added a suction mount to my fishfinder. I made a suction mount for the gps but thought that is a waste. Lets just make one suction mount. So this was the final product below in the video.

Portable fishfinder Suction mount with a GPS on the side.

In this link is still my mount for the transducer and battery. I am thinking about getting a smaller battery so will change the battery box to make portable fishfinder more portable.

Kosi Bay fishing

This is a post from my mom. She wrote it in an email as a response to people asking about Kosi Bay fishing. When I start on the subject of Kosi Bay I find it difficult ‘to land the plane!’. I was introduced to fishing while camping at the Kosi Estuary at the age of 7 years old. I became hooked! I turn 67 in January. Fishing and camping over the years introduced us to wonderful friends and people. Lantz was first introduced to Kosi during my pregnancy with him! Lantz and his sisters loved the annual trips to Kosi and had no problem being on the boat with us day and night. You never felt afraid on the boat while being with Mike, regardless of how rough the lake was or how dark the night. He got us around confidently and safely. We have had wonderful adventures!

I am not sure if we can lead you to catching ‘the beast’.  I have no problem sharing our techniques that we have used over the years. Fishing is all about luck and it being your day. Being in the right place at the right time helps hugely!!

I am passionate about only keeping enough for the table and releasing thereafter.  It pains me to find out later that somebody that I have shared a spot with lands up ‘murdering’ the fish and bragging about it. Sadly this has happened!
Fish that has lingered in the deep freeze never tastes the same as fresh fish. Besides which it is all about the challenge and the sport. If we kill all the fish off how are the children of the future going to experience this wonderful sport. Sorry if I appear to be nagging here!

Sadly Mike and I are not able to fish as keenly as we used to years ago. Mike, Lantz’s Dad is suffering from an inherited disease, Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. This has damaged his lungs and his heart very badly. We are fortunate that he was never a smoker and that he was a very strong, fit man.  He was given 6 months to live 14 years ago. He is turning 73 next year and even though he is on oxygen, mostly 24 hours now, we are going to be at Kosi again in January 2016, from the 4th to the 17th.  Our children insisted on taking us this last January, even though I was nursing a broken leg thanks to our Great Dane and me not seeing her coming!  Mike and I spent our days, sitting on camp site 1, gazing at the lake and reading. We could not have wished for a better place to sit! We cherish our memories and were grateful for the privilege of being at Kosi once more. This January we are introducing friends, approximately 10 years younger than Mike, to our way of camping at Kosi. They are newly retired and are game to learn and have plenty of energy levels to help look after Mike.

I am attaching photos of the lakes which I have taken off google earth. It is worth looking it up on the internet, if you have not already done so. It helps you understand the lake system and where the deep holes and channels are which is invariably where the fish feed. In years gone by we learnt some of these from my Dad and others we found by accident. We marked them by looking at the land around us. When we eventually invested in a fish finder and a GPS we were fascinated to see how accurate we had been in finding the holes and channels.
Over the years the introduction of more fish kraals around the channel entrance and illegal length gill nets, reduced some of the lucrative fishing spots to no fish or very few. The slash and burn along the major water ways leading into the lake have also played a huge part in changing the lake’s echo system.  It breaks our hearts!! I cannot deny that many a camper did as much damage by bringing in bags and bags of undersized fish. They are the reason for fishermen getting a bad name.

Kosi Bay fishing

Please forgive the preamble. Now to where you might find the beast!

I have marked the google earth maps. The map I drew up many years ago has faded and is not that easy to read. The fishing spots are still pretty much the same but far less fish now. Sadly Scotty Kyle is the man responsible for allowing the nets into Kosi. He once came to thank  me for releasing a nice size King Fish which I had caught off camp site 1. His fish monitoring staff member saw it happen and told him.  I mentioned that I regretted the day he arrived at Kosi bay due to him introducing the nets. He confessed that he was to blame for this.

You might like to stretch your budget on your next trip and hire Ewan Kyle, Scotty’s son, to take you on a fishing trip. See other email that I will send you. It would be nice to see a keen fisherman, with passion, at work.
Thomassen, that wrote the article that I am sending you, wrote a book together with his friend, ‘Fishing myself single’. It is a lovely easy read that might interest you. We know his parents well. His sister wrote a book on Kruger, also a lovely easy read.

Back to Kosi Bay fishing.
Early morning, and approximately from 4.00pm into the night are, in our opinion still the best times to be fishing. We had a saying, ‘Live bait 4.30pm. When they stop feeding it means Sea Pike and Kingfish are around. 7.00 -7.30pm was Rock Salmon time’! Rock Salmon, when feeding would eat anything.
The  spots I have marked in the 2nd Lake near the channel entrances and on the East side, used to be our main Rock Salmon spots.
My 40lb Kingfish was caught by the entrance of the channel into the 2nd Lake from the 3rd Lake. Numerous Kingfish, Sea Pike and Rock Salmon were caught here. Sadly when we arrived there a few years ago it was to find a fish kraal had been built there. The hippos love this spot!

Of late the best spot has proved to be all around the hole in the 3rd lake (Big lake) on the north, north west and north east side. I have marked the map. We have never been fans of catching only bream and grunter. We mainly fish in the Big lake and over the years the Big Lake has rewarded us with more fish in comparison to those that have fished in the other lakes.  Towards the entrance to the channel, north west of the hole, you would catch Sea pike. North side of hole would be Kingfish. North and North east of hole would be Rock salmon.
Parked with Pouter as bait, dead or alive, was successful. You keep your eyes peeled for shoals of kingfish swimming past. You must cast a lure when you see them. This worked well January 2014.  January 2015 saw less fish come out. Lures and whole fish were more successful than other baits. The weather plays a huge part dictating just when the Kingfish feed. It has something to do with the barometric pressure dropping just before a storm or change in the weather. I suspect you already know all this!

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The fish-finder can pick up the shoals of Rock salmon or you look for the terns.
When you find the shoal you cast your lures.  Hannes, our camping neighbor, caught 8 in 2 hours mid day the one day. That was when he lost his best lure. I will send you a photo of the lures he was using. He released most of his Rock Salmon.
When you see shoals of Rock salmon feeding do not speed into them. Patience is the name of the game. Rather park and allow the wind to drift you over the shoal. You drop or cast your lures and reel in over the shoal. Seeing these huge fish slapping the water with their red tails is very exciting!  Big-eye Kingfish also tend to shoal and feed on the shoals of tiny fish/sprats?
You can also troll around the edge of the hole, just in the deep, to find the Rock salmon. At the same time keep your eyes peeled for the shoals of kingfish feeding. If a Rock salmon takes your lure while you are trolling try to stick in the area and cast your lures.

Kingfish do also feed in the middle of the day. Wherever you are parked make sure you longline with a live or dead pouter and not only prawns and cracker shrimps. If you loose your thick nylon trace after a nice run, then change to steel wire, or similar, as it is then Sea Pike feeding. I am terrified of a nylon trace and tend to use nylon coated steel wire or one of the modern trace wires. Remember these traces have to be at least a metre long so that the kingfish can’t cut if off with their tails. Sea Pike also tend to grab at the swivel while you are fighting another pike.

Rattler lures are cheaper than Halcos and Rapalas.  Rattler Deep Diver was the favorite. The lure that the fishing shop said was the best to use was L25. The one that looks a bit like the one that our friend found good is B24. I might be wrong with the numbers. Make sure than can dive below 3m. I would also recommend a red and white and also a purple for overcast days. The list can grow very quickly and creates a lot of confusion!! Don’t be afraid of big lures. We found they worked better than the little one.
I suspect that when you hit a shoal of Kings or Rock salmon they will take anything.

We own a family cottage at Makakatana in the iSimangaliso Western Shore park. If you google ‘Makakatana’ the Lodge is NOT us. In January 2014, when there was water back in the lakes, my brother Louis was out fishing with his sons and saw a similar action with fish feeding near Charters Creek. The only thing they had, besides prawns and sardines which were not being touched, were black worm lures. They casted these worms into the shoal and could not go wrong.   Jason said it was as though the lures landing on the salmon were irritating them and they were just snapping at them!

When the South wind churns up the lake a good spot to fish is along the north edge of the big lake near the hole. In the teeth of the wind. There is a constant current running in the big lake. You will notice when you are parked on the west side of the hole in the north, that your bait that you have casted towards the shallow side, tends to drift across the shallow section, eastwards with the current.  We normally park just off the deep and cast lines into the deep and towards the shallow side. Sometimes you have more luck fishing with no sinker and a nice size pouter. Other times the guy with a huge sinker that does not want his bait to drift hits the jackpot.
We suspect the rough water pounds the small fish, stunning them. They then tend to drift around in the shallow, now murky water, making them easy targets for the big fish which sneak out of the deep hole and grab them.

Don’t hesitate to learn from the ‘gillies’ that are fishing, or selling cracker shrimp at the channel entrance of the big lake. You might also like to ask at the gate for a guy by the name of Wiseman. He is a rough looking chap but is a good fisherman. I think he also likes to drink. He will show you where to long line on the east side of the big lake, near the Casuarinas.

We wish you TIGHT LINES!   Fishing is all about luck, but I am a great believer in PASSION and homework! Sometimes this is more fun and if you do catch fish it is a bonus!

I would love to hear more about your trip when it is done and dusted.  Please post them in the comments below. Enjoy every moment of this amazing place while you can.

God Bless
Marian Mattinson

PS: The Rattler lure photos are what our neighbor was having a lot of luck on. We noticed people with yellow lures were also having a lot of luck. We found the Rainbow colored Halco worked best in Mozambique but have not yet tried it at Kosi. Trolling with Red and white feathers or spoons was fashionable many years ago and then the fashion changed! A red and white lure is always a good color to have in your collection.

Kosi Bay Rock Salmon

I was amped to get a decent rock salmon (river snapper) as Kosi has some real lunkers and is the best place to land them as there is not much structure for them to cut you off on. My chance came one afternoon when we were coming back from fishing first lake and we noticed a shoal of big snapper congregated next to the mouth of one of the channels. I cast a Rapala X-Rap Walk 13cm surface stickbait at them and slowly walked it over the shoal. The water exploded and I was on. I go the fish right next to the boat and the hook pulled. I quickly cast at the shoal again and went vas a second time. This time the hook stayed in and I was very stoked to land a 10lb fish, which Ewan tagged for me.

Read the full Kosi Bay Rock Salmon story, by Craig Thomassen


Ewan was kind enough to sit back and let me have a full go at these fish, as he could see how amped I was and knows that this is my favourite estuary species. The next one I hooked was an absolute bomber, it pulled line like a steam train and gave me a great fight. It was quite a different colour from the others, they have very variable colours. This one weighed in on the boga at 15lb’s which is a seven kilo fish!

Read the full Kosi Bay Rock Salmon story, by Craig Thomassen


Boat Storage

Is your Boat Storage taking up a parking bay at work? Is your boat parked in your yard under a cover filled with mosquito water? Don’t you hate it when you need to take your boat for that holiday or weekend away only to find that you need to service it and so many little things are broken, because it has been in the elements and they have taken their toll on your investment.

Your boat storage is under Cover.

Why not store your boat at our Rent A Store Sandton Branch. Your boat storage is under cover in an open parking bay, so it will not fill up with water and mosquitoes. Keep it covered to stop the dust.  Free up that space at work so you can get your job done without distractions. Free up that space at home for the kids car or whatever else you can use the space for.

We are open from 6am to 6pm 7 days a week. So when you are ready to go on that holiday or spend the weekend at the Vaal. Just come and collect your boat and off you go. You could even come and collect your boat after or before work.

So fill in a few details online and we will contact you to get the ball rolling. We don’t just want you to store your boat with us. We want YOU to use it, your boat that is!

About the author. Lantz Mattinson. He love’s boats in an understatement. He has been either on the water or in the water before he was born. If it floated Lantz was on it. He has been on Ski Boats, rubber ducks, rafts down the Zambezi. Fishing kayaks paddling through the surf. He was even on a ship once, but that was just in the Harbour. Raced yachts at Richards Bay. He paddled out to sea to tie a rope around a boat that had flipped so they could drag it back to the beach. He works for Rent A Store Sandton