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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 Jan 2015

My Parents and some of the family went to Kosi Bay during Jan 2015. My mom broke her knee just before they left so she was out of action. My dad has Alpha 1-antitrypsin so he is unable to do any physical work without struggling for air.  But they had a good time.

So I asked my mom to pop me a mail with some feed back on the trip. She has asked me to change the names of some of the people and also some info I am not allowed to add onto the site. It would make for some interesting reporting if the info could be verified. Any way the feed back is below.

There being no fisherman in our camp made it hugely frustrating for me.  I eventually paid a gillie R150, going rate now, to catch us fish.  Charl took him to other side of lake, north of casuarinas, where he long lined from shore.  Our shore has been dead for 2 years running. Not a bite!!!

If it is fish to eat that you are after then best to hire a fisherman, even if only for 1 day. Wiseman was our fisherman. Rough looking guy but it did the trick. He tied, very well, a bit of sardine, prawn and cracker shrimp onto a 2,O hook, small bait. He hooked a rock salmon, which broke off by going into the reeds and caught lovely big bream, 2 and 3.2 kg. On East side, sea side, of hole, just off the deep, casting towards the shallow side and into the deep side is your best bet. This is if you are happy to park and wait.
Early morning, I believe is still the best.
The best spot proved to be all around the hole in the 3rd lake on the north side. North west and north east.
Towards the entrance to the channel north west of 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 and maybe try your luck with a lure. This worked well January 2014.
The fishfinder can pick up the shoals of Rock salmon or you look for the terns.
When you find the shoal you cast your lures.  Piet( name changed)  caught 8 in 2 hours mid day the one day. That was when he lost his best lure. Scotty’s letter will tell you how not to speed into the shoal when you see them feeding.  I agree!! Patience is the name of the game.
You can also troll around the edge of the hole, just in the deep, to find the Rock salmon.
Rattler lures are cheaper than Halcos and Rapalas.  Rattler Deep Diver was what Piet was using.  The lure that the fishing shop said was the best to use was L25. The one that looks a bit like Piets’s is B24.   I would recommend a red and white and also a purple for overcast days. I suspect that when you hit a shoal of Kings or Rock salmon they will take anything.
Fishing is truly the luck of the fisherman but there has to be an inner passion to go with it!!
That is the end of the feedback. Hope you enjoyed it and are very excited to go on your next fishing trip soon. My sister has some great pictures of Kosi Bay


Best fishing spot at Kosi bay

What is the best fishing spot at Kosi bay? Well I don’t think there is a best spot. There are a few factors that make up the good fishing spots at Kosi.

I have recently acquired a map of the good fishing spots and how to find them. This is from the same people that brought you Kings of Kosi.


I am just not sure how I want to share this with the world. If you think this would be of interest to you please leave a comment.

The Map in the picture is a very blurred version and the numbers have been marked off. The original is a scanned pdf version of the original. It is awesome to see it in its glory. I remember my Mom catching her huge Rock Salmom at the one spot. I just could not get over how big the fish was.

The Kings of Kosi – by Myrtle Hall

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!

Published in Ski-Boat Magazine July/August 2001

Kosi Bay, getting there.

Kosi Bay (affiliate link) is a place dear to my heart. Every year we would go here for our annual holiday in December. I remember the trips to get there from Eshowe felt like it would take the whole day. The Landy and the boat would be packed with everything we needed for about 2 weeks. That would be tents, food, fishing rods and the kitchen sink. The packing and planning started many weeks before and the reels would all get serviced and if need be new line would get but on. The tackle shops would get a visit and the tackle boxes would all get stocked up. My mom was the big fisher woman and things had to be done correctly for that big fish. My mom has caught many a big fish in Kosi bay. 19kg Rock salmon a over 25kg King Fish and many more. The trip would all start with the friends meeting in Eshowe long before the sun would be up. There would be a odd bit of checking if everything was tied down and then off we we go in convoy. Sometimes on the trip something would break down and there would be a plan made. My dad is a bush mechanic of note and he would make a plan. There would be no turning back so it was always moving forward. I think by lunch time or late breakfast we would be somewhere near lake Jozini, here we would stop and have some food. In the early days there was no tar road over Jozini and it would be a long trip over dirt road. When you got to Manguzi Town (KwaNgwanase) that is when the road became a sandy track and you needed to go through a few rivers. I remember this is where the 4X4 would really be tested and many a time they would cut out in the river and the Q20 would be sprayed onto the spark plugs, we would get tested as the heat was rising. Also when you go up the hills along the sandy tracks you would get stuck and would have to roll back down and start again with a bit more of a run up. This was all part of the fun in getting to Kosi Bay. Then you would be in a tunnel from the trees and it was downhill you just knew you where less then a kilometer from the 3rd lake.

Kosi Bay is made of 4 lakes, 3 are able to be used by boats and people. The 4th on and the furthest away from the mouth to the sea is closed off to boats and fishing. We did manage to get a tour there once. The water is black and rather scary to look at, this is just because of the decaying matter in the water. The 3rd lake is the biggest and is fresh water, the water is more like a tea colour. The 1st and 2nd lakes are made up of salt water and they are crystal clean. The 2nd and 3rd lake are joined by a long channel that take about 20mins on dead slow to get through. It twists and turns and snakes its way between the 2 lakes. On the spring tide the clean water pushes from the 2nd lake into the 3rd lake and the channel become crystal clean. You get to see the amazing fish life that lives in this echo system.

Ok back to the trip. Then it would happen you would drive down a one car at a time road and you would see the lake in front of you. There would be some boats parked on the water in the bay, for a moment you would be just drawn to staring at the lake and seeing the beauty of the place, taking in the smell of humidity and heat. Once that was over then it would be the mission of setting up camp. The boat and cars would need to be unpacked and the layout of the camp would need to be thought out. No tents in any hollow areas because if it rained you would be sleeping in a puddle. The communal kitchen tent would need a spot and the sleeping tents would also have to be put up and you don’t want to trip over any tent ropes in the middle of the night when you needed to go for a wee. This process would get many a temper flaring and there would be much huffing and puffing. Well in the end it would get done and some beers would get cracked open and the nerves would calm down. The next mission would be to get the boats of the trailers and into the water and the trailers stashed at the back of the camp. My mom would always book the campsite right on the water. When you would sit at camp you would be right next to the water, us as kids would swim all day long and our parents could watch us.

The next mission would be to get all the rods and reels setup. The camp would again look a bit like a tackle shop as all the gear was spread out. Reels would be put onto rods and the traces would be added and then once that was done it would all get stored on the boats. Maybe the boats would be taken for a quick spin to make sure all was in working order. Kosi Bay is a great fishing place, I will be adding some fishing stories and some close calls with hippos in the posts to come.