South Africa as a Fishing Destination

South Africa boasts around 2 500 kilometres of pristine coastline, which is punctuated by cities, towns, and holiday resorts. But, this coastline is not only famous for its gorgeous beaches and idyllic retreats. Rather, it has earned South Africa massive acclaim for its excellent fishing opportunities. Added to this are lakes, rivers, dams and lagoons; giving fishermen ample in the way of options when planning their exciting fishing trip to this scenic destination.


The oceans are teeming with exciting fish species. In fact, about 16% of all of the marine fish in all of the oceans on the planet can be found in the waters surrounding South Africa. On the eastern side of the country, the warm waters of the Indian Ocean are irresistible to water sports enthusiasts and bathers, but also to many fabulous fish species. On the western shores, the chilly Atlantic Ocean lures its own array of species.

Popular fish to catch along the coast or out at sea include:

  • Tuna (yellowfin, frigate, longfin, and bigeye)
  • Mackerel (horse, Indian, chub, and queen)
  • Garrick
  • Dorado
  • Yellowtail (Cape, black-banded, and longfin)
  • Wahoo
  • Kingfish
  • Queen fish,
  • Rockcod
  • Tripletail
  • Snapper (big-eye, speckled, one-spotted and emperor)
  • Hake
  • Mullet (southern, striped, flathead, and longarm)
  • Kingklip
  • Barbel
  • Stumpnose (white, Cape, Natal and big-eye)
  • Cape salmon
  • Shad / elf
  • Kob (mini, snapper, and longfin)
  • Bonito
  • Pilchard
  • Galjoen
  • Santer
  • Roman
  • Snoek
  • Barracuda
  • Grunter (spotted, grey, javelin, saddle, cock, striped and pinky)
  • Musselcracker
  • Cape gurnard
  • Steenbras (West Coast, white, red and sand)

This list does not include the many ray, skate and shark species that inhabit the ocean and make for challenging and rewarding catches.

There are a number of deep-sea charters all along the coast (particularly in the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal). These take anglers far beyond the breakers to experience the adventure of hauling in an impressive catch while feeling the sea spray in their face and the undulating of the boat as it negotiates the crests and troughs of the wild ocean.


South Africa is a country known for its diversity – whether in people, languages, cultures, fauna, flora, or attractions. However, it is its diversity of perfect fishing spots that calls to keen anglers and fly-fishermen to visit one of the dams, streams, rivers or lakes to try their hand at landing some brag-worthy catches. The freshwater fish species that remain the most popular amongst fishermen include:

  • Trout (brown, rainbow, brook, and golden)
  • Bass large-mouth, small-mouth, black, and spotted)
  • Carp (mirror, common, silver, and grass)
  • Yellowfish
  • Catfish (common rock, Natal mountain, common mountain, snake, bluntooth, and barbell)
  • Tilapia (banded, black, Nile, Israeli, redbreast and Mozambique)
  • Mullet (freshwater, large-scale, longarm, and striped)
  • Tigerfish
  • Labeo (purple, silver, red-eye, and leadan)
  • Goby (checked, river, tank, and sibayi)
  • River bream
  • Pipefish (freshwater and shortail)
  • Canary kurper
  • Perch
  • Zambezi shark
  • Cape silverside
  • Spotted killifish
  • Papermouth
  • River sardine


Fishing in South Africa is affordable and accessible in most of the provinces.

It is about more than the incredible variety of fish, though. This is about choosing between the dams amidst the magnificent mountainscapes, vast stretches of untouched beaches, adrenalin-inducing excursions out to sea, or peaceful perching on a quiet rock next to a river. This is about celebrating the absolute beauty of South Africa while testing your angling skills and reeling in the catch of a lifetime.