Fishing in Zululand

The coastline of Zululand stretches northwards from the Dolphin Coast (at the mouth of the Thukela River), all the way to Richard’s Bay. It is laced by the warm waters of the Indian Ocean and is a wonderland of prime opportunities for keen anglers and deep-sea fishermen. This part of KwaZulu-Natal is not only spectacularly beautiful, but is also a great getaway for outdoor enthusiasts.

What makes Zululand so unique in terms of its fishing is that it has a variety of different spots and styles – these range from tranquil lakes and lagoons to rushing rivers and the turbulent tossing of the deep sea.

Eshowe is the main area in which freshwater fishing is a hit. It comprises the Eshlazi Dam, the Rutledge Park Dam, and Lake Phobane.

Lake Phobane is excellent for bass fishing. Once known as Goedertrouw Dam, Phobane is the spot of choice for accomplished bass anglers and beginners alike. The large-mouth bass are usually over three kilograms and this is the only lake in the province with pure Florida-strain bass. Measuring an incredible 14 kilometres, this lake is also home to barbell and tilapia, which make for delicious eating; amongst dozens of other species.

The Amatikulu River is fabulous for catching a variety of shark and skate species, as well as shad (elf), river snapper, kob, grunter, gurnard, and perch. Importantly, the well-known tripletail can also be found in these waters. Beware of strong currents, even when wading in these waters. This is a quiet spot, surrounded by dunes – the perfect place to escape the maddening crowds of the big city.

Umlalazi Lagoon is within the Umlalazi Nature Reserve and is surrounded by mangrove forests and stunning hiking trails. The estuary is often teeming with juvenile fish and the mullet come to the surface, making for a great display. This is a fantastic spot for a family camping weekend. Water sports like stand-up paddling, kite-surfing, wind-surfing, swimming, canoeing and boating can all be enjoyed at this scenic destination.

The ocean is, of course, the site of the most exciting fishing. Deep-sea fishing takes this pastime to new heights as anglers head out on an ocean adventure, determined to land their big catch. The summer time extends officially from December to February in South Africa, but KwaZulu-Natal tends to stay warm far beyond these parameters. During the summer, fishermen can look forward to catching dorado, bonito, barracuda, yellowfin tuna (which put up quite a fight), kingfish, and queen fish in the deeper waters. The rock cod, grunter, snapper, and lantern fish are reef fish, and also make for awesome catches.

This is the only place in South Africa where tropical fish can be found in the wild. These lure some of the finest anglers in the country to put their skills to the test along this stretch of the coastline. Black and striped marlin are common, as are Pacific sailfish and king mackerel. Sometimes, anglers will even reel in a beautiful blue marlin. Other species here include dorado, wahoo, yellowfin tuna, queen mackerel, and bonito.

KwaZulu-Natal and, particularly, Zululand are fantastic destinations for travellers and visitors that want to get out of the city, retreat from its vibe, and relax on the water.

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.