Sardine run has Durban buzzing

2012-07-21 00:00

IF you prefer your fish with a bit more seasoning, now is the perfect time to look into some saltwater angling.

Just because the bass aren’t biting, doesn’t mean that now is the time to pack away your fishing tackle.

Every winter, at some time during June and July, fishermen hoping to make a living, keen recreational anglers and the merely curious all gather together to catch a glimpse of the sardines that are currently moving long the KwaZulu-Natal coastline.

This week has seen Addington Beach in Durban buzzing with news of small, fast-moving pockets of these dancing fish that thrash and thrive in tantalising balls of silver.

Some sardines have already been netted, although they seem to be disappointingly smaller than usual.

Once you have seen the sheer quantity of sardines during one of their eagerly awaited runs, it is not surprising that despite their diminutive length of just under 20 cm, the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board identifies these fish as collectively comprising nearly a quarter of the world’s fish catch in weight.

The tinned variety is likely to be found in most pantry cupboards, but netting a few fresh sardines may offer a nice change to this somewhat standard South African staple.

Man is the least stealthy of the predators hoping to take advantage of this once a year seafood buffet. A variety of predators ranging from the two-legged and winged to the unfriendly finned variety are known to keep a close eye on this species movement.

In the occasional event that sardines beach, age, race, religion and sex all become meaningless as sardine fever takes over. Women dressed in their Sunday best have even been known to use their skirts to scoop up sardines when the opportunity has arisen.

Anglers hoping to enjoy some solace while fishing may be in for a surprise as they find themselves jostling with likeminded contenders for their favourite spot along the slippery rocks and sandy beaches that line the KZN coastline. Game fish are rumoured to have moved closer to shore as they follow the sardine run. This has resulted in some excellent catches of shad, kingfish, garrick and yellowfin tuna. Those hoping to target these predators can find the latest information about the sardine run on the East Coast Radio KZN Sharks Board Sardine Hotline at 083 913 9495.

For those wanting to remain closer to home, remember that trout are plentiful at this time of year. Now is the perfect time to unpack your fly-rod and hiking boots as you take a walk along some of the pristine rivers found in the Midlands.

Neil Button, a well-known artlure angler, recently competed in the annual Boston-Dargle Fly Fishing Festival. Button identified this area as the source of some fantastic trout fishing.

“The fishing was difficult at times, but hard work and patience paid off for those who were prepared to persevere and some great fish of up to 63 cm were landed,” said Button.

He identified the most successful fly as a Black Woolly Bugger with a blue flash, nicknamed the “Speed Cop”.

Let’s not forget the carp that are often seen cruising on a thick Albert Falls scum line and, depending on the latest hatch of midges, can be caught all year around using dry flies such as DDDs and Adams Patterns.

Winter often sees a slowdown in bass fishing, but this does not mean that you have to resort to staying indoors and watching your favourite fishing show. Lying around the house is sure to lead to a list of chores longer than your personal best.

So if you feel like avoiding a DIY version of home makeover, why not surprise your girlfriend with a romantic weekend getaway to a location where the biting fish won’t be the only thing to fall prey to your allure.

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