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Fishing Kosi Bay, Kwazulu Natal – A Fisherman’s Paradise

Kosi Bay Mouth Fishing

If you are a guy who loves fishing, Kosi Bay must be on your bucket list. The local eco-system offers a fantastic variety of fishing options from fishing the Kosi lake system, the estuary at Kosi Mouth and rock and surf angling at Kosi Mouth, Bhanga Nek, Black Rock, Dog Point, Toolbox, Lala Neck and Rocktail Bay. Even Sodwana is close by!

The Maputaland coast is the best place in the country to target big KINGFISH which are caught all year round but are found in bigger numbers in summer. Big Kings are targeted off the beach at Kosi with livebait and big plugs on big reels with heavy line and thick mono leader. Don’t target the big Kingfish at Kosi Bay with light tackle because they fight to the death on light tackle and the chance of a successful release are very small.

Fishing in the Kosi Bay Lake system the main species you will target are Grunter, Kingfish, Rock Salmon/Red Snapper, Yellowfin Bream and Pick-handled Pike. The most productive way of fishing the lake system is light tackle boat fishing. On shore fishing is also possible, but you must have local knowledge and be careful of hippos as they wander onto the land sometimes.

Fishing along the coast, one can expect to catch Kingfish, Red Snapper, Specked Snapper, Lemon Fish, Rock Cod, Sharks and Rays. Baits used for shore fishing include sardine, crab, sea lice, crayfish, prawns and red bait.

Night fishing at Kosi Bay is recommended as there are often good catches of Kingfish, Snapper, Lantern Fish, Sharks, Rays and Guitar Fish. Night fishing is at its best when the north easterly is blowing with a pushing tide starting around 15:00 hours. Make sure you have a night permit as well as the normal fishing permit.


Lake fishing Grunter at Kosi Bay

If lake fishing is your bag, you can fish successfully with light tackle in First and Second Lakes where you can make good catches of bottom fish such as Spotted Grunter, Natal Stump-nose, River Snapper and Perch (River Bream). The game fish you’re likely to catch in this area will be limited to Pickhandle Barracuda (Sea Pike), Greenspot Kingfish and if you’re lucky a Giant Kingfish and Springer. The summer months are the best time for game fish.

No fishing is allowed between First Lake and the mouth and the fishing kraals of the amaThonga people must not be interfered with in any way.

Access to the lakes is through a channel which winds its way through tall reeds. Even though the Kosi Bay lake system is teeming with fish, fishing Kosi Bay can be frustrating unless you target specific species in the different lakes at the right time.

The First lake (closest to the sea), is almost as saline as the ocean, and is up to 12 meters deep in places. Grunter can be caught from the northern and southern bank of the lake. Big Kingfish are caught on livebait in the first lake.

The Second Lake is up to 18 meters deep in places, and one often sees Kingfish feeding on sprats along the drop-offs. Dense populations of sand prawn attracts Spotted Grunter to the Kosi Second Lake. The reed beds along the banks make for good Rock Salmon fishing at night.

The Second Lake has a sulphuric acid smell because of the rotting vegetation in the deepest parts of the lake so try to avoid these areas. For long lining, anchor close to the shore and let a ghillie row your bait out with a canoe. With long lines you can also use the in-line sliding sinker or revert to the normal carp trace with 2 hooks and sinker in front.

Rock Salmon caught at Kosi Bay

The Third lake is the shallowest, but largest of the Kosi Bay Lakes. There are various good spots for Rock Salmon, Kingfish and Sea Pike.

Some technical tips for lake fishing

Trolling Rapalas works for Ignobilis and Big-Eye Kingfish. Yellowfin Bream are caught on anchor or drift with sardine or sand prawn.

The trace for drifting is a simple in-line sliding sinker, not too big, a swivel to stop it and a trace of about 600 mm attached to a 1/0 to 2/0 hook. Cracker prawns works best but you can also use sardine fillets.

Use long-lining for Grunter and Rock Salmon, with sand prawns (cracker shrimp) and sardine fillet, The line must be light with small hooks, small swivels and fluorocarbon leader. When fishing for Kings, always use a short bite trace and use livebait which can be caught in the shallows near the fish kraals with small hooks and prawn bait. Use livebait for Snapper and Pick-handled Pike.

The best thing to do is to get a local ghillie to help you. They know where the fish are biting. If you can, take a canoe with you and let them row your bait out. Best fishing will be if you have a north easterly wind blowing, especially First Lake. Lots of small sea lice will finish your bait quickly if they are present so check your bait regularly.

When fly fishing for a variety of predatory and bottom feeding fish, use flies including Deceivers, Clouser Minnows, Crazy Charlies and tarpon flies. Fly rod weights should range between 8 and 12 with a 9 weight being a good overall rod.

Sand Prawns/Crackers can be collected by permit holders only. Bait permits are available at the KZNCS offices at Kosi Bay.


Kosi Bay Mouth and Lake View

Kosi mouth is an area well known for its population of giant Kingfish. The mouth itself, as well as the surrounding ledges and beaches, all produce good catches of giant Kingfish. The spring high tides are the best times to fish the mouth for really big specimens, as they tend to venture into the lake system during this time. If you are not there during spring tides, The main channel of the mouth is approximately 50-60 metres wide and pretty deep, which allows these bigger predators to enter without too much of a problem. Kosi Mouth fishing is most productive just before and after high tide when larger fish are moving in and out of the Kosi lakes, so plan any fishing at Kosi Mouth around the tide.

Live bait is definitely the way to go when targeting these ferocious feeders, while spoons and plugs can also produce the goods. In fact, the Kosi mouth system is world-famous for producing giant kingies on fly and, of late, on dropshot. When fishing around the mouth off the spring tides through the neaps, a little walk along the beach in search of deeper holes is required, particularly to the north. To the south there are a lot of rocks and ledges in the water which makes it fairly difficult to target the bigger kingies, as one could get cut off. Other reef-dwelling species are abundant and can be fun to target like Honeycomb Rays, Blackfin Sharks and, to the south, the occasional Rock Salmon and Speckled Snapper.

As a dropshot destination Kosi mouth is a fantastic area, well known for producing good fish on artificials. For dropshot, the spring high tides are of paramount importance.

See what other guys have to say!

The best fishing at Kosi Mouth is from the beach, fishing into the mouth where the water is foamy and into the surf next to the mouth and where the mouth widens out into the lake. Look for areas in the Kosi Mouth where the water is not very clean, especially when using artificial baits. The south of the mouth side has much more structure, which generally holds more bait fish, attracting a larger variety of predators. Greenspot kingies, huge wave Garrick and a vast selection of reef dwellers are abundant and can be captured on a variety of dropshot and soft plastic baits.

Fishing in the Kosi Bay Mouth surf areas can be quite tough during daylight hours and the best angling is normally between 3pm and 10am. In this timeframe fishing can be extremely difficult because of the clarity of the water and the numerous swimming crabs in the surf zone. Generally the best fishing at Kosi Bay Mouth is on the rocks on southern side. Anywhere in the surf is during the early morning, late afternoon and evening, especially for species such as the Giant Sandshark, Giant Kingfish, Blacktip Shark and Daga Salmon (Dusky Kob). On the northern beach there are a few good holes for sliding live baits for the non-edible species (Ragged Tooth Shark, Giant Guitarfish, Honeycomb Ray, Diamond Ray, Brown Skate, Blackfin Shark, Zambezi Shark, Tiger Shark), which even include the Java Shark and lots of sandy patches where one can scratch for edibles like the Wave Garrick, Natal Stumpnose, , Pompano, Bonefish and various Kingfish species amongst others. On the southern rocks you can find many reef species here such as Speckled Snapper, Red Snapper, Blacktail, Lemonfish, Panga, Cavebass, and many more… The best baits to use in the Kosi Bay Mouth are Bonito, Mackerel, Yellowtail, Pink Prawn, Chokka, Red Eye, Sardine and Ghost Crab.

The actual mouth is excellent for catching large sharks, Kingfish and Spotted Grunter but it is even better on the south side of the mouth. You will, however, need to paddle across because power boats are not allowed. The rock can only be fished at low tide and you are advised to wear a good pair of shoes as they are rather craggy and slippery. Apart from the usual pan fish it is possible to catch large game fish such as giant Kingfish and large sharks. You may also catch exotics like Mata-hari and Speckled Snapper.

Access to the Kosi Mouth from the campsite is via a poorly maintained dirt road so it is advisable to check on the conditions before making your way to the mouth and to Banga Nek. The trip will take at least one and a half hours in a 4X4 but if conditions are fair the trip will be well worth it – the fishing can be exceptional. There is a 2 km stretch of beach to the north of the mouth up to the Mozambique border where you can catch Natal stumpnose and largespot pompano.

If you wish to fish Kosi Mouth after dark this can be arranged at the parks board office with a night fishing permit. This permit costs R50.00 per person and rhino cards do not apply. This will enable you to fish up to 23h00. During turtle nesting season there should be no night fishing and certainly if you are on the beach you are requested to use only red light so as not to disturb the sensitive turtles. This is not always enforced but with additional pressure by tourism on our area it’s only a matter of time before rangers are going to stop this practice. Turtle season occurs from November to February.

Kosi Bay Mouth is 1 of those places that you either get big fish or no fish at all. During the day you will hardly get any pick-ups because of the clarity of the water. The best time to fish the mouth is to get a night permit and start fishing from 15:30 onwards till 23:00. You must be out by 24:00. If this arrangement doesn’t suit you, take the long drive around to Bhanga Neck with reliable ghillies (at least 1 to watch your vehicle) where you can fish the whole night without permits. Just adhere to the fishing restricted areas.


Surf Fishing at Kosi Bay

If the lakes are not your bag then the beaches are sure to excite you. Most beaches are closed after 18h00 and only open at 06h00 winter or summer.

Many methods of fishing are used on the beaches from heavy surf rods and tackle to light tackle depending on what is being targeted. The heavier rods tend to slide either live or dead baits for bigger fish and sharks.

If you are fishing the heavier brand of tackle then night fishing would produce better results as the larger predators move closer to shore in the dark and approaching darkness. For the light tackle guys drop-shot and fly-fishing often produce something and you can be surprised by what is caught in daylight hours in the surf. Normally the best time for any fishing is after the turn of the tide with the tide pushing in. This is when fish are more readily found entering the surf zone to hunt.

For the surf, many use the sliding method to get the bait out. Trace is obviously the sliding clip with 200lb trace with at least 10/0 j-hooks or 14/0-16/0 circle hooks. Baits that works best in the surf is whole chokka, mackerel, bonito, sardas and live Wave Garrick. Fishing for edibles are limited with mostly Bonefish and Wave Garricks coming out.



Bhanga Nek Accommodation, Kosi Bay

Bhanga Neck is a fantastic area, accessible from the Kosi camp area by boat (be sure to remove your possessions from the boat), or one can walk over the dunes into Bhanga where Bhanga Neck Bay is the main landmark of the area. Situated on the southern tip of the bay is a turtle research station which has been doing some fantastic research with the various turtles which use this area as their breeding ground. If you head off north from the bay a series of marker poles numbered from 2 to 13 and situated approximately 400m apart are excellent landmarks for those wishing to fish this very productive stretch of beach.

Fishing at Bhanga Nek in the daytime is best off the rocky shelf, and into the deeper channels along the beach. About 4km north of Bhanga Nek, there is broken rock in the surf zone, good for reef fish, but big Kingfish are difficult to land there.

Fly fishing and dropshot fishing at Bhanga Nek produces good catches of Ignobilis Kingfish, Three Spot Pompano, Green Spot Kingfish and Garfish.

For the first few hundred meters one finds mostly beach with scattered rock along the shore and in the water. From around pole 4 the rocky ledges become denser as one ventures further north. It’s a long walk to gain access to some of the better angling areas along this stretch, so pack accordingly and take plenty of drinking water. Local gillies are also always on hand and willing to carry your tackle in exchange for cash. From around pole 4 all the way to pole 13 one can target just about any reef-dwelling fish, as well as a variety of Kingies, Blackfin sharks, Sandies and Honeycomb Rays. Some species of fish caught along this stretch are better known as offshore species usually caught from the boat, like Kakaap (Green Jobfish) and Emperor Snapper.


Kingfish caught in Kosi Bay

A slight walk down a sand dune brings you to the rocky outcrop known as Dog Point, one of the better-known spots along this stretch, renowned for its abundance of giant fish. There is a marker in the dune on the northern side of the point indicating the MPA (marine protected area) between here and Bhanga Neck Bay, which means that no angling is permitted on the north side of the marker. The point itself, as well as the stretch of beach to the south running towards Black Rock, is very productive, especially for fish like Sandsharks, Honeycombs and a large variety of big edible species like giant Kingfish, Green Jobfish, the occasional King Mackerel, huge Rock Salmon and Pompano.


Approximately 2km to the south of Dog Point one finds a patch of submerged reef running from the beach out to sea. This area, known as Toolbox, is particularly good for big edible fish like Speckled Snapper, giant Kingfish, Rock Cod and Rock Salmon. The occasional Blackfin shark, Sand Shark and Honeycomb also make an appearance.

To get to the Point, you’ll need to walk on the path to the KwaZulu Wildlife turtle survey camp. The fishing here is similar to the conditions in the mouth.


Black rock, about 20km south of Bhanga Nek, has deep water off the front of the rock, but landing a big fish off the front is difficult because of the height above water level. The Black Rock Bay is excellent for fly fishing and offers sheltered conditions when the south west blusters come through. A permit is required to visit Black Rock. These can be bought at Manzengwenya and the KZNCS offices at Third Lake. Access is via a dirt track and a 4X4 is required.

Some comments from those in the know:

For me Black Rock is one of the most beautiful rocky points on the South African coastline. The jagged rocks and potholes in the rock are awesome, but apart from being magnificent they can also be treacherous, especially when fishing in the dark. Black Rock can produce a huge variety of fish, and being a deepwater point, Couta, Queen Fish and Giant Kingfish are not uncommon. Around the edges of the reef and along the sandbanks which flank the northern and southern sides of the rock, species like Pompano, Stumpnose and kingies can also be found on occasion.

Sliding big baits off the top of Black Rock often produces a giant pull, and Blackfin, Honeycombs and raggies are often caught on slides from here. In fact, when the water is very clear one can stand some five storeys above the water and spot the various fish species feeding along the ledge. The bay to the north of Black Rock is another fantastic area to fish, and wave Garrick, Rock Salmon, Speckled Snapper and Stumpnose are usually found feeding around the scattered reef in the bay. The stretch of beach between Black Rock and Little Black Rock can produce good catches of Stumpies, Pompano, wave Garrick, Bonefish and Kingfish.


Rocktail Bay, Kosi Bay Area

Rocktail Bay, another top angling spot, is situated to the south of Black Rock and is made famous by the upmarket lodge situated virtually on the beach at the bay. The bay itself is well known for producing giant Kingfish, Raggies and a variety of reef dwellers. The stretch of beach between Rocktail Bay and Black Rock is one of the areas known for producing triple-digit Honeycomb Rays, a favourite target species.

This stretch of beach also produces good catches of giant Kingfish, huge giant Sandsharks and some acrobatic Blackfin sharks. Other species along here include Natal Stumpnose, giant Wave Garrick, Pompano and loads of Bonefish. The ledges to the south of the bay produce similar species as the beach area, but a few more reef dwellers can be encountered here, namely Rock Cod, Kakaap, Speckled Snapper and Natal Stumpnose, to mention a few.


Lala Neck lies to the south of Rocktail Bay, and is another bay area where one can target a huge variety of fish species. The bay itself is known for Kingies, Stumpies, Pompano, Speckled Snapper and the occasional Rock Salmon. Giant Sandies, Brown Skates and Honeys also frequent the bay area, especially when the sea conditions are rough, forcing them to take refuge in the bay. The ledges to the south of the bay also produce a fair number of species, such as Rock Cod, Speckled Snapper and Stumpies.

Kosi Bay itself is actually the lake system and the iSimangaliso Wetland Park surrounding it, so when one mentions Kosi Bay as a destination places like Kosi Mouth, Bhanga Neck, Dog Point, Black Bock, Rocktail Bay and Lala Neck are all included in the general area.


The best time of the year to venture into the Kosi area is definitely the summer months. The area just seems to seriously come alive between September and April each year, with the peak months being January, February and March.


Fishing anywhere in South Africa requires a permit and these permits have now been standardized to cover the whole of South Africa. They are available at most post offices. Our local parks board office used to make them available but no longer do so. It is advisable to purchase this permit prior to arrival as you will be better prepared that way when you get here. Permits will allow for one person to fish and are not transferable. Please acquaint yourself with the regulations relating to species and bag limits which should be available where you purchased your permit and are usually available at our parks board office.


Bhanga Nek, Kosi Bay Lodge, Kosi Moon, Rocktail Bay and Black Rock


Kosi Bay is accessible via Hluhluwe just past Mbazwane, which is close to Sodwana. Once through Mangusi, follow the signs towards the Parks Board camp at Kosi Bay.


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