Boat Fishing Secrets of the Langebaan Lagoon
By Mossie Basson & Doreth Greenberg Photos: Mossie Sasson, Aerial photo: Noel Walsh
STAY ON THE LEGAL SIDE
For reasons that are difficult to grasp or understand, different seaworthiness permits are needed for the Saldanha Bay Area and the Parks Board Area. It might have something to do with the collection of monies or some hidden power struggle.
To fish from a boat in the lagoon, at least the following permits are required:
- A valid Skipper’s Ticket
- A SAMSA Boat Seaworthy Certificate that can be obtained from various appointed inspectors such as Seb at 083 459 9455. This allows you to utilise your boat in the Saldanha Bay Area.
- A Parks Board Boat Seaworthy Certificate, obtainable from their offices in Langebaan, is also required. Usually they accept the SAMSA certificate as proof of seaworthiness and will issue a Parks Board sticker after collecting their money. This allows you to utilise your boat in the Parks Board Area.
The following fishing-related permits must be obtained from the Post Office. The standard permit is valid for a period of one year. Please note that a shorter (cheaper) one-month permit is also available.
- A boat fishing permit. One per boat is required.
- Fishing permit. One per angler is required.
- Bait collecting permit. One per bait collector is required. Bag limits and sizes are available from the Parks Board office and tackle shops.
- Other permits such as cast-net, cray-fishing, spear-fishing, etc. is also available on the same form.
BOAT LAUNCHING SPOTS
There are, in essence, three boat launching slipways in the Langebaan area.
Langebaan Yacht Club (LYC). LYC has excellent launching facilities and walk-on jetties. It is usually available to non-members at R80 per launch. During peak periods it might be open to members only. This will clearly be indicated on the notice board at the turn-off to the LYC. Skippers are to ensure that their boats are 100% ready for an immediate launch before entering the slipway: engines checked, all pre-launch checks completed and ready just to push off. We cannot guarantee your personal safety if you start wasting time by blocking the slipway while battling to start or to get the boat off the trailer.
The “Paaltjies”. This is the common name for the launch area on the main beach at Langebaan. It is clearly marked by two rows of poles. Launching at this stage is still free. The disadvantage is that you are launching from the beach, with the associated problems of getting stuck, getting the trailer out of the water after launch, and getting the boat back on the trailer. It is very popular, however, specifically for smaller or lighter boats such as inflatables.
Club Mykonos Marina. Boat launching at Mykonos is very easy as the facilities are good and the slipway is excellent and well maintained. Launch fees are R150 per launch. Mykonos is particularly suitable for launching to fish the spots to the north of the Parks Board Area. The fuel saved by the shorter distance from the Marina to areas such as Roman Banks or “The Ore Jetty” will probably offset the higher launching fees.
The favourite bait types are prawns for White Stumpnose and White Steenbras. Pilchards or sardines for Shad (Elf), Cob and Geelbek (Cape Cod) and red bait for all bottom fish like White Stumpnose, Steentjie and Kolstert (Blacktail). White mussel is available from the tackle shops and a few can be found on the sand banks. It is not a favourite bait with most of the fish species in the lagoon, but it is often the only available bait for bottom fishing (White Stump and Steentjie) when you have missed the low tide to pump prawns.
Prawns can be pumped from most of the sand banks in the upper lagoon area (south of the LYC). They are mostly accessible within two hours of low tide, and you must be prepared to stand waist deep in the cold water. A floating net to pump the sand into is highly effective. You do not have to look for the prawn holes in the sand. Pump at random, and exploit the productive areas. There are two types of prawn in the lagoon: The “sand” or “pink” prawn (with pinchers), and the “mud prawn” (without pinchers). There are mixed opinions as to which one is the better one for bait. Experience has shown that the fish have no particular preference. I know many anglers will disagree. Please note that these two types of prawn count as different bait species and you may pump 50 of each per bait permit. Red bait may be collected from most rocks at low tide or hooked from the sand below “Konstabelkop”. Pilchards or sardines can be bought from all bait shops and the Langebaan Total Garage.
The areas to the north, west and east of Skaap Island are ideal for drift fishing. When drifting in front of the main beach, please watch out for shore fishermen , as they will sometimes purposefully try to hit your boat with a sinker. The best technique is to first stop in the area to determine in which direction the boat is drifting and then to proceed to the upper end of the drift area. Watch out for other anchored boats. Drifting is mostly for White Stumpnose and Steentjie.
There are a number of local boat owners who provide excellent fishing charters. More information can be obtained from Langebaan Yacht Club.
The Langebaan Lagoon has already been described as one of the best fishing venues in the World. The Lagoon forms a unique ecosystem, which is very well preserved and monitored by the relevant authorities. There are mixed opinions as to exactly which portion of the Saldanha-Langebaan area should be called “THE LAGOON”. General consensus amongst locals is that the lagoon refers to the water-mass to the east of a line joining South Head and North Head (see Map 1). It includes the two islands of Jutten in the south and Malgas in the north.
The lagoon can be divided into two legal regions (see Map 2):
The Saldanha Bay Area which is the area to the north of a line joining Tweede Leentjies Klip and Salamander Point as indicated on the map. Please note that this is a recent amendment to the previous line, which was further to the south. The Saldanha Bay Area falls under the authority of Spoornet/Portnet and is monitored by them.
The Parks Board Area to the South of the above-mentioned line is administered and policed by the National Parks Board. This area includes most of the favourite fishing spots and the islands of Schaapen (Skaap) and Meeu (the small island inside the “Reece” no-go area).
Please note that the whole of the lagoon area as described above is a crayfish (West Coast Rock Lobster) sanctuary and no spearfishing is allowed inside the Parks Board area. All islands in the lagoon area are out of bounds to the public.
A row of buoys marks the restricted area along the shore of the SANDF Reece Area. No boats or fishing are allowed inside a line joining these buoys (see Map 2).
A row of buoys stretching from Kraalbaai across the lagoon towards Oosterwal marks the southern limit of the permitted fishing and powerboat activities in the Parks Board Area. This is commonly referred to as ”The Line” or “Die Lyn”(see Map 3).
The Parks Board authorities have assured us that they now have a permanent “Water-Wing”. This team will specialize in policing the Parks Board Area and you can be assured that you will be checked for permits, certificates, fish size and bag limits as well as bait quantities.
It was also mentioned that no more warnings will be given, and fines will be issued with the first trespass. The “Water-Wing” will operate on a 24- hour basis.
FAVOURITE FISHING SPOTS
The following fishing spots are the most popular and productive ones in the lagoon.
- The Ore Jetty
- Roman Banks
- Lynch Blinder
- “Skaap” lsland Area (GPS name for Schaapen)
- The Middle Channel
- The Line
The Ore Jetty: This is the generic reference to the area east of the ore jetty, along the beach towards Mykonos. The most productive method in this area is to start drifting roughly 800 metres from the jetty area (also called “The Dam”) and about 300 metres from the beach.
Watch out for the surf line. You may unexpectedly end up in the waves and lose your boat (or life). When you start getting bites, anchor and fish the area. It is primarily a White Stumpnose area, but I always keep one rod with a pilchard in the water. Giant Cob have been caught in this area. The area further to the east (towards Mykonos) is referred to as the “Spreeuwalle” and is a specific area for Cob at certain times of the year. It can be very dangerous as waves sometimes break far in from the shore.
Roman Banks: Roman Banks is an area with a rocky, uneven bottom to the north and west of Lynch Blinder. The bottom comes up to about 9m and the GPS possession of the centre of this area is S 33°01.563′ and E 18° 00.588′.
I have never been very successful on Roman Banks but many stories of huge fish floats around in the angling community. This is definitely not a place to anchor unless you are prepared to lose your anchor on a regular basis. It is best to drift over the area with prawns or pilchards about 1metre above the bottom.
Lynch Blinder: Lynch Blinder is a shallow rocky area where waves break most of the time. The shallowest point is about 100 m to the east of the cardinal buoy. It can be considered as a dangerous area especially on a flat calm day when there are no breakers to indicate the rocks just below the surface.
The best fishing area is to the north of the blinder itself and it is a fair spot for White Stumpnose, Steentjies and the odd Cob. Like Roman Banks, anchors can easily get stuck in this area and a good technique when pulling up the anchor is to move ahead slowly on engine while the anchor is being hoisted to ensure that it comes up vertically.
”Skaap Island Area”: This is the common name (as it appears on most GPS systems) of the large island in front of the main beach. It is also referred to as “Schaapen Island” on some marine maps. The fishing spots around the island can roughly be divided into three areas (see map).
Area 1 is to the west of the island and is usually very productive with White Stumpnose, Steentjies, Geelbek and the odd Cob as the main species. The depth varies between 3 and 7 metres. On the north western side of the Island there is an underwater pipeline that runs from the mainland to the military base. It is marked by a small red buoy.As indicated on marine maps, anchoring and fishing in this area is prohibited.
Area 1 has large kelpbanks and care shouldbe taken not to get stuck or lose fish in the kelp.At low tide the open areas amongst the kelp are clearly visible.Do not cast too wide, as the open patches are relatively small.Area 1is definitely not for drifting.
Area 2 is to the northern side of the island and is around 5 metres deep. It is excellent for drifting or anchoring. Fish species are mostly White Stumpnose and Steentjie with the odd small shark providing great excitement.
Between Area 2 and 3, there is a shallow kelp bed which should be avoided as it snags lines and anchors.
Area 3 is a protected bay on the north-eastern side of the island. It is about 3 metres deep and is sometimes very productive.
The area to the north of the island is shallow and sandy and is not productive as far as fishing is concerned.
“Konstabelkop”: This is the fishing area below the mountain around S 33° 077′ and E 18° 02′. This area can be very productive with Cob, Geelbek,large White Stumpnose and Shad. Do not drift in this area. as the bottom is covered with red bait pods and you will surely lose tackle. The best method is to lower the bait to the bottom and then bring it up a metre or so. It is also a good spot to spend the night if you have proper lighting on your boat.
The Central Channel or Middle Channel: as it is called locally, is the area to the south of Skaap Island, roughly in the centre of the lagoon. It is flanked by shallow sandbanks to the east and the west. The depth varies between 5 and 7 metres. It is an ideal area for drifting, as it is aligned with the prevailing winds and currents. It is usually very productive and big sharks can again provide entertainment in the southern portion of this channel. The region directly opposite the Langebaan Yacht Club is particularly popular.
The Line or “Die Lyn”: is the local name for the upper channels of the lagoon fishing area as indicated on map 3. No fishing or power boating to the south of this line, indicated by buoys, is allowed. This is strictly enforced by the Parks Board.
There are two deep channels in this region. The first one is referred to as “The Keel” around S 33° 07.9′ and E 18° 02.4′. The other channel is referred to as “The False Keel” around S 33° 08.17′ and E 18° 02.2′. Both these channels are very favourite Shad, Yellowtail, Geelbek and Cob fishing areas and they are particularly popular for night fishing.
Best time to fish is from around 1 hour before to 1 hour after the turn of the tide. Small fish can cause frustration by stripping your bait of the hook. A good technique is to have at least one or two baited hooks floating just below the surface with no or a very small sinker.You may also use a “Steentjie” fillet for Cob and Shad. It is tougher than pilchards and lasts longer where there are small fish nibbling at the bait.