|The Breede River is a remarkably prolific fisherman’s paradise which has withstood the depredation caused by mans exploitation of inshore species in our seas far better than the ocean itself and many other estuaries.
Those of us who have enjoyed a lifetime of fishing here are extremely anxious that this should continue for our children and generations to come.
For this reason we welcome the new Legislation in the form of the Integrated Coastal Management Act, and its application.
In the case of our river, this includes the conversion of the existing Lower Breede River Conservancy who have served the river so well for many years, into the Breede River Management Authority, guided by a Forum known as the Breede River Estuary Advisory Forum.
We at the Lodge support their principles without reservation and align ourselves to the charter espoused by the very popular TV fishing programme Extreme Sports Angling (ESA).
This is a remarkable river, which includes many of the temperate water species as well as an increasing number of semi-tropical visitors. It is mistakenly believed to be the breeding ground of many fish, but other than a few primary domiciled river specific species such as Gobies and weed fish, no breeding actually occurs in the system at all.
However what it is, is a nursery area, and an extremely important one at that, nurturing the young of dozens of off shore reef species as well as all sizes of estuarine specific species.
Is it over - fished? Almost certainly, but not as seriously as most other similar environments, probably because of its size. It is a remarkable recreational environment that deserves to be nurtured with all the care and caution that we can muster.
Picture Gallery (Click on thumbnail to enlarge)
The Fish to Catch
Various less well known smaller species encountered in the river include White Mussel cracker (Silver Steenbras), Blacktail (Dassie), Bellman (Baardman),Zebra Fish (Wildeperd), White Stumpnose , Triple Tail, Moonies, Springer (member of the Tarpon family), Mullet (Harder), Cat Face Rock Cod, Spotted Gulley Sharks, various rays, including the electric ray, Sand Sharks, Skates, Eels, Hag Fish (Seeslang), Sand Streenbras, Karanteen (Streepie), to name a few.
Kabeljou - Kob, Daga, Drum, Dusky Kob (Argyrosomus japonicus)
One of five species known in South African waters, this is the largest species and likely to spend most of its time in estuaries, inshore sheltered bays, and shallow inshore banks. It is very vulnerable to over fishing. Although cautiously managed, and heavily protected, and one of the first, thankfully in my opinion as I have been fighting for adult protection as opposed to minimum sizes most of my life, to have oversize protection. The resource is clearly over-exploited with the prevalence of specimens over the magical 100 pound (Boer kabeljou or Dagga Salmon) caught, reducing annually. The Breede is famous for its large Dusky Kob both in the estuary and at sea. But specimens over 15kg’s are not great to eat so please put them back after measuring and photographing them. Still better, photograph them in the water, guesstimate their length and cut the line without removing them. They normally arrive en masse into the estuary in late September / early October, and the next best fishing months are between January and March. They probably enter the estuary throughout summer so are caught often on the incoming tide. Their migration into the estuary, for whatever reason, is usually for a long stay, and they proceed fairly high up into the system, mainly establishing themselves between Rooiwalle and Bobbejaanskrantz, moving up and down with the tidal influence. Favourite Baits – Sea cat leg, live bait, squid and sardine, but prawn and bloodworm are particularly effective in the day at high water. Catch Limit – Only one may be caught per person, per day and must be over 60cm’s. However at sea it is 50cm’s with a maximum of 5, with only one allowed over 110cm’s Maximum Size: The largest caught and recorded in the estuary is ±75kg’s which is slightly under the SAAR record. They are known to grow over 2 meters.
Grunter, Spotted Grunter, Tiervis in the olden days (Pomadasys Commersonni)
What surprises many is the fact that two, not one, species of Grunter today dominate the finfish population of the Breede River, the spotted Grunter and the Pinky, Piggy or Orgie. Yes, this bait fish along the whole of Southern Africa’s east coat is a four square member of the Grunter family. The next surprising point is that in my youth there where no Spotted Grunter in the river. They were first caught in approximately 1960, and I only caught my first one in the river about 1970, when it was still a rarity. Today they are clearly the dominant recreational angling species, having overtaken both the Kob and Steenbras. I would think a southerly shift of east coast waters have resulted their prevalence moving and increasing further south. There might also be a degree of species substitution as White Steenbras stocks have deteriorated. Best conditions – Both incoming and outgoing tide - tend to be present in waters of high turbidity, shoal on incoming tide, with and after the Cape Stumpnose and before and with the Steenbras. At low water concentrate both in the deeper gullies and against the bait banks. Favourite Baits – Exactly the same as Steenbras Catch Limits - 5, minimum size 40cm's SAAR: ± 10kg’s, known to grow to 15kg’s – Average in the Breede 3kg’s. Excellent eating – Firm white flesh
White Steenbras, Pignose Grunter, River Steenbras (Lithognathus lithognathus)
White Steenbras are in my opinion the prime fish to be caught in the Breede. In my youth it was the predominant species, with of course the Kob, and still is probably the best eating fish with its firm very white flesh. In my pre-teen youth my friend’s parents would instruct us on our arrival, “go fetch the Steenbras for dinner”. Their first run when taking the probable prawn bait is impressively searing and directly proportionate to its size. Best conditions – At low water they concentrate both in the deeper gullies and against the bait banks. Favourite Baits – Mud prawn, blood worm, tapeworm, razor clam (pencil bait) and less frequently swimming prawn, squid and sardine. Catch Limits - 1, minimum size 60cm's In a typical year caught from end August and throughout spring, summer and autumn.
Cape Stumpnose, River Bream (Rhabdosargus holubi)
This front runner of the incoming tide is widely distributed in the estuary which also acts as a nursery area for its young. This is a strong fish for its size, and very good eating. I have caught a number in the Breede River over 1,5kg, though any fish of 1kg or more is noteworthy. They probably grow to a maximum of 2,5kg but the average large fish in the estuary is in the region of .8kg. It will take virtually any bait though not normally artificials. Together with the Steenbras and the Grunter they favour the natural river baits most of all, including the prawn, swimming prawn, pink prawn, blood worm and razor clam. Catch Limits - 5, minimum size 25cm's
Elf, Shad, Bluefish, Taylor (Pomatomus saltatrix )
One of the most widely distributed inshore species in the world. They are known to grow to more than 10kg. These sizes were famous in the Breede some forty years ago, but not encountered often today. However fish from half to 2kg are still prolific, often concentrating in the mouth, but distributed as much as 20km’s upstream. Then normally, but not only, they are caught on outgoing tides at the mouth and towards the top and change of tides further upstream. With razor blades for teeth and a powerful fighter, they are a worthy angling opponent. They are excellent eating though spoil quickly if not cleaned and chilled as soon as possible. Favourite Baits – Artificial lures, dropshot, squid, sardine and fresh fish fillets, caught throughout summer with February, March and April being the best months. Catch Limit – 4, minimum size 30cm’s.
Garrick, Leervis (Lichia amia)
One of South Africa’s premier inshore angling fish growing to over 35kg and, despite a poor reputation, possibly as a result of perceptions related to its Afrikaans name, Leervis are very good eating. This is a fish that not only uses estuaries as a nursery area for its young, but also finds them a very comfortable environment to live in for the summer months. In the Breede they are found from the mouth up to Bobbejaanskrans and feed particularly well at the turn of high tide, particularly in the early morning. Favourite Baits – Their primary bait is any type of live bait and they are also regularly caught on artificial baits and fly. Catch Limit – 2, minimum size 70cm’s