Rock and surf angling at the coast
Thousands of anglers head for the Namibian coast each year in search of the ‘big one’. Angling species include the sought-after kabeljou (kob), galjoen, blacktail (dassie) and West Coast steenbras. While despised by some anglers, the sea barbel is considered by gourmets to be a delicacy when smoked.
November to March is generally the most rewarding time for angling. Although all species can be caught throughout the year, the summer months tend to produce better results, due to warmer water conditions. During the winter months there is a tendency for high seas with rough water caused by cold fronts and storms at sea. Winter months tend to produce better galjoen angling.
Angling destinations along the central Namib coast include the area between Paaltjies and the northern boundary of Sandwich Harbour, and the coastal strip between Walvis Bay and Swakopmund.
Especially popular is the newly proclaimed Dorob National Park, formerly the West Coast National Recreation Area, which extends from just north of Swakopmund for 200 km to the Ugab River. Familiar angling spots include Mile 8, Mile 14 Beach Resort, Die Drom north of Wlotzkas-baken, Bennie se Rooi Lorrie, Jakkals-putz, Henties Bay, Sarah se Gat, Mile 72 and Mile 108. Further north, in the Skeleton Coast Park, are Torra Bay and Terrace Bay.
Angling for sharks is practised throughout the year, with the months between November and May being the best for coppershark. Also known as the bronzy, the coppershark reaches weights of between 15–190 kg. A strong fighter, it is an excellent sport fish.
Smaller sharks include the cowshark, smooth hound shark and spotted gully shark, also known as spotty. Shark-angling excursions are offered by tour operators in Swakopmund, Walvis Bay and Henties Bay. Namibia follows a national action plan to conserve shark species, under which all sharks should be returned to the sea live and unharmed.
The more established angling competitions at the coast are:
- An annual corporate angling competition held in Henties Bay during November. The competition is open to any business wishing to enter a team;
- A church-organised competition over Easter weekend with cash prizes to be won;
- The Henties Bay Fish Festival competition, normally held in August;
- The Penguin Bonanza Angling competition held in December;
- The Penguin Ski-boat competition, held in December; and
- The Tri-Development International Angling competition, usually held in September; and
- The Rock and Surf Super Pro League (RSSPL) angling tournaments, a franchise of RSSPL South Africa which will take place in Namibia between four and six times a year, was held for the first time in 2012.
These competitions reward winners with cash prizes for the different fish species in the different divisions. The respective angling clubs present regular competitions, for which entrants have to be affiliated members of a registered angling club. There are about 25 of these competitions throughout the year. The National Championships run over three days during March each year. This competition is open only for registered and club-affiliated members. An international competition against South Africa is run every November for registered and selected members.
The Lüderitz Yacht Club organises a Snoek Derby, which takes place annually in June.
Photo ©Paul van Schalkwyk. www.paulvans.com
Namibia’s inland dams offer several options for freshwater angling, with the Hardap Dam, easily accessible from the B1, 15 km north of Mariental, heading the list. The dam is stocked with Mozambique tilapia, small-mouth yellowfish, Orange River mudfish, sharptooth catfish, moggel and common carp.
Another popular spot is Von Bach Dam just south of Okahandja, accessible from the B1. Here, anglers can cast for large-mouth bass, blue kurper, small-mouth yellowfish, carp and barbel. Also in the central region is the Friedenau Dam, a popular venue for anglers from Windhoek, while the Naute Dam in the south is another option.
The Zambezi River, in the far north-east of the country, is home to some 40 angling species, of which the rapacious tiger fish is by far the most sought after. Specimens weighing 6.5 kg and upwards are not uncommon. A strict policy of catch-and-release is practised. Tiger fish of over 2 kg in weight are generally females. Releasing them secures the regeneration of the species and its conservation. June to December, when the river subsides, is generally considered the best season for tiger fish. Other popular angling species include redbreast, greenhead and three-spot tilapia, humpback largemouth, nembwe and pink happy.
More opportunities await the freshwater angler in the waters of the Orange and Kunene rivers, and in the Oanob, Swakoppoort, Dreihuk, Omdel, Omatako, Tilda Viljoen, Otjivero and Olushandja dams.
Coastal fishing. Photo ©Paul van Schalkwyk.
The Namibia Federation for Freshwater Anglers is the mother body for fresh-water anglers in Namibia, and the Namibia Bass Angling Association hosts an annual tournament.
Marine angling regulations
- Anglers must be in possession of a fishing permit, obtainable from the offices of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources in Walvis Bay, Swakopmund and Lüderitz and/or the Henties Bay Hanganeni Fishing Centre. Permits cost N$14.00 per month, or N$168.00 a year.
- The daily bag limit is ten, comprising one or more of the following species: blacktail (dassie), galjoen, kabeljou (kob) and West Coast steenbras. Minimum sizes are: blacktail (dassie) 25 cm, galjoen 30 cm, kabeljou (kob) 40 cm, and West Coast steenbras 40 cm. Other daily limits are as follows, 30 barbel, 20 snoek, and one shark.
- Anglers may not harvest more than two kob longer than 70 cm each and two West Coast steenbras exceeding 65 cm each (both measurements including the head and tail) in one day.
- The open season for rock lobster is from 1 November to 30 April. The minimum carapace length is 65 mm. The daily bag limit is seven rock lobsters, and a maximum of seven in a whole state may be transported at a time.
- Each angler per vehicle in possession of a permit may transport three times the daily bag limit, but not more than 10 of each of the following species: Kob, steenbras, galjoen and blacktail. All four these species must be in a whole state, head and tail included in order to determine the size.
- Worms may not be used as bait, and red bait may not be cut or in any other way dislodged from the substrate. Only red bait that has been washed op on the beach may be collected.
- There are also limitations on the quantities of several marine resources that may be harvested for own use without a fishing permit.
- Fishing for recreational purposes is allowed only in the following areas: Terrace Bay and Torra Bay; from the Ugab River to Walvis Bay (excluding the Cape Cross area); Pelican Point to Sandwich Harbour; from the northern limits of Lüderitz Bay to Grosse Bucht; and from Pomona Island to the Orange River.
Three spot Tilapia
Freshwater angling regulations
- Freshwater angling permits must be obtained. Monthly permits can be purchased from any of the 13 regional councils at N$14.20 for Namibian residents, and N$28.40 for non-Namibians.
- In the Zambezi, Kunene and Kavango rivers and in the oshanas in the Owambo regions, only a limited number of nets with specific sieve sizes are allowed, and nets may not be placed closer than 100 metres to each other. All nets must be registered annually.
- Tour operators involved in angling operations must acquire licences for their boats and all anglers taken in such a boat must have permits.
- The minimum lengths of angling species have been adjusted. Tiger fish, for instance, must be at least 40 cm and no more than two may be caught per person.
- Freshwater angling competitions must be submitted for approval at least three months before the time. All participants must have valid licences.