Fishing in Namibia is just another form of hunting adventure …
By Ron Swilling
We are descended from hunters. Catching and killing once formed a necessary part of primitive existence. First nations like the Eskimos, San, Native American and Aboriginal people killed only for survival, respectfully honouring the animal they were hunting down, realising its value and the gift of food it represented.
Today the hunting instinct is still there and while modern recreational fishing is an exciting adventure, it is more about the sport than the kill.
The whole experience of having the fish on the line, reeling it in carefully so as not to entangle your line in the rocks or let the prey slip off the hook, evokes this inbuilt atavistic nature of man. The angler of today has the additional choice, once the hunting instinct has been satisfied, of being one up on the first nations to honour life by releasing the catch back into the deep blue depths.
One of the big fishing attractions in Namibia is bronze whaler shark fishing. The so-called bronzy provides all the excitement of big-game fishing and a good fight for your money, allowing a one-on-one contest between sea creature and angler. Bronzies are a catch-and-release species, benefiting research presently being done to monitor their movements as they travel up and down the coast.
The cold Atlantic Ocean fed by the plankton-rich Benguela Current provides popular and prime fishing, a growing tourist attraction in Namibia. Cold-water fishes include steenbras, kabeljou, galjoen and blacktail, with snoek caught from boats during the season from October to January.
The angler has a choice to fish from a boat out at sea or from the shore, with various operators offering day outings that include providing equipment, bait, drinks and food. Rods are rigged with two hooks and baited with the preferred diet of the different species to lure them selectively. Galjoen, blacktail and steenbras are lured with mussels and crayfish; kabeljou and catfish with sardines; and shark with mackerel.
Permits are obtained prior to the tour by the operators, allowing the recreational fisherman to catch ten fish per day, depending on minimum and maximum sizes. The smaller fish are thrown back and the larger ones are limited to two, to protect the breeding stock of the species.
Areas for shore fishing depend on the condition of the sea and season, the area north of Swakopmund being first-rate fishing terrain. Once on the beach, the guide keeps an eye open for gullies with good fishing potential.
Regulations keep control of overfishing, with fines of N$100 per fish over the quota. If the amount exceeds N$300, the offender will face possible arrest and a sentence. One rod at a time is allowed, with a maximum of two hooks. There is a fine for using worms as bait, which is prohibited, as well as for fishing without a permit. Inspectors patrol the beaches from Walvis Bay up into the Skeleton Coast Park, checking quotas and permits.
As more and more tourists become aware of the opportunity to fish in Namibian waters, we acknowledge the valuable resource available to us and the need for its protection. As with the rest of our fragile planet, respect is always a prerequisite for responsible action. When the spirit of the hunt is satiated, catch-and-release fishing is an option that honours both the hunt and the hunted.
From bronze whaler fishing, which is excellent fun especially in warmer weather, to the fishing boat adventure and Namibian shore experience, recreational fishing is an appealing way to satisfy our latent hunting instinct, while at the same time relaxing with a group of friends and communing with nature.
This article appeared in the Aug/Sep ‘07 edition of Travel News Namibia.