April 17, 2024

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Cape Town Fishing – The Complete Guide

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The world of fishing in Cape Town is truly captivating. The “Mother City” is nestled on the southwestern coast of South Africa, standing as a beacon for anglers across the world. The city’s dynamic marine ecosystem is matched by a unique blend of scenic beauty, offering a charming angling adventure that you won’t soon forget.

What truly sets Cape Town apart is its well-equipped fishing infrastructure and wealth of opportunities for anglers to discover. You can be a seasoned professional or a complete beginner and still get your hands on fierce Yellowfin Tuna, elusive Cape Snoek, and even mighty Marlin.

This guide serves as an introduction to the thrilling world of Cape Town fishing. We’ll delve into the city’s top fish catches, exploring their unique characteristics, habitats, and the most effective techniques to reel them in. Plus, you’ll learn about seasonality, regulations, and much more. Let’s dive right in!

Top Cape Town Fish Species

There are quite a few key species that contribute to the region’s exceptional reputation as a global sportfishing destination. While the list of potential catches is pretty extensive, we’ll focus on the most interesting local fish species, in no particular order.


Yellowtail are, undoubtedly, the pride of Cape Town. This species is usually one of the first things on the bucket list of every angler. These fish are known for their distinctive yellow stripe, their unique fighting spirit, and remarkable speed. Yellowtail’s lean flesh and sweet flavour have also made them a favourite among local chefs.

A male and a female anglers posing on a charter boat against the shoreline in the background with several Yellowtail they caught while fishing in Cape Town, South Africa
Photo taken by Cape Boat Charters

If you’re after these famous game fish, consider booking a charter anytime from November to April. Yellowtail often patrol the cold Atlantic waters, especially around Cape Point and False Bay, although you can find them in other local honey holes, too.

Pack a good selection of live bait for trolling or artificial lures for spinning and head out for a healthy dose of these speedsters. Make sure to follow local bag limits, though, which you can check with your guide or online.

Cape Snoek

Snoek fishing in Cape Town is an experience not to be missed. These feisty little beasts are known for their razor-sharp teeth that can easily take a sudden turn. Hooking into a Cape Snoek is a challenge even for the most experienced anglers. Once you land one, enjoy its taste – South African style! By that, we mean on the braai.

A photo of a father squatting next to his son who's standing on a charter fishing boat and posing with Snoek caught in Cape Town
Photo taken by Ocean Life Fishing Charters

Cape Snoek are often known as “Barracuda of the South“, with the Hout and False Bays as the prime spots to find them. You can also fish along the Cape West Coast, especially when the fish move closer to shore.

Locals typically present their bait at mid-water depths by trolling or jigging. Once hooked, Snoek leap out of the water almost at the speed of light – now that’s quite a sight to behold!

Geelbek (Cape Salmon)

Cape Salmon are known for their yellow mouths, hence the name Geelbek (“yellow mouth” in Afrikaans). These fish are also coveted for their delicate, sweet meat, often considered much juicier than its European and North American counterparts.

A photo of a proud angler standing on a charter fishing boat and posing with a big Geelbek in his hands

Head out to the waters around Table Bay, False Bay, and the rocky points off Cape Agulhas. Similar to Cape Snoek, Geelbek move closer to shore from May to July, although they tend to stay on the bottom. Bottom fishing with live or dead bait has proven to be the most effective technique to hook these stubborn creatures.

If you’re planning to keep the legal limits of Cape Salmon, you can enjoy it grilled on the braai or baked in a traditional pie. What better way to end a day of fishing?


It’s hard to overestimate the importance of Marlin fishing in Cape Town’s angling scene. Both Striped and Black Marlins make occasional appearances as they migrate through the local waters. You’ll have the chance to land a 400+ kg (900+ lb) fish if you’re lucky enough!

A photo of four anglers squatting on a wooden dock after their fishing trip, posing behind a big Marlin they caught while deep sea fishing in Cape Town
Photo taken by Simply the Best Fishing Charters

Of course, to get to the best Marlin fishing spots, you’ll need to take the action further offshore. The Agulhas Bank is a good spot to start, especially during the warm summer months from November to April.

These fish require heavy tackle, since landing a Marlin is no small feat. Plus, you’ll need to prepare yourself for a test of endurance, as they’re renowned for their strength and stamina. Note that releasing all Billfish is a common practice in the sport fishing world, and Cape Town is no exception.

Yellowfin Tuna

Yellowfin Tuna is another superstar in Cape Town’s fishing scene – perhaps even the superstar. The thrill of battling these fish, paired with the reward of their delicious, sushi-grade meat, make Yellowfin a true testament to fishing in Cape Town.

An angler standing on a charter boat fully equipped for deep sea fishing and posing with a Yellowfin Tuna caught off Cape Town
Photo taken by Heliox Fishing Charter

Of course, Tuna thrive in the ocean’s depths, between 50 and 65 kilometres (30–40 miles) of the coast. These big game fish bite best off Cape Point and the Atlantic Seaboard. Cape Town anglers typically catch them from November to June, when the warm Agulhas current is closer to shore.

It goes without saying that strength and endurance are key when fishing for Cape Town Tuna, either by trolling or chunking with live bait. It’s always worth it, though!

…and More!

Pelagic species like Mahi Mahi add a splash of colour to the Cape Town fishing menu. Mako and Blue Shark also don’t pass on a well-presented bait, along with Kob, Garrick, and many other exciting species. This is the tip of the iceberg, as there’s no end to what you can catch here!

Types of Fishing in Cape Town

Now that you know what you can get your hands on while fishing in Cape Town, it’s time to talk about the technical part. What are the most popular fishing types and techniques in the area with so many diverse fishing opportunities? Let’s find out!

Cape Town Rock and Surf Fishing

A group of several shore fishing anglers posing with their fish caught while surf casting from Cape Town’s beach on a bright and sunny day
Photo taken by Saltwater Fishing Guides

Whatever you call it, be it rock, surf, or shore fishing, this method is quite popular. Which comes as no surprise, really. Cape Town is blessed with an extensive coastline, where you can target species like hefty Kob, Garrick, and even Cape Snoek right from shore.

However, it’s important to understand tidal movements whenever you decide to head out. Consult with a local angler on the exact spot you pick. Local advice is also particularly useful when picking the right bait for the specific species.

Cape Town Fly Fishing

While Cape Town is more famous for its saltwater fishing opportunities, the surrounding area has a couple of spots for freshwater enthusiasts, too. Head to one of the streams and rivers in and around Cape Town for a healthy dose of Trout, Bass, Carp, and Yellowfish, to name a few.

There are productive lakes, dams, and rivers within a short drive of town where you can enjoy some quality fly fishing. You don’t need to pack any special equipment – a standard fly fishing setup works just fine. Plus, you can also catch big game saltwater species on the fly. But beware, you’ll want some experience with fly gear before trying it offshore.

Cape Town Deep Sea Fishing

A view of several fishing rods and lines in the water during while slow-speed trolling on a deep sea fishing charter in Cape Town
Photo taken by Heliox Fishing Charter

Some Cape Town anglers say that if there’s one thing the city should be about, it’s Yellowfin Tuna. Once you reach some 30 to 80 kilometres (20 to 50 miles) offshore, especially when sardines begin their run towards the coast of Mozambique, Tuna come into play. As you head out, you might notice harems of seals that soak in the sun on the rocks, being observed by Sharks, too.

Offshore fishing in Cape Town is mostly about trolling, especially if you’re after Tuna, Marlin, and Mahi Mahi. This technique also works beautifully when fishing for Yellowtail, although they give in to spinning, jigging, and live bait as well.

Cape Town Charter Fishing

When we mentioned the well-equipped sportfishing infrastructure, we meant it. Cape Town is home to various charter operators that cater to anglers of all ages and skills. You can be a seasoned veteran looking for trophies or a complete novice eager to make their first catch. No matter the season, Cape Town charter fishing offers an array of options that suit everyone.

When you book a trip with a local skipper, every excursion turns from an opportunity to just catch some fish into an educational experience. Plus, you won’t need to worry about how to get to the fishing grounds, which equipment to carry, or which size and bag limits apply.

Top Cape Town Fishing Spots

An aerial view of Robben Island in South Africa posing against the waves and cobalt blue waters on a bright day

As you might have guessed, fishing in Cape Town offers the adventure of a lifetime. And it’s not just because of the wide array of fish species you can find or the local techniques to try your hand at. It’s also about the places themselves. There’s anything from the raw beauty of the coastline to the abundant oceanic waters. Each spot has something unique to offer:

  • Hout Bay. Often referred to as Disneyland for inshore enthusiasts, Hout Bay is home to Yellowtail and Snoek, along with seasonal catches of Cape Salmon, Kob and more. It’s always a lot of fun!
  • False Bay. This is another great Snoek fishing spot. However, if you’re fishing from the rocks during high tide, pay close attention to the potentially dangerous waves.
  • Cape Point. Based at the tip of the Cape Peninsula, this location offers not only incredible shore and boat fishing options for Snoek and Yellowtail. Cape Point is also known for its stunning scenery.
  • Robben Island. The infamous island is just a few miles offshore from Cape Town, where you can catch the regular Snoek and Yellowtail, along with the exotic Kabeljou. The area around the island is protected, though, and you’ll need a special permit to fish there.
  • Clifton Beach. A popular destination for beach-goers and anglers alike, especially if you don’t feel like hopping on a boat. You can enjoy surf fishing for species such as Galjoen, Kabeljou, and White Steenbras.
  • Gordon’s Bay. Located on the eastern edge of False Bay, these protected waters offer shore and deep-sea fishing, or a combo of both. The list of potential catches includes Yellowtail, Tuna, Snoek, and more.
  • Strandfontein. This is a popular fishing beach on the False Bay coast, where you can target Galjoen, Steenbras, and Kob.
  • Langebaan Lagoon. Part of the West Coast National Park, Langebaan Lagoon is a great spot for light tackle fishing and fly fishing. Expect to find species such as Elf, Kob, and Garrick, among others.
  • Fish Hoek. This is another spot on the False Bay coast, known for its surf fishing opportunities. Depending on the season, Fish Hoek is a good spot to target Galjoen and Steenbras.

When can I go fishing in Cape Town?

The unique geographical position of Cape Town, cradled between two oceans, is a true gift for anglers. Each season offers distinct opportunities, making fishing in Cape Town a year-round pursuit that never ceases to deliver.

The summer months, from November to April, are all about big game fishing. Warm offshore currents bring large pelagics closer to shore, such as Tuna and Mahi Mahi. Inshore, you can hunt for Yellowtail, Snoek, and Cape Salmon in Cape Town’s bountiful bays and estuaries.

The period from May to October sees a shift in the potential targets. Anglers switch their attention to bottom fishing, targeting Red Roman, Hottentot, and various species of Sharks. Plus, this is also prime time for winter Snoek fishing.

Cape Town Fishing Rules and Regulations

An infographic featuring the flag of South Africa along with text that says "Cape Town Fishing Regulations What You Need to Know" against a dark blue background with a vector of a boat and the FishingBooker logo

Now that you know where and when to go and what to target, there are a couple of things to learn first. The South African government invests a lot of effort to preserve the diverse marine life, imposing strict rules and regulations – including the need for a license. The safest road is to get in touch with the local fishery control officer and consult with a guide.

Note that regulations on specific species vary from time to time. It’s never a bad idea to check on the latest rules before you set out on your Cape Town fishing adventure.

Fishing in Cape Town FAQs

Cape Town: South Africa at Its Finest

A photo of a white sand beach posing between the town, mountains, and luscious greenery on one side and wavy blue water on the other side on a sunny day

It’s not just about a unique blend of diverse species, picturesque landscapes, and traditional fishing methods. Fishing in Cape Town opens up a whole new world of opportunities, exotic species, and deep respect for everything the sea has to offer. It doesn’t matter if you’re casting a line off the city’s coast or delving into the thrill of offshore fishing. Fishing here is a way of life. Come and see it yourself!

Have you ever been fishing in Cape Town? What’s your favourite species to target? Any fish stories you’d like to share with us?

The post Cape Town Fishing: The Complete Guide appeared first on FishingBooker Blog.

By: Lisa
Title: Cape Town Fishing: The Complete Guide
Sourced From: fishingbooker.com/blog/cape-town-fishing/
Published Date: Fri, 29 Sep 2023 13:56:17 +0000

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