Destination: Kei Mouth
The Kei-Mor Region
I’ve included Kei Mouth and Morgan Bay together as they make up a single destination, being together at the end of the road, as it were. This has been a popular holiday destination throughout recent times, from the days when farmers used to trek down with their ox-wagons, to spend their Christmas holidays camping, swimming and fishing in the sea & estuaries of the region. With the arrival of the automobile it became practical to come down over Easter as well. These holidays, apart from the pleasures at hand, were also opportunities to diversify their diet with fish and to stock up on pickled fish, to be enjoyed for a few months further back at home. Each has its traditional angling hot-spots and attractions.
Aptly named, Kei Mouth is at the mouth of the Great Kei River. Old records tell of commercial netting operations that recorded daily catches in tons! These were butterflied, salted, dried & taken by ox-wagon or lorry to Centani, in the old Transkei & East London, to be sold. Even then, the decline of fish stocks was recorded in the records, when a bad day was a catch of “only 3 ½ tons of mullet, kob and grunter”.
The Kei River is a popular fishing destination, with kob being the most sought-after species, followed by spotted grunter. Mullets are netted and prawns. River bream (Acanthropagrus berda) also occur & garrick (leervis) are occasionally caught. River snapper (Lutianus argentimaculatus) are very occasionally caught, possibly because the high silt load of the river keeps some species populations restricted. To be fair, 99 % of anglers target kob and grunter (when they’re there), and the other species are caught by accident, so the jury is still out on them. If you come and target these species specifically, you might be surprised! There are ‘famous’ fishing spots from the river mouth all the way up to Kob Hole, approximately 5 km up the river. Fishing nowadays is mostly by boat, for ease of access, but walkers will also be rewarded.
You can also cross the river on the pont, 50c if you’re on foot R 80.00 each way by vehicle. You can fish the sand gulleys off the beach North of the river mouth and there are also very good spots off the rocks and gulleys there, not to mention the (locally) well-known Gxara River, a mostly blind river just North of the Kei.
The sea shore of the Kei Mouth area abounds with good rock & surf spots and the locals are always helpful with hints and advice, if asked. Favourites are just south of the Kei River Mouth, the rocks in front of the old Beach Hotel, Sloping Rocks, Duckpond (sharks, shad & many other species) and the Old Mine Pump House, just to name a few. Kei Mouth is also the gateway to and the southernmost end of the famous Wild Coast.
Also, a traditional farmers’ holiday destination that grew into a very popular holiday resort town, Morgan Bay is another fishing hot spot. Morgan Bay Estuary provides good catches of estuary garrick, kob and grunter on light tackle. You can teach your kids to fish with a float & very light tackle, catching the juvenile Silvies (Rhabosargus tricuspidens, Moonies (Monodactylis argenteus) and Striped Grunter (Rhinciscus stridens) that abound there, not to mention the numerous mullet. I you’re inclined, you can also target the indigenous Tilapia mosambica in the estuary. They occur in large shoals & the bigger specimens are to be found in the upper reaches of the estuary. They are always a good fight, pound for pound.
Again, Morgan Bay is another traditional fishing hot spot. All the general rock and surf species are found off the rocks. Morgan bay has another secret, however. The Morgan Bay Cliffs are a spot only for the brave (or foolish?). Some anglers can’t resist fishing off cliffs & come prepared with strong nerves & specialised grapnels to help them get their catches up onto the ledges. Although no doubt a dangerous pastime, specialised cliff anglers are rewarded with deep-water species like red roman, yellow tail & others. They also get to fish in spots that VERY few other anglers frequent, which is a bonus.
Another jewel of Eastern cape angling, double mouth offers excellent angling, both rock and surf and estuary. The campsite (operated by Eastern Cape Parks) is a little-known jewel, practically empty in the off-season. Favourite spots are The Ledges, just North of the campsite, The Break Wall (a raised rock wall running out diagonally from the shore just below the reservoir) and the area between the camp site and the Quko River Mouth. Just south of the river there is the famous Black Rock (which section of our coast DOESN”T have one?) and the stretch from there South to Fish Bay is also very good, although accessible only on foot, as road access is through private property. It’s therefore generally not fished often. Spouses, children and significant others may pass the time searching for porcelain shards & carnelian trade beads from the wreck of the Santo Espiritu, wrecked there in 1608. Double mouth is also very popular with marine fish collectors.
The Mor-Kei area is generally a very good area for fishing and light tackle enthusiasts will never be disappointed. Favourite local light tackle rigs are a 7-foot drop-shot quality rod, with braid line and a small running ball-sinker, ending in a trace approximately 800mm long, topped with a 2/0 hook, with a little floatation at the hook. Bait is the anglers’ personal preference, it all works. Vary your bait until you find what’s working on the day.