Featured Spot: Salt Rock, KwaZulu Natal – South Africa

Fishing spots and fish to catch from Salt Rock, KZN

Once, a small quaint seaside town surrounded by sugar cane fields, is now boasting with 2 small shopping centres and a few prominent hotels of which the Salt Rock Hotel is a thriving landmark in the area. The name Salt Rock is derived from the days when the Zulu King, King Shaka himself had his handmaidens collect dried salt off the rocks over the low tide. It’s a true fishing landmark of the Natal North coast, the Salt Rock tidal pool was built in the late 1950’s by Basil Hullet, who is also responsible for the current pillar like structures around the rocks housing the pool. These pillars were the structures which held a series of fishing piers he had constructed so that he could fish from them.

The reason I have chosen Salt Rock as a featured spot is because it was instrumental in my learning about saltwater fishing and where my passion for saltwater fishing was born. I would call Salt Rock tidal pool my official north coast hot spot for more reasons than just the fishing quality. It would also have a lot to do with safety, as it’s one of the only fishing spots where I feel completely safe, even at 2 am in the morning fishing alone.

As for the fishing, this spot produces some amazing catches -I basically cut my teeth fishing on this set of rocks and spent many hours fishing from them. It used to be referred to as the home of the Dusky Shark, as the smaller juvenile duskeys would come in huge numbers and provide hours of fishing fun. They have however become somewhat scarce over the past 10 years. My personal best – Natal Stumpnose was caught here and many are caught from these rocks on a regular basis. The junior SA record for Kob was also held at these rocks for many years with a fish of 22 kgs. 

Notable species which frequent this area are:
Summer months: Brown Skates, Giant Sandshark, Honeycomb Rays, Bonefish, Natal Stumpnose, Queen Mackerel and the occasional Couta (King Mackerel), Kingfish, Shad and the occasional blackfin shark.

Winter months: Natal Stumpnose, Kob, Dusky Sharks, Brusher, Pompano, Shad and Garrick.

The fishing options around these rocks are endless, in huge seas you can stand on the salt rock pool tower and fish very comfortably and safely.

Dean Dickinson

 If you’re after edible species both the north and south of the rocks make an awesome bay with structure which holds Kingfish, Stumpies, Pompano and the occasional Brusher. My favourite is the southern side of the rocks standing on the beach and casting either a crayfish bait (in season) or a whole crab along the front of the mussel bank,  in the late afternoon, it will nearly always result in a very decent natal Stumpnose. If you want to get your kids some action, there is a sizable gully between the 2 points of the tidal pool which fills up with water over the high tide and is usually teaming with Blacktail, Karanteen and Stonebream. I use sardine guts on a small no14 bait holder hook with a float – using a sinker means you’ll be losing way too much tackle.

Each year during January and February I fish for Shad off the rocks, a short cast (80m) with a firm mackerel fillet bait usually gets a Shad to bite. The Shad at this time of the year can be big, usually nothing under 1,5kgs and I’ve seen fish of 5 kgs caught there using the same tactics.

David Hendry with a 1.5kg shad caught at Salt rock tidal pool

During the summer months after 2 days of strong north easterly wind this rock can produce some really good fish, especially if the water gets discoloured from one of the nearby rivers, which unfortunately doesn’t happen all that often, but when it does brown Skates, Honeycombs and Sandies can be out of control. When you are lucky enough to get all the above mentioned conditions lined up, a mackerel head with chops cast as far as you can, will most definitely result in some line being pulled off your reel. 

If you don’t have the dirty water conditions mentioned above, fishing at night off these rocks will nearly always produce a bite, bear in mind that a good headlamp, and proper rock shoes are essential items when fishing off any rocks in the dark.

During the winter months, my favorite bait is an octopus leg, a stumpnose cannot swim past a well presented octopus leg. I also enjoy targeting Garrick off the pool using a live bait, a blacktail or karanteen cast just off the pool will get the Garrick feeding.

I personally prefer fishing the last hour of light into the first 2 hours of darkness, over a low tide, or the last 2 hours of darkness and first hour of light also over the low tide. When fishing for non-edible species from these rocks, with edibles, night time is the best, however it fishes better for edibles over a high tide, with shorter throws.

All in all this like I have said is my hot spot for the area, safety is important these days, and with the spotlights from the adjacent salt rock caravan park and security guards on the hotel grounds one is very safe, however don’t be lulled into a false sense of security and keep your wits about you, any suspicious behaviour should be reacted to.

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