Fish and Fishing in the Bot River Estuary

It seems that Fishing in the Bot River Estuary, one of the largest estuaries in the Cape Province, is not as straight forward as one would think.

This vast expanse of water is the subject of a study carried out by researchers of the Department of Zoology at the University of Cape Town in the mid 1980’s. The estuary teems with over 32 varieties of fish.

Conventional wisdom, and experience, has it that garrik, steenies and large mullet are the most likely catches. These along with leervis, steenbras and elf are popular angling and table fish.

This group of species make use of the estuary as a nursery area. The young fish move into the estuary while the mouth is open and stay there until the onset of sexual maturity. Here they are protected from predators and have excellent feeding in the shallow waters of the estuary. Eventually they must return to the sea to breed and complete the life cycle.

Opinion is divided as to which is best for fishing, the sea or the estuary. Here is the advice of an experienced angler who knows “the Bot” and clearly favours the sea:

“It’s a bit difficult pumping prawn in the lagoon at the moment. You’ll need a net and wade knee-to-waist deep to find decent prawn. If you can pump elsewhere and take along, that would probably be easier at the moment. Usually it’s very easy to pump prawn on the flats closer to the sea but, due to a very low water level earlier in the year followed by rain in the past few months that flooded the flats, the flats are a bit barren at the moment.

I’ve spent a lot of time fishing the sea in that area and it’s not easy fishing. Once again your best bait is prawn and the main target is steenbras. Your chances of catching fish are better towards Kleinmond when the southeast is blowing. It’s a hell of a walk – much easier parking in Kleinmond and walking from that side. Look for nice gulleys/holes to fish along this stretch and be careful of very nasty currents and riptides.”

Drawings of fish species in the Bot River Estuary
Drawings of fish species in the Bot River Estuary -- click to enlarge

This fisherman’s advice, favours the estuary and he says, above all, don’t give up:

“Look at the different natural baits that are present in certain areas and use them there. Do not fish with sand prawn on the mud banks and grassy areas, use the bait that you find there at spring low tide. Remember that the fish move in and out with the tide so try and fish close to the mouth at low tide and move up-stream as the tide pushes in.

Persevere and don’t give up. It took me a couple of years to get my first decent fish in the lagoon here and I still don’t know all the good spots. Whatever you do, don’t give up and remember you cannot catch a fish if you don’t have a line in the water.”

Sources: African Wildlife; SEALINE – South African Angling and Boating Community; Ultimate Angling

One Reply to “Fish and Fishing in the Bot River Estuary”

  1. I will be driving-up from Cape Town around mid-February and would like to try some lagoon fishing. Not too sure if Bot River is my best option, as I am particularly interested in leervis or steenbras.

    For leervis, I have usually used live bait (mullet). Is this best for Bot River? I would like to hire a boat for 2-3 days. Any tips?

    Really appreciate some help. I only manage to get 2-3 fishing days every five years!

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