Fishing in and Around Wilderness

fishing in wilderness

Fishing is a something of a passion to a lot of people, and there are even types of fishing that appeal to different kinds of people. Some prefer to eat their catch over a fire that very night, and others prefer not to keep it at all, to release it back to the wild, and enjoy it for the sport itself. In Wilderness, there are plenty of fishing opportunities, with fish you won’t find anywhere else. Staying with us at Wilderness On Sea allows you the perfect opportunity to suit up in the morning and head out on your fishing adventure.

Fishing the Touw River & Island Lake

Wilderness is home to some amazing bodies of water, each teeming with hardy and plentiful marine life. Wilderness Island Lake is just one of them, where the Touw River and the Serpentine River meet. The River itself is crystal clear and perfect for snorkeling, swimming and tends to be variably warm.  It is around 3 meters deep and there are a variety of both salt water fish and freshwater fish there as the waters tend to mix.  Some notable fish to find and catch are the Cape Moonies, Leeries, Mullet and Grunter. Some of the best eating fish are also found here, and the much sought after Shad or (Elf as it’s called here) and Bream are also found here.

Watch the weather

It is advised to canoe or kayak out into the Lake farther to get a greater catch, as you are able to do it from the lake’s edge, but the better fish are found further in. Be sure to pack along your binoculars and camera because the fish aren’t the only drawing factor here, the bird life is extraordinary and something you won’t want to miss capturing. Something else to keep in mind is the weather. You’ll want to make sure you check it and come prepared. Some anglers are not bothered by a bit of rain, but for others it will cancel the entire trip so check your weather for Wilderness and never be caught out unaware. (Wilderness weather)

Secret fishing spots in Wilderness

Ultimate Angling, a site dedicated to the love of fishing has a forum where other anglers share their stories, or tips and one of them is particularly brilliant. It shows actual Google Satellite Maps of the entire Wilderness area where all the best and most secret fishing holes are where you are sure to catch the big one. You can find that post in its entirety here.

At Wilderness on Sea you can even cook your catch on the braai, and see what true joy there is in braaing your freshly caught catch of the day. There’s just nothing like enjoying wood-fired fish while staying along the coast, and watching the sun dip below the horizon, a new fishing day just a night away.

Things to know before you go

Now for the more important stuff, like how many fish you get to keep and how to go about fishing legally while you’re here. Most of the guidelines are for saltwater fish here which are typically heavily over-fished commercially and kept at bay by stringent laws that some still ignore. To keep stock numbers healthy, catch limits are placed on saltwater fish catches by individual anglers. Some fish even have closed seasons, and it is recommended to catch and release the salt water fish as much as possible. There is little need to keep more than one while on holiday in any case, and the fight is half the fun right?

Bag limits

Bag limits are how many fish you can keep (saltwater) in one day. If it says none, that doesn’t mean it is unlimited, it only means that you can take as many as you like, but you cannot keep more than ten fish a day per angler. Also notable is the NO LIST.  There are never, under any circumstances, any of the following species of fish allowed to be kept: Great White Shark (why would you even want to!?!), Brindle Bass, Potato Bass, Seventy Four, Natal Wrasse, Red or Copper Steenbras.

Download the bag limits PDF here

Closed seasons for South African fish are:

  • Shad – Closed from 1 October to 30 November
  • Red Steenbras – Closed from 1 October to 30 November
  • Galjoen – Closed from 15 October to the last day of February the following year
  • Chokka Squid – Closed 19 March from 12h00 to 9 April 19h00, also from 23 July 12h00 to 13 August 12h00, and 19 October 12h00 to 23 November 12h00.


A fishing license can be purchased at any coastal Post Office or Conservation Office and some inland Post Offices. Be sure to let them know if you intend to fish in the Sea or the Rivers as there may be additional permits you need to be legal.

FUN FACT – South Africa’s National Fish is the Dichistius Capensis, or the Damba, Black Fish or Black Bream is it’s known locally. It is found only on the Southern African coast and is found mostly in shallow waters.  It is a rockfish when it is found and is black in colour, but when bronze in colour, it’s home is more in the sandy waters. Our National fish does have a closed season as is noted above, and there is also a bag limit of two per day, per angler – minimum catch size is 35cm. This fish was one of the first to be discovered by the earliest people in the area, and is just as much a symbol of Africa as the Protea or the Springbok.

Wilderness on Sea and the town of Wilderness cannot wait to have you with us to enjoy the great fishing opportunities here, and urge you to book in advance as rooms do fill up quickly. Happy fishing!

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