Unlike Garfield the cat (here’s what Jim Davies had to day about that), I honestly don’t have a problem with Mondays; perhaps it’s because I don’t participate in the traditional Monday to Friday work schedule. But as this past Monday approached, it had me thinking that I needed a break. Ever since the tourism industry took a dive and I no longer guide international visitors around South Africa, I decided to follow another passion of mine and started a small website development agency called SW Designs.
Before I really get started on the meat and bones of this post, I have to say that the images on this post are not mine, I forgot the camera (insert sad face here). The featured image is by frank mckenna on Unsplash.
After weeks of setting the agency up, submitting quotes and working on websites and content, I needed a quick break, I needed a way to recharge my batteries and soothe the soul. And in my opinion, there is only one way to do that, and that is to head to the coastline.
Now, I’m not one to laze about sun bathing on the beach, I want to be surfing, walking or swimming. On this occasion, I decided to try something new though. Thanks to a chance viewing on YouTube I decided to try my luck fly fishing in the surf. The only question was though, where?
About 25 minutes or so north of Durban lies the little (well not so little these days) holiday spot, Salt Rock. The name comes from the fact that a group of nearby Zulu people collected the salt that was left in the crevices of rocks. The town itself was developed because of the sugar baron, Basil Hulett and his wife Gwen; they apparently built the Salt Rock hotel.
Today Salt Rock is a vibrant little town in it’s own right with two lovely shopping centers, loads of estates, camping and caravan grounds and many restaurants. It’s kinda becoming the “place to holiday”. One disturbing tidbit I heard from a local was that there were more non-local owners than local; people who purchased 2nd homes in the area but only spent a week or two actually in the house, and then renting it out the rest of the year. How true that is, I have no idea, but it doesn’t bode well for the locals.
Anyways, back to the fly fishing.
An early morning start
I decided to get down to Salt Rock as early as possible, which for me living in Hillcrest, meant getting going by 5:30am. There was next to no traffic going into and out of Durban and I was on site by 6:30am. I did stop along the way to grab a coffee from one of the garages, but I made fantastic time.
I brought down two fly rods but ended up just taking the one rod on to the beach with me, a 6/7 weight with a 6 weight reel. I deliberately took only a few fly’s with me (I’m a minimalist in every aspect lol); two salty buggers and some fly’s a mate tied for me.
I decided to walk north of up from where I was parked and then fish my way back. I think by the time I actually got a fly in the water I was at least 1 kilometer up from the parking lot. It was still early so there was hardly any wind and the tide was all the way out.
I decided to just get started and spent the next 90 minutes or so casting a salty bugger into the surf, basically working the drop-off. There were quite a few surf fisherman out already so I had to doge the odd fishing line heading out. I had absolutely no luck (neither had any of the fisherman I spoke to) so I decided to head back to the van to get some breakfast.
Forgot the camera again!
Back at the van I enjoyed a cup of coffee out the flask I made while I heated up my little camping pan on a hiking gas cooker. I’m a big believer in a healthy, hearty breakfast and had brought some eggs, bacon and few other goodies with me. I think I must have been quite a sight, sitting in the roomy van (I had all the seats out) frying up some brekkie – I had a few odd looks for sure!
I did intend to take some pics but naturally forgot my camera (grrrr) and although I should have used my cell phone, it was buried in my dry bag and to get it out was a bother. So instead, I simply enjoyed my cooked breakfast and chilled out a bit.
A little about Salt Rock
About 2 maybe 3 years ago I had a group of guests on a tour with me and we stayed for 3 nights in Salt Rock right on the beach. Now, it wasn’t my decision to stay there, it was their idea, but I’m glad we did, because it’s a great little town with loads to do and see.
As I mentioned, there are two shopping centers, both of which have a Spar, one has a Woolies, and then there is usual mix of coffee shops and so on. You’ll be able to get anything you need and certainly won’t starve!
There’s not a great deal to do in Salt Rock itself, apart from the beach obviously, but there is so much to do around the town. Here are just some of the sites and activities around Salt Rock you could easily visit.
- Sugar Rush Park – mountain biking, putt-putt, a zipline, there is really a plethora of stuff to do and keep the whole family happy.
- Chakas Rock Tidal Pool – book Tidal Tao to provide the fins, goggles, snorkels and a whole boatload of information on all the species found in the tidal pool.
- Microlight flights – check out Durban and surrounds from the point of view of the Yellow Billed Kites; I’ve done this and it’s awesome.
- Ballito Cable Ski Park – you, you read that right, get tethered up to a cable and go water skiing!
- Monkeyland -I had so much fun here! This huge fenced area with these amazing primates who were once pets living out the remaining years and a veritable Eden; love it.
- Golfing – Just up the road (well, quite a way up the road is Princess Grant and of course Zimbali is not too far away either.
Round 2 of the fishing
After a hearty breakfast, a cup or two of good coffee brewed right there in the van, I was ready to once again take on the fish. So I gathered everything together and walked back up the beach about a ‘kay and then started casting away.
By now the wind had picked up a bit and my casting was going all to hell; I had also forgotten to take along a stripping basket (again) and so I was tangled all up in my own line – I’m pretty sure I caught one or two surf fisherman laughing; never mind, they’re good guys.
I reckon I spent a good hour just working the shore, and I hardly noticed the time going by. This is one of the reasons why I enjoy fly fishing, for me it’s not about the catching of fish as such, it’s more about being outdoors and finding a sort of peace in the repetitive nature of the cast, I guess one could say it’s a form of self-soothing, maybe even meditation.
I had almost fished the shoreline back to the vehicle and was considering packing up when I get my first strike. My first fish of the day was a small shad caught on a fly tied by my good mate Paul (who incidentally, is a fly fishing guide himself).
After releasing the shad (I’m all about catch and release) I decided I’d just give it a few more casts before packing up and blow me down if I didn’t pick up a second shad! Not much bigger then the first ( who knows, it may have even been the same fella), I tossed him back and decided to call it a day on that positive note.
Lunch time in Salt Rock
After packing everything up I figured I deserved a toasted sandwich or something. Salt Rock has a lot of little restaurants and takeaways. I ended up at a Mugg and Bean at the local mall but there were many options; Ziggy’s is a great little German restaurant that I enjoyed. If you’re up for the drive though, Spice restaurant just south of Ballito is hands down the best restaurant in South Africa (in my opinion).
That’s all folks!
I am definitely gong to do this more often; find a nice beach that allows fishing and just spend a few hours enjoying the sand and sunshine and ocean; there are far worse days to spend a Monday that’s for shore (see what I did there?).
If you have a favorite spot, let me know below in the comments.