Umkomaas Guest House Aliwal Shoal Bed and Breakfast Accommodation Kwazulu Natal Durban South Coast South Africa

 Umkomaas Guest House Aliwal Shoal Bed and Breakfast Accommodation Kwazulu Natal Durban South Coast South Africa

Umkomaas Guest House Aliwal Shoal Pool View Durban South Coast South Africa

The Sardine Run 2011 news update "The Greatest Shoal on Earth"



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Umkomaas Accommodation

Umkomaas Guest House

Accommodation KZN South Coast


The Sardine Run 2009 ... Accommodation and scuba dive trips organised, please contact us   SARDINE RUN


Sardine run reports see my other site

Sardine run

June 19th

June 20th Lots of sardine sat Hibberdene

June Early shoal were sighted at Rocky Bay just South of Scottburgh on the Durban South Coast but none netted and no fish with them

was not a good Sardine run!!! Lets hope for a better one in

August - After a few cold fronts and strong seas the sardines still did not arrive. The expectation is now over. A very disappointing sardine run from my point of view but as someone said to me "It's mother natures way of protecting them" More for next year!!!

July 20th - Port St Johns to Waterfall Bluff - Lots of activity Dolphins, Gannets. Not much activity on KZN coast due to large sea swells.

July 19th -Big swells today. Natal Sharks Board say best chance to see activity today would be Durban beach front.

July17th-18th Plenty of Sardines at Warner Beach and Amanzimtoti

July12th - Lots of activity from Port St Johns to Waterfall Bluff. Thousands of Gannets & Dolphins working the shoals of Sardines. Water temp is 18.9 degrees which is ideal for the Sardines. The main activity may stay in the area for a couple of weeks. Natal Sharks Board have also removed Shark nets from all beaches Hibberdene Southwards.

2nd June ....Still waiting.

Guests diving with Tiger Sharks have had up to 10 Tigers and 40 Black Tips!!!

May...Still waiting

2nd April ....Time for the run to start....Update soon


The Sardine Run news update news -

19th August .... Saw 2 whales 30 metres from beach today. Widenham beach.

GONE FISHING ............Update later today

Very small amounts of sardines

July 19th .... Lots of shad about keeping fishermen busy. Odd Garrick being caught.

July .... Small pockets of sardines again @ Ilfracombe, Umgababa, Aamanzimtoti.

I fished a Ski @ Jetski boat competition

July 10th .... Small pockets of sardines. 30+ baskets of fish have been taken at Scottburgh.

June 26th ... No activity from the sardines and still big sea swells. The water temperature is still too high for the sardines. The Natal Sharks Board report that we have had sardines in the past during the first two weeks of July

June 25th (Sunday) Huge swells and strong South Easterly winds n activity from sardines

June 22nd... S West winds blowing. A small pocket of sardines in Amanzimtoti area, but only a few. Sardines right down the coast at Coffee bay & East London.

June 20th...Flat calm conditions, small sea swell, Temp 20 degrees (still too high) Sardines were 40kms South of the KZN border but activity stopped Sunday. Still too early to predict when and IF the sardines will appear off KZN.

June 18th... No sardine activity, we caught a few fish. Couta, Kingfish.

June 16th...I was out in my fishing ski off Umkomaas with Charles from Cape Town today. No fish but we seen 1 Whale, 1 huge Manta Ray, and a huge turtle close to shore. Lots of Gannets in the area.

June 15th ... A few Whales breaching in front of Umkomaas. We caught Couta and a Kingfish off Umkomaas on fishing skis late afternoon.

June 14th ... Light offshore winds. Water is 20 degrees (still too warm) Gannet activity South of Port St Johns. From East London & 30 kms North Lots of Gannet and Dolphin activity. If temperatures drop the sardines should be on the KZN coast in 2 weeks.

We had some terrible news, 2 members of the film crew crashed their microlight into the sea and their bodies were not found. The wreckage has been found but no bodies as yet.

June 10th ... The film crew go out to see the Tiger Sharks today, update tonight. Fishing is starting to get better, plenty of fish from Umkomaas North Bank. Local spear fisherman Emile caught a 37kg Mussel Cracker. This will add to his 57kg Kingfish. His 3rd South African record off Umkomaas!!! Big Couta off Umgababa off Ski Boats. Average 25kg. 

June 9th ... Some film crew guys are coming back up to stay with us today to dive with the Tiger Sharks at Aliwal Shoal as there is not much activity in the Transkei.

June 8th ... Calm seas & clear skies but not much activity yet. The sea temperature is dropping and is now approx 20 degrees. Sardines have been spotted 60 kms South of Port Edward, also Wavecrest,  Waterfall Bluff.  Port St Johns area has seen Shark, Gannet & Dolphin activity but not too many Sardines. 

June 4th 2006... Bits of activity from Gannets & Dolphins a long way South of KZN

March 30th .. A reliable source says that the Sardines are shoaled up off the Western Cape... Over a week earlier than last year.


The Sardine Run news update news -

Sunday 17th July..Sadly the Sardine Run has came to an end as reported by the Natal Sharks Board.

For anyone who was lucky enough to witness this phenomenal event, I am sure will agree that it was indeed a magnificent experience. I recall my own personal experiences in the Sardine Run of seeing Sharks beach themselves chasing the Sardines, Gannets diving continuously, Dolphins swimming up and down the coast endlessly. The site of people in a frenzy when the Sardines arrive is quite unbelievable, the run times with a holiday time and people spend hours in pursuit of catching the Sardines. Fisherman like myself casting amongst them in the hope of catching the big game fish.

Some experiences from the Sardine Run I witnessed...

Whilst fishing in a Paddle Ski (Canoe) I was chased by 2 Sharks (one as large as the Canoe) that was scary!!!! Thank you to the guy on the Jet Ski who chased them!!!

One day I was out at sea and it was flat calm, I heard a noise behind me, when I turned round it was fins again!!!!!..... BUT they were Dolphins...Phew...Relief. What a pleasure to have these beautiful creatures swimming round you.

Another day I was out at sea ready to come back in, I was putting my rods into the Paddle Ski when a large sea bird landed near me. I had about a dozen sardines left, so I threw him one which he promptly swallowed. Then another, then another, he then jumped up onto my Paddle Ski and plonked himself down whilst I fed him the rest of the Sardines!!! Probably said see you again next year and then flew off.

I witnessed two very large King Mackerel caught from Scottburgh on Paddle Skis 27kg and 35kg!!!!! That was a treat for the holiday makers on the beach. Well done to the anglers who caught them.

Numerous large Garrick and Kingfish.

If you have any memorable experiences during the Sardine run email me

Anyways until next year.......


Sardine Run reports....

Friday July 15th Activity seems to have stopped. Sharks Board report activity at Port St Johns and Transkei area. Sardines were heading South. Water temp is now increasing so Sarine Run could be over. The Shark nets are still lifted.

From 11th July to 15th July very little or no activity. Where have they gone?????


Saturday July 9th Windy conditions 1 metre waves no sardine activity early morning yet. Pm update ...still no sardines, gone very quiet

Friday July 8th ...Pretty quiet today. Quiet windy conditions.

Thursday July 7th ... Small pockets of sardines all along the coast.

Wednesday July 6th ... Ifafa beach and Umtwalume still hotspots.

Tuesday July 5th Activity South of Umtwalume down to Port Shepstone Expect Sardines to appear Wednesday between Scottburgh and Ifafa

Monday 4th July Sardines in small pockets all the way along North and South Coast look for the birds they can spot them quicker!!!

Sunday 3rd July Sardines active right sown the coast.

Saturday 2nd July Sardines at North Coast, Ballito & Salt Rock & Umhlanga Rocks. Very slow and big surf on South Coast. Wind picked up in the afternoon.

Friday 1st July Sardines seem to everywhere !!!!  Sardines right from North Coast down through Durban and to the South Coast. Lots of activity in this area Umkomaas, Scottburgh, Rocky Bay.

Thursday 30th June Sardines seem to everywhere !!!! Sardines netted again here in the Umkomaas river mouth. Sardines right from North Coast down through Durban and to the South Coast. Lots of activity in this area Umkomaas, Scottburgh, Rocky Bay.

Wednesday..Sardines all the way along the South Coast, I was on my fishing ski at Scottburgh and there were sardines everywhere, unfortunately sharks also!!!!!!

Tuesday 28th June Durban...lots of netting of sardines...Margate lots of sardines.

Tuesday 28th June Durban...lots of netting of sardines...Margate lots of sardines.

Monday 27th June ... SW Wind...Hotspot today Amanzimtoti & Warner Beach, plenty of fish. Fish also at Margate & Ramsgate. Still shoaled up at Port Edward heading North NSB hotline for live updates 082 284 9495

Sunday 26th June...Huge Couta from Scottburgh today on Paddle Fishing Skis one Couta 28kg one a monster 35kg!!!! Picture to follow...Sardines at Rocky Bay...Lots of Sharks about now also. Couta and rays caught off Scottburgh point today.

Saturday 25th June 2nd update...Activity at Umkomaas and Widenham I caught a nice Salmon on a spoon just before dark....lots of sardines washing up...

Saturday 25th June update...Still activity at Bazeley,Umzumbe, Pumula, a few fish at Scottburgh and small shoals all the way along the coast behind the back line...Off shore wind... .5 to 1mtr swell... Next update tonight...

Friday 24th June update...I seen lots of activity at Port Shepstone today, Dolphins, Sharks, Gannets. A few fish North of Scottburgh but far out...Off shore wind... Next update tomorrow...

Thursday 23rd June... Dark skies, rough seas, fish difficult to spot.

Wednesday 22nd June... Not much activity

Tuesday 21st June update...A lot slower today with rainy conditions the fish are more difficult to see. A few fish netted of Durban and on the lower South Coast...South East wind... Next update tomorrow pm...

Monday 20th June update...Lots of sardines and bird activity Amanzimtoti Warner and Winkespruit Plenty of sardines were netted... Next update tomorrow pm...

Sunday 19th June update...Gannet activity at Umtwalume and Ifafa Beach LOTS OF SARDINES... I seen some nice Garrick and Kingfish caught at Widenham beach today...Next update tomorrow pm...

Saturday 18th June update...Sea ... Light Off Shore Wind...North Wind predicted later today will make ideal conditions...Gannet activity at Shelley Beach...Activity at Bazeley Beach... Next update later today...

Friday 17th June update...Sea ... Light South Westerly...Very little activity...Unconfirmed sighting of fish in Durban bay... Next update tomorrow...

Thursday 16th June afternoon update...Sea ... Light South Westerly...Very little activity,Sardines still near Port Edward...Update tomorrow...

Wednesday 15th June afternoon update...Sea ... Strong South Westerly...Very little activity due to conditions Update tomorrow...

Tuesday 14th June afternoon update...Sardines now at Scottburgh, Widenham, and Umkomaas. I witnessed the sardines at Umkomaas and Umgababa yesterday with lots of birds diving for them. Bronze whaler sharks beaching themselves trying to catch them. One angler caught a large shark and promptly returned it to the sea. Sea ... Moderate South Westerly...Update tonight...

Monday 13th June afternoon update...Sardines now North of Margate Sea ... Moderate South East swell ...Update tomorrow...

Sunday 12 June afternoon update...Sardines now between Margate and Shelley Beach... Wind North East 1 metre swell

12th June Sardines are now on the KZN coast, Sunday morning 3 nets of Sardines have been netted. Sardines are between Port Edward and Ramsgate. Nets taken at Glenmore beach. Light wind 1.5 mtr swell. Sea temp 20 degrees

11th June 2005 Sardines spotted Port Edward and near Wild Coast Sun ... Surface activity slow ... Fish are deeper now

Sardine Shoal 21 nautical miles long heading for KZN 2nd week in June .... Just South Port st Johns 7th June



Named after the National Geographic programme, which showcased this phenomenal event, I will never forget the first time I encountered "The Greatest Shoal on Earth.

I was fishing on Umkomaas beach early one morning when Cape Gannets seemed to appear from nowhere, dive bombing into the sea in a frenzy. They feasted upon something which was too far out for me to see. Dolphins then appeared, jumping out of the water and circling their prey, locals then appeared looking out for the sardines, but then.... nothing. The Gannets flew off, the Dolphins disappeared, the locals wandered off. There must of been a shoal, but only a small one.

The next day I was driving back from Durban when I seen a local ski boat driving onto the beach at Warner beach. When I looked there was also another boat on the beach ready to launch into the surf. I parked my car in the car park and walk down to the beach hoping I could catch a glimpse of the sardines.

With skilled precision the boat skippers circled an area and dropped their nets. Then chaos set in like the day before... Cape Gannets appeared, Dolphins appeared, Locals, Tourists, all with the same objective of obtaining some of the sardines. To say what happened next was a frenzy would be an understatement. The skippers dragged  their nets to the beach and everyone available helped pull the nets up the beach with a promise of some of the catch for helping.

When signalled to "help themselves" everyone scooped up the Sardines into any container possible, including shirt and trouser pockets!!!!

When the action finally came to an end the Seine Netters took their catch in plastic containers in 4x4 vehicles to be sold locally.

The beach was once again silent........ until the next shoal arrived.


The Sardine Run can be witnessed some time between May and July (conditions permitting). If the water is too warm the Sardines will stay out in the deeper water.

  • Shoals can obtain a size of 15kms long, 3kms wide and over 40mtrs deep!
  • Sardines mature at about 19cm and reproduce during an extended breeding season from September to February.
  • All the tins of pilchards in tomato sauce originate from the Cape. Some of the sardines are processed into fish meal.
  • Sardines live short lives, but grow quite quickly. They reach a length of about 22cm in their second year.
  • Most breeding takes place on the Agulhas Bank in the Southern Cape, but some sardines do breed also in KwaZulu-Natal.
  • KwaZulu-Natal waters do contain much plankton to provide a sufficient food source for the sardines.
  • Sardines, also known as pilchards, they are also found other cold water areas of the world.
  • Sharks and Dolphins work in harmony to herd the Sardines in to "Baitballs" so they can easily be picked off by the predators.
  • Sardines are filter feeders, sieving plankton from the water, as it passes between their gills.
  • It is estimated that Sarines make uo 23% of the worlds fish catch.
  • Only a small percentage of the sardine schools go through KwaZulu-Natal waters, where over 700 tons are caught during the "Sardine Run", while over 4000 tons are caught in the Eastern Cape.
  • Cape fur seals and penguins also feed on sardines but are not often seen in the warmer KwaZulu-Natal waters.
  • The majority of South Africa’s sardines occur off the Western and Southern Cape, where about 100 000 tons are caught annually by  seine netters operating from various harbours.
  • The Sardine Run can be enjoyed below the Ocean or from above, by Bird Watchers, Marine Enthusiasts, Divers, and Tourists.
  • Cape gannets move up from their huge colonies in the Cape, to follow the "Greatest Shoal on Earth" up the KwaZulu Natal Coast.
  • Gannets operate in huge flocks, diving from the sky into the huge sardine shoals.
  • After feasting themselves on the Sardines, the gannets float  on the water overnight in huge numbers of birds.
  • Ideal viewing points are from a boat, from the air in small aircraft or from vantage points on land, especially when being netted.
  • Sardines are prey to a wide assortment of game fish such as Geelbek, Garrick and Shad, and of course Sharks and Dolphins.
  • An adult Dusky Shark was found with 600+ sardines in its stomach.
  • Ideal Diving experience, combined with Diving Aliwal Shoal.
  • About 20 000 common dolphins pursue the "Sardine Run" frenzy up the coast KwaZulu-Natal coast from the Eastern Cape.


The Sardine Run - "The Greatest Shoal on Earth".....

Coming soon in KwaZulu-Natal.....


Contact Information

039 973 1572 ...  Mick's Cell no 072 938 1769  
0866 186643
Postal address
30-32 Crompton Street , Umkomaas, South Africa 4170
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 Umkomaas Guest House Accommodation in Umkomaas, South Coast, KwaZulu Natal , Bed and Breakfast, B&B, Aliwal, Aliwal Shoal,

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