• Published:January 28, 2013
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Richards Bay is home to one of the best big-game bites in South Africa. The Mozambique Current and Agulhas Current sweep southward along this stretch of coastline, creating a highly fertile environment where big-game fish get fat on a constant supply of migrating baitfish.
Finding the bite here means taking a short run of less than 10 miles. You can actually hook a marlin just 20 minutes from the dock. Capt. Trevor Hansen hails from these productive fishing grounds and has built a name for himself as one of the most successful charter captains in the area, guiding his clients to a long list of impressive billfish catches as well as other species of game fish.

Trevor runs Reel Magic Big Game Fishing Charters, specializing in blue marlin, striped marlin, sailfish, swordfish, yellowfin tuna and more. Trevor and his crew offer clients steady fishing and waterfront accommodations. Capt. Trevor sat down with Fishtrack to shed a little light on what makes Richards Bay such a special fishery in the world of offshore fishing.

Where are you from originally?
I was born in South Africa and raised in the small coastal surf town of St. Francis Bay (made famous by the classic surf film Endless Summer).

How long have you been fishing Richards Bay?
I have been fishing the Southeast Africa coastline and the Sodwanna area for around 15 years, but my operation has been based in Richards Bay for the last four years.
"Water clarity is a very big factor in this area due to the runoff from major rivers, but the strong current normally keeps the discolored water further inshore."

Do you run charters year round in the Richards Bay area?
At the moment I only run charters in summer months, which in South Africa last from October to April.

Is water clarity and color an important factor in fishing offshore near Richard's Bay?
Water clarity is a very big factor in this area due to the runoff from major rivers, but the strong current normally keeps the discolored water farther inshore. The deeper waters are usually indigo colored and very clean. Any discoloration usually puts the fish off, but we sometimes get great color lines, which can be awesome for fishing.

Do you prefer certain water temperatures when targeting different species around Richard's Bay?
During the winter the temperature drops down to 63 to 64 degrees Fahrenheit and the fish retreat to the tropics, but the moment we get a tongue of current with water over 73 or 74 degrees F the fishing turns on. This is also a great temperature for big yellowfin tuna that move down the coast in early summer and back up the coast at the end of summer on their return migration. In the mid-summer months of January and February we can get very warm water of up to 82 degrees. The warm water tends to make the fishing slow and you have to work harder for bites, but the fish are still around. Our ideal temperature is between 75 and 80 degrees F. Our biggest blues are usually caught around the end of summer in March and April as the big yellowfin tuna (150 to 250 pounds) return and the water temperature starts to drop.

What are the big six, and when is the best time to target each species?
We are fortunate to have six billfish species in our waters, namely blue marlin, black marlin, striped marlin, sailfish, shortbill spearfish and broadbill swordfish. All of these species are available from November to May and are especially abundant from December through February. The peak bite for striped marlin, sailfish and smaller blues and blacks is in December while the larger marlin are more abundant later in February and March. Spearfish are sporadic and difficult to target but we see them from October to April and the swordfish bite from November to April.

What is your favorite time of year to catch yellowfin tuna?
October and November and March through May.

What is your favorite time of year to catch mahimahi?
November through April, pretty much the entire fishing season.

What is your favorite time of year to catch wahoo?
From December to April.

Do you use live bait or artificial lures on your charters, or both?
We mostly use artificial lures for blue marlin, but when targeting blacks, live bait is better.

Do you fish mainly around structure, current edges, or temperature breaks?
Structure is important for black marlin, but we mostly target blues around current edges, baitfish and thermoclines. There are three main areas that we fish and the fish will move in and out depending on where the current is laying. The main temperature breaks found closer to shore are productive for mahimahi and wahoo, but the water color can be poor, and therefore not so good for marlin. Small black marlin love this area and can be caught on artificial lures. Beyond the 200-meter line there are only small changes in temperature and the other factors such as current edges and baitfish are more important.

How is the fishing so far this season?
This has been a strange season with much less bait and game fish and fewer marlin than last year; but having said that, the quality of the early summer fishing was phenomenal. The blue marlin were averaging around 200-kg (450 pounds). We did a few trips in September and released marlin each day. Bad weather has been a factor, but good fishing can still occur in between storms.


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