The Langebaan Lagoon has already been described as one of the best fishing venues in the world. The Lagoon forms a unique ecosystem which is very well preserved and monitored by the relevant authorities.
There are mixed opinions as to exactly which portion of the Saldanha- Langebaan area should be called “THE LAGOON”. General consensus amongst locals is that the lagoon refers to the water-mass to the east of a line joining South Head and North Head (see Map 1). It includes the two islands of Jutten in the south and Malgas in the North.
The lagoon can be divided into two legal regions:
The Saldanha Bay Area which is the area to the north of a line joining Tweede Leentjies Klip and Salamander Point as indicated on the map. Please note that this is a recent amendment to the previous line which was further to the south. The Saldanha Bay Area falls under the authority of Spoornet/Portnet and is monitored by them.
The Parks Board Area to the South of the abovementioned line is administered and policed by the National Parks Board. This area includes most of the favourite fishing spots and the islands of Schaapen (Skaap) and Meeu (the small island inside the “Recce” no-go area).
The Bokkomlaan is both famous and infamous.
Infamous because of its steamy and seamy tales, most of which slumber in the graves of the fishermen that propagated them. Still, should you shoot the breeze with any elderly fisherman at a Velddrif tavern, these tales-from-the-grave flow effortlessly after a couple of brannas.
Famous because it is the home of the dried fish industry in South Africa and because the towns of Velddrif and Laaiplek were birthed due to fishermen having settled here on the Bokkomlaan..
Surf the net and you’ll happen upon the desperate postings of an individual or two appealing to the cyberspace community to put them in touch with the purveyors of this unique tidbit so synonymous with the Bokkomlaan.
Stay On The Legal Side
For reasons that are difficult to grasp or understand, different seaworthiness permits are needed for the Saldanha Bay Area and the Parks Board Area. It might have something to do with the collection of monies or some hidden power struggle.
To fish from a boat in the lagoon, at least the following permits are required:
- A valid Skipper’s Ticket
- A SAMSA Boat Seaworthy Certificate that can be obtained from various appointed inspectors such as Seb at 083 459 9455
This allows you to utilize a boat in the Saldanha Bay Area
- A Parks Board Boat Seaworthy Certificate, obtainable from their offices in Langebaan, is also required. Usually they accept the SAMSA certificate as proof of seaworthiness and will issue a Parks Board sticker after collecting their money.
This allows you to utilize a boat in the Parks Board Area.
The following fishing-related permits must be obtained from the Post Office. The standard permit is valid for a period of one year. Please note that a shorter (cheaper) one-month permit is also available.
- A boat fishing permit. One per boat is required.
- Fishing permit. One per angler required.
- Bait collection permit. One per bait collector is required. Bag limits and sizes are available from the Parks Board office and tackle shops.
- Other permits such as cast-net, crayfishing, spear-fishing, etc. is also available on the same form.
A row of buoys marks the restricted area along the shore of the SANDF Recce Area. No boats or fishing are allowed inside a line joining these buoys (see map 2).
A row of buoys stretching from Kraalbaai across the lagoon towards Oosterwal marks the southern limit of the permitted fishing and power boat activities in the Parks Board Area. This is commonly referred to as “The Line” or “Die Lyn” (see map 3).
The Parks Board authorities have assured us that they now have a permanent “Water-Wing” This team will specialize in policing the Parks Board Area and you can be assured that you will be checked for permits, certificates, fish size and bag limits as well as bait quantities.
It was also mentioned that no more warnings will be given and fines will be issued with the first trespass. The “Water-Wing” will operate on a 24-hour basis.
Boat Launching Spots
There are, in essence, three boat launching slipways in the Langebaan area.
Langebaan Yacht Club (LYC). LYC has excellent launching facilities and walk-on jetties. It is usually available to non-members at R80 per launch. During peak periods it might be open to members only. This will clearly be indicated on the notice board at the turn-off to the LYC. Skippers are to ensure that their boats are 100% ready for an immediate launch before entering the slipway: engines checked, all pre-launch checks completed and ready just to push off. We cannot guarantee your personal safety if you start wasting time by blocking the slipway while battling to start or to get the boat off the trailer.
The “Paaltjies”. This is the common name for the launch area on the main beach at Langebaan. It is clearly marked by two rows of poles. Launching at this stage is still free. The disadvantage is that you are launching from the beach, with the associated problems of getting stuck, getting the trailer out of the water after launch, and getting the boat back onto the trailer. It is very popular, however, specifically for smaller or lighter boats such as inflatables.
Club Mykonos Marina. Boat launching at Mykonos is very easy as the facilities are good and the slipway is excellent and well maintained. Launch fees are R150 per launch. Mykonos is particularly suitable for launching to fish the spots to the north of the Parks Board Area. The Fuel saved by the shorter distance from the Marina to the area such as Roman Banks or “The Ore Jetty” will probably offset the higher launching fees.
The favourite bait types are prawns for White Stumpnose and White Steenbras. Pilchards or sardines for Shad (Elf), Cob and Geelbek (Cape Cod) and red bait for all bottom fish like White Stumpnose, Steentjie and Kolstert (Blacktail). White mussel is available from the tackle shops and a few can be found on the sand banks. It is not a favourite bait with most of the fish species in the lagoon, but often the only available bait for bottom fishing (White Stump and Steentjie) when you have missed the low tide to pump prawns.
Prawns can be pumped from most of the sand banks in the upper lagoon area (south of the LYC) They are mostly accessible within two hours of low tide, and you must be prepared to stand waist deep in the cold water. A floating net to pump the sand into is highly effective. You do not have to look for the prawn holes in the sand. Pump at random, and exploit the productive areas. There are two types of prawn in the lagoon: The “sand” or “pink” prawn (with pinchers), and the “mud prawn” (without pinchers). There are mixed opinions as to which one is the better one for bait. Experience have shown that the fish have no particular preference. I know many anglers will disagree. Please note that these two types of prawn count as different bait species and you pay pump 50 if each per bait permit.
Red bait may be collected from most rocks at low tide or hooked from the sand below “Konstabelkop”.
Pilchards or sardines can be bought from all bait shops and the Langebaan Total Garage.
Favourite Fishing Spots
The following fishing spots are the most popular and productive ones in the lagoon.
· The Ore Jetty
· Roman Banks
· Lynch Blinder
· “Skaap” Island Area (GPS name for Schaapen)
· The Middle Channel
· The Line
Angling Etiquette & Rules
There are some unwritten angling rules that are based on etiquette and good manners.
1. Do not pass close to anchored boats at high speed. Most fishing boats on the lagoon are small and your wake may result in a dangerous situation with a kid or equipment falling overboard.
2. Do not pass over fishing lines that are in the water. Give the “fishing side” of another boat at least a 50 metre miss.
3. Do not anchor so close to another boat that you can interfere with their fishing or conversation.
4. When launching at the Langebaan Yacht Club PLEASE obey the Club rules very strictly.
5. Do not enter the slipway with an unprepared boat. Make 100% sure that your boat is ready for an immediate launch.
6. Do not attempt a solo launch and then come back to remove your vehicle and trailer. Have somebody with you to take your vehicle off the slip immediately when your boat is off the trailer.
7. Do not leave your boat against the jetty for more than 10 minutes.
8. Do not leave your boat unattended against the jetty.
9. Obey the “no-wake” restriction around the slipway and jetty area.
10. In dense fog, bad visibility or at night, proceed with slow speed and utmost care. There are anchored boats all around kayak rowers enjoy the flat waters associated with dense fog.
11. Do not dispose of empty cans, bottles, plastic bags or bait containers in the water.
The lagoon is full of shallow sandbanks , kelp beds and other obstacles which may, and often do, bring a boat to a sudden stop. PLEASE DO NOT put passengers in front on the nose of a boat. We have regular incidents of people (specifically kids) falling off the front of a ski boat with a resulting propeller-rash that can spoil your holiday. Enjoy our lovely lagoon, good fishing and help us keep it sustainable for our kids and their future generations.
By Mossie Basson & Doreth Greenberg
Photos: Mossie Basson