With all the beauty and excitement of the Mother City, tuna fishing was one of the most amazing things to do in Cape Town for me personally. As I mentioned in my blog Best Day Trips From Cape Town, this place has so much to offer both in the city and also just outside the main areas. You can choose to observe and enjoy, or you can actively be a part of your trip by hiking, zip-lining, or even hanging out with the sharks. Tuna fishing in Cape Town was such an inspiring activity to me, that I decided to write a full blog post on it. I wanted to ensure you have all the information required to have the best quality experience possible, as I did.
In general tuna fishing is an extremely important part of Cape Town culture, as it was one of the most popular occupations in the past. A lot of local families lived from this and many still do today in some form.
Before we dive into my fishing in Cape Town experience I want to let you know that I also have plenty of extra information to assist with planning your African holiday in both Cape Town, Victoria Falls or any other African destination.
Tuna Fishing In Cape Town – My experience fishing in South Africa
If you are anything like me, fishing in Cape Town will make you as excited as a child at Christmas. It is adventurous, challenging and somewhat calming at the same time. It sharpens your focus, makes you learn new skills and allows you to find out much about this beautiful species and their behaviour.
Once I decided to try my hand at tuna fishing while in Cape Town, the organization of the trip was pretty straight forward. I chose Heliox Fishing Charter – Cape Town and contacted them via Fishingbooker. To get there, I hired a car, it is a 50 minutes drive from the centre of Cape Town. Heliox Fishing Charter – Cape Town proved to be a professional company, they even took some footage of me fighting my first tuna. The staff was amazing and I was lucky enough to have a skipper called Warwick, who had been fishing the waters off Cape Town for many years. This activity also includes a scenic drive on the boat, more on that below.
The first hour is a ride along the Cape Peninsula where you can catch amazing views of all the wonders of nature that Cape Town has to offer. We motored past known places such as Boulder’s Beach and Cape of Good Hope and many others that are not so famous but have just as vivid views to offer, almost like oil paintings. The morning also offered up a sunrise that is hard to forget.
If you are looking to visit either Boulder’s Beach or Cape of Good Hope on a separate day trip from Cape Town, I suggest booking ahead with either Viator or GetYourGuide. The other option, of course, is to hire a car and do the beautiful road trip from Cape Town yourself. This is something I chose to do while I had the rental car.
Compare prices between the best tours to this area and hiring a car to decide which option is best for you. Reading my blog on the best day trips from Cape Town might also offer further assistance and inspiration.
Back to the tuna fishing trip though.
After witnessing the sunrise, the real adventure starts. What I learned is that this fish has a specific character and its not an easy one. Once I saw all the rods and reels that we loaded onto the boat back at port, I had realized it was going to be one hell of a fight. “Welcome to tuna fishing in Cape Town!”, I thought to myself.
When arriving at the fishing grounds you first get the lessons and run down on the technique of how to go about this type of fishing. There are some different tuna fishing variations and techniques you can try, which I mention shortly. We fished by simply baiting a hook and pulling the line out of the reel with our hands until we had enough line in the water. After that, we just had to sit and wait.
The boat just drifts on its own slowly with the current. The whole time someone is needing to keep the chum trail going by throwing chunks of bait over the side of the vessel at a regular pace. This allows the Tuna to follow the trail all the way up to your boat and in theory, along the way, mistake your bait with the hook, for one of the pieces of chum they have been safely scoffing down.
It is not complicated in the beginning but be aware that the tuna will work on your patience. With all my enthusiasm, it is a fact that we sat there for more than 6 hours without a single bite. There were fish around us, as indicated on our fish finder, but we hadn’t been lucky enough to meet any.
There are never any sure things with fishing but if you’re lucky, you get to the point when you meet this fish for real. It is a very authentic experience, to pull against this fish and feel how heavy and strong they are. Fishing in South Africa is nothing like I imagined. It serves as a pretty hectic workout and combines with giving you an incredible adrenaline rush.
I had never fought against something so strong while fishing before. Yellowfin tuna are big, powerful and, oh so beautiful. After a one-and-a-half-hour tussle, I unfortunately finally lost my battle with this amazing creature, right at the side of the boat. I got to see the tuna up close and appreciate just how big and beautiful it was. We were both as tired as each other after such an incredible battle.
Luckily while I was busy fighting my own battles with a monster Cape Town tuna the crew on board had also been lucky enough to get their own action. At one stage we had a triple hook up of yellowfin tuna on the rods but only two out of the three made the boat, I had let the team down.
Exhausted, adrenaline-charged, relieved and a little bit sad because of losing my fish, I arrived back at the marina and saw the magic of a South African sunset. The last highlight on an unforgettable 16-hour day on the South Atlantic Ocean.
What you need to know before tuna fishing in Cape Town
Below is just a quick guide to some of the essential things you need to know about tuna fishing in Cape Town, South Africa. Learn which tuna species can be found in Cape Town, the fishing techniques used to target them and how to find the best fishing charter for your own trip.
What tuna species can you catch in Cape Town?
Skipjack is a smaller tuna species that are often found on our plates in everyday life. It is an especially abundant fish that is one of the most popular for consumption. It has high reproductive behaviour, which makes it hard to overfish. Since it is small, it does not swim with dolphins. This is important because dolphins are often collateral damage in commercial tuna fishing.
Long-finned tuna or Albacore
Long-finned tuna or Albacore is a tuna species commonly found in the cooler waters. It is popular in the tuna industry as white tuna because of its pale colour. Keep in mind that this species is beginning to be a little overfished and its diversity is being lost. It can weigh from 7 to 30kg.
Yellowfin (the tuna I fished for in Cape Town) is popular and widespread. This tuna species is known for its yellowfins that make them dynamically fast swimmers. It can weigh from 15 to 100kg.
Bigeye tuna can grow into 2m of length. They swim at deeper ocean depths. Which makes this tuna species interesting when targeting them via deep-sea fishing in Cape Town. It is found in varies depths from 500 to 1000m. They can weigh from 45 to 122kg and they are very famous table fish. This is resulting in them also becoming overfished and in danger of reducing quickly in numbers if we don’t limit the fishing sensibly.
I think it’s important to mention that fishing for future generations is something we should all be conscious of. I have a blog post on how to catch and release fish with the best practices if you are interested. It’s a little off-topic from my normal travel-related subjects but as an outdoor and fishing lover, I think it’s an important topic to bring attention to whenever possible.
Fishing techniques used
Tuna fishing is by far one of the most amazing experiences when it comes to water activities in Cape Town, arguably along with diving with great white sharks. Being informed about it before getting started is something that can make this process much more interesting and less frustrating.
The fishing techniques used in Cape Town are trolling, chumming, vertical jigging and fly combination.
This is a fishing technique that can be used in almost any environment. It works as you rig the bait on several lines and let them drag behind the boat as you motor forward, making the fish think it’s their next victim. A very important factor in this technique is speed, but it varies depending on the conditions in which you are fishing, so the experience with the technique will show you the way. This is why it is important to check reviews on Fishingbooker or TomsCatch before you book a fishing charter.
Species that are often caught fishing with this technique are Dolphinfish, Wahoo, Yellowfin tuna and Blue Marlin.
A technique used to persuade fish onto the boat with “chum”. Chum is a bait made of rejected dead fish parts, bone and blood. This is an old but effective fishing technique that has been used for many years.
This was actually the fishing technique I was using on my fishing trip as mentioned above.
Is a practice of catching fish with a jig. A jig is an artificial lure that you pull up and down to imitate a struggling fish. The boat is either moving slowly, drifting or anchored which allows you to stay vertical. This is definitely not an easy technique since you need to endure a lot of time and energy dropping and retrieving your jig before having that monster fish that you’re hoping to catch bite. You should be in good shape when choosing this one.
Uses artificial insects as a lure, it has been around for almost 2 millennia or 2,000 years. It takes some time to learn properly how to imitate the movement of insects, but once you do, it is extremely efficient. It was originally used as a freshwater fishing technique, but today it is widely used in saltwater as well. Fish that are targeted with this technique are Redfish, Tarpon, Sailfish and Snook.
Fishing charters in Cape Town
Fishing is just one of the things to do when in Cape Town. It is a very popular sport and tourist attraction all over the world. In Cape Town, you can choose from many charters and offers until you find the one that fits you best. By choosing a good charter you can be sure to make the most out of your day. Good fishing charters in Cape Town will be well equipped, safe and offer experienced experts that lead you through the process. A fishing experience can be much more than just a regular day on a boat if you choose to go with a professional fishing charter that fits your needs. With a good team, you can make the most of your special boat trip and learn interesting new fishing skills and facts about what happens under the sea.
Things to keep in mind when choosing to go on a fishing charter:
● It is a long day, full of excitement and physical work. You will need a lot of energy and could be helpful if you are in good shape. So prepare well, get some sleep, eat before and be focused.
● Bring your food. Your charter probably won’t include any meals, so take the responsibility to nurture your body. A whole day out at sea, with a lot of fresh air will make you hungry. Be sure to bring a snack or a proper meal with you that will keep you going.
● Be prepared that the sea can get pretty rough, so if you often get sea disease (seasickness), maybe try preventing it with some Dramamine.
● Stay hydrated! Drink water before and during your trip.
● Bring things that you will need such as sunscreen, sunglasses, quality clothing and comfortable footwear. Also, don’t forget the camera and charged batteries.
● You can tip the crew with 15 to 20% of the price if they do a good job.
Find fishing charters in Cape Town
When it comes to tuna fishing in Cape Town, you can choose among many different charters that this wonderful city has to offer. I have done a little bit of research and found some of the best-rated fishing charters in Cape Town to choose from.
Heliox Fishing Charter – Cape Town is the one I choose. As I described above, this was an amazing experience and I would recommend it. When I revisit, I will definitely contact them again. Wonderful staff, stunning views from the boat, a true fishing experience and even a little video from the trip, which I, unfortunately, lost when I got everything stolen while travelling in Chile.
The best-rated fishing charter in Cape Town is Hooked on Africa Fishing Charter. They seem to have a rather amazing catch rate, beautiful reviews and 20 years of experience. It is very popular for tuna fishing and they are operating out of Hout Bay, another destination I have mentioned in my day trips list that visitors to Cape Town should explore. I looked to go with this charter myself but they were already booked out.
There is also Xtreme fishing charters that are based in Hout Bay and has been on the top list of South African fishing charters for years. They offer amazing skippers, well-equipped boats and a very impressive catch rate.
Other things to do in Cape Town
If you are asking yourself what to do when you get a good rest from this exhausting yet fulfilling activity, take a moment to read my blog post “Cheap and easily reachable attractions in Cape Town”. It will offer a full view of things to do in Cape Town city centre, even if you are not travelling on a budget.
Some interesting activities in the Cape Town city centre are:
Or, if you are fond of day trips and would like to hear some advice about what to invest your time in around and just outside of Cape Town, you can also find some first-hand experiences in my blogpost “Day trips from Cape Town”.
Here are some day trips from Cape Town you shouldn’t miss:
I suggest booking in advance any day trips you wish to do on either Viator or GetYourGuide. Or of course, grab a hire car for a few days and explore the open roads for yourself if that is something you are comfortable to do while travelling in Cape Town.
I hope you got inspired to enjoy tuna fishing in Cape Town. If you want to find out more about fishing in general or at any other location I’ve been lucky enough to visit, you can do so here.
I personally spent a few weeks getting to know both Cape Town city centre and also the popular locations located just outside it. I have created a dedicated blog series on my time in both Cape Town, the African safari I completed to Victoria Falls, my time in Victoria Falls and the broader Africa continent. I have listed the blogs below to assist you in planning your own trip and I think they will be of great benefit to anyone planning a trip in Cape Town, Victoria Falls or Southern Africa in general.
Cape Town Blog Series – All the information you will need to plan and enjoy a trip to Cape Town. A full guide of the city, activities to do in and around the area, safety advice, where to stay in Cape Town suggestions, recommended restaurants to eat at, hikes and safaris to do plus much more.
Victoria Falls Blog series – All the information required to plan and enjoy a trip to Victoria Falls. Find things to do in Victoria Falls, the best value accommodation option in Victoria Falls, restaurant advice, visa information and much more
Best Africa Safaris to do – find a selection of quality safari options that include South Africa and Zimbabwe
All other Africa Travel blogs – Information on these and other destinations such as Botswana, Namibia, Morocco and Egypt.
Organise Your Trip: Travel Advice and Tricks I Personally Use
Book Your Flight
Heading to either Skyscanner or Momondo are my methods of choice for this. They are my favourite as they search for flights from different companies all over the world. You can filter the results to suit your needs and ensure you land the best price every-time.
Book Your Accommodation
This is an important part of any holiday you’re going on. Read all the reviews and get the right accommodation via TripAdvisor. They even show you the best prices available at the time for that room from suppliers like Booking.com.For booking a hostel your best bet is to start with HostelWorld or possible even use CouchSurfing if you’re on a real budget.
Find the best valued accommodation options for your stay in Cape Town.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel Insurance is a must these days so you have a piece of mind you’re covered for anything that could go wrong while on your trip. I now never go on a trip away without travel insurance. I’ve been using World Nomads for the past few years.
My favourite companies that offer the best service and value are:
- World Nomads (little more expensive but covers everything)
- SafetyWing (cheaper option to just cover you for health issues)
Looking for the best companies to save money with?
As I have been travelling frequently over the last few years I’ve learnt some great tools to use for saving money when travelling. I have a travel resource page that lists all the trusted companies I personally use and rely on. I think you will find them good as well.
The Best Place To Book Your Tours
If you are someone you likes to have the best tours in one place and read reviews from other travellers about their personal experiences of each different tour then the best platform to use is GetYourGuide.
They offer the best tours, have money-back offers in case your trip is cancelled and ensure the price of each tour is the lowest possible.
Find a great fishing charter and make some memories while in Cape Town.
Other posts that might interest you:
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