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News: Fishing

Discover a Game Fish Haven at Mapelane Ski-Boat Club

All about family: Clubhouse info, contacts, membership and facilities, plus common fish species and the best fishing spots at Mapelane Ski-Boat Club near St Lucia

Famous for its big marlin and pelagic game fish. A close-knit and conservation-minded club offering a family-friendly atmosphere. Here’s everything you want to know about the clubhouse, facilities, fish species, competitions, fishing spots and membership at Mapelane Ski-Boat Club.

DISCOVER MAPELANE SKI-BOAT CLUB

Situated inside KwaZulu-Natal’s famous 800+ acre iSimangaliso Wetland Park, which includes Lake St Lucia and the vast natural habitat that’s home to so many majestic African bird and animal species: from hippo and crocodile to giraffe, flamingo and pelican. Mapelane Ski-Boat Club really is unique among SA clubs.

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In fact, it’s right near the heart of the park, situated very close to the St Lucia estuary, meaning you physically have to drive through the park to get to the clubhouse – about 2 hours’ drive from Durban.

Founded in 1963, it’s separated from the nearby St Lucia club by the river, and it’s famous for its game fish. And Mapelane Ski-Boat Club is very involved in the nature conservation efforts in the area, working very closely with the parks boards to ensure the preservation of the natural world – both offshore and on land.

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MAPELANE CLUBHOUSE

Now, while the clubhouse is rigged with most everything it needs to host its 58 members, who meet here in great numbers a few times a year, there’s no permanent bar or restaurant at the clubhouse itself. It simply wouldn’t make sense this deep in parklands – in fact, most people that come this way are either members or here to visit the wetlands, but the public is still welcome. Just ring at the club gate, if you’re in the area, and a member will sign you in.

In fact, Club chairman Les Hartley says they’ve found that it’s easier to organise catering and services whenever they have a big event or fishing competition.

CLUB MEMBERSHIP

Being a little bit off-the-grid, Mapelane Ski-Boat Club offers its 58-strong member families a real break-away-style fishing experience. You’re kilometres away from the nearest civilisation, surrounded by some of the most beautiful and celebrated estuary parklands.

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And that, along with the club’s fierce devotion to nature conservation, does mean they have to be selective of who they take on as members. “We’re a family-orientated club, and we do insist that our members subscribe to our conversation ethos,” says Les. “That means we’re a little different from other clubs, in that we vet our members very carefully.

“You have to come in and meet everyone, and our members will nominate you for membership. There’s also a trial period, with a temporary membership pending final approval. And, for us, you have to be a boat owner to qualify for membership at Mapelane.”

The membership fees structure at Mapelane is also monthly. And, for any queries regarding membership, Les says you’re welcome to give him a ring on 083 446 5297.

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SURF LAUNCHES AT THE CLUB

Mapelane Ski-Boat Club offers you access to surf launches straight into the ocean from the beach, and you’re right around the corner from the bay to head out to deeper water. The club also has tractors and everything it needs to assist with surf launch and retrieval.

FISHING AT MAPELANE

Now, the club’s famous for its game fish. And in fact, most fishing takes place deeper out in the bay, because it’s a marine protected area and you can’t do any bottom fishing around here. But the game fishing is spectacular.

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The area is home to many pelagic species. And summer is marlin season. You’ll almost every species of billfish here, from black marlin to striped marlin and even blue marlin. Sailfish is also extremely common here.

Apart from the marlin, there’s monster dorado and snoek, as well as couta and almost every species of gamefish you can imagine. And if you go really deep, you’ll find the area has some tuna averaging at the 80–90kg end of the scale.

FISHING COMPETITIONS

At the beginning of the year, Mapelane hosts one of SA’s most celebrated billfish competitions. Running for over 20 years now, it started in 2000 as one of the first – if not the first – 100% tag-and-release marlin tournaments in the country. Discover the Mapelane Billfish Invitational.

In winter – which in this part of the world is still so temperate it’s practically no different from what you’d call summer anywhere else – the club hosts another three awesome tournaments. It’s all about catching trophy-worthy fish at the Mapelane Trophy Interclub. And then it’s all species-focused action in the Mapelane Couta Derby – see these listed among all the fishing competitions in May.

And around June every year, it’s all about family at the Mapelane Junior Interclub – see it among our fishing competitions in June.

FAMOUS MAPELANE FISHING SPOTS

Now, the locals here are extremely helpful in sharing information about where the fish are, and you’d have access to all that information as a club member. But Les did give us some indication on where you can find most species.

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About 4km offshore from where you launch at Mapelane, there’s a natural rock and seabed formation known as the Mapelane Gat (Hole) where you can find most species. And it’s where most guys will go looking for marlin.

And then Mapelane also gives you access to fishing up north, past the St Lucia area and even as far as Cape Vidal. These waters are also quite rich in pelagic species.

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MAPELANE SKI-BOAT CLUB

iSimangaliso Wetlands Park, St Lucia, KZN
Phone: 083 446 5297
Follow their Facebook page

Some pics here by Kenau Ballot.

MAPELANE SBC MEMBERSHIP

Monthly membership for boat owners and families only, with member nomination and a trial membership pending approval by the club. Contact chairman Les Hartley for info: 083 446 5297.

MAPELANE SBC FACILITIES

The clubhouse is secluded in a wetlands park, and there is no permanent bar or restaurant, but catering arranged for special events and occasions. All launches are surf launch, with tractors supplied by the club.

Also nearby, discover St Lucia Ski-Boat Club and, more towards the Richards Bay area, see Meerensee Ski-Boat Club. Plus: Discover all the ski-boat clubs in Zululand.

St Lucia Estuary Back When it was still closed

And discover all of this year’s big fishing competitions.

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