Big on Game and Bill Fish: St Lucia Ski Boat Club
Discover awesome facilities, including the famous ski-boat club restaurant and pub, and the best billfish and game fishing spots straight from the locals at St Luci Ski Boat Club
One of the few ski-boat clubs where you get an awesome view of the ocean and the estuary mouth where hippos laze and crocs lie smiling. Set inside a World Heritage Site, the deep sea angling at this club is all surf launch and focused on game fish and billfish. And they have awesome facilities, including one of the most popular restaurants and pubs in St Lucia.
Discover St Lucia Ski Boat Club: exceptional views, great food, a family-friendly atmosphere and one of the most beautiful beach launches in South Africa.
WHAT MAKES ST LUCIA SKI BOAT CLUB UNIQUE
“Our view sets us apart from every other ski-boat club in the country,” says St Lucia Ski Boat Club chairman Johan Engelbrecht. “You can sit down here and have a view of the ocean or the estuary, where hippos show off their teeth and crocs lie baking in the sun.
“And, if you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of a shark fin in the estuary, indicating an individual patrolling his territory in the waters. We’re situated on a World Heritage Site, you know, and it’s a beautiful and special place. That’s why it’s also an SA Marine Protected Area, so we only launch and out to the deep see to catch billfish and game fish exclusively”
ABOUT ST LUCIA SKI BOAT CLUB
Somewhere around 40 years old, St Lucia Ski Boat Club, on Sugar Loaf Road right next to the St Lucia estuary, has around 322 members that meet at least once a month, and for the club’s many famous fishing competitions.
Club members are very proud and protective of their beach, described as one of the most beautiful and unique surf launches in the country – it’s a World Heritage Site, after all. But did you know that the club runs 24-hour beach control onsite? And the club also assists with launches and support for the local NSRI station in St Lucia.
COME SOCIALISE: ST LUCIA SBC RESTAURANT AND BAR
“We’re perhaps best known for our restaurant and bar,” Johan says, “because it’s open to everyone, members and the public, to come and enjoy breath-taking views and very good food. We do delicious seafood and perfectly grilled steaks, as well as wood-fired pizzas.
“Of course, our members get special discounts on food and at the bar. But we welcome everyone, whether you’re a member or not to come and have a drink and share a meal in our awesome restaurant and pub.”
And St Lucia Ski Boat Club caters for the whole family, too. “Families are very important to us because those kids are our future anglers, so we want to make everyone feel at home.”
And they do. St Lucia Ski Boat Club boasts facilities from the restaurant and bar to ample toilets and showers, a beautiful braai space and an awesome kiddies play area – complete with jungle gym and swimming pool.
FACILITIES FOR BOATS
Although the club’s not allowed to offer storage on site, they do have 24-hour beach control and a tractor that helps with surf launches.
BOAT LICENSING AND SPECIAL SERVICES
St Lucia Ski Boat Club is able to assist with boat licensing in the St Lucia area. And they’re also an excellent training ground for fishermen, focussed on developing game and bill fishing as a sport. The club prides itself on supporting anglers achieve their provincial colours.
FISHING COMPETITIONS AT ST LUCIA SKI BOAT CLUB
Very popular for game fishing, St Lucia Ski Boat Club is famous for the Marlin Legends fishing competition. There’s also an annual Snoek Derby that really draws a crowd. But one of the most popular has to be the annual 12 x 12 Species Fishing Tournament.
HOW IT ALL STARTED: THE HISTORY OF ST LUCIA SKI BOAT CLUB
Founded in the mid-70s by veterans Ralph Jones, Basil Ashington and his son Trevor – then members of the old SA and Natal Ski Boat Associations – and later joined by Lafras and Dorothy Uys, the club had no facilities and used to meet at Mtubathuba, some 23kms away.
Initially modelled after the constitution of the old Transvaal Ski Boat Club, the club formalised in the 80s and eventually secured the lease of land from the old Natal Parks Board – on a prime World Heritage Site location – and the building started, largely funded by donations.
Those who remember will know that there was a time when the St Lucia estuary mouth was physically closed by authorities for some time, which meant boat crews couldn’t launch from the estuary near the club, which made it difficult for the club to grow. But the good news is that the mouth is now open, which allowed the club to flourish and build the new restaurant and beautiful facilities. And today St Lucia Ski Boat Club is one of those you just have to visit, even if just to enjoy the company – and the good fishing.
FISH SPECIES YOU’LL FIND AT ST LUCIA
How good’s the fishing? Very good. But remember that this is a Marine Protected Area, so bottom fishing is not allowed. Out here, it’s all about the game fish and billfish.
Dorado is one of the most common species here. And the dorado here tends to grow big, very big. Snoek and couta are also very popular catches in and around St Lucia.
But the club is perhaps best known as a billfish destination. You can catch come very impressive sailfish here during the summer months. And there are some 10 species of marlin, including white and the monster black marlin. Of course, catch and release of these species is recommended and greatly appreciated.
THE BEST FISHING SPOTS AROUND ST LUCIA
WRECK OF THE JOLLY RUBINO
One of the best fishing spots in St Lucia is the site of a fairly recent tragedy: The wreck of the Jolly Rubino, some 11kms south of St Lucia. In 2002, the Italian cargo ship caught fire off the coast of Richards Bay and was carried by severe weather conditions to St Lucia, where it became trapped. (This is incidentally why the estuary mouth was closed for all those years: to prevent pollutants from this wreck entering the estuary.)
After burning for some time, authorities eventually performed a controlled explosion, breaking the vessel apart and leaving the elements to consume it. Now, almost 17 years later, the wreck of the Jolly Rubino has caused an explosion of life and become a haven for small fish species. And that, in turn, caused a renewed explosion in predatory fish populations, making it an excellent game- and bill fishing spot.
CAPE ST LUCIA LIGHTHOUSE REEF
15km South of St Lucia is the historic Cape St Lucia lighthouse. And close by is a reef that serves as a nursery for plentiful species of fish – it’s a popular diving and spearfishing site, too. Again, this attracts the predators, so dorado, snoek and billfish are quite common here.
To the north, just past the popular hiking route along the coast through Mission Rocks in the nature reserve, is a little-known limestone spot called Bat Cave. Again, it’s a hiking destination, but there’s said to be some very good game fishing just offshore.
Ask the members of St Lucia Ski Boat Club, they’ll know.
CONTACT ST LUCIA SKI BOAT CLUB
ST LUCIA SKI BOAT CLUB MEMBERSHIP FEES
R700 per year
Restaurant and bar, toilets and showers, braai place, swimming pool and jungle gym. 24-hour beach patrol and a tractor to assist with surf launches.
A special thanks to chairman Johan Engelbrecht, Carmen, Larina and the entire team for contributing to this post!
Also discover Shelly Beach Ski-Boat Club, Meerensee Boat Club and Mapelane Ski-Boat Club. Plus: See all the ski-boat clubs in Zululand. And some of the country’s idyllic – the ski-boat clubs of the Southern Cape.
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