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Posted on Jul 26, 2017 in Conservation | 28 comments

SA recreational fishing regulations

This article will help guide you to ensure you comply with the SA recreational fishing regulations

South Africa’s Fishing Regulations and Fishing permits required, including permitted bag and size limits, permitted bait collection, boat fishing, rod and reel fishing, spearfishing, cast nets, closed season for fishing, permitted species in KZN South Africa, minimum fish sizes, prohibited species in KwaZulu-Natal South Coast

Be it bait collection, rod & reel fishing, boat fishing, spearfishing, or cast-netting, each fishing activity requires the correct permit which are available at any local Post Office.

Note that boat skipper, spearfishing and cast net permits must be specially endorsed for their particular activity.

The standard permit is fine for rod & reel fishing.

Permits are issued in the holder’s name and are not transferable.

Permits must be available for inspection at the time the activity is taking place.

No permit is valid for species during their closed seasons, or for the listed prohibited species.

No recreational permit holder is allowed to sell any part of their catch.


Spearfishing is not allowed in harbours, estuaries, or tidal rivers and lagoons.

All bag and size limits and closed seasons that apply to recreational anglers also apply for spearfishing.


Circular nets must not exceed 6 metres in diameter and may only be weighted at the circumference.

You may not cast your net between sunset and sunrise.

Cast net permit holders may only catch and be in possession of the stipulated cast net species.


Shad/Elf: 1st October – 30th November

Red Steenbras: 1st October – 30th November

Galjoen: 15th October – Last day of February


A gaff or landing net are the only additional equipment permitted for landing fish caught on rod and line.

While they may be gutted, all landed fish must retain their heads and tails for size confirmation in the event of inspection.


Other than a facemask and snorkel, no person shall use any artificial breathing apparatus for fishing.

No person shall engage in fishing, collection or disturbance of any fish by means of a gaff, spear, club, flail, stick, stone or similar instruments, although with the right permit one may spear up to five sole per day.

Except when fishing for octopus, cuttlefish or squid, no person shall engage in fishing by the jerking of a hook or jig in the sea.

No person shall disturb, catch or kill dolphins or whales and must not approach closer than 300 metres from whales.

Unless in possession of the correct permit, no person shall engage in the collection or removal of any aquatic plants, shells or shell grit from the sea or seashore.

Basking Shark – Brindle Bass – Coelacanth – Great White Shark – Natal Wrasse  Pipefish  Potato Bass – Saw Fish – Sea Horse – Seventy Four – Whale Shark
Anchovies none none
Chub Mackerel none none
Glassies none none
Halfbeaks none none
Horse Mackerel (Maasbanker) none none
Mullet (Harders) none 50
Pinky 7,5 cm 10
Sardines/Pilchards none none
Sauries none None
Scads none none
Karanteen 15 cm 10
IMPORTANT: Excluding those species with no bag limit and those species with bag limits of over ten, no one person is allowed a total of more than 10 fish of other species per day –note also that species not listed do form part of your full daily bag limit.
Size is determined by measuring the fish from the tip of its snout to the extreme end of its tail and * denotes those species effected by closed seasons.
NOTE: Species’ sizes and bag limits may vary from time to time, so be sure to obtain a current list when obtaining your permit/s.
Anchovies none none
Baardman (Tasselfish, Bellman) 40 cm 5
Banded Galjoen none 5
Bill Fish (Marlin/Sailfish) none 5
Blacktail 20 cm 5
Blue Hottentot none 5
Bronze Bream 30 cm 2
Cape Knifejaw none 5
Cape Stumpnose 20 cm 5
Carpenter (Silverfish) 35 cm 4
Catface Rockcod 50 cm 5
Chub Mackerel none none
Cutlassfish (Walla-walla) none none
Dageraad 40 cm 1
Dane none 5
Englishman 40 cm 1
Fransmadam none 10
Galjoen* 35 cm 2
Garfish none none
Garrick (Leervis) 70 cm 2
Geelbek (Cape Salmon) 60 cm 2
Glassies none none
Hake none 5
Halfbeaks none none
Horse Mackerel (Maasbankers) none none
Hottentot 22 cm 10
John Brown none 5
Kingfish none 5
Kingklip none 1
King Mackerel (‘Couta) none 10
Kob (caught from boat off KZN) 40 cm 5 of which only 1 may exceed 110 cm
Kob (caught from shore/estuary/harbour) 60 cm 1
Karanteen 15 cm 10
Large spot Pompano (Wave Garrick) none 5
Leopardcat Shark none 1
Mullet (Harder) none 50
Natal Knifejaw none 5
Natal Stumpnose (Yellowfin Bream) 25 cm 5
Pinky 7,5 cm 10
Poenskop (Black Musselcracker) 50 cm 1
Queen Mackerel (Natal Snoek) none 10
Raggedtooth Shark none 1
Red Steenbras* (Copper Steenbras) 60 cm 1
Red Stumpnose (Miss Lucy) 30 cm 1
River Bream (Perch) 25 cm 5
River Snapper (River Salmon) 40 cm 5
Roman 30 cm 2
Soldier (Santer) 30 cm 5
Shad (Elf)* 30 cm 4
Sardines (Pilchards & Red Eye) none none
Sauries none none
Scads none none
Scotsman 40 cm 1
Slinger 25 cm 5
Snoek (Cape Snoek) 60 cm 10
Southern Pompano none 5
Spotted Grunter 40 cm 5
Spotted Gully Shark none 1
Springer none 5
Steentjie none 10
Stone Bream none 5
Striped Cat Shark none 1
Swordfish 25 kg 5
Squid (Chokka) none 20
Tuna (Tunny) none 10
Tuna – Longfin (Albacore) none 10
Tuna – Big Eye 3,2 kg 10
Tuna – Bluefin 6,4 kg 10
Tuna – Yellowfin 3,2 kg 10
West Coast Steenbras 60 cm 1
White Edge Rock Cod (Captain Fine) 40 cm 5
White Musselcracker (Brusher, Cracker) 60 cm 2
White Steenbras (Pignose Grunter) 60 cm 1
White Stumpnose 25 cm 10
Wolfherring none none
Yellowbelly Rock Cod 60 cm 1
Yellowtail none 10
Zebra 30 cm 5

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  1. Good day what is the legal size for cave bass also known as lampfish? And bag limit I heard angler not allowed to catch this fish is illegal to keep

    • Hi there. Here is an article we have done on the legal sizes etc, you can just have a look on the list to the different fish you need information on.

  2. There is some ambiguity when it comes to catching prawns in the KZN region. The Recreational Information brochure of 2016/17 states that one can only use a hoop net/rod and reel/approved trap to catch 50 prawns a day, yet when you go to the post office nothing is mentioned about a swimming prawn. The only license available for catching a swimming prawn is the drag net option. Can anyone give me some clarity on this? I have a general bait license and as far as my understanding goes I can catch swimming prawn with this permit.

  3. How old must one be to need a fishing license?, Must I buy one for my 5 and 8 year old children?

    • Hi there, please check with your local fishing boards for more information. Thanks.

    • I have find this question very interesting and this is what i have find after a lot of reading:

      “For a fishing license you need to be 13 years old (12 and under do not need).

      However, the parent is responsible to ensure that bag limits etc. are adhered to for children under the age of 13 who do not need a fishing license.

      So as an example, if you have a fishing license and your son is 10 and you are both catching shad he may have 4 and you may have 4 if they are all over legal size (300mm). “

    • I would like to take my grandson who is 6 years old fishing in the rock pools do i need a license. If i want to take 2 or 3 muscles from the rocks for bait would it be okay.

  4. Can one collect mussel in Eastern cape?

    • Hi, best to check with your local Tourism office!

  5. What permit must i get if i want to sell the fish i caught at the beach?

  6. Can I purchase a saltwater recreational license online in Gauteng?

    • You will have to inquire from your local wildlife and fishery board as we are not too sure. They are available on the South Coast in KZN from our local post offices. Good luck!

  7. Is the use of a cast net in a lagoon or estuary permitted?

  8. Hi I would like to find out if you are allowed to use frogs as live bait in freshwater angling. I know that rule 16.2 of the freshwater angling rules of south Africa says that you are not allowed to use it.

  9. Hi There
    is there a limit to the number of rods that a recreational angle is allowed to use at any one time

    • Hi there, the best would be to get in touch with your local municipality since the rules and regulations are different in different areas.

    • Good Morning, did you perhaps get an answer to the number of rods a recreational angler can use??
      thank you kindly

      • Hi there, the best is to check with your local wildlife board. If you are looking for a fishing charter, we are able to assist. Thanks.

  10. I need guidelines for fishing rules for a club. We have joined a club and there are no rules that they ad hear to.


    • Please contact your local club for more info. Thanks!

  11. Hi
    I bought a hoop net on a stick/pole. Where can I use it in SA, and am I allowed to catch fish in it as well as crabs?
    If so, how many is allowed.

    • Hi Shoni, the best is to check with your local wildlife board. If you are looking for a fishing charter, we are able to assist. Thanks.

      • How can I obtain a charters licence 4man 16vt boat 40 nautical skipper. Would appreciate your help, pieter from Langebaan.

        • Hi there, the best is to check with your local wildlife board. If you are looking for a fishing charter, we are able to assist. Thanks.

  12. Must a recreational fisherman have a bait license for mud prawn in KZN?

    • Hi Raegan, the best would be to check with the KZN board.

  13. Do I need a fishing license to fish in rivers in Eastern Cape

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