Fishing at the Swartkops river estuary system, where Rivers Edge Guesthouse is located, is a saltwater environment with salinity levels of 42% having been recorded in the upper reaches, probably due to seepage of high saline waters from the Bar None salt pans, high evaporation rates and low fresh water inflow at certain times of the year.
Fishing from the private jetty in front of Rivers Edge Guesthouse can be temperamental but good catches have been made using lures, such as the Rapala X-Rap and Strikepro Taistick. Baits such as, mudprawn and blood worm for kob and grunter or live mullet for garrick produce good catches. Night fishing using a small glow stick attached to the top of a lure can also produce interesting results, and is a lot of fun using a light fly rod.
Saltwater fish species
Species found in the Swartkops river and estuaries include mudprawn (Upogebia africana), sand goby (Psammogobius knysnaensis), flathead mullet (Mugil cephalus), Dusky kob (Argyrosomus japonicus), Garrick aka Leerie (Lichia amia), and Spotted grunter (Pomadasys commersonnii).
A series of surveys dating back to the late 1970s accounted for 86 species of fish that commonly occur in the Swartkops river and estuary system. The majority are marine migrants, such as dusky kob (Argyrosomus japonicus), smallspotted grunter (Pomadasys commersonnii), white steenbras (Lithognathus lithognathus), Cape stumpnose (Rhabdosargus holubi), Leerfish aka Garrick (Lichia amia), and a host of mullet species.
Grunter are the most abundant of the large fish species, comprising 29 of the 86 species and 17% by mass, followed by mullet (5 species) comprising 25% by mass. There appears to be no clear seasonal trend in abundance.
Some of the more common estuary fish found in the system include Gilchrist’s round herring or estuarine round-herring (Gilchristella aestuaria), Cape silverside (Atherina breviceps) and River goby (Glossogobius callidus).
Eelgrass beds are an important habitat for small fish species and provide a nursery area for juveniles. The fish community within the eelgrass beds comprises 39 species and is dominated by Cape silverside (Atherina breviceps), followed by juvenile mullet (G. aestuaria), juvenile Cape stumpnose (R.holubi), and juvenile Zebra Blacktail (Diplodus sargus capensis).
Freshwater fish species
Ten freshwater fish species have been recorded in the Swartkops River and possibly the upper reaches of the estuary after floods. One of these is the African longfin eel (Anguilla mossambica), which spawns at sea and then, together with the juveniles (glass eels) migrates back upstream through the estuary to freshwater.
Four species are indigenous, namely River Whitefish (Barbus afer), Cape kurper (Sandelia capensis), Goldie barb (Barbus pallidus), and African longfin eel (A. mossambica), with the remaining six being considered alien invasive species i.e Mozambique tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus), Banded tilapia, or Vlei kurper (Tilapia sparrmanii), common carp (Cyprinus carpio), bream (Lepomis macrochirus), largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides), and spotted bass (M. dolomieu).
Boating access is regulated by The Department of Nature Conservation and a recreational fishing permit is required by law. The fine for fishing without a permit is R250.00 while the licence only costs R76.00 per year and can be purchased over the counter at the Swartkops post office.