IGFA Representative Feature
Erwin Bursik - South Africa

IGFA Representative Erwin Bursik began his lifelong passion for recreational angling as a young boy, catching small saltwater fish in tidal rock pools on the beaches of Durban Bluff.  At the age of 15, he and his brother built a small flat-bottomed boat out of pressed board cladding and pine timber frames (before the advent of fiberglass) for use on the waters of Durban Harbor.  As a rowing boat, oars and the auxiliary sail were its means of propulsion. Thus began his love affair with fishing and boating that has lasted for over 60 years. 

In his late teens, while still at university, Erwin’s ambition to advance from bay fishing and surf fishing to his ultimate dream of owning and skippering his own offshore “ski-boat” was realized when, in 1961, he acquired a 17-foot Marine ply-craft powered by two Johnson outboard motors — 7½hp and an old 30hp, both tiller arm configuration — which he launched from the beach off Durban Ski-Boat Club adjacent to Durban Harbor North Pier.

During a full career with a major sugar company, following his graduation with a degree in Business Administration and Company Law, Erwin remained fully committed to offshore angling. He also became involved in administration of the sport at the club, provincial and national level, fulfilling the role primarily as National Treasurer as well as a stint as Vice-President of the national body.  After over 50 years dedication to offshore angling administration, he retired in 2020.

After many years of competing, Erwin climbed the proverbial ladder in offshore competitive angling and summited his competitive career by attaining national colors in South Africa as well as Kenya.

In South Africa, competitive offshore angling is a major and very prestigious facet of the sport.  Offshore anglers in South Africa compete at club, provincial, national and international levels. Not only are events fiercely contested, but they’re considered the keystone of the sport, which forces competing anglers to perfect their abilities and knowledge of all the factors pertaining to offshore angling to attain success.

During the late 1980s he opted out of the corporate world to follow his passion in angling and started a publications and promotions company, producing a deep sea angling magazine as well as a fly fishing magazine. Although the fly fishing magazine is no longer published, Ski-Boat magazine has now been in existence for 36 years and is acknowledged as South Africa’s premier publication covering this sport.

Erwin's Ski-Boat magazine has now been in existence for 36 years and is acknowledged as South Africa’s premier publication covering this sport.

Through these publications he passed on his acquired knowledge and passion for the sport and has extended his own knowledge and pleasure by fishing and visiting most sportfishing venues on the African continent and many Indian Ocean Island destinations, as well as several venues in the US, Europe and Middle East.

With his impressive list exceeding 400 craft reviews, his knowledge and experience has been and is still sought after by many craft manufacturers in South Africa. 

Another of Erwin’s passions is the world of offshore craft used primarily for angling. Even before his foray into angling publishing, he reviewed most of the South African craft manufactured for this sport, as well as craft that were imported into South Africa from the US, Europe and Australia.   This aspect has also extended his interest and experience to running a series of advanced skipper training courses to pass on his knowledge to many offshore skippers (boat captains) to maximize the proficiency of boat use, handling and safety at sea.

Erwin met past IGFA President Elwood E.K. Harry during E.K.’s visit to South Africa in 1987 and was so impressed with him and the insight he obtained into the workings of IGFA, that he accepted Elwood’s advice to become an IGFA Representative to help promote the IGFA in South Africa.  Erwin became a representative on March 14, 1988.

As with most anglers at this level, Erwin has notched up some impressive catches during his long involvement with fishing, both on conventional tackle as well as fly fishing.

A few of the memorable catches Erwin has made and for which he received notable status in South Africa and All Africa Records at the time.
  • 5-kg Pacific Sailfish — South African Record
  • 5-kg Big Eye Tuna — All Africa Record 
  • 222-kg Broadbill Swordfish — South Africa and All Africa Record (at time of capture)
  • 760-lb Black Marlin — Mozambique 
  • Estimated 900-lb Blue Marlin (Catch & Release) — Ghana
  • Estimated 200-lb Tarpon (Catch & Release) — Angola 
  • Estimated 100-lb African Threadfin (Catch & Release) — Angola 

Since his appointment as an IGFA Representative, the IGFA has had an extremely strong influence on Erwin’s way of thinking, not only in respect of records, but also its dedication to historic referencing of sportfishing and the promotion of angling, especially where female and junior anglers are involved. These factors were ingrained in him during his visit to IGFA Headquarters during Michael Leech’s presidency, a man he will always remember with great fondness.

The IGFA greatly appreciates the decades of support from Erwin, and are grateful for the role he has played with keeping the IGFA flame burning in Africa for many years.