Galjoen is our South African National Fish
According to research, galjoen was the most common species of fish caught and eaten by the Koi-San, thus earned galjoen its rightful place as national fish together with the Springbok and Protea as our national pride.
Galjoen (Dichistus Capensis) otherwise known as Damba and in KZN known as the Black bream or Blackfish is a proudly South African fish that only exists in the Atlantic currents that is less than 10m (3,3ft) from South Africa to Angola.
The breeding season of galjoen stretches 15 October to the end of February. If it is not open season for galjoen, you may not have it in you possession.
The SA record for Galjoen is 80cm in the “v” of the tail and it weighed more than 6.5kg. The most common size for galjoen caught in our water is anything between 30cm and 47cm.
The legal size to keep galjoen is 35cm and you are only allowed to keep 2 per person per day, although I plea to everyone to help conserve this beautiful fish and to release it so that it can spawn again next year.
The growth rate of galjoen is very slow and according to the ORI (ocean research institute) a half grown male galjoen of 31cm is 6 years old and a half grown female galjoen 34cm is also about 6 years of age.
So next time you catch a 35cm galjoen, think that it is 6 years of age before collecting it.
A Galjoen can get up to 20 years old and the older it gets, the more eggs it lays. So if you want to keep one, release the larger one and rather keep the 35cm fish. Although Galjoen is currently in the back list of endangered species, there numbers are decreasing and we need to do our best in conserving them.
Where to look for your galjoen
Galjoen is probably one of our strongest swimmers and hardened species there is. Reason being, it uses the power of the waves to get access to its food and therefore, needs to swim very strong.
One catches Galjoen in rough white waters where the waves crashed on the rocks and retreads to a funnel formation (photo 1).
Galjoen will surprise you time and time again with its power. If you think that no fish can swim in that rough waters, then it is the perfect place to try and catch galjoen. Remember always to look for the funnel effect (photo 3)
Which traces to use where
Because galjoen likes to feed between the rocks, one usually tends to get stuck, therefore one needs to carefully weigh your options of which hooks to use.
The long shank bait holder is the hook most commonly used by galjoen anglers. It is an affordable barbed hook that helps to grip your soft bait.
Then you get the short shank hook, my personal choice, because the shank is so short, your bait is so much softer and flexible. It also tends to turn a lot quicker in its mouth that enables you to get a hook set in the corner of its mouth. It also gives you the option to use a much smaller bait without revealing your hook.
The last one is the circle hook, and it is because of its circular shaped hook that is bend backwards that you don’t get stuck that often. 80% of the time that you do lose your trace, it is because of the hook that gets stuck. Mostly you get stuck on the rooi aas, but with our circle hook, it basically impossible for the hook to get stuck somewhere.
That means that you will lose much less tackle. Should you get stuck or lose you sinker, it makes for a quick replacement. The circle hook is also safer for the fish because it always sets in its mouth and not in its gills or intestines.
What traces to use where
I will make the trace most commonly used for galjoen like in the attached photo. Always use a 3-way swivel between rocks because the distance between your hook and swivel is far less than the distance between your hook and the tip of the rod. Meaning the sinker weight help to set the hook quicker than you can react to or even know you have a bite. So by the time you strike, its already hooked and just help along to get a proper hook set.
Another reason to use a 3-way swivel is should your sinker gets stuck on a pick- up, the fish will either swim with it or break it.
Remember your hook line should always be stronger than your sinker line to allow for it to break rather than your hook line.
When you make use of 2, 2-way swivels [sliding trace] you may find that the fish can still swim around till it gets stuck around another rock and it gets cut off.
I use a hook line of 0.60mm and +/- 30 tot 35cm in length and the sinker line 5cm longer and about 0.50mm. I like to use an orange/red dobber just to help ensure my bait does not get stuck between the rocks. Also you don’t want a too long trace because then the bait get washed around to such an extent the galjoen can not get to it. If you see you don’t get stuck too much feel free then to add another hookline.
The advantage of this is you can get more bait and smell in the water to attract fish, but then again, if you get a fish you risk getting stuck with that second hook. I use this trace more on sandbanks and rocks that are bit more friendly. Galjoen on the rocks is heavier than those on sandbanks.
What bait to use where and how:
75% of the Galjoens diet exists out of rooi aas.
But also like black mussel, white sand mussel, crab, prawn and seaweed. There are 2 kinds of rooi aas, the one is known as sand aas and the other one rooi aas. The difference between the 2 are that the sand aas is generally lighter in colour and has a smaller head, which filters sand versus the obvious large head blood red rooi aas.
I prefer sand aas because of its much sweeter smell and a definitely get more success with it. I am not saying rooi aas does not work, it sure does. It is also the rooi aas that needs to be rotten first.
If you prefer rotten rooi aas, you must do it 100% correct otherwise you will have zero results.
Here are a few pointers to aid with the rotting process.
Step one, do it as far away from home as possible to avoid house molest from your wife.
An onion bag or the likes of it works best. Hang it somewhere in the shadows, you don’t really want it to rot, but rather make it ripe. Meaning it should after two days, have a certain sweet smell to it rather than rotten. You will notice the difference immediately.
Keep your bait as far away as possible from fresh water or rain. It tends to spoil the rooi aas within a few hours.
How to put on you bait
Here is an example of ‘box prawn’ or pink prawn, an excelent rock bait because a lot of different species like it as well.
White sand mussel is a long soft bait. You can also cut it in half to make smaller bait.
Because mussel is so soft, you can use it to bait the whole hook, but make sure to leave the hook exposed. Galjoen tends to strike aggressively and you need the hook exposed to ensure a proper hook set.
Rooi aas must be presented in a rough natural way because galjoen does not like neatly presented bait nor bait with too much thread. Rather use more thread to fasten your bait up the line. It prevents the bait getting loose with your casting.
I like to leave the tip of the hook rough and natural. You don’t want this to be too long, because you want to ensure the galjoen will take the bait so you can hook it.
I hope this will help you to catch your dream galjoen. Remember
to release is quickly after you photo session to help ensure the feature existence of our galjoen.
Shawn Ninja Mey