Galjoen, a fish we don’t see too often any more. Coracinus capensis is South Africa’s national fish. Found only along our coastline, galjoen are very vulnerable to over exploitation, and are now a restricted catch. Strong fighters, galjoen are great to catch using light tackle.
This one decided it wanted to eat the “rooiaas” (red bait – ascidians) bait I was fishing with. Estimated at just under a kg in weight, this lucky fish got released without harm. As can be seen from the photo, the fish is lying on wet sand, after the hook was removed, just back from the water’s edge.
Galjoen are very tasty with a strong flavour, not to everyone’s taste.
Where to find Galjoen
These fish are most common in the inshore region around rocks. Predominantly a cold water species they are found from Southern KwaZulu-Natal to the Western Cape. Galjoen feed in rough water, their diet consisting largely of marine animals attached to the rocks, they will take a variety of small carefully prepared flesh baits including sardine, squid, mussels, oysters, marine worms and rooiaas. I have heard that the ‘drop-shot’ fraternity have also had success with artificial lures.
Light tackle is best; line up to about 6 or 8 kg and small hooks in the #3 to 2/O. Light sinkers are also preferable – the surf action should be able to wash the tackle about, creating action to attract the fish. Heavier line is also often used to provide some protection from the rocks.
Sometimes these fish are also caught on sandy bottoms, but nearly always in the vicinity of submerged rocks.
The species does seem to be making a comeback, although stocks are not nearly at what is considered a safe level. Bear in mind theses fish are only found along our coast, nowhere else in the world. Their habitat is under threat from human activity; fishing, pollution and intensive poaching of rock dwelling marine animals.
I would encourage anglers to practice catch and release as often as possible when catching galjoen. Let’s give the galjoen every possible chance to thrive and bring angling pleasure to all of us in years to come.