This beautiful fish with the descriptive name occurs in fairly large numbers along the Southern Cape coast during the summer months – October and November being peak season.
In some areas the local name for these fish is “Beenbek” meaning bonemouth.
It is a formidable fighter and highly sought after in angling circles. Its fighting style comprises short, speedy, powerful headlong runs, as well as its determined dives to seek a hiding place at the bottom are typical and you need plenty of skill and experience to land a big one.
The average weight is 6-10kg, once in a while you will hear of an angler landing one in the 15-20kg range. The bigger specimens are not uncommon they just dont get landed very often.
Where to search for the Musselcracker
You will find them both in deep and relatively shallow water, on rocky bottoms or on a sandy bottom close to a reef.
Ideal conditions occur after a strong south-easter has blown for 2 to 3 days. This disturbes the sea-bed and in turn suspends food in the water for the musselcracker. When the sea is calm a deep water spot is always the best. Wherever you are trying for cracker, the best time is early morning. In fact, you must arrive at the spot in the dark, waiting for the first glimpse of daylight. Late afternoon, from 17:00 till dusk, is also a very good time.
Crabs, venus ear, alikreukel, redbait, white mussels, sand prawns and limpets are all good bait, but crabs and venus ears are by far the most popular. Nowadays venus ear ( siffie) is not permitted to be used as bait, but alikreukel is a good substitute. Take your 8/0 – 10/0 hook and stick it through the mouth and out at the back of the crab. Use a small rubber band to tie the hook secure around crab. Now you can tie your nylon hook trace onto the hook.
A sturdy rod and reel, nylon lone with a breaking strain of 17-20 kg and a hook trace of 25 kg are essential to prevent the fish from cutting your line on the reefs. Strong hooks such as the Kendal round 8/0 – 10/0 are the best. A hook of inferior quality will be broken by the strong bony jaws of the cracker.
How to catch a Musselcracker
Before casting make sure that the hook is sharp, the bait put on correctly and the knots tied properly. When the musselcracker picks up the bait, let it pull the rod down and with a tight drag, strike firmly. Let the fish fight against the flexibility of your rod. Keep the line taut and try to turn its head as soon as possible, otherwise you may be reefed as the big fish dives to seek hiding.
For more info visit: Gardenroute Fishing’s Website
All Articles and photos courtesy of Garden Route Fishing