The Frigate Bonito is very oily and very bloody bait that works extremely well for catching a variety of shark and ray species including sharks like the Ragged tooth, Bronze Whaler , Grey sharks, Diamond rays, Honey Comb and Black rays. The fillet is also a good to use for Kob shad and smaller rays like the Blue ray. In this step by step demonstration below we will show you how to rig the bonito head for a typical shark or ray bait. When fishing for rays it is always better to use a thick nylon trace instead of a wire one. This will produce more pick ups and if there are a few sharks around use a lighter gauge short bite trace.
Insert the first hook starting behind the nose and pushing it towards the back of the bonitos head leaving a slight gap to insert the second hook through the bonito’s lips. Position your hooks facing in different directions to allow a better hook rate.
Insert a pin or tooth pick in the eye of the first hook to hold the hook in an upright position. The tooth pick will also stop the hook from twisting in the bait and give you a better hooking potential. Then cut the tooth pick
Remove the fillets. Start from the tail and cut the two side fillets off. Trim the head and cotton the fillets to each side of the head. You can slice some foam rubber and position it under the fillets and cotton them under the fillets to help float the head. By doing this you will achieve a much higher bite rate.
Once you have finished making up your bait the hooks should stand proud this will give you a much better hook up rate
Always sharpen your hooks using a hook file or stone. This is not necessary when using chemically sharpened hooks like the Daiichi. Just be very careful when using these hooks they are extremely sharp as I experienced recently getting a 6/0 in my leg. Make sure if you do get a hook stuck in you body always push it through and cut the eye of the hook off and pull it out. Don’t ever try and pull it back out the way it went in as it will damage nerves and tendons.
The squid Jube Jube
Squid is probably the single best all round bait in the sea for both sharks rays and edible fish. I never go fishing without one or two in my bait box as it can be used as both a hard or soft bait once you smash it with a squid hammer. Back in the early 80’s squid used to cost around R3 a kg and was considered a deep see bait for catching bottom fish. I remember around 84 it started becoming popular bait for Bronze bream with the introduction of the squid hammer and took off with good catches of kob and Steenies with a strip of squid or triangle of squid with a v cut out to form two tentacles. Most anglers would remove the guts skin and head and only use the white flesh. Also around that time the Border anglers introduced the black squid smashing the ink sack into a strip of squid and this worked well for kob. My first attempt at using a black squid bait produced one of the biggest gully sharks I have ever caught and the second time I used it I also caught a massive gully shark so I went back to using a basic white squid bait. This Squid Jub- jub as I call it works fantastically well for kob and I have caught loads of fish using this method unfortunately there are only two of these in each squid and they only occur in the smaller squid so it means you only get one bait per squid. You can also split them to make two baits.
Split the squid down the center and remove the plastic looking spine. Keep the insides of the squid as it contains all the natural flavours that attract fish to your bait. When making up squid baits always smash the guts into the bait for extra smell especially the watery sac inside the squid that contains natural oils that trigger fish to bite.
Slice three long tentacles to cotton onto the side of the bait
Tenderise the ends of the tentacles so they are soft and can easily be cottoned on.
Cut and tenderise a small piece to go onto the hook to form the body of the bait.
Use the small triangle shaped squid to cover the foam on the hook
Remove the two ovary looking harts and carefully remove the ink sack attached to them.
Once you have cottoned on the thin strips to the hook then place an ovary to each side of the squid bait and cotton them on to each side of the baby squid bait and rub the finished bait in the squid juice contained in the guts of the squid.
This baby squid bait works well in Natal for Brown skates, bone fish, kingfish and Sandy’s. When living in Durban in the early 90’s I caught a 7.7kg Natal stumpie using the exact same bait. It also works exceptionally well for kob, Steenbrass and Shad from the wild coast to the west coast
THE RED CRAB
These crabs occur from Cape Town to the Transkei and are found mainly in rock pools amongst the weed or under flat rocks in the pools. There main predator is the octopus and you often find them scurrying outside the water to get away from an octopus in hot pursuit. I have come across pools where you have around ten crabs sitting just outside the water with an octopus at the edge of the pool waiting to rip them apart. Red crabs are eaten by most fish including Rock cod, Cats sharks, Barbell eel, Galjoen Black tail Poenskop, Sand soldier and my favorite target specie the White Cracker. I have seen big Galjoen being caught on a 7/0 hook and a whole red crab and they flatten you just like a Cracker. There are many ways to use the red crab the one I most often use is the one I have shown here in this article but the crab can be cut in half you can break of the legs and use the section where the legs meet the body and cotton these pieces onto a 2/0 or 3/0 hook and use it for Galjoen or smaller Cracker.
I have found that Cracker tend to feed on crabs in certain areas and other areas tend to prefer shell fish like armadillo and olicrock. They work especially well along the Knysna and Natures Valley section to Oyster Bay also the section between Maitlands, Beach view and Kini bay to Bushy park area during the early winter months. You also have good results along the Transkei coast
Finding red crabs is your first challenge. Once you have found one or two you are ready for some good cracker fishing. Your hook trace should be around 0.90mm. I use Maxima ultra green for this. Your sinker trace should be tied on with lighter line a short 10cm piece of 0.50 or 0.60mm. So if your sinker gets stuck in a rock it can be broken of easily. A sliding trace works best for the bite but I prefer a fixed trace myself so if the fish gets stuck during the fight he often pulls your sinker loose after swimming around.
The most important thing when fishing for Cracker is to start with sharp hooks. This applies to all fishing but especially to Cracker. Loads of fish are lost to blunt hooks so invest in a good quality hook file or sand stone to sharpen your hooks. Files cost around R50 from a reputable hardware store. You can’t use any file so make sure it is very fine to give you the best point on your hook. Each side must be filed razor sharp then flattened in the front of the hook.
Insert the hook between the legs try not to break them from the body when doing this. Push the point out the other side.
Use latex cotton and cotton the legs onto the line making sure the legs are tightly cottoned on from the line to the point of the hook. If you prefer you can use thicker cotton but I find the latex works well.
Look for a spot with deep working water and cast as close as you can to an exposed rock out in the water. Cracker tend to stick in the deeper foamy working water and are often found feeding very close to the side where you have deep gully’s. Fishing in the middle of a cold front normally produces the best results. I tend to use the hit and hold method if you can these fish are extremely strong on there first run. They then tend to give up soon afterwards with a few shows in front before you land them.
Red crabs can be chased out of a rock pool using an octopus or some white strips of rag attached to the end of a gaff to mimic an octopus. Stick the end of the gaff into rock pools under ledges to chase the crabs onto the rocks then quickly grab them. Carry some crayfish gloves to make catching them easier on the hands.
Fish Pop corn Sea Lice
The Sea Lice: Is one of the most peculiar looking baits I have ever come across in the sea. They have this hard outer shell with a few legs tucked underneath a long pointy looking tail and not much in the way of soft flesh. Best described as fish pop corn sweet but crunchy. Occurring from the South coast of Natal up through Mozambique they form the staple diet for fish like Natal Stumpnose, Southern Pompano, Wave Garrick or three spot pompano, Bone fish and small King fish. Almost any fish patrolling the shore line will snap up these crunchy little snacks that tend to live in the first few centimeters of sand. As the waves drawback they pop there two little eye out the sand for a quick look before burying themselves just below the surface of the sand before the next wave comes washing up the beach. To collect them you need to wait for the water to pull back leaving the tell tail v shapes in the sand and run up dig down below the V and you should normally find them in the handful of sand you turn over. They don’t have any nipper so they can bite but the do have two very sharp little points on the front of there shell. They are built a bit like an armadillo crossed with a beer bottle with legs.
Wait for a wave to pull back and you will see the small V in the sand find a V and dig into the sand to expose the sea lice or stand in the water and find them in the sand with your feet as the water pulls back
I pull back the pointed tail and break it off to expose a small hole at the base of the tail. Insert your hook into the small hole and work it forward towards the head of the lice.
You can break the top shell of and cotton some smashed or tenderized squid on with the sea lice legs or half a pink prawn for extra flavour. This will make a good bait for most fish.
Mullet the bread of the sea
Mullet and sardine are the most commonly occurring bait fish found along the South African coast from Northern Natal to the West coast of Namibia. Mullet forms the basic food for most game fish especially Kob and Garrick sharks and rays along the South African coastline. If I had to choose 5 baits to use they would be Sardine, sand Prawn, Mullet, Squid and Shad. I have covered all of them over the past few months as they are the most commonly used amongst all baits and are also the most versatile 5 baits to catch any of our fish species occurring along the coast. Mullet can be used as a live bait or dead bait. Because mullets are the most preyed upon bait fish in the surf areas and are easily accessible to most anglers who can use a cast net they make the perfect bait for shark’s rays and all game fish. I remember catching my first Garrick in the Kasouga river in the early 80’s using a mullet and my first Diamond ray in the sea as well as my first Raggie and later my first Kob all using a live mullet.
Mullet can be trimmed to be used as head bait or filleted to be used as fillet bait in many ways.
This bait presentation shows you how to use the belly shine with two teasers and a touch of blood.
Trim and shape a piece of foam I prefer red but blue also works just as well most of the time the bait covers the foam so colour doesn’t make a difference.
The foam does two things it floats the bait and also holds the bait in shape on the hook to keep the hook standing proud to give you better hooking ability and to stop the hook from turning into the bait.
Firstly fillet both sides of the mullet and remove the skin from the one side and split the one fillet with the skin on in two to form two teasers
Place a piece of the belly shine on the back and the fillet with a slit cut into on the front to form two teasers then cotton them on to the hook. Once they are tied on take the skinned fillet rubbed with mullet blood and cotton it on to the side of the shine leaving some of the silver exposed.
Take the skinned section of fillet and squeeze some blood from the mullet’s head to give your bait more smell.
Trim a thin slice of the bloody fillet and place it on the back of the hook next to the belley shine leaving a small strip exposed. Then cotton the fillet on and squeeze some more blood from the head for added smell. The more blood the quicker the bite.
Good to go
No self respecting shad, Kob, Poenskop, Blacktail, Rockcod, ray, sand shark or shark ranging from a ragged tooth to spotted gully would swim past this tasty bloody bait without giving it a good hard pull. If you are fishing where the sharks or shad are coming out make sure you use a steel bite trace.
Shad or Elf head bait for sharks and rays
Is one of the best baits I have ever used for Raggies, Diamonds, Honey comb rays Natal Sandy’s and Kob as a bait fish it probably one of the most popular used baits along our coast for non edible fishing.
A properly presented shad head can produce some winning results in competition fishing.
The fillets work fantastically well for most fish as well.
Start from the tail and cut the two side fillets off. Trim the center bone out.
Slice some foam rubber and position it under the fillets and cotton them closed to help float the head. By doing this you will achieve a much higher bite Use a latex cotton tie the fillets around the foam giving you a neat streamline bait
Insert the first hook starting behind the nose and pushing it towards the back of the shads head leaving a slight gap to insert the second hook through the Shad’s lips.
Insert a pin or tooth pick in the eye of the first hook to hold the hook in an upright position. The tooth pick will also stop the hook from twisting in the bait and give you a better hooking potential. Then cut the tooth pick
Position your hooks facing in different directions to allow a better hook rate. I use a cable tie to secure the hook. Having a sliding hook will allow you to position your hook according to the different sizes of bait fish you use. Some anglers tie the second hooks once the hook sets it slides against the eye of the second hook and hooks into the fishes mouth.
Fresh bait makes all the difference between you catching a fish or not when fishing in a group or alone. Always try and use fresh shad or shad on ice for best results
Squid Loligo Vulgaris Reynaudii
Or Chokka as it is commonly knownoccurs mainly in the colder waters from just past East London on the Border coast to Cape Town in the Western Cape. There are a few varieties of different squid that occur along the South African coast ranging from the smaller Natal Bay squid to the slightly bigger Tugela squid occurring further north. There are over 300 species of squid world wide. The bay squid is probably the most sought after and rare squid as it is not commercially caught except for a few seine netters that have a license to still net these rare bait fish.
In my opinion squid is single best all round bait along the South African coast. It is eaten by all sharks and rays and most edible fish if presented properly.
If I had to choose a single bait to fish with anywhere along the coast and for any specie of fish it would be squid. You can slide or cast them whole for big sharks and rays especially Bull rays (Duckbill) Black rays Raggies, Smooth hound, Gully sharks and Bronzies. They are also a favorite food for Kob, Steenbrass, Shad, Blacktail, Zebra, Bronze bream and even the timid Baardman won’t turn his nose up at the chance of a good piece of well presented squid.
Even Garrick that prefers live bait has been known to have been landed on squid baits. There are a variety of ways to present this all round bait and each method will produce a different result. Most fish prefer it smashed into a pulp or tenderized using a Chokka hammer or meat tenderizer. When smashing the squid you break through the hard outside membrane releasing the natural oils and protein smells contained within the white flesh of the squid. By doing this you also produce soft bait that is easy to cotton on using a thin latex or bait cotton.
Cut a strip of foam rubber the size of you small finger and shape it using bait scissors or your knife tapering it from thick to thin. Using latex or bait cotton tie the foam onto your hook. I prefer the red Daiichi as they are chemically sharpened keep a good point and don’t rust like most other hooks and can be used more than once.
Remove the outer skin exposing the white flesh of the squid. Then cut down the center of the clear back bone and
remove this hard plastic looking thing and discard it.
Do not throw away the Chokka guts especially the liquid sac found inside this is the most important part of the squid. The saccontains all the good smell and flavour and must be added to your bait when smashing the squid to add extra smell to the bait.
Cotton the smashed squid around the foam to make the body of the bait
Cut some thin strips and one by one cotton them onto the hook around the body of the bait
Cotton them on one by one until you have an octopus looking bait
Never dip ever your bait in the water before casting it washes most of the smell from the bait that will attract the fish to bite quicker
Red Bait: The Blue cheese of the see
Red bait must be one of the most commonly used bait along our coast and has been a favorite of mine during the winter months since I started fishing for Galjoen in my early teens
It’s that time of year again when we start chasing those winter species like Galjoen, Mussel Cracker and Steenbrass. Walking along the beach to picking up pods of red bait that have spent a few days in the sun to ripening like mature cheese only they smell a little more untidy.
Getting rid of the smell from your hands is probably harder that getting blood off white sheets. I have tried everything from Coke to toothpaste including lemon juice, brake fluid, car grease hand wash cleaner, Handy Andy, vinegar and almost every hand soap available to man. Nothing really works so just accept it as a trusty Galjoen fisherman your hands are going to have that lovely cheesy red bait smell following you around for the next few months whilst you hunt the elusive Galjoen.
Over the years I have heard of several species being caught on red bait including some of the uncommon ones like Steenbrass, elf, Kob, Baardman and gully sharks. The more common species you will expect to catch are Galjoen, white and black cracker, Blacktail bronze bream, zebra, Streepie, Hottentot, Jan bruin, Santer and red roman. It’s probably safe to say that most species will have a go at a piece of well presented red bait.
Find some red bait either on the rocks in the tidal zone or preferably washed up on the beach. The older the red bait is the faster the fish tend to eat it. As long as you have the stomach for it as it’s not good to use after a good night out with the boys as the smell might get the better of you. Frozen red bait has never been very successful for me but if you must you can freeze it but I prefer to let it ripen in the garage for best results. My neighbors don’t agree though.
Cut open the pods an remove the flesh put it in a bucket with the rest some of the riper pods season the fresher ones sharing the more mature flavour as they lie in the bucket.
Cut the flesh into thin strips and cotton it on flesh side facing out this exposes the soft inside flesh part and releases maximum smell from your bait. Make sure you don’t put too bigger piece on when fishing for Galjoen so as not to cover the point of the hook. If you are fishing for mussel cracker you can use bigger sized baits but I have always caught cracker on a smaller bait using a 2/0 hook whist fishing for Galjoen.
Galjoen have small mouths so use a smaller hook for best results and don’t over bait your hook keep the point exposed for a better hook up rate. Cut thin strips to make a worm thickness bait if you keep missing the bites. Use a bait float to float your bait it minimizes your hook getting from getting stuck in the rocks when reeling in.
PINK PRAWN SAND PRAWN COMBO
The Mozambique pink prawn used to come in 200g boxes and were packed by I&J in the days when I started using them in the early eighties. They adopted the name Box prawn and are still known as box prawn or I&J prawns today. You can still find them in tackle shops distributed by Quality baits in small clear tubs or in 2kg boxes. Recently spar have started packing them in 1kg packs ready de veined to eat I still have fond memories of going up the Kasouga beach on Peter Longs tractor an old friend of mine and remember him saying to me these prawns are getting really expensive to fish with. They were then only R2.30 a box but now work out to around the same price per prawn. They must be the single best bait for bronze bream and Steenbrass along our coast and have been responsible for almost decimating these species along with a few others due to the effectiveness of this combination. I don’t know of many fish species that will easily swim past this tempting morsel. The sand prawn or pink cracker shrimp as they are known in Natal occur in most of our tidal and blind rivers, harbours and tidal pools along the South African coast and can be pumped using a stainless steel or plastic pump. I would recommend the penguin stainless steel one as they are far easier to pump with. Find a few holes and start sucking. I use a bait buddy sieve and pump the sand into it in the slightly deeper water this helps you to get more prawns and saves you from bending down to pick them up after every few pumps. Once you have pumped your limit of 50 prawns make sure to keep changing the water regularly as the prawns use up loads of oxygen from the water due to the number of prawns in the bucket. An aerator works well to keep them alive. Also make sure to remove any dead or damaged prawns as they also turn the water bad and will kill all the other pawns in you bucket within a very short period of time if you don’t remove them.
Step one: Defrost a few prawns and keep them in your bait holder on the side of your belt bucket I use a small bucket attached to my belt.
Remove the outer shell from the pink prawn and using a sharp bait knife cut the pink prawn down the back. This exposes the inner flesh of the prawn and helps give off more smell in the water. This is a trick I learnt at junior nationals in 1988 from Mike Pautz ex springbuck angler probably one of the best bronze bream anglers today. That small but very effective tip has helped improve my angling hugely ever since and makes all the difference when standing shoulder to shoulder with other anglers and you are the one catching 3 to every one of there fish.
Step 2: Thread the Pink prawn flesh side open on to a 1/0 or 2/o hook I like the mustard 92247 or the Diaachi red 2/0 to 4/0 depending whether I am targeting bronze bream or Steenbrass. Bronze bream have small mouths so don’t make your bait to big a mistake made by a lot of anglers who end up missing the bite.
Step 3 Start adding the sand prawn around the pink prawn with the pink of the body showing outwards. I use between 3 to 6 sand prawn depending on the size. I prefer the smaller sand prawn when targeting bronze bream and use up to 6 at a time.
4 Use latex cotton to cotton the prawns on and make sure the pincers are left free to move this also helps to attract a quicker bite leaving the bait looking as natural as possible.