Also known as the blue hottentot, hottentot, das, john brown, jan bruin, fatfish, vetvis, butterfish, bluefish, butter bream, copper bream, damkokker and nyizala, this fish has the distinction of having no less than 15 names! Its similarity to the other breams in both size and colour has caused much confusion among anglers over the years, especially where there is an overlap of home ranges.
Derivation of scientific name: Pachymetopon – thick forehead, grande – large.
Most fish caught by shore anglers weigh between 2kg and 3kg, but some fine specimens of 4kg to 5kg are caught along the Transkei and Border coasts. It is a very good eating fish which is actively pursued by many anglers, especially in the Border area, where it can be caught throughout the year.
Capture: Bronze bream are caught among rocks, along rocky ledges and in gullies, in both shallow and fairly deep water from the Cape to northern KwaZulu-Natal.
Good catches are made when the the sea is unfavourable for any other type of angling, such as a strong southwesterly wind that pushes up the surf. Fishable water to look for would be water that is extremely rocky, with rock ledges and gullies between them. Fish on the northern side of the protecting rocks and keep an eye out for the green seaweed that grows on these rocks, as this is what the bream feed on. Good catches are made when the water is clean and warm, and they tend to bite more freely in white, foamy water.
Best baits are crayfish, cracker shrimp (sand prawn), ginger prawn and pink prawn, but sand mussels, redbait, black mussels and ghost crabs can also be effective at times. Baits must be fresh. As the mouth is fairly small, suggested hook size should be a #1 and no bigger than a #2/0; these hook sizes will also cover you for the musselcracker or stumpnose, which favour the same waters. I prefer using a teardrop sinker between 2oz and 3oz, but will also use a 3oz weed-eater sinker, depending on the conditions.
The hook should be well covered with bait and secured by light cotton (ghost cotton or, better still, latex cotton); remember always to keep the barb completely proud. Most anglers use a fairly light gully trace, but it cannot be too light, as these fish are often caught in places which require the angler to keep a fair amount of pressure on the line. I would suggest using Maxima 20lb to 25lb, with a #5 to #6 power swivel. (Please take note of the tips provided, as they can save you much frustration.) The length of your snoot can differ depending on the depth that you are fishing, and whether you prefer a double hook trace.
On some days bronze bream can be exasperating, refusing any baits offered to them, but on other days they will bite freely and anglers may catch several on an outing. Here I must emphasise that anglers should stick to the bag limits if they wish to take a fish home, as these fish grow slowly and they seldom bite hard, even in white water – but they usually give a few knocks or lift the trace off the bottom before pulling gently. These knocks or slight movements of the trace usually prepare the angler for the pull that follows. Once hooked, they pull hard and continue to do so until they are removed from the water; with suitable tackle, they seldom have the power to take line off a reel. They can be caught throughout the day on low and high tides, but particularly at low tide, as many of the rocky ledges along our coast are accessible only then.
SA record: The South African rock and surf angling record was set at Robbehoek on 11 July 1960 with a fish which weighed 5.5kg. This record, however, may change, as a bronze bream of 7.05kg was caught in November last year, and the record is pending.
Fish: Bronze bream
Caught by: Jerome van Tonder
Caught where: Cape Receive
Date caught: 04/11/2013
Bait or lure used: Red bait