KOB (Argyrosomus hololepidotus)-Also known as kabeljou, daga salmon and salmon, its wide range and abundance have made kob one of the top angling fish in the country, and it’s very good eating.
By Andre Vorster
Several kob are caught by shore anglers along the South African coast (this family includes baardman and geelbek), but only this one is caught along the entire coast. In Natal the squaretail kob is so similar to this kob that, for many years, it was regarded as the same fish.
A third kob commonly caught by anglers is the snapper kob, but it’s easily distinguished from the other two by its small size and enlarged canine teeth.
The kob is a silver fish with a bronze-coloured back and, when it is removed from the water, its head and ‘shoulder’ regions are tinted with beautiful quiescent blues and pinks, and a row of bright spots along the lateral line. These colours fade soon after the fish has been caught. Kob grow to a massive size, with fish of between 40kg and 50kg still being caught quite frequently today.
Kob are considered a summer angling fish in the Cape and a winter fish in KwaZulu-Natal and Transkei. They can be caught from rocks, beaches, estuaries and rivers, with best catches being made when the water is discoloured to a light brown (often referred to as ‘gingerbeer’ water). They generally prefer fairly sealed conditions along the shore and do not seem to react too badly to cooler water.
Anglers often cast over the areas where the kob feed, and it must be remembered that they come into the breaker water to feed.
A variety of baits can be used to catch kob and these tend to be the same along the entire coast. Sardine, squid (chokka), mackerel, fresh fillets, fresh octopus (seekat) leg and live baits all work well for big fish, with a combination of sardine or mackerel with squid producing good results.
Smaller fish are also taken on these baits and on prawns, and in the south-western Cape, bloodworm and cracker shrimp (sand prawn) can be very effective. In recent years, anglers have had much success using Rapala lures and Paddletail soft baits in and around rivers and estuaries.
These fish have large mouths, so large hooks on standard bottom traces (with or without a running sinker) should be used to catch them. Small kob of 2kg to 3kg can be caught on 6/0 hooks, but nothing smaller than an 8/0 should be used for bigger fish. Kob have a good set of teeth, but they are not used for cutting and, while larger fish are able to fray through light nylon, no wire is needed. In fact, a fairly heavy nylon trace is preferable to wire, unless one is fishing in an area where there is a good chance of picking up fish such as king mackerel or sharks.
Whatever baits are used, the kob bite is very distinctive; often the first indication that a fish is at the bait is a few gentle tugs, followed by a few seconds in which nothing seems to happen. The initial tugs give an angler enough warning to be prepared for what follows, and one should wait for a series of jerks as the fish moves off before setting the hook. Many fish are missed by striking too soon.
If one's line becomes slack, it means the fish is already moving off with the bait, and it may be necessary to reel in the slack line quickly and set the hook as soon as possible.
The best times to catch kob are in the early mornings before sunrise or just after sunset, but many are caught throughout the day along our coast. As it is a rather sluggish fighter which does not pull hard for its size, it is seldom necessary to use heavier tackle than a medium outfit.
The South African rock and surf record was set at the Keiskamma River mouth in December 1934 with a fish of 73.5kg.