What’s that Fish – Geelbek

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It goes by a few names, including Cape Salmon, Teraglin (mostly in Australia) and perhaps most popularly, by its Afrikaans christening – Geelbek. Celebrated by anglers for not only putting up a decent fight but also for its scrumptious flesh, the Geelbek is one of South Africa’s most popular fish species.

The Geelbek is part of the Sciaenidae family and can be distinguished from the other members, including kob and baardman, by its concave tail, among other aspects. It has an elongated shape and is silverygrey in colour with a bronze dorsal surface and white belly. It gets its Afrikaans name from the fact that the inside of its mouth and gill covers are yellow in colour. Further noticeable features include its pointed head, markedly projected lower jaw and several rows of sharp, backward-pointing, needlelike teeth. They grow quite large and reach adulthood after around five years. They are said to have a maximum life span of about nine years, at which they would be about 1.3 m in length and weigh close to 25 kg. But specimens of this size are very rarely seen or caught.

Where to find them
Geelbek is a migratory shoaling species widely distributed throughout South Africa from False Bay all the way along the coast to KwaZulu-Natal and southern Mozambique, as well as on the east coast of Australia. They are found over both sandy and rocky bottoms in depths ranging from 15 m to 150 m, and they like to dwell near the bottom close to pinnacles, steep ledges and wrecks.

Adult Geelbek migrate towards KZN during winter to spawn. Spawning generally takes place in deep water off the KZN coast during springtime, after which the adults make their way back down to the Cape, where they tend to congregate over the Agulhas Banks for feeding during summer.

After spawning, it is said juveniles migrate south towards the Southern Cape from about January to March and use this area as nursery for nearly a year before joining adult Geelbek in the Western Cape.


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