Silver Carpenter

Endemic to South Africa, silver carpenters are a medium-sized bottom and reef loving fish, popular among both commercial and recreational anglers.
View 5 listings
price starting from
to the nearest trip

Where and When?

Silver carpenter are endemic to the coastal waters off south and south-east South Africa. The distribution extends from Table Bay round the coast eastwards to the KwaZulu Natal provincial border. There is an offshore trawl fishery active over a small area (from Cape Agulhas to the Great Kei River) and an artisanal line-fishing boat and shore fishery along most of its range. Silver carpenters are often found aggregating around “high profile” rocky reefs where they feed and also spawn. Adults are found at depths from 50-200 m. (164-656 ft.) while juveniles are caught mostly closer inshore in depths of 10-40 m. (33-131 ft.). All ages prefer rocky or gravelly substrates or some form of cover or structure. In spite of their reputation of “highly migratory”, silver carpenters are usually fairly localised and so local knowledge is essential to ensure that the fish are currently where you propose to fish. Silver carpenter can be caught throughout the year and daylight is easier for fishing, although it is likely that they feed through the night as well. Numbers were reduced through overfishing, but a restriction to 4 fish per person per day and a minimum length of 35 cm (14 in.) seems to have allowed stocks to recover recently.

About Silver Carpenter

The silver carpenter (Argyrozona argyrozona) or “doppies” or “kapenaar” is a bentho-pelagic (bottom loving) marine fish that is locally important as a commercial, small-scale commercial and also as a recreational species. It can be caught in fair numbers and is said to be one of the tastiest fish in the region. The body is elongate, laterally compressed and has a fair-sized mouth armed with short sharp teeth at the front. The eyes are large in order to spot food in deep water. Its food as juveniles comprises crabs and their larvae plus copepods and changes to squid and small fish, such as anchovies and sardines, as adults. Carpenter can attain 80 cm. (32 in.) and 4.1 kg. (9 lbs.), but are reputed to be slow growing and most fish caught are much smaller than this. Sexes are similar and spawning is a group activity, often carried out several times per year, and larvae drift in the ocean currents. The species is known to migrate, but tagging studies have shown high residency among most individuals for much of the year.

How to Catch?

Large numbers of silver carpenter are caught by commercial line-fishers from day tripping “workboats” slightly offshore or from the shore. Most of this is fairly organised and almost all use natural baits or small plastics. Recreational fishing is improving in quality, and there are now local fishing charters exploiting this species as it can grow fairly large and apparently tastes very good. The charters can supply suitable equipment and will know the best bait and lures and also where the larger fish often hang out. Medium to light spinning equipment is best and, when fishing from a boat, the bait or lure should be fairly close to the bottom. Silver carpenter like “high profile” reefs and the trick is to fish close to these pinnacles without actually hooking the rocks or letting the fish pull the line into them. Natural baits, such as sardine, anchovy or squid, work well and also some fishers like small plastics worked up and down just above the bottom. Natural baits are best for shore fishing. Silver carpenters are rarely an adrenaline pumping species, but fishing for them can be fun, rewarding and result in an excellent meal for the family.