It is one of South Africa's favourite fishing species, so much so that song have even been made about it. Meagre is generally sluggish, does most of its hunting in turbid or dirty waters detecting prey with its unusually strong sense of smell and its highly sensitive lateral line system. Meagre are therefore well equipped to feed at night and in dirty water.
The Meagre has a robust body. Overall colour is silvery to silvery grey. Live fish have a pearly/pink sheen on the head, flanks and dorsal regions. Only visible underwater is a row of bright silver spots arranged along the lateral line.
Thick scales cover the body arranged in 48 to 55 series along the lateral line. A small fleshy scale-less structure is found at the pectoral axil which helps to positively identify this species.
Meagre can be caught on a variety of baits and tackle. From light tackle in rivers to heavy surf rods and reels.
Meagre are often considered poor fighters, and often this is true with hooked Meagre seeming to swim “up the line” making the anglers task easy. But anyone who has winched a Meagre up from 80 or 100 metres deep, or battled with a 30kg or larger Meagre from the shore, know the Meagre can put up a decent struggle, using its body mass to fight for its freedom.
Small live baits are definitely the best for Meagre; mullet, karanteen, pinkie, small cape stumpnose, small shad, blacktail, then comes a variety of flesh baits including chokka red-eye and ordinary sardines.
Lure anglers can also catch Meagre lures that put out vibrations are usually the ones to choose. A special type of metal spoon with a sharp angled bend in front works well in rivers and estuaries – the angling method is to jerk the lure forward, and let it drop to the bottom.
The Meagre are found along the entire coastline of South Africa, ranging from the shallow inshore surf zone to depths of 400 metres. Often found around the sandy edges of reefs and rocky outcrops, the venture into rivers and estuaries in search of prey.