Fly Fishing For Makriel (Silver Catfish/Butter Barbel) In South Africa

How To Catch Makriel On Fly?

Makriel (Silver Catfish) Illustration

Makriel (Silver Catfish) Illustration

Makriel (Schilbe intermedius) have many names in South Africa. The most common of these names is the Afrikaans name of Makriel, and they are also known as the Silver Catfish and Butter Barbel. The Butter Barbel is a reference to how tasty the fish is. They also have other Afrikaans names such as the Silwer Barber and Botterbarber. This freshwater fish species has a few spines on it, including a poisonous dorsal fin. Be very careful when handling this fish. If you are spiked, place your hand in boiling hot water for as long as you can.

The Makriel (Silver Catfish, Butter Barbel) is a shoaling species, that is different to most other species of catfish because they hunt in schools and in feed in mid water, opposed to the bottom (Where other catfishes such as the Barbel, Rock Catfish and Blunttooth Catfish feed).

More Information On The Makriel (Silver Catfish, Butter Barbel)

Silver Catfish (Butter Barbel/Makriel)

Makriel (Silver Catfish)

The Makriel is a shoaling fish and an apex predator in it’s weight class. They are very aggressive, which makes them a fun target on fly. They do not grow very big, but can reach 40 centimeters and weigh up to 1.5 kilograms. The Makriel (Silver Catfish) is the only species of Butter Barbel in South Africa, and can be found in slow moving rivers and dams in the lowveld regions of South Africa. They prefer areas with structure (Like submerged trees) and submerged vegetation. They are most active at night, or in low light conditions, but they do feed throughout the day.

When the Makriel spawns and breeds during the rainy season of the particular area it is found. They lay eggs on vegetation, when they are sexually mature at about 15 centimeters. It can be found all over the Lowveld, but Vaalkop, Loskop Dam and Lake Jozini are hotspots for this species of fish. Reports suggest that the Makriel can live for up to 8 years or so.

How To Fly Fish For Makriel?

The Silver Catfish is an aggressive fish, and can be caught on a variety of streamers and wet flies. Smaller flies tend to do better, and when they are plentiful they might even be tempted into taking a dry fly. To enjoy the most out of targeting these Butter Barbel on fly, a 4 weight setup with floating or intermediate line is recommended. You can go lighter than a 4 weight, but because of the areas where the Makriel is found, you do need something with a bit of backbone in case they go swimming off into structure. Also, Blue Kurper tend to inhabit similar areas where you find the Silver Catfish, and you need to give yourself a chance of landing these bream species as well.

A fast strip of a wet fly is best used to hook these fish. The best flies to use to catch Makriel can be seen listed below:

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