Category: Fish ID

There are many species of fish to found in our oceans.  Some of these fish are target species, with great eating qualities, but others are protected and must not be harmed.  As a responsible spearfisher it is critical that we can identify the specie of fish before ever deciding to pull the trigger in an attempt to capture a fish.
On the following pages you will find photos and information that will assist you in improving your fish identification and knowledge.  They are split into two categories:  Protected Species and Target Species.
Remember, if you are not sure what fish it is you are aiming at, DO NOT PULL THE TRIGGER.

Nanygai

Common Name: Nannygai, Redfish
Scientific Name: Centroberyx affinis
Maximum Size: 40cm
NSW Record: 0.822kg
Range:  NSW, VIC, TAS.

Nannygai are found on deep coastal reefs to offshore waters. They often reside near cave systems, sharing them with Bullseyes. The fish pictured above was found in relatively shallow water of 27m.

This species is best distinguished by its red colour, large eyes and forked tail. The related Swallowtail Nannygai has a longer tail which has a deeper fork.

The fish mature at 10cm in length and can live to be 30 years old.

To approach this species the best method is to lie on the bottom close to where the school was sighted and wait for the fish to return. Commercial catches of this species range from 50-70 tonnes per annum in NSW water, with a further 800 tonnes in the Commonwealth managed fishery. The annual recreational catch is estimated at 20-40 tonnes.

 

Australian Salmon

Common Name: Eastern Australian Salmon
Scientific Name: Arripis trutta
Maximum Size: 75cm
NSW Record: 7.860kg
Range:  QLD, NSW, VIC, TAS.

Eastern Australian Salmon schools can be found along headlands and in bays, ranging in depth from 2-20m. The size of the schools can range from a few dozen fish to many thousands.

This species has a distinct green coloured back and dark tail, with individuals in good condition having yellow pectoral fins. Confusing species are Tailor, which are generally smaller (in NSW) and have a rounder head. Western Australian Salmon occasionally swim up the east coast but a difficult to tell apart from their local cousin unless the gillrakers are counted.

The fish mature at around 40cm in length and 4 years of age, spawning in coastal water during summer. The eggs and larvae drift south to Victoria and Tasmania before migrating north to complete the cycle. The sexes are separate.

To approach this species the best method is a slow dive, parallel to the school and waiting for the school to approach or cut across the diver. Commercial catches of this species range from 500 to 1000 tonnes per annum. The annual recreational catch is estimated at 150-200 tonnes.

Mangrove Jack

Common Name: Mangrove Jack
Scientific Name: Lutjanus argentimaculatus
Maximum Size: 120cm
NSW Record: 11.68kg
Range: QLD, NSW, NT, WA.

The Mangrove Jack is often found in estuaries, particularly as a juvenile. Adult fish can be found on rocky and coral reefs, to depths of over 100m. Mangrove Jack will usually have a home cave within their territory, and a good cave system may hold multiple fish.

This species is generally of a greyish colour underwater, unless spotted in the shallows where the red colouration will show. The white-grey line underneath the eye is a prominent feature of smaller fish. Confusing species include the Moses Perch, which has a black spot on its side and the Black Cod (see protected species page) which inhabits similar habitat.

This species spawns in late spring to early summer and juveniles drift on the prevailing currents before settling in estuaries and on shallow rocky reefs.

The Mangrove Jack will respond to burley, but the main challenge is locating the fish in the first place. Looking for good cave systems close by to baitfish and near the sandline seems to be the best approach.