Over the past 2 months while targeting snapper we have been catching a very welcome by-catch. The venus tusk fish or Choerod of on venustus, as some more educated may call them, have been happily taking our baits and much to our delight as these fish fight pretty hard, look very special and best of all they taste fantastic. All tusk fish are members of the wrasse family and are often mistaken as a parrot fish. To tell them apart is easy just take a look at the mouth of the fish and if they have a beak they are a parrot fish and if they have large tusk like teeth they are the tusk fish. The most common variety of tusk fish caught off the sunshine coast is the venus. Other varieties caught here include the blue bone, black spot and harlequin just to name a few. The average size is around 1-2kg and we have caught them up to 5kg. The minimum legal size limit in Queensland is 30cm.
Venus tusk fish occupy the northern and central coasts of eastern Australia. They congregate on the bottom around rock or coral reefs. We have caught them in water as shallow as 18m and as deep as 90m but best results are in the 50-60 metre range. Good baits include squid, crab, fish flesh, pilchard, prawn and even chicken strips. Tackle used is 30-50lb mono leader with 5/0 to 8/0 hooks rigged in a paternoster formation. We get best results drifting through a patch of rough ground with scattered life and if the drift produces fish we will do it again if not we just move north or south and try again. These guys are one of the most popular table fish with firm white flesh that flakes of into large chunks. It has a delicate fish flavour that is very sweet ideal for poaching or grilling. Next week we give you a recipe to try and perhaps you could give it a go for your dad on fathers’ day. Hopefully these tips help you catch a tusk fish while there are plenty around. Let us know how you go.