One of the most awesome and famous fish caught on the Great Barrier Reef would have to be the Red Emperor. This fish has got everything going for it, Great colours, looks, fights hard and even better eating. What more could you ask for, definitely one the trophy fish of the reef. Check out our videos and I’m sure you’ll agree.
These Red Emperor grow to an impressive 50lbs or 22kg’s and over a metre in length, but are more commonly caught between 5 and 10kg’s off Mackay and throughout the Great Barrier reef.
The Hervey Bay area and fishing grounds north of Fraser Island are well known for those monster 20 kilogram fish. Reefari’s boat record for Red Emperor is 12.7kgs with numerous fish over 10kgs. Still chasing that 20kg Monster, so hopefully will find some bigger specimens with time.
There technical name is Lutjanus Sebae, and also sometimes referred to as government Bream, when smaller with stronger stripes and colours. These stripes and colours fade with age, but look closely and you’ll see they’re still visible. Juveniles can be found in good numbers in close around the islands and shoals in shallower water, but with age move out to deeper water living in around reefs, sand flats, gravel patches and shoals. These grounds are very hard to find and generally flat in nature with very little structure.
Once again a good sounder is well worth it!! These marks are very well guarded, if you’ve ever asked a fishing buddy, you’d already know. Try the deeper water from 40 – 70 metres for the quality fish and a lot of time and patience. After several years, we’ve found some excellent fishing spots which are regular producers, but still hard to guarantee that trophy fish, that’s fishing. Usually the by catch of Large Nannygai’s, Coral trout, cod, cobia, Big Hussar and Grassy sweetlips makes it all worthwhile.
Size limits of 55cm now apply, so it really is a nice size fish by the time they are classed as legal. Also they make up the Bag limit of 20 for Coral reef fin species, with only 5 allowed per person to be taken, but that’s heaps anyhow.
I prefer Braided fishing line, and can’t rave on about it enough. Really has made fishing the deep a lot easier, with smaller diameters and no stretch, amazing stuff, being able to feel the smallest of bites in deep water. We use 50lb braid which is usually enough to stop most fish, Some just aren’t stoppable.
If getting into some real quality fish, may be worth considering 80 or 100lb. Quality reels are the go, to be able to fish this heavy, and will make short work on any inferior drags. Handlines are still popular on the reef, but hard work in fishing 50 metres plus due to large diameter lines and currents as well to contend with.
We tend to catch Red emperor on a wide range of bait and usually always have Squid, Pilchards and fresh flesh. Flesh bait is always a winner and well worth considering using the tails, wings, and even half or whole filleted hussar or other small reef fish. The beauty is, any other quality reef fish in the area won’t say no as well. You know what they say, Big Baits, Big Fish!!
Awesome fish!! Awesome fun and well worth the effort, Good luck!!
No Fish Is Too Big...
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