People are divided on the taste with some raving about the strong but tasty flavour while others find it too â€˜fishy’. Everyone would agree, however, that they fight hard and will easily pull a snapper or dhufish of the same size backwards.
With spectacular markings. if they aren’t the prettiest fish you’re likely to catch, queen snapper are certainly in the top 5 and, by changing a few bottom fishing techniques, you too can get into the queenies.
How To Catch Them
Very few people specifically target this fish and it could be due to any number of factors. Their strong taste doesn’t sit well with fans of dhufish or other light flavoured fish and it’s not really in the same areas that you’ll find queenies.
Anyone that has caught a lot of them will say the same thing â€“ you have to go deep. Sure, you will catch the odd few in shallow grounds but most of the large schools of sizable fish are in the 70 to 140 metres of water.
There are several types of ground you are looking for. The first is a pinnacle where schools sit just along a dropoff. On your sounder they can easily be mistaken for pink snapper except that queenies are more likely to be in smaller schools of no more than ten fish. This means the school will appear small on your screen.
The other type of ground is sand and coral where it appears the fish scavenge for urchins, shells and other bottom dwellers. These are harder to find by all but the most expert of echo sounder users so it’s probably best to stick to pinnacles.
Often you will find the stomachs of queen snapper full of cowrie shells and many pros will cut them open to find specimens for collectors which go for a good price in the shell markets.
Another structure you will find queen snapper around during summer is deep water wrecks. Sea containers, ships and other man made bottom structure seems quite popular with this fish during the months of November through to March when samsonfish also school in big numbers around wrecks.
Rather than fishing right on top of the wreck and getting nailed by the sambos, we’ve found you can pick queen snapper up 40-100m from the wreck on the sand. It would seem the fish, like golden trevally with the same mouth type, sift through sand looking for food and the sand at the side of the wrecks is no different.
Drop next to the wreck and drift around the sand with small hooks and baits. We like to use octopus cut into small cubes on 3/0 hooks. Bait each hook with 3 small pieces of octopus so if the fish get one piece off there’s still two left. Take care, however, to make sure the hook isn’t loaded too much and the point is protruding. We’ve had little success using jigs or any other artificials save for a fluro squid teaser on occasion.
One final tip from the experts we’ve talked to â€“ instead of dragging the bottom with your sinker, keep it about a metre and a half up which seems to work better for some reason.
Often a forgotten member of the reef fish community, the queen snapper (or blue morwong) is usually a by-catch of the deep sea snapper and dhufish chasers but their hard fight and strong but tasty flesh has built them a fan club of their own.