Please select your home edition
Edition
Auckland On Water Boat Show

SA reefs - SA's bight delight!

by Shane Murton on 18 Aug 2013
A ripper brace of Port Lincoln, SA, redfish. There's many reefs around the state that hold swarms of these great looking, top eating fish. Shane Murton
I've always had a love affair with the SA reefs, not only due to the variety of fish they provide, but also the range of techniques that can be used to fish them, which generally makes for a fun day out regardless of what's on the fang.

If you like mixing up your approach on the reefs, and catching a fish which are about as tasty as they get on the dinner plate, then you should be checking out Bight red-fish. These bright orange, stocky profiled fish characterised by a mammoth mouth and razor-sharp plates around their head region, truly have a lot to offer.

Bight red-fish, long known as simply nannygai or red snapper in SA, are one of the shining lights on the state's reef scene if you want a piranha-like attitude from a fish that eats basically anything put in front of them, and has great looks and bone-white flesh to boot. These fish form the basis of the catch for many offshore day trip charters around the state, who focus on deeper reefs. This said, they're more than in range for a lot of boats, and even land-based fishos, and can be caught at a variety of depths from a few metres to well over 100m.


You probably haven't experienced Bight red-fish chaos to its extreme until you've hit a pit of the true giants of several kilos or so. At this size they get a lot of character around the face region and are just impressive things to look at (that's even before you go to eat them!). SA is known for having some of the biggest examples in the country with the reefs off Yorke Peninsula, KI, and those on the west coast holding some true monsters. Even though they don't shred braid from a reel you can't help but be impressed by these creatures when they're at the upper end of their size range.

Commonly Bight red-fish like more prominent reef systems with sharp ledges and quite uneven terrain, and they can form large schools at times. On smaller reefs you could be targeting pockets of fish rather than obvious masses that light up your sounder. For me the real entertainment is when you have swarms of them below and can lower down octopus jigs, flasher rigs, plastics, or use your two hook paternoster rig. Top sport when you're getting hammered within seconds of touching the bottom! When you're into a school you can also downgrade tackle to a lighter thread line or overhead outfit and have a ball. These fish load your rod up amazing hard!


Once hooked there's a need to carefully play out your nanny to the surface under a constant fighting pressure, and make sure not to go too hard or give them any slack. They love to open up their mouth when they're coming to the surface and this creates a lot of drag and a high chance of hooks getting pulled out by anglers. Besides a few bony structures their mouths are also thinly fleshed and hooks can easily work a hole in this tissue and come free. Dropping them mid water is a common occurrence, especially on the really big ones as there's a temptation to get stuck into them and muscle them up. Gentle rod work, circle hooks and a nice soft actioned rod can help prevent fish loss.


In SA their legal length is 30cm (tip of snout to tip of tail), with a personal limit of 10 and a boat limit of 30. Seriously this is a lot of fish, especially given they're a 'best when fresh' species, and the flesh can go quite soft and fall apart when frozen for any significant length of time. Furthermore they should be placed straight onto ice when caught and not buried under any larger fish. Their meat can err on the soft side and you don't want to crush them.


Bight red fish are relatively slow growing like a lot of deep reef fish, and it is imperative to take only what you need from the reefs, and don't upgrade fish in overly deep water by throwing back small yet legal ones. This is effectively leaving a trail of bodies behind as many of these fish won't survive the associated trauma. Sensible fishermen manage the reefs they fish and leave a few for next time. With such a great bunch of traits wrapped up in an orange package, the next time you're working the reefs be sure take a spread of lures and a lighter rod, and play around with these ever-hungry delicacies!

Guy Nowell - Blue 660InSunSport - NZPantaenius - Worldwide Support

Related Articles

Stacer’s Ocean Rangers are now tougher than ever
The new 589 Ocean Ranger now features more freeboard at 730mm, bringing the model in line with the rest of the range. Due to customer demand Stacer has released two new models in their plate range to now include the 589 and 619 Ocean Ranger Hard Tops offering a more budget friendly option that is still packed with power and strength.
Posted on 17 Aug
Shark 'trophy' hunters land in hot water
Two young men who removed the jaws of a dead Great White Shark have found themselves in trouble with the law. Two young men who removed the jaws of a dead Great White Shark have found themselves in trouble with the law.
Posted on 16 Aug
Port Phillip Bay Fishers gather to celebrate Bay fishing
Jaala Pulford welcomed key fishing industry representatives and recreational anglers to Port Phillip Bay Conference Minister for Agriculture, Jaala Pulford today welcomed key fishing industry representatives and recreational anglers to the first Port Phillip Bay Conference in Altona.
Posted on 13 Aug
Trout opening festival expands to include Ballarat
To welcome opening of trout fishing season Goulburn Fishing Festival will be joined by a similar event at Ballarat To welcome the opening of the 2016 trout fishing season in rivers the popular Goulburn Fishing Festival will be joined by a similar family-friendly event at Ballarat this year on Saturday 3 September.
Posted on 12 Aug
Mansfield trout conference a must for anglers
Recreational anglers can learn about Victoria’s wild trout fisheries at a free one day conference on Saturday 5 November Recreational anglers can learn more about Victoria’s wild trout fisheries at a free one day conference on Saturday 5 November at Mansfield.
Posted on 10 Aug
Angler exceeds calamari catch limit at Portarlington
A 69-year old man from Portarlington will be summons to appear in the Geelong Magistrates Court A 69-year old man from Portarlington will be summons to appear in the Geelong Magistrates Court later this year for allegedly exceeding the daily catch limit of calamari.
Posted on 9 Aug
Brook trout to be stocked in Victoria
Brook trout are being released into Lake Purrumbete near Camperdown, the first official release of the fish in Victoria. Brook trout are being released into Lake Purrumbete near Camperdown this week, the first official release of the fish in Victoria.
Posted on 8 Aug
Tasmanian trout season opens
With trout season opening next weekend, many are pondering where to go to wet a line, to try and catch a big fish With the trout season opening next weekend, many are pondering where to go to wet a line, especially to try and catch a big fish first off. Me, I’m going to local water, just in case the weather is crook or turns foul.
Posted on 4 Aug
Kids Polarised Sunglasses from Barz Optics
Barz Optics have developed a quality range of junior polarised sunglasses ideal for sailing and fishing. Barz Optics have developed a quality range of junior polarised sunglasses ideal for sailing and fishing. Each pair are supplied with a neoprene case and sunglass retainer.
Posted on 4 Aug
Scientists help fight native oyster parasite
Agriculture Victoria scientists are taking extra step to investigate problematic parasite effecting native flat oysters. While the common pacific oyster remains under threat from a viral disease, Agriculture Victoria scientists are taking the extra step to investigate a problematic parasite effecting native flat oysters.
Posted on 1 Aug