Bait to Plate

Kev Collins

Well known Restauranter and co-owner of Fish D'vine & The Rum Bar in Airlie Beach. When Kev's not working he's out fishing in the amazing food bowl of the Whitsundays and Great Barrier Reef Marine Park or in his tinnie in the estuaries crabbing! His blog imparts wisdom, tales and info on all things fishing and food.

Golden Snapper Moon

This time of year as the water heats up during the early summer, and barramundi season comes to a close a fish I just love becomes a target. Locally called “Finger-mark” they are better known as “Golden Snapper”. A member of the lutjanid family which include all the “tropical snapper” they look a lot like Mangrove Jacks but with a deep golden hue and, particularly in the smaller sizes, have a dark blotch (thumb/fingerprint) towards the tail. I love fishing for these on the larger tides and early flood, which in our neck of the woods always coincides with a full or new moon. An evening spent in the deep hole at what is locally known as “the 5 ways” in a system called “The Inlet”, located  in the North Western corner of Repulse Bay. Located about 20 25 39.6 S and 148 48 15.2 E, have a look at this on Google Earth. It is just about a creek fisherman’s idea of heaven. Barra, Crabs, Jack and, of course, finger-mark. To fish this system, as we just did, as the golden “super moon” crested the mangroves was an awe inspiring experience. A dead calml night just made it even more special as was the run back across the bay to the ramp in the Proserpine River by the light of the moon. The only thing missing was live herrings. No matter how hard I tried I could not find any herring and these baits are the difference between an ordinary “bite” and a hot one. There were clearly plenty of fish in the area but these are very fussy feeders and really only respond well to live herrings or prawns. None the less we got enough for a feed and this is my absolute favourite eating fish from our local creeks. Treat it well and treat it simply. Nothing more than a light dust of seasoned flour and pan fried in a little olive oil and clarified butter with a squeeze of lemon and a little salt and cracked pepper. This is “the” best eating fish in North Queensland but seldom appears in fish shops and restaurants as it requires too much specialist effort to catch them.