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.

The Many Faces of Coral Trout

Wonderful Spring weather has blessed the Whitsundays over recent weeks with mainly clear skies and calm seas. As well as a great time to holiday in the region it is also a great time for fishermen with an abundance of all the prized reef fish available. The undisputed king of all being the highly acclaimed Coral trout, in all its many guises. I visited Whitsunday Seafood’s in Carlo Drive this morning, just as they starting to process the days catch. Destined for the resorts and restaurants of the area they also have  retail outlets, both at the factory front in Carlo Drive and at Abel Point Marina and are soon to open a “Fish & Chippy” at Port of Airlie next to Denman’s Cellars. We have been buying of Matt, Murry and the crew for a couple of years now and are delighted to have formed a close relationship with these passionate suppliers. All about providence and locavore supply. There are many varieties of Coral trout, in fact 7 clearly distinct varieties, all identical on the plate but vastly different in pattern and colouration, all the way from deep vivid red, through the oranges, browns, greens and blacks to the more outlandish footballer, passionfruit and leopard trout. Leopards are the rarest and I have only ever seen 2 in all the years dealing with these fish but to help you understand some of the many faces of our wonderful trout I have posted some photos and details. A bit like fingerprints every spot pattern, even within the sub species of trout if different on every fish.

1. Head shot of a common coral trout called a “strawberry trout”, caught usually in deep water.

2. Same shot of a common coral trout called a “black”, usually caught in shallow water but less “common”.

3. 3 different coloured “commons”. Strawberry, Black and one a variation and just called a “Trout”. Again a shallow water (less the 15 meters) fish.

4. Face shot of a “footballer trout”, called so for reasons very obvious in the next photos. Also known as a “Collingwood”.

5. A whole “footballer”. These turn up anywhere but usually in the shallows. One train of thought is that “Footballers” turn into “blue spots” as they get bigger but this is clearly not the case when you can catch footballer’s bigger then blue spots.

6. Face shot of a “Blue Spot Trout”. Also called an “Oceanic”. Similar in its face to a common but with larger blue spots, much larger spots down its body.

7. Body shot of a Blue Spot.

8. Another Blue Spot but much darker fish.

9. Face shot of a “Bar Cheek”, or “Island trout”. As the name suggests these are caught around the islands but only seldom on the reef. The face patterns vary enormously but always large irregular shaped and bright fluorescent blue spots on its face and flanks and generally a pale burnt orange colour. 

10. A big Bar Cheek I caught last week. Look at the 2 very different "fingerprints" face patterns of this fish and the one above.

11. A multi coloured bin full at Whitsundays Seafood’s. Greenies, Stanberry, Pink, Footballer and a dark blue spot all clearly visible.

So that is just one part of the fabulous Coral trout story. The other part is best enjoyed “on the plate”, I just happen to know a seafood restaurant in Airlie Beach with an abundant supply right now!!