A very lost Pinjalo Snapper
Albany fisherman Russell ‘Rusty’ Burrow was scratching his head after a recent catch off his home town.
Rusty, who runs Rusty’s Marine, does a lot of offshore fishing and has caught most things that swim around Albany, but when he pulled up a fish that looked like a cross between a buff bream and a ruby snapper he was initially puzzled.
He sent me a text message with a picture that I forwarded onto my guru for fish identification, Western Angler columnist and qualified marine biologist Jamie Chester.
Who then replied saying what Rusty had caught while chasing dhufish and red snapper looked like a pinjalo snapper to him.
I immediately got online and searched for this species I’d never heard of, and sure enough it appeared that was what Rusty had pulled from the coolish depths of the Southern Ocean.
Which is a long way from home for a species normally found off Indonesia, occasionally off the Pilbara and not seen south of Port Hedland usually.
How it came to find itself in 75m off the coast of Albany is anyone’s guess, but it was and at around 5.5 kilos and 67cm in length it was a nice specimen too.
Rusty and his son were fishing near Eclipse Island when he caught it, and had spotted a school of fish on the sounder.
They dropped down using baits of herring and squid on paternoster rigs and both hooked up, but only Rusty boated his fish.
Rusty said the fish fought very well all the way to the surface and at first he thought it was a scarlet seaperch, which do turn up off Albany occasionally.
He was taken by the vibrancy of the colours of the fish, saying it was one of the prettiest fish he’d ever caught, the red colouration giving way to a golden-purple hue when viewed from a different angle.
Rusty sent the frame to Fisheries to assist with research and said the fillets made first-class eating.
Given the strength of the Leeuwin Current this year pushing warm water down the coast it is not surprising there were some unusual captures on the south coast but Rusty’s would be one of the rarest.
Rusty said the water temperature was around 20 degrees at the time he caught the pinjalo.
Although it was an unexpected catch and way out of its normal range, Rusty thought it did feel a little bit familiar.
He went back through his photos and discovered he had actually caught a smaller pinjalo snapper in the same area two years earlier.
That fish was around 45cm long, but he didn’t seek identification or give it any more thought until catching his second one. Caption: Russell Burrow with a very lost pinjalo snapper caught off Albany.