Long Nosed Emperor
Category: High Risk
I BELIEVE the very first long-nosed emperor I ever caught was on a trip to the Rowley Shoals in 1978. I caught it in shallow water inside the lagoon at Clerke Reef, where it put up a good show amongst the coral bommies and outcrops. I haven’t seen too many since…In shallow water long-nosed emperor, unlike its spangled, blue-spotted and blue-lined cousins, are generally not encountered in schools, but rather are taken as a by-catch when fishing for other species.
Inshore long-nosed emperor can frequently be found in the company of other emperors. However, when hooked long-nosed emperor will fight as hard as any emperor you are likely to encounter. In fact bigger specimens can occasionally be taken on poppers. When encountered in deeper water, long-nosed emperor are generally a by-catch when fishing for other bottom dwelling species, although at this depth larger schools of fish are likely to be located. On the plate, they are just okay in my book.
Long-nosed emperor, as the name suggests, have a long snout and are typically an overall mottled grey/black colour. They are generally not easily confused with other members of the emperors.
Long-nosed emperor in the 3-5 kilo range are most commonly caught, and any fish nudging upwards of 6-7 kilos is a big one. Having said that I have heard reports of long-nosed emperor up to an estimated 10 kilos being taken at Exmouth in recent times, and that is a seriously big specimen.
Long-nosed emperor are distributed from Ningaloo Reef northwards, with juveniles generally being found in shallower locations.
Breeding and migration
Little is known about the migration of long-nosed emperor. However, given that they can be found inside the shallow reefs and out to 200 metres this may indicate some inshore/offshore migration occurs.
Deep water trawlers, trap boats and wetliners are no doubt significantly impacting the stocks of all emperors, which must be of concern to fisheries managers. Conversely it is unlikely, given the small numbers taken by recreational anglers, that they have much impact at all on the overall stock levels of long-nosed emperor.
Tackle and bait
When fishing deeper water, conventional bottom fishing dropper rigs baited with fresh fish fillets or squid will catch you long-nosed emperor, along with other more common species.
But the best way to tackle them is without doubt in shallow water on lighter tackle ranging from 4-10kg in really rugged underwater terrain. Small baitcasters are fine, but my preference would be a good spinning outfit.
Although they will take a wide variety of baits, as mentioned earlier squid and fillets of fresh fish are the prime choices.
Wading the shallows with a good pair of polarising glasses is a good way to explore a lot of fishing territory in a session. The spinning outfit I would choose in sandy territory comprises a 2m light spin stick, 4kg braid line and a short 10kg mono trace. In more rugged locations I would use 10kg braid with a 15kg mono trace.
Dawn and dusk are by far the best times to fish, even though you can’t see too much in the water when the sun is very low. If I thought I was a chance of catching a decent sized long-nosed emperor on a popper that would be my preferred way to fish – out wide they will also take deep water jigs.
I suspect that they would also be susceptible to well presented soft plastics in the shallows.
References: Marine Fishes of North-Western Australia by Gerry Allen and Roger Swainston.
Compiled with the assistance of Marine Research branch of the West Australian Department of Fisheries.