Tags Fish Guide

Queen Snapper

Tags Fish Guide
Category: High Risk

QUEEN SNAPPER are a very impressive fish straight from the water. Though viewed by some anglers as the poor man’s snapper, the queen snapper is in fact a morwong – a southern blue morwong to be exact – but is frequently just called a queenie. Rock anglers fishing south-west and southern waters encounter them but mainly it’s boating anglers who get to take home a queenie.
However very few would actually target queen snapper, which tend to be a bycatch of anglers seeking snapper and dhufish. Queenies are often a chance on these trips because they respond to the same baits presented in the same locations. In fact I can still recall trips saved by a couple of good sized queen snapper. Indeed I was on our cover holding one such trip-saving fish, and my smile said it all.
Unfortunately I don’t hold queen snapper in high regard when it comes to a fish dinner, preferring to cook it Italian-style with lots of tomatoes, onions and some chillies. I reckon it needs that sort of help.

Identifying queen snapper is very easy, given that not even other morwong look anything like them. At times, though, they can be more silvery than blue in colour. Yellow lines around the head, a long filament on the pectoral fin and blubbery lips make queen snapper distinctly identifiable.

The queen snapper record is 11.36 kilos – an absolute thumper. But a good fish is four or five kilos, and a queenie of around three kilos is a nice keeper. These days larger fish tend to be found in deeper water, partly due to fishing pressure

Queen snapper are found from the South Australian border up as far as Lancelin, and they range from inshore rock and reefy country out to the Continental Shelf. They are known to feed on cowries, which is why some good shells have been found in the stomachs of queenies.

Breeding and migration

Queen snapper are believed to breed inshore and move to deeper water as they grow, but little is known about their breeding or migration.

Recreational and commercial fishing can impact on queen snapper stocks and it’s likely that this has already occurred around major areas of fishing activity. However there are no indications of any serious stock depletions along the WA coastline.

Tackle and bait
Many anglers rate squid as the top bait for queen snapper, but they are also taken on cuttlefish, octopus and cocktails of fish and squid. Queenies are suckers for some smart berleying with either a berley bag tied off to the rocks or a berley bomb when boat fishing. But even berleying won’t draw them too far from the rocks and reef lumps.

Fishing methods
Queen snapper can be found around reef and granite dropoffs in our southern waters. Ideal locations for shore-based anglers are where granite boulders shelve into deep water, such as the areas around the islands of the Recherche Archipelago off Esperance. Shore fishermen should look for patches of sand between weed and rocks, and not necessarily big patches of sand. A spoon sinker rig will help to avoid snags, and it’s worth using a piece of foam in or above the bait to keep it away from the bottom (as well as rays and other pickers). Standard dropper rigs for drift fishing will score the occasional queenie for boat anglers seeking dhuies and snapper.

References: Sea Fishes of Southern Australia by Barry Hutchins and Roger Swainston. Compiled with the assistance of the Marine Research Branch of the West Australian Department of Fisheries, and Darren Monks.
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