Barracouta

Other names: couta, snoek, barracuda

Scientific name:Thyrsites atun

Minimum size: None

Bag limit: 15

Possession limit: 30

Identifying features: Barracouta have a long, narrow, scaly body. They are steely blue above and bright silver below with black dorsal and pectoral fins. Often identified by 3-4 large teeth at the front of their mouth, they also have several rows of smaller triangular teeth.

Grows to: Up to 1.4 metres and 6 kg.

Habitat: A schooling, migratory fish which inhabits open coastal waters and areas where baitfish congregate such as shallow reefs, headlands and deep bays.Young fish are known to enter sheltered bays and large estuaries.

Fishing information: Can be caught by trolling or casting, using lures, baits and barbless hooks with red tags or by jigging around schools of baitfish. Barracouta are voracious feeders and will aggressively attack any small, shiny lure. Use a wire trace to prevent lures being bitten off. May cause the mysterious disappearance of shiny sinkers when bottom fishing in areas they are known to inhabit.

Responsible fishing tips: Once hooked, barracouta bleed easily and shed scales profusely so release over water using a de-hooker.

Handling: Be careful handling barracouta as they have sharp teeth and spines on their back.

Cooking: Barracouta are a tasty eating fish with firm pinkish-white flesh when cooked. Smaller fish have numerous small bones. Larger fish may have a microscopic parasite that causes the flesh to go milky or worms in the gut or flesh. Both are killed by cooking, but barracouta should not be eaten raw. They have medium oil content and are suitable to bake, barbecue, deep fry, grill and shallow fry. Often used to make fish patties.

Fish illustration by Peter Gouldthorpe

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