parrot fish, kelpie, bluehead, winter bream
Minimum size: 30 cm
Bag limit: 5 (wrasse species combined)
Possession limit: 10 (wrasse species combined)
Identifying features: Blue throat wrasse females are orange brown with a broad dark saddle across the back. The males have the distinctive blue throat and bull head. This fish changes sex from female to male and in doing so, their colouration and general appearance becomes distinctly different. This results in many anglers assuming they are different species.
Grows to: Up to 50 cm and 4 kg.
Habitat: Wrasse are commonly found wherever reefs are present all around the Tasmanian coast where they will aggressively compete with other fish species for territory and food. This behaviour makes them prone to easy capture by fishing from rocks, wharves and boats.
Fishing information: Wrasse will take a variety of fish flesh baits, squid and even lures when fishing with rod and line. A good fighting fish, they have strong teeth which can weaken light fishing line to the point of breaking, therefore fishers may wish to use traces of heavier gauge leader material. A characteristic of wrasse is that, when hooked, they will dive in between rock crevices or weed in an effort to evade capture.
Responsible fishing tips: Use barbless or circle hooks to minimise hook damage. Wrasse may suffer barotrauma when the swim bladder of hooked fish expands if brought up from deep water. To avoid barotrauma, bring the fish slowly to the surface. Use a release weight to return it to the sea floor if you are not retaining it. Only vent the swim bladder if you’re experienced in carrying out this procedure correctly.
Handling: Handle with care as wrasse can bite and they have sharp dorsal spines that can easily be damaged.
Cooking: The flesh of this fish is white and reasonable eating, providing moisture is not lost during the cooking process.
Fish illustrations by Peter Gouldthorpe