Bass, Red

(Lutjanus bohar)

Commonly referred to as Red bass!

The Red bass is considered to be one of the toughest species of fish in the ocean. They have a powerful jaw full of razor sharp teeth, a broad, muscular body with a strong, wide tail and are capable of inflicting some serious punishment on all fishing tackle and its owner! They play by no rules and are second only to the giant trevally when it comes to power and strength around the reef. A rare and truly worthy adversary indeed!


Red bass distribution throughout W.A. extends from as far south as Exmouth up to the Kimberley region and out to the Christmas and Cocos Island groups. They are also encountered in good numbers throughout the magnificent Great Barrier Reef region in QLD.


Red bass grow to a maximum length of 75cm and can live for up to 56 years. This makes them an incredibly long living, slow growing species that should be treated with the upmost of respect. Male Red bass mature at around 30cm in length and around one and a half years of age where as females mature at a much larger size of 43cm and nine and a half years of age. Most red bass encountered throughout Australia average around 4 – 5kg depending on location.


Red bass prefer coastal island groups and isolated mainland areas that have seen very little human traffic. Healthy reef systems ranging from 4 – 180 meters in depth are considered to be the domain of the Red bass although most encounters occur in depths of  10 – 70 meters. Steep ledges and drop offs as well as shallow coral bomboras are always great places to find Red bass in tropical,
northern Australian waters as are some sheltered bays and lagoons.


Red bass as their name suggests are a deep red colouration with chocolate brown/black shadings along their broad, muscular dorsal flanks and dorsal fin tips. Deep grooves run from the nostrils along to the eyes which are yellow with a black pupil. They have a large set of teeth and a powerful concaved tail.

Taste rating

  • Zero Taste Rating

Red bass are infamous for causing ciguatera poisoning when eaten and are more regarded as a top notch sport fish than a table fish species.

Sport rating

  • Ninety Sport Rating

If they jumped they would have received a perfect 10 out of 10 rating! A visually stunning and powerful species indeed!

Tackle requirements

Medium to heavy jigging and casting rods matched with high quality over head or spinning reels loaded with 30 – 80lb braided lines are needed to stop big Red bass. Nylon and fluorocarbon leaders also need to be on the heavy side and breaking strains of 100 – 150lb are commonly used.

Recommended baits, lures and rigs

Red bass are more commonly than not caught on bait as a bi catch  with more productive and exciting methods for chasing the species proving to be casting large, surface lures or working big, metal jigs up from the depths. Most big knife jigs and large surface lures including cup faced poppers and sub surface stick baits will work on Red bass but remember, these fish are mean and can seriously pull string so make sure all lures and terminal tackle is super strong.

Handy hints and tips

Red bass are an aggressive predatory species that enjoy hunting live prey making them a perfect target for anglers casting and retrieving lures. Try cup faced poppers and sub surface stick baits in shallow areas of 4 – 10 meters of water and metal jigs worked vertically in deeper situations. Red bass also like to hunt on nights with a bright moon, profiling bait fish and baby turtles against the bright sky before exploding into attack. Black night crawlers and dark sub surface lures are perfect for targeting Red bass in these mind blowing situations.

Preferred fishing times and tides

Rising and falling tides are ideal hunting times for Red bass as they shelter from the racing waters behind solid structure in wait for their prey to be washed past.  Both full and slack tides are more suited for deeper water and allow anglers to send their offerings down to desired depths without having to contend with water currents.  Bright nights around a full moon are best suited for targeting Red bass in super shallow water.


[What The Fish]