Commonly referred to as black arse!
The break sea cod or black arse as it is most commonly referred to is a fantastic eating fish that is closely related to the coral trout. They are a species endemic to Western Australia that is generally taken as bi catch whilst targeting other popular demersal species placing them under serious threat from over fishing. It is said that apart from the harlequin fish the break sea cod are the coral trout of the south!
The break sea cod is a species endemic to Western Australia and can be encountered throughout W.A. waters from as far south as the Recherche archipelago, Esperance in the south up to as far north as Shark Bay.
Break sea cod share the same family group as the coral trout (Ephinephilidae) and begin their lives as females maturing and spawning at a length of 23cm and 3 years of age. Males mature at a much later stage of 27cm at age 4 years. Break sea cod spawn from December through to April and can live for up to 21 years although fish aged between 2 – 10 years are more commonly encountered by recreational anglers.
Break sea cod are a temperate water species that congregate over offshore reefs ranging in depth from 10 – 100 meters. They can also be encountered when drifting over flat rubble or coral bottoms and under water wrecks.
Break sea cod are similar in shape to most cod species with small sharp teeth designed for grasping and holding onto small prey items. They vary in colouration depending on the water depth they are caught from with fish caught in shallow waters ranging in colouration from dark green/brown to brown and fish from deeper water appearing bright red/orange and yellow. Break sea cod have a powerful concave shaped tail and has dark chocolate brown bands on the rear fins and tail cordal.
The break sea cod is excellent eating especially when seasoned and baked whole in the oven.
The break sea cod is considered to be more of a table fish than a sport fish.
Light to medium bottom fishing combos spooled with braided or gel spun lines of between 20 – 30lb are ideal for targeting break sea cod although as most break sea cod encounters occur whilst fishing for other demersal species most bottom fishing outfits should be fine.
Standard bottom fishing baits such as pilchards, squid, octopus and fresh fish strips will all work well on break sea cod as will soft plastic lures in shallow waters and metal and octopus style jigs out deeper. Most standard bottom fishing rigs are effective for targeting break sea cod including the interchangeable bottom rig.
Always use the best quality bait you can obtain and try to present it to your intended target species as naturally as possible. Bait quality and presentation are key factors when it comes to all facets of fishing. Try to maintain contact with the sea floor at all times whilst bottom fishing with baits or lures, this is after all where the demersal fish live.
Tide changes at any time of the day will trigger most demersal species including break sea cod into feeding especially when coinciding with low light periods such as dawn and dusk. Light S/W winds of 5 – 10 knots are also favourable whilst drifting deeper water for demersal species and also tends to bring fish on the bite opposed to very calm or the dreaded easterly wind conditions which often tend to shut bites down in some locations.