Commonly referred to as Giant herring!
The elops or giant herring as it is most commonly referred to is a slightly built, slender fish built for speed and agility. They are famous for their blistering first runs and acrobatics often resulting in surprised anglers being left with trembling hands and limp lines. They are truly one of Australia’s premier sport fish! Elops are also referred to as lady fish in other countries and this name relates to the attractive appearance of the species. The name giant herring is typically an Australian terminology.
Giant herring can be encountered throughout W.A from as far south as Walpole up to as far north as the magnificent Kimberley region although are more commonly encountered from shark bay northwards. Giant’s can also be found in good numbers throughout northern N.S.W, Queensland and the Northern Territory.
Very little is known about the growth rates and breeding cycles of elops here in Australia although it is thought that they can grow as large as 15kg and are a separate, larger species of elops compared to those found in the Atlantic regions (elops saurus). Most elops encountered here in W.A average between 2 – 6kg in weight.
Elops prefer warm, bays, harbours and estuary systems and can often be located feeding along the edge of shallow flats with deep edges and channels near by.
Elops are a long, slender, attractive fish silver in colouration with yellowish tinges when encountered in discoloured waters. They have large eyes and a mouth and jaw that is covered in a coarse sand paper like finish capable of wearing through light leaders like a hot knife through butter. They have a large gill cover that extends up to the base of the head and a single dorsal fin and anal fins half way along the body and look very similar to a milk fish.
As previously mentioned elops are considered to be one of Australia’s premier sport fish and it would therefore be considered sacrilege to kill and eat one! Apparently they are full of tiny bones and quite inedible anyway.
Elops are a fantastic sport fish possessing all the fine qualities expected from a premier sport fishing species.
Light to medium spin and fly tackle is well suited to targeting elops from shore or from boat with light braided, gel spun or nylon lines with a breaking strain of 10 – 20lb proving ideal. 20 – 40lb fluoro carbon leaders should be attached to bright braided or gel spun lines to prevent fish from seeing the line and also to help prevent chafe offs on rough structures, teeth and jaws. 9# – 12# fly lines and tapered leaders of around 20 – 40lb will suit most elops situations around .Australia with heavier fly lines helping to punch fly’s into stiff sea breezes.
Elops feed on small estuarine bait fish such as whiting, mullet and bonney herring, all of which make great live and dead baits when fished on light running sinker rigs. Small 2” – 4” soft plastic’s, metal slices and fly’s are also not only ideal but great fun, less hassle and more interactive for young ones.
Look for areas of shallow flats with large numbers of small bait fish present that are close to deeper channels or drop offs. Cast small lures and fly’s around the edge especially when a stiff sea breeze is blowing after a hot day. Back to back single hooks will increase your hook up to landed ratio considerably. A small, black swivel attached to the front of any spinning lures such as 15g gold, Halco, twisties are also a good idea to prevent line twist after lengthy casting sessions.
Rising or full tides are best suited for targeting elops around flats areas although some deep water locations will also produce good numbers of elops on live baits during low and falling tides.