Emperor, Blue Lined

(Lethrinus laticaudis)

Commonly referred to as Tricky, black or N/W snapper!

Blue lined emperor are an abundant northern, inshore species that are often encountered whilst fishing for other more desirable demersal species such as coral trout etc. As their Nick name the tricky snapper suggests they are quite tricky to hook at times this is possibly due to the use of big hooks and baits designed for larger species.

Distribution

Blue lined emperor can be located from as far south as Shark bay up through the magnificent Kimberley region throughout Western Australia and are also found in good numbers in Queensland and the Northern Territory. They generally frequent water depths of around 5 – 50 meters.

Growth

Blue lined emperor grow to around 6kg in weight and reach sexual maturity at around 30cm in length although a typical sized Blue lined emperor is around 45cm in most locations.

Habitat

Blue lined emperor are found in shallow reef, sand and mud areas with water depths ranging from 5 – 50 meters. Areas of sand stone found in warm, shallow water will often have these tasty fish sheltering inside! Smaller, juvenile fish are generally encountered in estuary systems and shallow weed beds.

Identification

Blue lined emperor are a beautifully marked emperor species with short, bright, blue lines radiating from the eyes that do not extend down the cheeks like spangled emperor. They are often dark, chocolate brown in body colouration with lighter blotches or markings present throughout. The blue spots located on the blue lined emperor’s cheeks are typically smaller than those found on blue spotted emperor. Each individual scale of the blue lined emperor has a dark brown streak to it.

Taste rating

  • Seventy Taste Rating
    70%

Great fish to bake, steam, or pan fry whole.

Sport rating

  • Seventy Sport Rating
    70%

Blue lined emperor can be dirty fighters amongst shallow coral but are typically quite manageable on most rod and reel combos.

Tackle requirements

Light to medium spin or overhead tackle is well suited to targeting Blue lined emperor from shore or from boat with light braided, gel spun or nylon lines with a breaking strain of 20 – 30lb proving ideal. 40 – 80lb 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. Medium bottom fishing or jigging outfits in either spin or overhead styles are more typically suited for fishing deeper water to 50 meters.

Recommended baits, lures and rigs

Most standard bottom fishing baits such as cut fish strips, squid and octopus will suffice for most blue lined emperor situations with lures such as soft plastics, metals and sub surface stick baits also proving deadly on this species in shallow waters. Paternoster or drift baiting rigs made from 80 – 120lb nylon are normally used to target blue lined emperor in deeper waters to 50 meters.

Handy hints and tips

Using smaller, circle styled hooks will account for a much better hook up rate when targeting tricky species with smaller mouths.  “ You can catch big fish on small hooks but not small fish on big hooks! Down sizing lures, leaders and mainlines will account for a much better strike rate!

Preferred fishing times and tides

Rising or full tides are best suited for targeting blue lined emperor around most areas although some deep water locations will also produce good numbers of fish during low and falling tides. New moon phases are also preferable for most fish species.

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