Groper, bald chin

(Choerodon rubescens)

Commonly referred to as baldie’s!

Bald chin groper would have to be one of the most highly prized and sort after demersal species in Western Australia. They are not only fantastic eating but also provide anglers with a solid battle when encountered on the right tackle. The bald chin groper is a species that is endemic to W.A.

Distribution

Bald chin groper can be located from as far south as the Geographe Bay region and north to Coral Bay throughout Western Australia.

Growth

As is the case with most groper species bald chin begin their lives as females and mature at around 27cm in length. They then grow to around 48 – 55cm in length or 10 – 12 years of age where they change sex and become male. Baldie’s can grow to over 7kg in weight and measure as much as 90cm in length although most fish encountered throughout W.A are typically around the 2 – 4kg mark.

Habitat

Bald chin groper prefer areas of coral reef with sections of sand and weed present. Broken coral or rumble bottoms are also great locations to target Baldie’s with water depths ranging from 10 – 60 meters proving ideal.

Identification

Bald chin groper as their name suggests can easily be identified by the pale, white colouration of the chin. They have a blunt head shape with small eyes set high above the mouth which contains large peg like teeth deigned for crushing prey items such as crabs, urchins and shell fish. There are two typical colourations of bald chin with the smaller female being a bright orange, red to yellow colour and the larger males a light blue to green colour.

Taste rating

  • One hundred Taste Rating
    100%

Bald chin are one of the most fantastic table fish in W.A!

Sport rating

  • Seventy Sport Rating
    70%

Baldie’s make a great account for themselves when hooked on the right tackle and terrain.

Tackle requirements

Light to medium spin or overhead tackle is well suited to targeting baldies in shallow water 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 60 meters. Shore based fishing for bald chin groper is often attempted from the treacherously high, rocky Western Australian coastline and requires strong, sturdy tackle such as Alvey 651 C5 reels loaded with heavy 50 – 60lb nylon lines attached to long powerful rods capable of lifting around 4 – 6kg from the ground.

Recommended baits, lures and rigs

Most standard bottom fishing baits such as cut fish strips, squid and octopus will suffice for most bald chin situations with lures such as soft plastics, octopus jigs and metal jigs also proving deadly on this species. Paternoster or drift baiting rigs made from 80 – 120lb nylon are normally used to target baldie’s  in deeper waters to 60 meters.

Handy hints and tips

Try to use fresh baits and smaller hooks when targeting baldie’s!

Preferred fishing times and tides

Rising or full tides are best suited for targeting most demersal species 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 including bald chin groper.

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