Groper, Harpuka

(Polyprion oxygenious)

Commonly referred to as Harpuka!

Harpuka or harpuku as they are also referred to are another deep water demersal species that is only just now being discovered by most Australian anglers. They are also found throughout other deep water locations around the world and thanks to this there is more information available regarding the harpuka than most deep water species.  The violent, vacuum feeding pattern of the harpuka groper has been known to tear rod and reel outfits from anglers grips and is something that really has to be experienced to be believed!

Distribution

Harpuka can be located from as far south as the Albany region and north to Coral Bay throughout Western Australia. They can also be found in eastern deep water locations such as the continental shelf from Tasmania up into northern N.S.W.

Growth

Harpuka are a relatively slow growing, long living species of deep water demersal that can live for up to 60 years or more reaching a total length of around 1.8 meters, weighing as much as 70 kilograms.

Habitat

Harpuka prefer deeper ledges and canyons with water depths ranging from 200 – 500 meters here in Australia.

Identification

Harpuka groper are a dark to light brown colouration across the upper body with a lighter cream to light brown coloured belly section. They have an enormous mouth full of small, sharp teeth designed for grasping onto live prey items before swallowing them whole. They possess large, powerful paddle tails and a much longer, flatter  head shape compared to that of the Bass  groper which is both rounder and larger.

Taste rating

  • Eighty Taste Rating
    80%

Harpuka like most deep water demersal species are exceptionally good eating.

Sport rating

  • Eighty Sport Rating
    80%

Harpuka are a large, and incredibly powerful fish that are extremely difficult to extract from their deep underwater locations.

Tackle requirements

Heavy tackle is needed to target these large deep water fish with 80lb rods coupled with powerful electric reels with large line capacities preferred. Large 50 – 80 class game reels with dual speeds are also used by anglers who do not chase deep water species often enough to warrant the expense of electric reels. 80 – 100lb braided lines are a must for fishing such extreme depths and allow anglers to maintain contact with their rig in even the most extreme of water depths. Nylon leaders are not necessary as braided lines are generally tied straight to the rig in these depths to increase feel for the angler

Recommended baits, lures and rigs

Large, sturdy baits such as whole mullet and squid are best suited to ultra deep water situations and remain intact throughout long descents to the sea floor. Long triple sectioned Paternoster style rigs are preferred for targeting deep water species such as harpuka groper. These rigs are generally made from 150 – 250lb nylon and have large, strong, three way swivels incorporated into them to prevent line twist on such long descents. Large circle style hooks, big baits and bright light sticks are also used to attract fish in the deep, dark, cold water.

Handy hints and tips

Using bait cotton to secure baits to hooks helps when fishing such extreme depths. Using the swell to assist in lifting and winding will save you a lot of energy at the end of a long deep water session!

Preferred fishing times and tides

Rising or full tides are best suited for targeting most fish 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  deep water demersal’s.

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