Commonly referred to as Pearlys!
Pearl perch are the only fish species of fish in our oceans that are similar in appearance to that of the iconic Western Australian Dhu fish. Their name derives from the blue, black coloured shield like bone that protrudes from the upper operculum, when the skin is removed from the supracleithrum a pearly white bone is revealed. Pearlys are a highly sort after species that are exceptionally good on the plate!
Pearlys are a highly sought after table fish along the coast of northern N.S.W. and southern QLD. They can also be located from Carnarvon to Onslow in W.A.
Pearl perch can grow to around 70cm in length and weigh as much as 6kg although most fish encountered throughout Australia average around 2 – 3kg in weight.
Pearl perch prefer warmer, tropical waters ranging from 30 – 90 meters in depth with healthy coral reef present. They also seem to like steep coral drop offs, wrecks and pinnacles.
Pearl perch are very similar in appearance to the iconic Western Australian Dhu fish without the dark markings, they are a short, stocky fish with exceptional eating qualities. Each scale has a golden brown spot present and the second dorsal fin is higher than the first. There is a dark spot located at the base of the last dorsal rays fin and juvenile specimens have a brown line which passes diagonally through the eye.
Pearl perch are exceptional eating and is similar tasting to W.A. Dhu fish!
Pearl perch are more regarded for their eating qualities than their sporting abilities.
Medium spin or overhead tackle is well suited to targeting pearl perch with medium strength braided, gel spun or nylon lines with a breaking strain of 30 – 50lb proving ideal. 80 – 100lb nylon 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. Medium bottom fishing or jigging outfits in either spin or overhead styles are more typically suited for fishing deeper water to 90 meters.
Most standard bottom fishing baits such as cut fish strips, squid and octopus will suffice for most pearl perch situations with lures such as soft plastics and metal jigs also proving deadly on this species in northern waters. Paternoster or drift baiting style rigs made from 80 – 100lb nylon or fluoro carbon are ideal for targeting pearl perch in most northern waters.
Try to use as fresh a bait as possible and present it in a long strip styled fashion with two snelled hooks. Most importantly remember to let the fish eat it! Don’t pull it away at the first sign of interest.
Low light periods such as dawn and dusk with a rising tide are best for targeting pearl perch in shallow areas and high or low tide changes are best suited for deeper conditions.