Commonly referred to as blue bone!
The Venus tusk fish would have to be one of the most highly prized, northern species in Australia. They are not only fantastic eating but also provide anglers with a solid battle when encountered on the right tackle. The species is also commonly referred to by the name of blue bone which derives from the aqua, blue coloured spine and other assorted bones of the fish. There are typically three varieties of blue bone encountered throughout northern Australia, the Venus tusk fish – (Choerodon veustus), the black spotted tusk fish – (Choerodon schoenleinii) and the bald chin groper – (Choerodon rubescens) which is the only one of the three endemic to W.A. waters. The environments in which these fantastic fish are often encountered can also be mind blowing making the Venus tusk fish one of the most highly prized, northern species available.
Venus tusk fish can be located from as far south as the Mackerel Islands and north to the magnificent Kimberley region throughout Western Australia. They are also found on the east coast from northern Queensland right up around the top end of Australia.
As is the case with most groper species Venus tusk fish 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. Blue bone 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.
Venus tusk fish prefer areas of coral reef with sections of sand and weed present. Broken coral or rumble bottoms are also great locations to target blue bone with water depths ranging from 1 – 20 meters proving ideal.
Venus tusk fish can be easily identified by their blue, green body colouration and blunt head shape, they have small eyes set high above the mouth which contains large peg like teeth deigned for crushing prey items such as crabs, urchins, shell fish and corals. The spine and other assorted bones of the fish are aqua, blue in colouration leading to the species other common name the blue bone.
Venus tusk fish are not only one of the most beautiful species in the ocean but are also a fantastic table fish!
Blue bone make a great account for themselves when hooked on the right tackle and terrain.
Light to medium spin or overhead tackle is well suited to targeting blue bone in shallow water from shore or a boat with light braided, gel spun or nylon lines with a breaking strain of 20 – 30lb proving ideal. 80 – 100lb 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 20 meters from a boat. Shore based fishing for Venus tusk fish requires strong, sturdy tackle such as strong, reliable reels loaded with heavy 30 – 50lb nylon lines attached to long powerful rods capable of stopping larger specimens dead in their tracks.
Most northern baits such as fresh crabs, cut fish strips, squid and octopus will suffice for most blue bone situations with lures such as soft plastics, surface lures and metal slices also proving deadly on this species. Paternoster or drift baiting rigs made from 80 – 120lb nylon are normally used to target blue bone in deeper waters to 20 meters.
Try to use fresh baits and smaller, stronger hooks when targeting blue bone!
Rising or full tides are best suited for targeting most northern 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 Venus tusk fish.