Commonly referred to as Nanny’s!
Nannygai are commonly referred to as red fish due to their bright red colouration, they are generally encountered as a by catch whilst fishing for other popular demersal species such as the iconic Western Australian Dhu fish. Nannygai are an incredibly sharp, spiky fish that deserve to be handled with respect by anglers with wet, soft hands!
Nannygai can be located from as far south as Albany right up to the Jurien Bay region throughout Western Australia and are also found in good numbers from TAS through to S.A., VIC and N.S.W.
Nannygai are a very slow growing species that begin their lives in shallow reef systems ranging from 10 – 30 meters in depth before moving to deeper waters to mature. Nannygai can reach a maximum length of around 50cm although are most commonly encountered in the 20 – 30cm bracket here in Australia.
Nannygai prefer deeper, cooler waters of around 100 – 500 meters when adults and shallow inshore reef systems and wrecks when juveniles. Very rarely will nannygai be located around anything but rough reef or metal structures!
Nannygai can be easily distinguished from their closely related cousins the swallow tail and red snapper by their red eye colouration and smallish tail fins. Larger red snapper have a prominent white stripe running horizontally down the side of the fish and swallow tail are generally much smaller and have much longer tail fins. Red snapper also have a yellow eye colouration compared to the red eye of the true southern nannygai.
Nannygai are a smallish species with many bones, the flesh is firm , white and very tasty!
Nannygai are generally encountered as a bi catch whilst targeting other popular demersal species such as the iconic Western Australian Dhu fish and do not put up a very good account for themselves on the medium to heavy tackle they are often landed on.
As most nannygai encounters occur whilst targeting other more popular species it is important to arm yourself with the right gear in case you hook a larger, more popular species. Medium to heavy spin or overhead tackle is well suited to targeting nannygai from a boat with medium to heavy strength braided, gel spun or nylon lines with a breaking strain of 30 – 80lb proving ideal. 80 – 150lb 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.
Most standard bottom fishing baits such as cut fish strips, squid and octopus will suffice for most nannygai situations with lures such as soft plastics and metal jigs also proving deadly on this species in southern, Australian waters. Paternoster or drift baiting rigs made from 80 – 120lb nylon are normally used to target most demersal species including nannygai in deeper waters to 100 meters.
Put a glove on before handling these sharp, spiky little fish and don’t ever be afraid to use one as a live bait, big yellow fin tuna just love them!
Being a deep water species time of day really doesn’t seem to worry these fish too much although tidal movement and current plays a very important roll as it does when targeting any deep water species.