Perch, Scarlet sea

(Lutjanus malabaricus)

Commonly referred to as large mouth nannygai!

A member of the lutjanid family the scarlet sea perch has been referred to under many names over the years, large mouth nannygai, scarlet sea perch, red fish, saddle tail sea perch, scarlet snapper and probably many more. They are a vibrantly pink coloured, spectacular looking species that are exceptionally good on the table. Definitely one of the most prized and powerful reef fish our beloved country has to offer!


Scarlet sea perch can be located from as far south as Carnarvon right up to the magnificent Kimberley region throughout W.A. and also from northern QLD up into the N.T.


Scarlet sea perch can grow to around 97cm in length and weigh as much as 15kg although most fish encountered throughout Australia average around 4 – 6kg in weight.


Scarlet sea perch prefer deeper, tropical waters from 50 – 250 meters in depth with healthy coral reef present. They can also be encountered around deep water wrecks and abandoned rig structures.


Scarlet sea perch can be easily identified by their bright pink colouration which is similar in appearance to that of its closely related cousin the crimson tailed sea perch. With the only way of telling the two apart being the crimson has a much smaller head and mouth. The scarlet or saddle tailed sea perch as its name suggests has a saddle like dip located towards the base of the tail.

Taste rating

  • Ninety Taste Rating

Scarlet sea perch are exceptional eating fish cooked any way!

Sport rating

  • Eighty Sport Rating

Scarlet sea perch are a powerful species that will give their best all the way to the boat.

Tackle requirements

Medium to heavy spin or overhead tackle is well suited to targeting scarlet sea perch 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. Medium to heavy bottom fishing or jigging outfits in either spin or overhead styles are more typically suited for fishing deeper water to 100 meters and electric reels will be needed for water depths of 400 meters plus.

Recommended baits, lures and rigs

Most standard bottom fishing baits such as cut fish strips, squid and octopus will suffice for most scarlet sea perch situations with lures such as soft plastics and metal jigs also proving deadly on this species in northern waters. Paternoster or drift baiting rigs made from 80 – 120lb nylon are normally used to target crimson sea perch in deeper waters to 100 meters and paternoster rigs made from 200lb nylon with large swivels incorporated are necessary for deeper waters of 200 meters plus.

Handy hints and tips

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.

Preferred fishing times and tides

High and low tide changes are best suited for targeting crimson sea perch in deeper waters and low light periods such as dawn and dusk with a rising tide are best for shallow areas. Neep tides are also necessary the further north you travel!


[What The Fish]