Legal Length: None
Bag Limit: 20
Habitat: In Australia, pigfish are generally caught in depths between 30m to 60m around the offshore reefs.
Good baits: Prawns, various fish baits, pilchards and squid.
Eastern Pigfish, which are part of the Wrasse family, are distributed in the southwest Pacific from southern Queensland to Victoria, including Lord Howe and Norfolk islands. The species is an outside fish and not normally found in estuaries.
Two other species are caught in small quantities in the NSW fishery. The Goldspot Pigfish is a sub-tropical species that occurs from central Queensland to the north coast of NSW so unlikely to be caught off Tuross. The Yellowfin Pigfish is a temperate species from southeastern Australia and New Zealand. It occurs in catches between central NSW and eastern Victoria.
Eastern Pigfish are more common off our waters around Tuross. Juveniles first develop into male reproductive organs in certain circumstances. The two sexes have distinct colour patterns. Pigfish are pink with thin stripes on the sides of the body and red lines on the head. The lines fade as the fish ages. Males are red above with a pinkish to white region on the sides. They have a black blotch on the dorsal fin and that travels the full length of the back, while the female has various markings with two distinct lines coming from its eyes. If the dominant male is taken from the school a female takes over and changes sex!! What a life!
Eastern pigfish can live to about 30 years of age and can grow up to about 45cm, but the majority of fish caught are between 5 and 15 years old. In Australia, pigfish are generally caught in depths between 30m to 60m around the off shore reefs. Most pigfish are taken as incidental catch by commercial fishers in the Ocean Trap and Line Fishery, or by recreational fishers anchored or drifting for species like Morwong, Snapper, and other reef species. They are very attractive – then again some are not!
Considering Pigfish are an incidental catch one seems to catch them using baits you use for any reef fish. Prawns, various fish baits, pilchards and squid all seem to work on the day if they are on the bite.
Mild to sweet with many fishers claiming they are better than Snapper. This fish is top quality eating. Egg and bread crumbs are great or lightly pan fry the fillets in butter, or try the following microwave recipe below.
Fillet the fish and cook for five minutes per 500g on medium-high, allow another 50 seconds more for thicker fillets, or until flesh flakes. If you prefer whole fish try small fish for three to four minutes and larger fish for 6 minutes and then get into them with some lemon!