Scott’s Species – Red Bass – the mangrove jack look-alike

Red bass

Lutjanus bohar

Eating: 3.5 stars

ID – Forked caudal fin, deep nostril grove forward of eyes. Brown colour to the top of the body with deep red flanks, yellow colouration of the eye.

One of the toughest fish on the reef, red bass are a striking looking species and a powerful predator.

Growing to 90cm and around 15 kilos while boasting a serious set of fangs, they are generally found around structure in shallow water, although they are known to travel in depths of over 100m.

Red bass are a great looking fish and love hitting surface lures.

They look a lot like mangrove jack and have inherited the same aggressive predatory smash-and-grab characteristics, often charging well up from the bottom to annihilate lures before trying to storm back to structure as quickly as they can.

All my encounters with red bass have been while chasing giant trevally along fringing reefs, and they are a regular bycatch when fishing this way. They are usually found around inshore or offshore coral reefs, with locations like Ningaloo, Monte Bellos and Rowley Shoals known for them.

They are usually distributed from Carnarvon up further north. While they don’t have the power and size of a big GT, they are a strong fish in their own right and put up a great fight on suitable tackle.

This Fiji red bass hit a stickbait worked over the edge of a coral reef.

They are happy to come to the surface to hit a popper or stickbait, usually accompanied with a vivid red flash that leaves little doubt as the identity of the fish trying to bullock straight back to the bottom. They will also take trolled lures and jigs and are believed to be very active at night. Because they fight ‘dirty,’ strong tackle is needed to catch red bass, with most taken on GT-type spinning gear.

On a recent trip to the Rowley Shoals we were constantly entertained by them while on the mooring inside the lagoon. Groups of big bass would hang around the boat looking for food scraps, especially at night when small baitfish were attracted to the lights. Every now and then there would be a massive splash as a bass took out an unfortunate baitfish on the edge of the light.

They are certainly a prolific species around the Rowley’s and the lagoon had loads of them. I’ve caught them along the Ningaloo Reef, where a mate Glenn Edwards actually got one on fly. I’ve also caught them in Vanuatu and Fiji.

They are good eating by all reports, but in other parts of the world such as the Pacific nations they are not considered an eating fish due to the danger of ciguatera poisoning. However, this is not believed to be an issue in WA.

Red bass are prolific at the Rowley Shoals, where Ross Italiano picked up this beauty.

Continue Reading

February 28, 2024

Salmon Slam is back for 2024!

Scanning waves off  epic southern beaches for large black patches, launching lures out the back of the surf and doing spectacular battle with tough-fighting fish – yep, it’s salmon time again! It’…

Read More

February 28, 2024

Keep up to date on South Coast Marine Parks with Recfishwest updates

We were on the South Coast last week talking to local fishers like Mitchell Waideman and hearing their concerns about the State Government’s South Coast Marine Parks proposals. Hear what Esperance Land Based…

Read More

February 27, 2024

Great monthly prizes up for grabs in 2024 for Recfishwest members!

As a thank you to our cast of thousands of Recfishwest free and premium members for their support, we’re giving away some cracking prizes every month courtesy of our partners Shimano!  Shimano has not only…

Read More

February 27, 2024

Tuna already tuned in to Recfishwest’s new exclusive members’ lure – the Fish Catcher 3000!

Recfishwest’s latest membership lure started its journey from inside the creative mind of a ten-year-old, then travelled to the Halco lure production team before finding itself inside a tuna’s mouth in…

Read More

February 27, 2024

Cherished South-West fishing platform reopened thanks to Shire of Dardanup’s heroics

A big Recfishwest shout out to the Shire of Dardanup for restoring a much-loved and popular jetty for the South-West community and recognising how important it is for the well-being of fishers.  Back in May of 2023…

Read More

February 22, 2024

Metro southern garfish ban lifted

In good news for metro anglers, the ban on southern garfish from Lancelin to Myalup is due to be lifted from Friday 1 March.   The ban was implemented in 2017 after an assessment by the Fisheries Department showed…

Read More