Guide Blue Spot Trout – Dan Kaggelis

When it comes to the apex predators of the coral bombies of the Great Barrier Reef, the blue spot coral trout would have to be up there as the top dog.

Growing to over a metre in size and with an attitude best resembling a pit bull terrier, the blue spot trout is in all essence a top line reef brawler.

With an insatiable appetite, the blue spot trout will eat just about anything on the reef including their own kind and are commonly cursed by commercial fishermen for their habits of ‘sharking’ smaller hooked trout on the way in.

That’s right sharks aren’t the only things in the sea that love to chew on a hooked fish and big blue spots are just as bad as the grey tax men at times.

It is all these features which makes the blue spot trout a highly desirable reef species and here are a few ideas to get you started in finding your trophy blue spot.

Before we get into the where and how, it’s interesting to understand how our fishery came to have such a large trophy blue spot trout population.

In a nut shell, there used to be a shortage of blue spot trout as many of the larger fish were taken by fishermen in the years leading up to the changes in size limits in the early 2000s.

Unlike other trout species the blue spot trout has a unique biology where the change from female to male does not occur until 80cm in length.

Therefore, concerns around a sex ratio imbalance saw changes to the size limits with the introduction of a minimum 50cm size limit and a maximum 80cm size limit.

This ‘slot’ limit was also seen as a positive move as much of the larger ‘trophy’ trouts over 80cm were quite often full of ciguatera due to their predatory nature and big appetites for small reef fish which fed specifically on corals which harbored the disease.

One of the consequences of these changes was the resurgence of big blue spot trout taking up residence on offshore reefs effectively creating a whole new sports fishery for both bottom and surface reef fishermen.

This fishery has continued to flourish under GRUMPA’s protection to the point where there is some evidence of a reverse imbalance with too many large male fish over 80cm and not enough smaller females due to cannibalization.

If you are a sport fishermen like myself then this is more good fortune than bad luck as there is not much more in the water I love to hunt then a stonker coral trout!

So where do you find blue spot trout?

Blue spots are found pretty much all over the world in tropical waters. Whilst they are becoming more common here in our waters, they are much more prolific in the pacific around New Caledonia and Vanuatu due to the lack of fishing pressure. Many of the locals chase small reef fish due to ciguatera.

In Queensland, they are more commonly found in waters from the Swains right up the coast.

They are predominately a mid-shelf to off the shelf fish and are not commonly found around coastal reefs or inshore islands.

They do prefer that blue oceanic water and so they typically require a bit of boat travel to get the right grounds.

One of the best things about targeting blue spots is that they can be snared from shallow water right down beyond the 70 metre mark.

These fish never cease to amaze and I have seen fish over the metre mark hanging off shelving reef in less than four feet of water.

These shallow water fish love to reside on broken shelving reef edges especially where the current is pushing bait through.

Often in a semi vertical stance they tend to hold position until they see their prey and attack. This makes them highly susceptible to big poppers or stick baits and even shallow running minnows meant for mackerel which are trolled along the reef edge.

Hard line or unbroken reefs do not seem to attract them as much so look for ledging reef with broken edges as this creates the tidal pressure these fish love.

The bigger the lure the better in my opinion as even fish around 60cm will still eat fish half their size as they have massive mouths and even bigger appetites.

I also prefer to run trebles over singles on lures and poppers as they have a tendency to swipe a lot and miss everything.

In the deeper water blue spots can be targeted in much the same way as you would a normal common trout.

They love isolated deep water structure with plenty of bait especially banana fusiliers.

They love big flapping baits so big flesh baits are the go especially if you can leave some of the wings or tails on.

They are also suckers for both metal and soft plastic jigs. They are a very territorial aggressive fish so anything making noise or causing disruption to the area will draw them out.

When making a choice with metals the Palms slow pitch jigs are deadly on these fish.

The way they flutter through the column ignites their curiosity and they climb all over it.

In terms of soft plastics anything with a big tail or lots of moving parts banged on the bottom is a good start.

They are typically caught in the same areas as green job fish so if you are finding a few of these then you know you are in the game.

No matter how you are fishing for them, be prepared for one hell of a take as they rarely bite and savage baits heading straight down into the reef.

The bigger fish over 60cm will easily pull eight kilograms of drag like you are fishing ten pound and when you only have a metre of water to play with.

They can brick you with ease so make sure you are loaded with some Sunline FC100 leader which can take the punishment of the reef.

It can sometimes be a case of locking up that drag and hanging on because if you can turn their head early you are most likely going to win the fight.

However turning the head of a 10 kilogram monster is sometimes just impossible but it’s a whole lot of fun.

The blue spot trout is an amazing fish and with the current regulations in place building a strong fishery, it makes a lot of sense to get out amongst them and have some fun.