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The breaksea cod is a saltwater fish species in the Serranidae family. It is also known as the black-arse cod, or the tiger cod. The common name (black-arse) comes from a distinctive black blotch surrounding the anus of the fish. This fish is native to the waters around Australia, and inhabits open seas, shallow seas, aquatic beds, and coral reefs. They can mainly be found throughout Western Australia from as far south as the Recherche archipelago, Esperance in the south up to as far north as Shark Bay. It is a fantastic eating fish and is closely related to the coral trout.
Breaksea cod spawn from December through April and can live up to 21 years old, although most are commonly caught between the ages of 2 to 10 years old. They grow rapidly the first 8 years, and growth generally stops all together at around thirteen years. As a member of the Ephinephilidae family, they are considered batch spawners, which means they breed once or twice a month during their spawning season. They are a temperate water species that prefer to hang out at depths from ten to one hundred meters deep. Breaksea cod closely resemble other cod species, with small sharp teeth used for grasping and holding onto small prey. A cool fact about this fish is that they vary in color depending on the water depth from which they are caught, with fish from the shallower water ranging in color from dark green and brown to fish from the deeper water often being a bright red, orange, and yellow in color. They have powerful, concave tails with dark bands that help them navigate the seas in which they live.
The best equipment for catching these fish is a light to medium bottom fishing combo spooled with braided lines of 20 to 30 lbs., although many are caught using much heavier equipment as they are usually caught while fishing for much larger fish species. Standard bottom fishing baits such as pilchard, squid, octopus, and fresh fish all will work well on breaksea cod. Soft plastic lures can also work in shallower water, while metal jigs can work in the deeper depths. Whatever you decide to go with, always use the best quality bait that you can obtain and try to present it as naturally as possible. The quality and presentation are important factors that will help fool fish and help catch even more. Another important note is fishing at tide changes. These fish are most active then, especially during periods of low light such as dawn and dusk. A slight breeze or wind can also help, as this keeps the fish a little more active than in stable conditions. These fish can generally be easy to catch, and as such are more regarded as a table or food fish than as a sport fish. They can be especially good to catch when other prime species like snapper are proving difficult to catch. They can grow to a decent size to make a good fillet, some recorded as 55cm and weighing up to 3kg, but most will be around a kilo with a good one around 1.5 kilos. They are a curious fish, and will often approach divers for a closer look.
While not considered the most sought after fish in the ocean, the breaksea cod can be fun to catch and break up the monotony while fishing for other sport fish species. Since they taste good as well, you could even enjoy a nice meal on the boat while waiting. So reel them in and enjoy!