Scarlet Sea Perch

by Ryan Moody | Australian Lure Fishing

Tweed River Mangrove Jack Map
Ryan Moody

Ryan Moody

Fishing Guide (Retired), Educator

Ryan started his profession fishing career working on marlin boats in northern Australia before setting up his own guiding business. His 30 years of professional guiding includes over a decade based in Cardwell, where he focused on connecting his clients to estuary and coastal species. Through his career he connected 1800 clients with metre-plus barra. Now retired from guiding, Ryan continues to assist and educate keen anglers with his online courses.

Ryan’s Top Tips For Scarlet Sea Perch

  • It’s not necessary to travel a long way offshore or fish after dark with live baits. Scarlet Sea Perch can be consistently targeted around northern Australia from 1/3 to 2/3 of the way out to the reef, in depths from 15 to 50m.
  • Structures that consistently hold scarlet sea perch include Halamedia (seagrass) mounds, coral islets, and wonky holes.
  • Wonky holes are undersea springs fed by freshwater pushing up through ancient river beds. They create micro ecosystems that scarlet sea perch love. In addition to scarlet sea perch they attract bait such as herring and pilchard, pelagic predators such as Spanish mackerel and cobia, plus a range of demersal reef species such as coral trout, fingermark and red emperor.
  • Wonky holes are everywhere once you start looking. The secret to success is familiarising yourself with a good sounder and learning to recognise these structures.
  • Scarlet sea perch fish best when there is at least some tidal run. Fish can still be caught during the neap but will tend to move off the holes a little. The best tides are the medium sized ones in the week leading up to the full and dark moons, with making tides the prime opportunities.
  • Wonky holes can fish all year round, but are affected by the wet seasons and can be closed down by cyclones.
  • Patches of heavy structure, such as wrecks, tend to hold a lot of fish, but most of them are trevally, triggerfish etc. Fishing these areas requires heavier gear due to the structure, results in a high proportion of unwanted species and comes with the added hassle of sharks taking hooked fish. Ryan passes over these areas, despite and looks for areas where more desirable species (and less sharks) are present.

Ryan’s Preferred Tackle For Scarlet Sea Perch

  • Typical barra fishing gear is perfect for scarlet sea perch.
  • Ryan is currently using a Noeby 10-15 kg jig stick (medium for inshore and heavy for offshore) coupled with a 4000 size Quantum Smoke spinning reel, 20 lb braid and 80lb leader.

Ryan’s Best Sea Perch Lures

  • Slow pitch 60-80g micro jigs are about perfect for this species and yield better results than the larger jigs. They are best fished by lifting then up and down very slowly, rather than the typical mechanical lift-wind approach. Twitch Lures Trout Treats are among Ryan’s favourites and come in a range of natural colours.
  • The Berkley power bait 6″ shad is another great option and is also fished slowly to temp the sea perch. Other 6″ paddle tail style plastics on a 1-2 oz jig head and 7/0 to 8/0 hooks will also work. Choose the jig head to suit the conditions – 1 oz is fine in shallow water with little run, 20 oz may be required in deeper water with a current running.
  • Larger soft vibes such as the Townsville made 150mm Gimps are also effective on scarlet sea perch and tend to take a fair few coral trout, too.

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