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    Black Spot Tuskfish Spearfishing Guide

    February 02, 2024 4 min read

    Black Spot Tuskfish Spearfishing Guide

    The black spot tuskfish, also known as blue bone, is powerful, and heavily armored with beautiful white flesh. They are highly prized in subtropical and tropical Australian waters. 

    Fun fact: Black spot tuskfish are what’s called protogynous hermaphrodites, initially spawning as females and transitioning to males at a larger size! Typically, the largest and most dominant fish in an area becomes the male. 

     

    Tuskfish tend to inhabit specific reefs, staying close after selecting their preferred location and primarily feeding on hard-shelled crustaceans. When smaller, they possess a more pronounced, pointed head, gradually flattening out as they grow, developing a large, pronounced chin, earning them the nickname "pac-man." 

    These fish can reach sizes upwards of 15kg, occasionally reaching around 20kg. The current record, held by Andrew Springer, stands at a little over 17kg. Black spot tuskfish are usually found along coastal reefs but can also inhabit offshore reefs, favoring waters shallower than 60m.

     

    Recommended Equipment

    • Floats and float lines: When hunting large black spot tuskfish, we recommend a solid float with at least 7L of buoyancy. Black spot tuskfish are very powerful and love to run hard along the bottom looking for any nook or cranny to hide in. So giving them as little room to run as possible is highly recommended and the extra buoyancy helps keep the float on the surface in heavy current if the fish does manage to hole up at depth. 
    • Shaft choice: Opt for a 7mm to 7.5mm spring steel shaft when hunting these large tuskfish due to their thick, overlapping scales requiring substantial penetration force. Keeping your shaft sharp is highly recommended.
    • Speargun choices: In clear water with a roller gun, a 110 gun set up with strong 16mm bands is a good starting point for adequate penetration power. For standard guns in clean water, a 120cm or 130cm gun rigged with tight twin 16mm rubbers is recommended. When hunting these fish in coastal areas with dirtier water, a smaller 70-90cm roller gun or a standard gun of similar length with increased power is ideal due to the fish's strong scales and thick skulls.
    • Burley: Although fish burley might not significantly affect these fish due to their crustacean-heavy diet, crushing up crustaceans or using legs from tropical rock lobsters might entice them. Additionally, using the antennae of tropical rock lobsters to create a creaking sound can sometimes attract black spot tuskfish.
    12kg Blackspot Tuskfish

    Finding Black Spot Tuskfish

    These fish inhabit reefs and the areas between reefs, moving considerably based on water temperature and the time of year.

    • Types of reefs: Black spot tuskfish tend to favor reefs with low height or rubble structures, providing fewer hiding places for their prey. While they can also be found on reefs with pronounced structures, they are generally more prevalent on less pronounced reefs.
    • Time of year: Larger tuskfish are often more abundant during winter months, as westerly winds and changes in tidal currents draw deeper dwelling fish into shallower waters.
    • Water quality: Tuskfish do not necessarily require pristine water and can often be found in lagoons and bays, though hunting them in these areas can be challenging due to limited visibility.
    A nice 11kg tusky

    Hunting Black Spot Tuskfish

    Approach: Black spot tuskfish are naturally curious and will investigate changes in their surroundings. In areas where they are not frequently hunted, they may linger longer, offering a better opportunity for a shot upon initial contact. In heavily hunted areas, you typically have a brief moment to take a shot before they realize your presence and start to swim away.

    Shot placement: Aim for the area directly behind the eye, slightly above the lateral line, to avoid the skull's heaviest scaled areas and improve penetration. It's essential, especially for larger fish, to shoot at a 90-degree angle to prevent deflection of your shot by the scales, especially if the tip is blunt.

    The fight: After shooting the fish, apply heavy pressure to prevent it from reaching its hiding spot. Safely maintain pressure on the fish as you ascend, as retrieving a fish lodged in its hole can be challenging.

    Handling the catch: To secure the fish, place your hand carefully into its gills, avoiding deep insertion due to the tuskfish's throat plates, which can cause serious damage to your finger tips. Use a knife to brain the fish by inserting the tip about an inch behind and above the eye, aiming towards the softer spot in the skull until the fish stops moving.

    If you’re in an area without too much shark activity, then we’d recommend you gut the fish as these fish have a lot of rocks and shells inside them. This helps make a good cloud to attract other fish and it can also avoid making a mess of your boat. 

    Cooking Your Catch

    A simple panko crumb and oven bake makes for a tasty tuskfish feed. See below how Adreno team member Sam Cox prepares his tuskfish - including deep frying the swim bladder to make the most of every part of it.

     

    Panko Crumbed Fish

    Check out Adreno founder and owner Tim Neilsen’s trusty panko crumbed fish recipe.