Sci: Achoerodus viridis and A. gouldii

Common Names: These two very closely related wrasse species, the eastern blue groper (A. viridis) and western blue groper (A. gouldii) are also known as groper, brown groper and red groper, the last two names referring to colour phases of the smaller, female fish.

Description: These two near-identical, heavily scaled, barrel-bodied and peg-toothed members of the wrasse family (Labridae) exhibit well-defined colour differences between the smaller female and the larger male. Juvenile and female colouring ranges from green to brown to orange-red, often with a darker reddish spot on each scale. Very small specimens may also have whitish spots or blotches. Male groper are blue - from deep navy to brilliant cobalt blue - with darker blue and sometimes reddish lines or spots around their small, pig-like eyes.

Size: The western species is the larger of the two, growing to 1.6 metres in length and weights of at least 40 kg, while the eastern fish, while rare these days at weights in excess of 15 kg, can approach 22 kg in isolated instances.

Distribution: The eastern blue ranges from about Hervey Bay in southern Queensland to Wilsons Promontory in Victoria, while the western blue extends from west of Melbourne to the Houtman Abrolhos in Western Australia.

Fishing Techniques: Strong line, heavy tackle and fresh crab baits are the tools of the groper specialist. However, groper will also take baits of shellfish, cunjevoi and sometimes even prawns, squid and cuttlefish. This powerful fish will dive for cover among the rocks when hooked,so very strong tackle is required.

Eating Qualities: The groper is a delicious fish, particularly in the 3 to 9 kg range. Smaller fish can be rather soft and tasteless, and very large specimens may be a little coarse. They are best filleted and skinned, as their large scales are difficult to remove.

By Steve Starling

Saltwater Species:

Albacore Barracouta
Barracuda Barramundi
Blue Groper Boniti
Bream Coral Trout
Drummer Flathead
Garfish John Dory
Kingfish Leatherjacket
Luderick Mako Shark
Mangrove Lack Marlin
Mullet Mulloway
Queenfish Sailfish
Salmon Shark
Skipjack Tuna Snapper
Snook Tailor