Sci: Girella tricuspidata
Common Names: This fish is rarely called by its official
name anywhere outside of Victoria. In New South Wales and southern Queensland,
where most luderick are caught, they are more widely known as blackfish, "blackies",
"niggers" or "darkies". Big, sea-going luderick are sometimes nicknamed "bronzies"
or "square-mouths", while on Queensland's Gold and Sunshine Coasts, the species
is erroneously referred to as "black bream".
Description: A small to medium-sized omnivorous fish of
the ocean and estuaries, characterised by a small, relatively square mouth and
comb-like teeth. The luderick's colouration varies with its habitat. Estuary-dwelling
fish are usually dark grey to purplish-brown, overlaid by nine or more darker
vertical stripes. The belly is creamy. Ocean fish often take on a brassy or bronze
hue over their purple-brown base colour. However, they may also be a light blue-grey
or grey with distinct dark stripes. The luderick's fins, especially the tail,
are darker than its body.
Size: Most luderick taken by anglers weigh between 0.4 and
1.2 kg. However, an occasional exceptional specimen may approach 3 kg, and the
species has the potential to exceed 4 kg.
Distribution: Luderick are found around the south
eastern seaboard of Australia; from about Fraser Island
or Maryborough in Queensland to western Victoria and north
eastern Tasmania. They are also reasonably prolific in New
Zealand waters, particularly around the North Island.
Fishing Techniques: Blackfishing or "niggering" is the traditional
and time-proven method for taking these fish. A centrepin reel, long, fine rod
and stemmed float are used to suspend a bait of green weed or cabbage between
1 and 5 m beneath the surface of the water. The line to the hook should be fine,
the hook small and sharp and the float weighted so that the softest bite will
sink it. Blackfish are also taken on baits of peeled prawn, sand, squirt or bloodworm,
cunjevoi, yabbies (nippers) and hermit crabs. In most areas, luderick take these
baits best in late winter and spring. Whatever the chosen fishing method, the
gear should be light, and hooks small. Berleying can also be a big help.
Eating Qualities: Luderick are regarded as a fair to good
eating fish, but should be bled and cleaned promptly for best results. Those luderick
caught around the rocks generally taste better than fish taken inside estuaries
and rivers. All luderick intended for the table should be filleted and skinned
to help remove the slight taste of weed sometimes present in their flesh.