Hunting blackspot tuskfish is whole lot of fun.
Tusk fish are tasty, good fighters and look great both underwater and in photos. In this article I’ll explain how I learnt to hunt these epic reef fish and finally shoot a big one (10kg).
A few years back on an inshore dive off the Bundaberg coast. I flat out, point blank missed a whopping black spot tusk fish (tusky). Finning along with bleary eyes early in the morning after a late night I noticed something on the bottom and as I duck dived I realised it was a big tusky. I couldn’t believe it, the first one I’d ever seen. He politely paused and rolled over on his side to check me out with his big eye. He did all the things you want your first tusky to do, but I still got so over excited that I rushed the shot and missed. I missed half an acre of tusky at point blank. The memory of that fish has haunted me for years. I’ve shot plenty of tuskies since but none that came near the size of that one. I’ve had mates all shoot big one’s and there’s always one getting paraded around on facebook but I never seemed to even see big ones until recently. Some guys call them their boogie fish, the one that seems to be able to dodge a spear.
My recent encounter with Tusk fish
Recently, before heading off to dive the inshore waters of Central Queensland I came across a tutorial by past podcast guest Trevor Ketchion. This video is a must for anyone wanting to target these tasty hard fighting fish.
I picked up alot of tips in Trevor’s tutorial. One of the most interesting points he explains is that you have to take your shot quickly or they’ll leave. They generally give you one opportunity but that’s it, then they’re gone. On our recent spearfishing trip to Central Queensland we saw plenty of tuskies, more than I’ve ever seen before. The fish I encountered on this trip did exactly what Trevor explained time and time again. There is definitely a behavioural pattern there worth noting.
Trevor also explained the rubbly bottom structure he finds tuskies inhabiting. The structure we dived wasn’t really noteworthy. A few scattered rocks or a small bommie with some scattered rocks around seemed to be all that was needed. Thinking back to the big fish I’d missed years ago I realised that fish too was cruising around some scattered rocks with sandy patches between. This is exactly the type of structure Trevor looks for when targeting these fish.
Trevor also reccommends shooting the fish in a soft spot just behind the head in line with the eye. The Tusk fish skull is very hard and the scales further back on the fish are quite tough as well. Trevor explains that it is easy to stone the fish in that area. Once again he was spot on and I managed to stone my fish in that exact spot.
It felt great to cross that fish off of my list finally and I owe a fair bit of it to this great little tutorial by Trevor Ketchion. It goes to show you how valuable advice from experienced spearos really is.
Here’s the roundup of Trevor’s Tusk Fish Tutorial
Tuskies love dirty inshore water so get used to it.
They inhabit rubbly rocky bottoms with sand patches
The are tough so hit the soft spot behind the eye
Crayfish is a possible burly
They spawn during the first westerley of the year so that increses your chances
You get one chance so take the shot as soon as it presents itself.
Trevor gets crazy eye
P.S If you have any more tips feel free to share them with us.