Everyone aspires to catch a fingermark, or so it seems.  Known as the chicken of the sea, Fingermark are a sought-after species all over Queensland waters.  Whether you call them Fingermark or Golden Snapper it’s the same fish.  They are a popular target not only because of their fighting capabilities and their eating qualities, but also because they can be found anywhere from estuary systems to inshore reef systems.  Anywhere there is a bit of structure you are likely to find them, and this means especially around wrecks.

They are more prolific the further you go North.  The size these fish grow to amazes me.   The longest I’ve heard of is just shy of the 1-meter mark and over 15kgs.  Imagine the fight from a brute of that size!  The Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries states their maximum size is 70 cm.  But this is not the case.  And the proof has been in the ALLSTARS INSALT online fishing competition weigh ins.

Fingermark are caught on live bait and dead baits with squid and herring being the go-to.  Plastics, vibes, jigs and hard bodies of all sorts work too.

Be prepared to lose tackle as they are dirty fighters and will brick you in as soon as the opportunity presents itself.  So, choose your outfit wisely depending on the class of fish you’re targeting.

The most unfortunate trait of this species is their susceptibility to the effects of barotrauma.  Most fish die when caught in anything deeper than 14 meters of water, even after doing the right thing by venting the fish or using release weights.  So, unless fishing in less than 10 meters of water, these fish should really be targeted for catch and kill to eat rather than catch and release.  The Northern Territory Government recommend fish caught any deeper than 10 meters of water should not be released.  The Northern Territory Department of Primary Industry and fisheries have a YouTube video to support this recommendation.  I suggest anyone targeting this species should watch it.  

Link – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-1n4YZNaSY

Fingermarks are another slow growing fish.  Reaching maturity around 6-8 years and 50 cm.  The legal size in Queensland is only 35cm.  This is another example where the fish doesn’t potentially get a chance to breed before being killed.  

I recently had a bloke by the name of John Nelson contact me to tell me a fishy tale of how he took his mate Nigel Springal from Brisbane fishing off 1770 in his 5.2m tinny 9-mile offshore chasing reefys.  Now Nigel is a real newbie to fishing but keen as mustard.  After tying a micro jig on for a bit of fun, the last thing Nigel expected to hook was an 80cm Fingermark.  The fight was epic and one that will never be forgotten and the best part that will never die is the photo that followed.  Unfortunately, the fish suffered badly from barotrauma coming from 30 meters and was necked but made great eating for two families.

Another story from one of our ALLSTARS members is Tim Williscroft from Weipa.  Tim caught a 59cm Fingermark and managed to drop the fish squarely onto his foot where its main dorsal spike wedged firmly into his big toe and snapped off.  Off to hospital he went and got to bring home a spike in a plastic sample bottle that looked like a railway dog spike.

One of the largest Fingermark caught in our comp is also one of the best #fishbragwin photos getting around.   Sam Lyons with his magnificent 69cm fingermark off Gladstone.  He photographed it in front of the Gladstone Ports Corporation Spinnaker Park lights, which made for an incredible backdrop.  This photo is so spectacular that it’s been used for the new Boyne Tannum HookUp JAM Outdoor billboard.  So soon people driving the mighty Bruce Highway are going to see this prime Fingermark photo. 

The big Fingermark over 80cm keep rolling in.  With the longest one so far for the competition coming from Damian McKenzie from the closest Port of Cairns at a giant 85cm long.  It’s only a matter of time before someone in the ALLSTARS competition weighs in a fish over 90cm.  So, Follow ALLSTARS on Facebook and Instagram to make sure you don’t miss out seeing that mighty Fingermark weigh in and you can keep up to date with the leaders winning the cash prizes.

Don’t forget anglers that as of 1 November the Queensland East Coast saltwater Barramundi season closure starts.  But fortunately, the ALLSTARS fishing competition includes freshwater Barramundi; so you can still chase those big impoundment Barra for the fun of fishing for cash.

ALLSTARS has months of competition still to occur and stories to share.  I have decades of fishing tips and will interview many successful commercial and recreational anglers to share their suggestions too. 

As much as I like to write about fishing, I’d also like to hear from you.  So please email me at info@allstarsinsalt.com.au to share your fishing trips, fishing tips, fishing stories and photos. A day on the water is better than a day at work.

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