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How to Catch Fingermark

By Michael Sutherland

A member of the lutjanidae family that’s closely related to the mangrove jack and red emperor, is the fingermark, aka golden snapper. The highly prize fingermark is one of the most sought-after species in North Queensland due to their hard fighting capabilities and being one of the best table fish.

While a sought-after species fingermark can prove a challenging species to find and catch, especially for those trying to catch them for the first time. Here are some tips that I’ve unearthed over the years that may help you come up tight on your first fingermark.

I’ve found the best time to target them is during neap tides or the turn of the tide when the current isn’t strong. You’ll commonly find them actively feeding in large schools patrolling around the edges of inshore wrecks or rock structures during this time. You’ll also find smaller juveniles in coastal creeks and river mouths hanging around rockbars and mangroves in the same areas you catch mangrove jack. When chasing those deeper fish wide of the estuaries and river mouth the 20-30m depth mark has been my favourite depth to find larger fish as they don’t usually go too far offshore.

They suffer badly from barotrauma and don’t release well from depths over 20m so once you’ve landed a few for a feed it’s best to just leave the school alone so there’s more for you to catch next time.

They’re also smart, if you pull hooks or lose one that fish will usually spook the rest of them and completely shut the whole school down. So, it’s best to use quality tackle when chasing them so you don’t lose fish that you hook.

They’ll eat a variety of jigs, vibes, soft plastics, and fresh bait presented correctly in front of them. I like to use a minimum of 30lb braid spooled on a 5000 size reel and a 10kg rod when using soft plastics, or a PEe4 jigging combo when using jigs or vibes to give you enough power to stop them busting you off around the wreck or rocks you’re fishing. 

Good luck, and happy fingermark hunting.

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