The royal treatment
  |  First Published: March 2003

There have been a lot of big bream caught on royal red prawns from various wharves around Greenwell Point.

Some of the best fish have come from the main wharf by people fishing the low tide with royal red prawns on long-shank hooks. Some of these fish have been up 1.5kg, which are huge bream, and catching them from around the wharf pylons isn’t always easy.

This month we’ll look at royal red prawns and how to use them for big bream and blackfish.

Royal red prawns are pink when they are caught (before they are cooked) and that’s why they get that name. They are caught out near the continental shelf by trawlers using special nets and when they get among them, they can catch a few tonnes in a day.

Royal red prawns are quite soft and you don’t cook them and eat them like king or tiger prawns. They still taste nice but we normally eat them in curries or as garlic prawns. You can also do them as prawn fritters. They are normally a lot cheaper than king or tiger prawns and they make great bait for drummer, bream, trevally and blackfish.

Royal reds don’t last long unless you freeze them so we normally pull their heads off and use them fresh. I’m not sure about whether royal red prawns are available in other places but around here we either get a few scraps from the trawlers or buy some fresh ones from the local fish shops.

The best time to fish with royal red prawns is when the local trawlers pull up back in Greenwell Point and start unloading their prawns and washing the decks down. As soon as they do this, there’s a feeding frenzy under the boats as big blackfish and bream come out to eat the scraps.

Drop a lightly weighted royal red prawn down on a 1/0 hook and 6kg line and you can be just about guaranteed of a hook-up and a good fight around the back of the boat and among the pylons.

It doesn’t matter what time of day it is. When the trawlers are unloading, the bream will be there. It’s been that way for years and many of the locals have caught big bream on royal reds for as long as my Dad can remember.

At night the blackfish will often move in and also take royal red prawns. A lot of people fish the local wharves at night for blackfish with squirt worms and small pink nippers but some good fish are taken by people fishing with smaller royal reds on the bottom.

To try this, you need 4kg or 6kg line on a threadline outfit and a small sinker on top of a No 4 long-shank hook. Just cast it in up-current and let it bounce back along the bottom and then cast again. Try casting to different areas until you get a bite because the blackfish school up and, once you find them, the bites come thick and fast.

Most of the fish will be under the wharf or close in along the edge of weed beds.



The author with a bream taken on a royal red prawn fished after dark.

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