Most scalefish are measured from the nose to the end of the tail. Get your scalefish measuring ruler or sticker at any Service Tasmania outlet.
jackets, butterfish, triggerfish, southern leatherjacket
Numerous species of leatherjackets with varied colour patterns are found around Tasmania’s coastline. The distinctive long spine above the eyes, rough sandpaper-like skin and small mouth make leatherjackets hard to mistake. The brownstriped leatherjacket (pictured) has a relatively long body and no spines near the tail base. Their colour is brownish overall, males with a yellow head and bluish lines and females with darker stripes and spots on the head and underside.
Leatherjackets are a robust fish that have good survival rates if handled with care.
Common in Tasmania around coastal reefs in depths from 0-20 metres.
Leatherjackets are taken around inshore reefs and jetties. Use small long-shanked hooks on light line with fresh or prawns for bait. Will also take soft plastics and lures. They are known for nibbling at the bait.
Care needs to be taken when handling live leatherjackets, not only due to the spine, which does not carry a poison gland, but also the teeth which can remove skin from an unwary fisher.
The flesh is good eating if fish are cleaned and skinned shortly after capture. It is fine textured, moist and sweet. Delicious simply pan fried in butter, but adapts well to other cooking methods such as baking, barbequing, poaching and grilling. They are good baked or grilled whole with the head removed and wrapped in foil to prevent them drying out. The firm flesh works well minced for fish cakes and fish balls and holds together well in curries and soups.
Recipe: Baked Greek Leatherjacket:
2-4 leatherjackets; olive oil; 1 red onion; diced; 2 cloves garlic, crushed; ¼ cup kalamata olives, pitted and diced; 1 tbsp capers; ¼ cup red wine; 2 cups of diced tomatoes; salt and black pepper to taste; parsley.
Prepare leatherjacket by removing the head and guts and trimming fins. Remove skin by making a knick with a knife between the flesh and skin. Peel skin off. Place about 2 table spoons of olive oil in a baking pan in the oven and set at 180ºC. On a cook top, add oil to saucepan, briefly sauté onion then add garlic, olives and capers. Add wine, bring to boil then simmer to reduce the liquid to about half. Add tomatoes and simmer for about 5 minutes until the sauce is thick. Place fish in the baking pan. Pour the sauce over the fish. Bake until the flesh can be parted easily with a knife or fork (15-30 minutes depending on fish type and size). Sprinkle pepper, salt and serve with parsley. Serve with rice, small baked potatoes or couscous.
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