SMALL GUY WITH A BIG EYE

Sport Fishing - - FISH FACTS - — Ben Dig­gles

Have you seen one of th­ese, mate? If so, what is it?

Ri­ley Tol­may Sydney, Australia

What you’ve caught there, Ri­ley, is a longfinned bigeye ( Cooke­o­lus japon­i­cus), one of the more no­table mem­bers of the fam­ily Pri­a­can­thi­dae ( bigeyes). This species oc­curs world­wide on deep rocky reefs in coastal wa­ters be­tween 120 and 1,200 feet deep. Like other pri­a­can­thids, C. japon­i­cus prefers low­light con­di­tions — hence the bigeye’s big eyes — and is found in­side caves

and holes, usu­ally ven­tur­ing from th­ese ar­eas only to feed at night. It mainly eats plank­tonic shrimp, crabs and other small prey, in­clud­ing squid and oc­to­puses. Be­cause of this, it is oc­ca­sion­ally en­coun­tered by an­glers who are lucky enough to put their bait right next to — or into — the hole or ledge in the reef where a bigeye is hid­ing. In the Caribbean, this species is thought to spawn dur­ing the summer. It’s one of the larger pri­a­can­thids, grow­ing to around 28 inches long and 10 or so pounds. You could en­ter the next one you catch to qual­ify for the IGFA all-tackle world record as, to date, no one has en­tered a longfinned.

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