Leather Jacket Have Over 60 Species In Their Family of Fish
There are roughly 60 species of leather jackets in the Australian and New Zealand waters, some of the more commonly caught leather jacks include: Fan-bellied, Cinaman, Rough, and six spined Leather Jacket. Leather Jackets as their names states have a very leathery feel skin, it is a very rough texture with no scales, they have tiny mouths with beak shaped teeth and a snout, Leather jack don’t usually grow very large in size. The Leather jackets can range in colours from very dull camouflaged colour all the way to a very bright attractive colour; they are also very difficult to distinguish the species between one another although this is not completely necessary as most anglers just call them leather jackets. Most leather jackets only reach a weight of 0.5kg, some species such as the six-spined or horseshoes can occasionally reach weights of 2kg whilst the largest of all the species, the Chinaman has been found to reach a weight of 3-3.5kg. The Leather Jackets are quite regularly confused with a similar trigger fish (the trigger fish has scales).
Leather jackets can be found in all reaches of Australian waters from grass line reefs in estuaries to reef beds or drop off in the ocean. They are a slow and precautious fish that use camouflage and shelter to its advantage as well as their lockable dorsal spine to escape predator fish. Wharf pylons, wrecks, rocks and weed beds with sand or gravel bottom are the idyllic environments for leather jackets.
Leather Jackets form all size schools depending on the species, sometimes forming large school In deeper water but it is not uncommon to find them hunting alone. They have a very powerful jaw and use their sharp teeth to chew through tough skin and chomp through shells of their pray, (they have enough power to bight off fingers so watch out), Leather Jackets are usually one of the first fish to target newly dead or dying creatures to feed on, Their diets consist of algae, worms, small shellfish, prawns and coral and are considered a scavenger fish.
Due to the powerful jaw and sharp teeth of the Leather Jacket a long shank hook is recommended although it is not uncommon for a fish to sever through the hook if it is determined, these fish can be caught on pretty much any fishing outfit and are quite easily caught on soft baits such as warms, yabbies, peeled prawns, mussels or strips of flesh.
Leather jackets are considered a high quality table fish with sweet, white, moist flesh, although preparation can sometimes be challenging as their sand paper like skin can be very difficult to peel off. On some very rare occasion mild food poisoning has been reported due to the fish’s diet and location where they have been caught, though this is very rare.
Book; Australian Fish ID Pocket guide- Published 2017- Author Australian Fishing Network.
The Fishermans Handbook- Published 1988 – Author Steve Starling.