RECORD: 3.18kg, D Shields, 1972, Mokohinau Islands
Golden Snapper are one of the fish most highly prized by spearos. This is because of their superb eating qualities and the fact that it is a difficult fish to spear. Golden snapper is somewhat of a misnomer as they are not a snapper at all. Named for their brilliant red colour, goldies are laterally compressed, moderately deep and have a large head. They have large eyes and an oblique mouth. There are small spines on the gill plate that will deliver a very painful sting to an unwary diver. Goldies may grow up to 50cm but are most commonly shot around 30-40cm mark. They are also found on the Australian coast where they're known as nannygai.
Bag limit: Part of 20 finfish limit
Goldies are a very long-lived fish and are basically a shallow water orange roughy. This means that they are extremely vulnerable to over fishing and because they largely remain resident in one area, whole populations can be wiped out very quickly. For this reason responsible spearos should limit themselves to one or two fish.
FEEDING HABITS & HABITAT:
Goldies are distributed throughout coastal New Zealand but are most common in the upper-half of the North Island. A nocturnal species, goldies can be found during the day in large schools tucked under overhangs and caves in deep, bouldery water. At night they disperse throughout the water column to hunt small fish, crustaceans and molluscs. They are most abundant in waters deeper than 100m so it is a rare priviledge to find them at diveable depths.
Goldies are not a wary fish by any stretch of the imagination so the real challenge is finding them and being able to get down to their level. They like shade and are therefore usually found on the southern sides of pinnacles and rocks. They are usually right on the bottom.