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Big Eye Bream

Timon mu 700

Monotaxis grandoculus

RECORD:  6.4kg, D Wong, Hawaii, 2012

TOP DESTINATIONS: Hawaii, Tonga, Fiji, Cook Islands, Indonesia, Samoa... anywhere warm


Big eye bream or mu are one of the more commonly encountered fish on the reef.  Their ability to drift away from a diver and keep a constant 10m gap between them without actually bolting can make them a very rewarding (if not frustrating) fish to hunt.  They have a basic 'snapper' shape with a very blunt nose.  Their large eyes are an identifying feature.  They are generally a greyish colour and often have three large black bands across their backs which they can illuminate or hide depending on their background.  The inside of their mouths, around their eyes and the tips of their fins are red.  They are most regularly speared in the 30-40cm range but may grow up to 60cm and 5kg.  The juvenile fish smaller than around 30cm are much easier to spear and often found shallower.  Obviously they should be left alone.


Mu are a general scavenger eating all sorts of invertebrates that they find on the bottom.  They inhabit the rubbley, sandy gutters between coral reefs at depths right down to 100m.  They are usually found in pairs or threes but may be found in aggregations of up to 50 individuals.


Mu are a very wary fish and are one of the hardest fish on the reef to spear.  They are very common around reef edges and sandy patches but finding them is the easy bit, getting within range most definitely is not.  They are curious and reward divers with big breatholds who can wait them out, scratching around in the sand until their curiosity gets the better of them and they drift in close enough for a shot.  For most divers though it can be a frustrating few dives trying to close the gap.
As with all flighty species the most important thing is trying to hide as much of yourself as possible.  One of the most frustrating things about diving for mu is that they don't spook and bolt rather they just hang out 12 meters out looking at you, occasionally swimming back and forth but never coming any closer.  Make sure you always lie hard up against some structure to minimize your outline so they have to get closer to see you.  Even better try and lie under overhangs or in shadows.  Try throwing handfuls of sand up and rubbing rocks etc to try and entice them in. 
If your breathold isn't up to waiting them out you can often ambush them by swimming behind rocks and anticipating where they might try and escape to. 
Mu can be quite indecisive at times and if they're in a gutter can be a bit hesitant to leave.  You can use this to your advantage by trying to bomb straight down on them.  If you do see fish in a gutter or near some structure use it to your advantage and hide your descent only popping out at the last minute ready for a quick shot.  They also don't usually escape into the coral the way trout or parrots do so if you see one slink under a fan or ledge 9 times out of 10 it won't go far and you'll be able to shoot it.
Be very aware of how long you've been down for when waiting out mu especially if you've got a long ascent to get back to the surface and make sure you complete a proper surface interval between dives.  Mu are notorious for blacking divers out who become too fixated on the fish and forget they need to breathe.

Matt Mu 700