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Tailor

( Pomatomus saltatrix )
Description

Tailor are an aggressive hunter with a ferocious appetite and razor-sharp teeth. In fact, the name Tailor originates from their ability to cut through fishing nets with their sharp teeth. They have a tendency to school up and patrol turbulent near shore waters where they prowl the wash zones for baitfish. Tailor have a relatively thin streamline frame, a forked tail and are overall silvery in appearance. The upper surface of their body is bluish green while the fins are paler blue-green with a tinge of yellow. Their lower jaw protrudes slightly beyond the upper jaw and both are lined with razor-sharp teeth. They are a popular inshore sport fish that are best targeted at dusk and dawn around headlands, inshore reefs, surf beaches and estuaries.

 

Other names

Choppers, Greenbacks, Jumbos, Bluefish, Elf, Shad, Anchova, Enchova

 

Common size

30-50cm

 

Related species

Tailor have no close relatives and are the only species in the family Pomatomidae.

 

Lifespan

Over 10 years

 

Habitat

Tailor are a schooling fish that inhabit turbulent near shore reefs, headlands, surf beaches and estuaries. They move in and out of the wash as they prey on baitfish and are generally found in the top few meters from the surface.

 

Reproduction

Most Tailor caught by recreational anglers are under 2kg in weight, however, they do grow quite large and can reach sizes of 15kg and 120cm in length. They are relatively fast-growing and mature at approximately 35cm and two to three years of age. They spawn along the coast several times per spawning season in the cooler months of the year. Males and females release sperm and eggs into the water and the fertilised eggs are dispersed by currents. Large spawning females are capable of releasing well over one million eggs per spawning event. Once large enough to swim, juveniles make their way into sheltered waters and estuaries, and then move back to the ocean waters once they mature.

 

Diet

Tailor are a predatory fish-eater that feed on baitfish such as anchovies, whitebait, sardines and pilchards/mulies. Adults will also prey on larger fish such as mullet, whiting, garfish, slimy/blue mackerel and juvenile salmon and tailor, while juveniles will also feed on small crustaceans.

 

Catch care

Tailor are good eating if handled correctly and eaten fresh. If you don’t intend on eating them fresh within a day or two, let them go. Dispatch your fish humanely and immediately after capture. Bleed them well and keep out of sunlight in a bucket or rock pool of cool water, in a wet hessian bag, or if handy an ice slurry. Refrigerating for an hour or so when you get home will allow the flesh to firm before filleting.

 

Information courtesy of Department of Fisheries WA.

How to Catch
Distribution

There are eight populations of Tailor distributed throughout the globe in cool tropical and warm temperate waters. There are populations on the east coasts of America and south America, The west and south coasts of Africa, the Mediterranean sea and Black sea, and the east and west coasts of Australia. The WA population extends between Exmouth and Albany and the east coast population extends between south-east QLD to eastern VIC.

Eating

3 stars. Tailor are a good eating fish if handled correctly after capture and eaten fresh within a day or so. Once frozen the fillets turn to mush so it is for this reason that they are better off eaten fresh or not at all. They are decent when deep fried, pan fried baked and smoked. One of the best ways to eat Tailor, particularly for breakfast, is to fillet them up as soon as you get home, dust in flour, fry in a pan and serve seasoned with salt and pepper with a drizzle of fresh lemon juice. Another fantastic way to cook Tailor, if not the best, is to smoke them. The smell and taste of your own warm, freshly smoked Tailor fillets on a cold winter’s day is certainly something you won’t forget in a hurry.

Fast Facts
  • Can grow to 1.3m in length
  • The name Tailor comes from their ability to cut through fishing nets
  • Juveniles are often referred to as choppers while larger specimens are known as greenbacks or jumbos
  • Tailor have no close relatives and are the only living species in the Pomatomidae (tailor) family
  • Tailor are distributed worldwide and are commonly referred to as Bluefish
  • Good eating fresh