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Samsonfish, to eat or not to eat.

Not every dive trip goes to plan. No matter how well organised and prepared you are, there are elements beyond control that can dictate dive trips. A trip that was planned with fish like spanish mackerel, dhufish and baldchin grouper in mind, was quickly downgraded to a ‘catch-anything-we-can-to-eat’ kind of trip.

Closed Roads

Waking early and setting out on our drive up the coast to a secluded dive spot, we had no idea about the raging fires burning in the northern suburbs of Perth. After an hour of driving, smoke clouds appeared and we were soon greeted with a road block. With very few ‘kayak accessible’ dive spots in the northern beaches of perth, we bit the bullet and headed south with our tails between our legs.


Luckily the seabreeze wasn’t due to come in till after lunch, so we had a few hours of diving off the Rockingham. We jumped in the kayak and paddled a couple of kilometers out to sea in search of some deeper reefs to explore. Even that far out, the water depth was only 8-10mtrs and the ground was weedy with small ledges.


Diving through the caves, there were a few small crays hanging under the overhangs. With a school of 50 scuba divers ferreting around with nooses, we decided they could probably use a break and left them alone.

While stalking in a cave, a small samsonfish swam over my head and after brief consideration I took the shot and killed the fish. On the East Coast where sambos are far less common, we have speared and eaten a few and they have always been excellent eating (similar to yellowtail kingfish). Sambo’s on the West Coast however are often disregarded as an eating fish with reports of some bigger fish having mushy flesh. Being a small fish (around 4kg) I decided it would be a good size to try on the plate.


I put the fish straight on ice and the fillets came off firm and white.

So what have your experiences been? Do sambos make their way into your esky?

fillets flesh

3 thoughts on “Samsonfish, to eat or not to eat.

  1. mate we often come across sambos either on the hook or a good fight with the spear. Stay away from the really big ones as they have worns and aren’t that great eating but the smaller one are fine. A lot of people say they are all shit but I don’t mind it esecially if there is nothing else around. The best thing for sambo is a green or red Thai curry. The flesh really stays together and with no real overpowering taste you can come up with some great flavours. Poor old sambo’s they don’t have a good name for some reason!!

    1. Cheers Ian, I’ll have a crack at a curry with the remaining fillets.

  2. I think sambos are a great feed. Obviously can’t eat the big big ones but the little ones are real good. We just fry the fillets up and they have a nice mild flavour not fishy at all.

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