Samsonfish caught by local eludes capture for eight years

CAPTURED: Ash Smith with the samsonfish that eluded fishermen for close to eight years. Image supplied.
CAPTURED: Ash Smith with the samsonfish that eluded fishermen for close to eight years. Image supplied.

A TAGGED samsonfish caught by local fisherman Ash Smith has gone the longest time at liberty in the tagging program - nearly eight years.

The samsonfish, caught near the Neptune Islands offshore of Port Lincoln in mid-January, eluded fishermen for 2865 days.

Fisheries management officer for game fish tagging with the NSW Department of Primary Industries Clay Hilbert said he was contacted by Mr Smith who reported the tag number and details to him.

"When I saw the tag number I realised it was quite an old tag number," he said.

"We're affiliated with the Game Fishing Association of Australia and we provide tags Australia wide.

"It was originally tagged by a previous member of the Adelaide game fishing club."

The fish was first tagged in 2012 and released near Rocky Island.

Since then it has grown 29 centimetres in length to 125cm and weighs 17 kilograms.

"Since 1973, 3180 samsonfish have been tagged (in our program) with the vast majority in SA and some in NSW...of those we've had 150 recaptures reported and of those, that one was the longest at liberty," Mr Hilbert said.

"Samsonfish are a quite long-living species upwards of 30 years."

Mr Smith said it was "pretty special" to catch the fish as he found they were usually creatures of habit.

"I've actually caught my own tagged fish twice (three times total)," he said.

"But this one had been at sea for a long time...it's a pretty special thing really."