Seriolella brama (Scientific Name)
Size Limit (length)
Blue warehou are a coastal species unlike other silver-white warehou which are more common in much deeper waters up to 300m. They can be speared all year round but do prefer cooler and deeper waters. They are dark blue-green on their flanks, lighter below and have a distinctive dark blotch on the back of their head. They have a very steep smooth head and long pectoral fins that stretch back as far as the anal vent distinguishing them from other warehou.
Warehou excrete fibrous orange/brown clumps so are easy to track without even sighting them.
The more common blue warehou come into the shallows and congregate around reefs that are close to deep water and have plenty of current: in the Wellington region this means places like Hunter Bank, Kapiti Island, Fisherman’s Rock and Thom’s Rock. They’re also spotted right in by the coast but these tend to be either chance encounters with juveniles (who seem to like kelp forests) or adult schools moving through, which leave as quickly as they arrive and usually don’t return.
They feed mostly on salps but also eat krill, small crabs etc.
This species lives for about 10 - 20 years and grows relatively quickly. In spring and autumn, blue warehou leave their deep reefs and move up in the water column to spawn.
Warehou are great to eat with a distinctive taste somewhere between trevally and moki with the meat being a little more fibrous and with a pale white colour. Because the fish are fat, yield thick fillets and have a medium to low oil content, they can be difficult to cook perfectly. Like many fish, they toughen quickly with overcooking – so do take care when cooking them.
Warehou are quite athletic and once hit they will start making hard runs straight away. They’re not a big species so aren’t difficult to haul in and they prefer to head for open water rather than trying to wrap themselves around rocks, but they do have very soft skin and will easily tear themselves off a spear. Warehou lack a hard dorsal ridge so can tear easily. It is important to place shots well, preferably through the head or shoulder, as warehou lack a hard dorsal ridge so can tear easily.
On offshore reefs they hang around in big schools and come back again and again, presenting more opportunities for the spearo. In their offshore haunts warehou will often be found sitting right down in the weed or amongst gutters and boulders, resting from the current. Strangely, warehou pay almost no attention to a diver lying still on the bottom. If you’re down there when they arrive and they haven’t seen you swimming, chances are the school will file right past your spear tip. Most of this happens between 20m and 30m so it can be difficult and dangerous to get good bottom time.
Warehou also spend a portion of their time right up at the surface. When they’re in this mood, the best approach is usually just to lie on the surface either drifting or hanging off the back of a boat, taking shots from above without so much as a duck dive. As long as you’re not kicking, the warehou will pay no attention to you, just like they pay no attention to a diver on the bottom. In fact they’ll even swim over to investigate - just don’t be tempted to dive on them for a better angle as they don’t like this at all and will usually bolt.