Back to Species Spiels

Species Spiels: Flathead (Platycephalus fuscus), by Nick Martin

Flathead (Platycephalus fuscus), by Nick Martin

Dusky Flathead (Platycephalus fuscus)

Common names: frog, lizard, dinosaur, flattie, estuary flathead, mud flathead

Identifying features: With a dorsally compressed body shape and a flattened head, flat head are perhaps one of the easiest fish in the ocean to recognize. This body structure supports their feeding habits allowing them to lie submerged and camouflaged in sand, waiting for a prey item to swim over the top of them. From this position the flathead explodes and engulfs the prey with its very large mouth. In terms of colour the dusky flathead varies from a light to dark brown. Some suggest that this colour variance correlates with habitat i.e a fish caught in sandy areas will be a light brown. The dusky flathead is easily distinguished from its closely related flathead cousins by having a distinctive black spot on its tail.

Size: Dusky flathead can grow to 120cm in length and 13kg in weight. They grow relatively fast and it is interesting to note that the female fish grow much faster than males. On average a 5 year old male fish would be around 42cm in length whilst a female would be around 59cm in length.
Another interesting fact about the growth rates of a Dusky flathead is that most males plateau in size at around 45cm whilst the females will continue to grow past this point.

Lifecycle: Spawning takes place between November and March either in the lower reaches of estuaries or near shore coastal waters. Breeding will take place between mature males (mature age 1.2yrs, length 26cm) and females (mature age 4 yrs, length 56.75cm). The fertilised eggs and associated larvae are distributed by tidal and current movements.

Diet: Dusky flathead primarily eat smaller fish, crustaceans such as prawns and yabbies and occasionally cephalopods such as squid and cuttlefish. So if you are bait fishing i would suggest using small live fish, prawns, squid, pilchards, strips of fish flesh and marine worms.
Distribution: The dusky flathead is endemic to Australia and can be found in estuaries and near shore coastal areas between Cairns in North Queensland and Gippsland in Victoria. They can be found over any mud, silt, gravel, sand and seagrass in the intertidal zone between 1-30m of water.

Eating Qualities: Flathead are excellent table fish providing the very best fillets for beer battered fish and chips. It is very hard to beat freshly caught and battered flathead with crunchy chips and an ice cold beer. For a small twist on your traditional beer batter try adding a tablespoon of wasabi powder to your batter mix to give it extra bite.

Bag and size limits
Legal length: 36cm, only 1 over 70cm
Bag limit: 10

Fishing techniques: Flathead can be caught using a variety of techniques from drifting dead baits to fly-fishing so instead of talking about all options I thought I would concentrate on what I believe is the most exciting way to fish for flathead; soft plastic spinning.

To begin with the soft plastic of choice for flathead is wide and varied with many different suggestions confronting the fisherman. Three soft plastics i suggest you try are:

1. Berkely Gulp 5" Jerkshad. Either nuclear or satay chicken in colour.
2. Berkely Powerbait 3" or 4" minnow. Either smelt or rainbow in colour.
3. Squidgy 100ml fish. Either gary glitter or black gold in colour
I would match these plastics with a ¼ ounch jighead with a 1o, 2o or 3o hook. With flathead the size of the hook with not matter so much as long as it doesn't affect the action of the plastic.
The way you work the soft plastic is:
1. Cast it out and let it sink call the way to the bottom.
2. Flick the plastic up and off the bottom either a 1 stage, 2 stage or 3 stage motion.
3. Hopefully catch a fish.
4. If not let it sink to the bottom. REPEAT

MYTHBUSTED!- Dusky flathead do not change sex at a particular size. Quite simply females grow faster and larger than males. Males generally plateau at around 45cm in size whilst females keep growing.
However this does mean that any fish over 60cm is likely to be a mature female so release should be considered.



Stuart Reid's 50lb Pending World Record PNG Black Bass

Pending World Record Black Bass

Papuan Black Bass are renowned the world over as the toughest pound for pound freshwater fish in the world, and the place to find the biggest Black Bass is PNG's Gulf province. The current all tackle world record Black Bass of 46lbs, and the fish pictured (caught on 19/6/14, by Stuart Reid, Fishabout) which is the pending world record at 50lbs, were both caught from these rivers.

Once you feel the strike you know that no freshwater fish can come close to the power. Watching 100kg guys get knocked over on the strike, reels give way, rods break in half and 130LB pound braid snap from the pound for pound strongest fighting fresh water fish is a sight to behold. If would like to experience the thrill of targeting PNG Black Bass and Barramundi in remote areas with very low fishing pressure contact us now. *2017-18 spots selling now* ... read more

Kadavu Island - Great Astrolabe Reef

Fiji Macky

The pristine Fiji Islands are home to the South Pacific's finest sport and game fish, including massive GT's, monster dogtooth tuna, yellowfin tuna, dolphin fish, wahoo, spanish mackerel, black marlin, blue marlin and plenty of reef fish. Many of these species are endemic to the Great Astrolabe Reef (one of the largest barrier reefs in the world), which is the reef that encompasses Kadavu Island, Fiji.Fishabout now offer 6 and 8 day fishing packages to explore this marine wonder of the world, which include 3 and 5 days fishing respectively. For more information call us on (02)8922 2651 or click here

Endyalgout Remote Fishing Camp

Sunset at Endyalgout

Fishabout is pleased to now offer remote fishing trips to Endyalgout Island, one of the best fishing locations in Australia. (Nestled on the south east of the Coburg Penninsula).

Situated on a shell grit beach under shady trees, are several permanent tropical friendly safari style tents, raised on wooden platforms.

Looking out past the resident Crocodile you can see miles and miles of enticing mangroves, barely touched creeks, rivers, rock bars and channels, all calling your name.

From monster Baramundi up to 130cm, to big Black Jewfish, Threadfin Salmon, various Trevallies, and some of the biggest Golden Snaper to be found anywhere, Endyalgout Island is truly a dream to fish.

Pricing ranges from $4350 (4 days, 3 anglers per boat) to $6910 (7 days, 2 anglers per boat)

For more information please call us on (02) 8922 2651 or click here