Dusky Flathead – (Platycephalus fuscus)
Distribution – Dusky flathead are found in estuaries and coastal bays, from Cairns in Queensland to the Gippsland Lakes in Victoria. They occur over sand, mud, gravel and seagrass and can inhabit estuarine waters up to the tidal limit. They are more commonly caught during the summer months.
Size – Maximum 15kg and a length of 1.5m.
Colour varies from sandy with brown spots and blotches to dark brown/black with white spots. They have a distinctive black spot on their caudal fins. Dark bars are often visible across the rear of the body. The preopercular spines on each side of the head are very sharp and should be avoided when handling the fish.
Distinguished from other flathead by the black spot at the caudal end of the tail.
Baits, Lures & Rigs
Dusky Flathead will readily take to all styles of angling as long as the angler remembers to ‘Match The Hatch’ in the selection of all gear and lures.
Damiki 3″ Rippers
Cast the SP and let it hit the bottom.
Give the rod 2 or 3 quick sharp jerks to impart action to the SP.
Allow the SP to return to the bottom but retrieve the slack after each run so as to ensure you have tension on the line should it be taken on the drop.
It also pays to watch your braid carefully as the Dusky will often strike whilst the SP is falling to the bottom.
I prefer to fish as light as possible and generally use no heavier than a 6kg outfit. Those who are chasing a feed will often be tempted to increase the line class, but I find this restricts the SPs from operating in the manner they were designed to do.
Be sure to continue to allow the lure to hit the bottom as this will create a cloud of sand when it both hits and drags along the sea bed.
Hard Body Lures
Flathead will take a variety of Hard Body and Blade lures, these include:
and too many more to list here.
As with lure fishing for any species, presentation is the key.
We kayak fishers have the advantage of stealth when it comes to target the Flathead on lures.
The Flathead will often be located near weed beds or small creek mouths etc.
This is where to target them on HBs.
Ensure that your lure is working as deep and as true as you can, but be prepared to have to remove weed from the trebles on a fairly constant basis. If this is not the case, you are not targeting them true and will not be sure that you have completely ‘Worked’ the location.
Hard Body Lures HINT!
Target Flathead on as lighter outfit as you can due to the fact that Flathead do not grow to be in excess of a metre in length without being crafty and elusive. I personally use a 6kg outfit with a 20kg leader so as to avoid cut offs. Having said that, always fish as light as you are comfortable with and when you do hook into a good sized ‘Lizard’ remember to take your time and be prepared to allow the fish to tire before bringing it into the net. Many BIG Flathead have been lost due to the fact that the angler attempted to ‘Skull Drag’ the fish to the kayak.