Flathead, Southern Blue Spotted

(Platycephalus caeruleopunctatus)

Commonly referred to as flatties!

The southern, blue spotted flathead as its name suggests is the most common species of flathead encountered in the southern half of  Australia and is highly sought after as not only a fun summer time fishing option but is also growing in popularity as a table fish with many. Flatties are a great way to chill for a couple of hours during hot summer spells and loads of fun to chase for the whole family. There are over 50 species of flathead found here in Australia making them one of the most recognisable and commonly caught species in the country.

Distribution

Southern, blue spotted flathead as their name suggests can be located from as far south as Walpole and Wilson’s inlet down to the Albany region throughout Western Australia. They are also found in good numbers throughout VIC and S.A.

Growth

Very little is still known about flathead growth rates here in Australia. Most flathead species have larger females than males with an average blue spot measuring around 40 – 45cm in most locations around the country.  The largest specimens encountered average around 70 – 80cm in length.

Habitat

Blue spot flathead prefer areas of mixed sand, weed and rock with good numbers of small bait fish present and access to deeper water near by. Shallow estuary systems with water depths from 0.5 – 10 meters are best suited to bar tailed flathead.

Identification

Blue spot flathead can be recognised by the distinctive blue/white spots located throughout the entire body of the fish and no yellow colouration on the tail.  Southern blue spot flathead are also generally larger than the northern bar tails.

Taste rating

  • Eighty Taste Rating
    80%

Great fish to pan fry and eat simply.

Sport rating

  • Fifty Sport Rating
    50%

Flathead are a poor sport fish that are only powerful over a very short distance in shallow water.

Tackle requirements

Ultra light and light graphite spin rods 6’6” – 7’ in length that will cope with gel spun and braided lines rated from 1 – 4kg are ideally suited to targeting most flathead species and when coupled with quality spin reels in the 1000 – 2500 class make excellent outfits for throwing both baits and lures for flathead. Larger outfits spooled with heavier 10 – 12lb nylon line can also be used when targeting larger fish around heavy cover but will struggle to cast small hard bodied and soft plastic lures good distances. Fluoro carbon leaders with breaking strains of  10 – 15lb should also be joined to mainlines via an improved albrite knot and not only prevent the fish from seeing your brightly coloured main line but also help from being chaffed of on rough underwater structures and teeth.

Recommended baits, lures and rigs

Fresh or live river prawns, blood worms and small bait fish such as boney herring and mullet as well as small fresh mullies are an ideal bait option for chasing flathead and should be fished on a pattern and size of hook that’s suit’s the bait. Example – blood worm fished on long shank or bait holder pattern of hook similar in size to the bait. Hard bodied, sub surface and soft plastic lures from 50mm – 120mm in length will also temp flathead into striking with this exciting new style of fishing really taking off amongst all anglers from beginners to the pro’s over the last few years.

Handy hints and tips

Be very careful when handling all flathead species as they have a serous set of gill spikes located around the back of the head, if stung by these rub some slime from the belly of the fish onto the wound and this should subdue the pain considerably.

Preferred fishing times and tides

Rising or full tides are best suited for targeting flathead around most areas although some deep water locations will also produce good numbers of fish during low and falling tides. Full moon phases are also preferable for flathead with much higher tidal movements better suited to this species.

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