DPI is trialing a "trophy flathead fishery" concept at St Georges Basin and Tuross Head on the NSW south coast and Lake Macquarie on the central coast. All three of these waterways are Recreational Fishing Havens.
The concept aims to protect dusky flathead while allowing anglers to experience the thrill of catch and release fishing.
This unique angler driven initiative involves the introduction of a voluntary code of practice for the release of “trophy” sized flathead over 70 cm in length as well as a tagging program to provide research data on this important recreational species.
The trophy fishery program will maximise flathead stocks, provide enhanced angling opportunities and has the potential to increase local tourism.
Anglers are encouraged to follow the Trophy Fishery Code of Practice when fishing in St Georges Basin, Tuross Head and Lake Macquarie.
Trophy Flathead Code of Practice
- Use appropriate tackle to enable fish to be subdued as quickly as possible. Four to six kilo outfits are preferred when targeting trophy flathead.
- Use lures when possible to avoid deep hooking. If using bait, non-offset circle hooks in 1/0-4/0 are preferred. If a fish is deep hooked, cut the line as close as possible to the fish’s mouth before release.
- Use a large knotless landing nets to land trophy flathead. Leaving the fish in the net in the water for 3-5 minutes will allow it to recover, making for much easier and safer handling.
- Handle flathead with wet gloves or a wet towel. If measuring your fish on a “brag mat”, ensure the mat is wet. Minimise the time the fish is out of the water. Support the fish’s weight with both hands. Do not “hang” the fish by its jaws, either by hand or with “lip gripper” style tools.
- Carefully release the fish as close as possible to where it was caught. If required, hold the fish in the water until it recovers and can swim away.
- If keeping flathead for the table, humanely dispatch the fish and place it in a saltwater ice slurry.
Fishers can also watch a short educational video detailing best practice release tips for trophy sized flathead.