Dusky Flathead is a large predatory fish that only lives in estuaries. An estuary is a partly enclosed body of water that is fed by at least one river or stream. It also has a free connection to the open sea, like a bay.
The Flathead lives on the east coast of Australia in estuarine lakes and coastal bays. From Cairns Queensland, to the Gippsland Lakes in Victoria, these fish thrive over sand, mud, gravel, and sea grass. Dusky Flatheads will not inhabit waters further than the tidal limit.
These fish base their hunting strategy on their body shape. Their notably unusually shaped body is dorsally compressed, which means they have wide flattened body that is very low in height. Dusky Flatheads use their body structure to hide in the sand. Their color changes to blend into the background. With their eyes on top of their head, Flatheads are excellent hunters of overhead prey. Waiting in the sand for the right moment, they explode up and outwards to nab small fish and prawns.
These Flatheads are similar to flounder, but with a more elongated body,vertical tail, and a large, wide symmetrical mouth. Dusky Flatheads, are also known as Flatties, Lizards, or Frogs, and are the largest of many Flathead species. Their color varies with the location. For example, in sandy areas, their color is light brown. In muddy, weedy areas, Flatheads are a dark brown color with a greenish tinge and dark lines.
Dusky Flatheads are easily distinguished from others in their species by the black spots circled in blue on their tail fin. The Flatheads are reportedto be hermaphroditic. This would mean they would be born as males and change into females as they reach a considerable size. This claim was questioned in recent studies. The on thing that’s certain, is that only females reach larger sizes. An average dusky Flathead weighs 1 to 3 pounds, and grows to 1 or 2 feet. Breeding period is mid to late summer around estuary mouths.
Dusky Flatheads are very popular for fishing and consumption. They are the most commonly caught out of their species. Due to heavy fishing and a very effective technique, fishermen employ a largely catch and release approach. Many anglers release dusky Flatheads over 1 1/2 feet, because they are important breeding females. These methods better ensure that the Dusky Flatheads do not become victims of overfishing.