The Trophy Fishery concept being trialed in St Georges Basin, Tuross Lake and Lake Macquarie is revealing some interesting stats about one of our most popular estuary sportfish, the mighty dusky flathead!
Almost 120 "trophy-sized" flatties have been tagged so far, with the majority of fish (about 90) coming from the Basin.
The average size of the fish tagged so far in all three Trophy Fisheries is 79cm with an average weight of 3.7kg.
The largest is a massive 97.5cm croc tagged and released by Basin flathead legend Dave Johnstone.
Seven recaptures have been reported from the Basin with one from Lake Macquarie. One basin fish has been recaptured twice!
The most recent recapture is a 79cm Basin fish caught on December 31, 2017, by Ellie Reid. The fish was originally tagged just under a year earlier by Wal Balzan on January 7, 2017. The fish was caught in the same location and only grew 1cm.
Above: Ellie Reid recaptured this 79cm Basin flathead late last year. It was originally tagged about a year earlier by local angler Wal Balzan.
This differs from other Basin recaptures which show the fish had moved significant distances between captures.
Lake Macquarie only recently became a Trophy Flathead Fishery but a dedicated team of local taggers led by Mark "Wilbur" Williams has already tagged 34 fish (including a 90cm cracker caught by Wilbur).
Above: A solid Lake Macquarie dusky flathead tagged and released by Mark 'Wilbur" Williams.
The first lake Mac recapture involved a 72cm tagged fish recaptured (and re-released) by local angler Nathan De Bono on December 31, 2017. The flattie was originally caught by Corey Reid just over a month previously on November 28, 2017.
Another three Lake Mac trophy flatties have so far been tagged by a crew of keen kayak taggers led by Bruce Tozer as part of the Yak Hunters fishing group.
The Tuross guys have had a tough season so far but local angling identities Steve and Jo Starling recently tagged some cracking fish (78cm and 81cm models for Steve and 88cm and 90cm PB crocs for Jo) so hopefully that signals a return to form for this popular South Coast fishery.
DPI has recently installed signs advising anglers of what to do if they recapture a tagged flathead. These signs are located at boat ramps around each of the three Trophy Fisheries.
Information brochures for each of the Trophy Fisheries have also been produced and are available at local tackle shops and DPI offices.
Above: These Trophy Flathead signs have been installed at boat ramps around Lake Macquarie, Tuross and St Georges Basin.
The Trophy Fishery concept is a great example of an angler-led initiative designed to protect and enhance fishing opportunities via proactive management initiatives.
DPI looks forward to providing more info and data on trophy-sized flatties throughout 2018!