Key Things You Need To Know:

  • There hasn’t been a revision of bag or size limits for Dusky Flathead in NSW for years, despite growing fishing pressure, anglers become more efficient at taking flathead and advances in our understanding of the species.
  • Flathead are currently listed as sustainable in NSW, but angler data from trophy flathead fisheries is showing a decline in the bigger specimens.
  • The recovery of flathead following the removal of nets from recreational fishing havens has plateaued and big fish are not increasing in size or number, indicating recreational pressure is taking it’s toll.
  • Female flathead are not protected by current size limits (36cm) because they don’t mature until around 57-58cm in length. Many fish are being removed from the system before they have the opportunity to spawn.
  • Big flathead can produce millions of eggs per year (700 eggs per gram of body weight) and contrary to popular myth, those eggs are viable and make important contributions to the recruitment and genetics of fish stocks. The removal of big female flathead can reduce the recruitment of juvenile fish but can also damage the resilience of the overall population.
  • The number of flathead over 70cm taken by commercial fishers is exceedingly small and whilst it would be great to reduce this take, the damage is far less than for recreational anglers who actively target very large fish. 
  • Whilst flathead produce millions of eggs, the survival rate is quite low. There are great flathead stocking programs now and they are an important tool for fisheries managers, but they are no a silver bullet. The cost and practicality of rearing millions of juvenile fish mean that facilitating natural spawning and recruitment is a far better option. with restocking to supplement stocks as required.

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5 Comments

  1. Chris

    Haven’t caught a flathead around the 70cm mark for years on the south coast of NSW. I never keep more than I can eat in a sitting, so the 5 bag limit sounds like a great idea.

    Reply
  2. Phil

    Absolutely agree with protecting breeding stock and a reduction in bag limits!

    Reply
  3. No Slot Limits

    NEVER make a slot range mandatory.

    By all means continue with the virtue signalling on anti-social media and shame everyone who has a different opinion to your “environmentally friendly” approach.

    If I catch a massive flathead, jew, king, snapper, drummer, longfin tuna, gummy shark, blue groper (etc) – it’s absolutely none of anyone else’s business what I do with it – but chances are it is coming home to feed my family. If you have a problem with that – its YOUR PROBLEM. They all die eventually, whether that is predation or old age/disease. Very very very few people are regularly catching the really big breeders.

    Laws are forever creeping that tiny bit tighter every damn year.

    What you might not realise is the lobby groups (such as the radical animal rights folks) will keep up their relentless pressure and soon they’ll be chasing the animal cruelty angle again.

    If you are simply “catch-and-releasing” the vast majority of your fish, how long before questions get asked as to WHY you are even catching fish in the first place? Is it all just your ego? Do you enjoy causing pain & damage to our greatly threatened fish stocks?

    Stop the virtue signalling & posing for social media “likes”.

    Reply
    • DocLuresFishing

      Well, we agree on one thing at least. Laws are definitely creeping tighter every year. I hate that with a passion. We live in one of the most over-regulated nations on earth, in my opinion. So I don’t generally support the tightening of legislation. The opposite, in fact.

      But the thing I hate more than the tightening of fisheries legislation is the thought of my kids not getting to experience the kind of fishing that they deserve because our generation couldn’t act responsibly.

      So it’s because of the blissfully ignorant, the selfish, the entitled and the uninformed that the laws keep getting tighter and tighter and that’s why I support this push for a slot size limit. There are plenty of people out there that don’t need legislation to make them act responsibly, just education. But your post shows why the angling community can’t yet be left to self-regulate – and what a wonderful message you’re sending to lobby groups you’re so fearful of, too.

      Let me unpack your inspiring post a little further…..

      “If I catch a massive flathead, jew, king, snapper, drummer, longfin tuna, gummy shark, blue groper (etc) – it’s absolutely none of anyone else’s business what I do with it – but chances are it is coming home to feed my family. If you have a problem with that – its YOUR PROBLEM.”

      Correct, it’s my problem. And my kids problem and their kids problem. And your kids too, and everybody else, not that you care. BUT ITS NOT YOUR PROBLEM…….. YET. (See, I can type in caps too). That’s why I support slot size limits, so it does become YOUR PROBLEM.

      Don’t like the laws getting tightened? Then take a closer look and see why it keeps happening – the mirror would be a great place to start.

      Entitled people removing the fish that carry the genes for longevity and growth with compete disregard for the health of future fish stocks, just because the outdated law says they can. Then bellyaching like a stuck pig when the laws need to be tightened to curb greed. That’s what’s driving this – and masses of anglers are sick to death of it.

      “To feed my family”. Give me a break. As though the family will starve without eating brood stock or can’t survive on generous bag limits of table size fish.

      But hopefully the legislation will change soon and then my problem will become YOUR PROBLEM. Or rather, an enforcement problem. Because if a slot limit is in place it will become NSW Fisheries business what you do with the fish you catch. And I’ll sleep well.

      “They all die eventually, whether that is predation or old age/disease.”

      I love this statement, in all my years it’s bordering on the most idiotic justification I’ve ever heard for necking big fish – and another clear indication of why we need to tighten legislation.

      Racehorses all die eventually too, whether it’s due to old age or a bullet. Strangely, you don’t see too many champion racehorses getting shot the moment they are too old to run…… they are far too valuable for breeding. Oh, and people all die eventually too, whether it’s of old age or car accident or gunshot wounds. Maybe we should loosen the laws on drink driving and firearms. FFS, what is this, grade 5?

      “Very very very few people are regularly catching the really big breeders.”

      That’s great news. Then very very very few people would be affected by a slot size limit. And many, many, many people will benefit for many many many years to come from improved fisheries.

      “What you might not realise is the lobby groups (such as the radical animal rights folks) will keep up their relentless pressure and soon they’ll be chasing the animal cruelty angle again.”

      Once again, thanks for the ignorance and condescension. I’ve been around a while and I’m acutely aware of the radical animal right’s folks and their agenda’s, but thanks for the heads up.

      If you think you’ll counter animal rights arguments with cries of “I wasn’t fishing for sport, I was happy to kill the breeders” then wake up and smell what you’re shoveling.

      As an aquatic ecologist who’s spent a lifetime working on all kinds of issues around waterways and fish health and as an educator and passionate fisho I’ve spent decades positioning rec anglers positively. That battle will be won with facts and intelligent positioning….. both of which are sadly lacking in your post.

      But what are you doing for your part to protect our sport from those who’d shut us down? Aside from taking potshots anonymously from a generic email address?

      “If you are simply “catch-and-releasing” the vast majority of your fish, how long before questions get asked as to WHY you are even catching fish in the first place? Is it all just your ego? Do you enjoy causing pain & damage to our greatly threatened fish stocks?”

      Wow, I hardly know where to start with this one.

      As anyone who’s listened to my podcast will know, I’m not catch-and-release only and I have no problem with anyone taking a feed of fish if it’s done responsibly. I take plenty of fish for the table and I’m not a trophy hunter. For me, the really big ones are bycatch that are handled with the utmost of care and released with minimal damage. I rarely even remove them from the water for a photograph. Others like to chase the big ones and I have no problem with that if it’s done properly.

      Secondly, I’ve dedicated entire podcast episodes to educating people about proper handling and release of fish. If you’d bothered to listen to my interview with Ben Diggles, for example, you would know that very little damage happens to fish that are handled properly. And in fact far more fish die as a result bad handling than from being hooked and played. Fish digestive systems have evolved to handle sharp spines, claws and teeth and they recover quickly from most hook injuries.

      Third, as anglers become more savvy we’re creating an army of people who understand and give a damn about our waterways and fish stocks beyond seeing them as a resource to be plundered. Rec fishing is an incredible vehicle for educating the masses about our waterways and what’s in them. Without anglers the economic value of our waterways would decline and something that’s worth nothing gets no protection from Government.

      Now, for some reason you think you’re somehow less of a target for activists if you keep everything you catch? What about all the small ones you catch and release along the way, or the bycatch of unwanted species? Spare me the sanctimonious crap – the radical animal rights groups don’t discriminate and they will come after all anglers. Sustainability is not enough to save us, unless our sport is having a nett positive benefit on fish and the environment we’re in the crosshairs.

      “Stop the virtue signalling & posing for social media “likes”.
      Please. Did you even look at my Facebook or Instagram? Social media will be the ultimate weapon of Animal Rights groups against anglers and I keep mine to a minimum. I’m not vain enough to judge my worth by the number of anonymous likes I have.

      And as for “virtue signaling” (note the correct spelling), what you see is what you get. I was on this path decades ago when the public opinion was at best ambivalent and was often downright hostile. What I stand for comes from my education, research, decades working in this field and a lifelong passion for fishing, not pandering to popular opinion as you suggest. My moral compass hasn’t changed but thankfully the way many anglers view the world is starting to change. Not all anglers though, clearly.

      You’re special, my angry, anonymous friend. Keep up the good work, with every word you arm the animal rights groups for battle and demonstrate just why slot size limits are needed.

      Greg

      Reply
  4. Col.

    Absolutely great response Greg. (Note, “signalling” is not wrong spelling).

    Reply

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