Platycephalus fuscus

SA, VIC, NSW/ACT, Southern QLD, Northern QLD
Bay, Ocean, Lake, River, Onshore, Reef, Estuary, Creek, Beach, Structure

Dusky Flathead are also known as Estuary Flathead, Lizard, Frog, Flattie, Black Flathead and Mud Flathead, and simply Flathead to all those fishing across the range. Dusky Flathead is actually one of a number of species of smaller to medium sized fish that actually have flat heads. Many of the species are found in the Indo-Pacific. There are more than 30 different species of flathead in Australia, Dusky Flatheat are the biggest and one of the most popular for anglers. The fish ranges from South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales all the way up the coast of Queensland as far north as Cairns.


Dusky Flathead can reach 15kg at a length of 150cm but they are more commonly encountered under 5kg. Dusky Flathead appear very primitive, flattened. slug-like body, thin tail to skinny looking with a pop-up tent like spine that stands up like an antenna on the middle of their head. Normally seen with a muddy green to brown patchwork body colour, they can be as dark as black and as light coloured as mustard yellow.

From the top looking down their body colour will blend with the colour of the sea bottom. Their belly white Flathead have sharp cheek spines that can spike the unprepared. They also feature a distinctive dark spot or more on the tail fin.


Dusky Flathead are commonly found by shore anglers around ports, estuaries, inlets from west coast of South Australia south around the mainland and Victoria's coast across the Gippsland Lakes, any similar shallow water inlets and estuaries along the coast of New South Wales all the way up to and around Cairns in northern Queensland.


Fishing for Dusky Flathead is relatively easy if you know the bottom of the area you are fishing because that's where they will be waiting for their prey. Because that is the case, you know they will be around when the tides are moving are moving in, wherever their prey will be, which is just about anything that is edible and floats or swims into their launch range, about.

The usual live baits do a very good job. Hard lures are good because you can troll them, plastics work too. They're lazy, so you will need your patience after casting out with the occasional jerk on your slow retrieve. If there are no Dusky Flathead, move on to the next likely spot. Being on the move with a small boat or kayak powered by an electric motor is good for bouncing hardbodies while letting the tide do the work.

Dusky Flathead strike fast but tend to mouth their gulp down into their body. The fish will react violently when lifted off the bottom despite being lethargic on the hook. A popular technique is to walk them to shore and slowly dragging them onto the beach.

Despite being a weird, ugly looking fish, Dusky Flathead are considered one of the best white flesh fillets on the table, perfect for fish and chips.