Other names: grassy flathead, smooth flathead
Minimum size: 40 cm
Bag limit: 5 (only 1 over 60 cm) (bluespotted and rock combined)
Possession limit: 10 (bluespotted and rock combined)
Identifying features: The rock flathead has a dark mottled appearance, including a greenish to pale brown rounded body and several rows of dark spots along the rays of the yellowish tail. The lower spine on the gill cover is shorter than the upper spine.
Grows to: Up to 60 cm and 2 kg.
Habitat: Commonly found over sheltered or moderately exposed seagrass beds and on flat, vegetated reefs in depths between 1-20 metres.
Fishing information: The rock flathead is the most highly regarded of flathead species for its flavour. It occurs in small localised populations and is most active at dusk. Now more commonly taken with rod and line using soft plastic lures over seagrass beds.
Responsible fishing tips: Flathead have good survival rates when handled correctly, depending on hooks and fishing techniques used. Use circle and barbless hooks on your line and a fish de-hooker to quickly return undersize flathead to the water.
Handling: Beware of short, sharp spines on the flathead’s gill covers and dorsal fin.
Cooking: Low oil content with a pleasant, sweet flavour. Fine textured flesh which can dry out slightly with some cooking methods but remains moist and flaky when cooked in batter. The long shape of flathead means that it fillets well as most of the bones are at the head section of the fish. Also retains moisture well when cooked as whole fish. Suitable to bake in foil, shallow or deep fry, marinate, poach or steam.
Flathead Fact Sheets
How to Increase the Survival of Released FlatheadHow to Release Flathead using a Fish De-hooker
Fish illustration by Peter Gouldthorpe