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Big flathead stats.

Discussion in 'Fishing General Chat' started by diesel, Sep 16, 2019.

  1. diesel

    diesel Well-Known Member

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  2. Old fisho

    Old fisho Well-Known Member

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    Yes indeed Jeff
    The guy with 63 tagged fish must have been out a lot when considering that flathead generally slow down dramatically during colder months. Maybe the waters there don't cool so much. Checking tells me Lake Macquarie is close to 500km north of here so that is highly likely.
    My Boss was at the boat shed with a grand daughter when the tagged fish from Tuross was being weighed.
    Our lake is rather small compared to Macquarie and during winter few flathead are caught here. The locals don't go after them and there are few terrorists about. It's good to see serious work being done in these areas. I'd like to see more. However, there's not too much we can do with fish numbers in estuaries. I'm not aware of breeding programs for any on them.
    Thanks Jeff.
    Noel
     
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  3. diesel

    diesel Well-Known Member

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    Noel, I grew up fishing Lake Macquarie and back in the 50's & 60's practically all the big old girl flatties were caught on the eastern side of the lake close to the entrance channel where tidal movement was the greatest. The lake was also heavily fished by commercial netters and they took a huge toll on the big breeders, but ever since commercial fishing was banned, fish stocks have recovered.

    An interesting fishy fact about Lake Macquarie is that the majority of large flathead are now caught in the western area where tidal movement is practically non existent. This is due to the lake having a very large volume of water and a small entry/exit channel - on a runout tide, by the time the water starts to move in the western reaches, the tide has switched to a run-in and holds the water in check, but I figured you would already have known that.

    I will be hammering some of my old favourite spots in Lake Mac during October before commencing Operation Redfin in November. My niece and her partner have been pulling in some decent sized flatties and bream over the winter months and it will get better as the water warms. The big bream will most likely go off the chew, but the lizard fishing should be good.

    Jeff
     
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  4. Old fisho

    Old fisho Well-Known Member

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    Jeff,
    Might I suggest the combination of water volume and size of entrance doesn't only affect large areas. It's more a 'relativity' thing than anything. Regardless of size; if the entrance is proportionate to the area/volume as you see it in Lake Macquarie, it simply happens. We get it here due to the distance to the tidal limit of the river, even though it's much smaller than Mac. You make good points but they are not an explanation for the fish being now on the other side of the lake. That is interesting.
    Noel
     
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  5. diesel

    diesel Well-Known Member

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    Noel, my only explanation for the increase in large flathead numbers in the western waters of Lake Mac is that the area offers the perfect spawning habitat. It was probably always like that before commercial fishing decimated their numbers and since the ban has been in place, fish stocks are returning to pre netting levels. I'm not conversant with the spawning habits of duskies apart from knowing that they seek 'up river' regions, even into brackish water. Maybe the large females don't move too far after spawning???

    My niece tells me that there has been a real concerted effort by most recreational fishos to practice catch & release on the big females and that is good to hear considering the number of people who fish the system.

    Jeff
     
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  6. Old fisho

    Old fisho Well-Known Member

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    We too have the perfect system for the spawners although we lost many of our weed beds during a major flood several years ago. This of course was the nursery for tiny fish. The weed beds are slowly growing back. Our lake was similar. The pro's were kicked out and within one year, fish numbers had improved. Sadly, to a point that attracted many fishing clubs from the likes of Canberra and the increase in numbers of people has now taken its toll on fish numbers. That's not scientific; just MHO.
    It's cyclic. The fishing will drop off, people will stop coming. Good. Fish numbers will rise and then the fishing clubs will be back again.
    It's my firm belief that spawning fish are found near the entrances to estuaries, rather than 'up river'. I picked up a decent fish a few months ago up the river, but when we've chased them up there a few times since, we've not yet found one. We now have 'Trophy Flathead signs at access points on the lake and I do believe the greater majority of people do return big fish now.
    It's a good topic Jeff.
    Noel
     
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  7. diesel

    diesel Well-Known Member

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    That's interesting, Noel, I've always thought the opposite. Perhaps each estuary/river system differs based on conditions such as the location of weed beds, mangroves etc that the breeders seek.

    North of Lake Macquarie, systems like Port Stephens, Myall Lakes, Wallis Lakes, Manning River and right up through the northern rivers have always been known to hold the largest duskies in the upper reaches, more so than in the lower. But, the Hunter River is an exception with Newcastle Harbour having a reputation for large flatties. I've always believed the reason behind this is due to the high rate of shipping in the harbour stirring up sediments which in turn creates food for baitfish with the predators not far behind. The harbour is also a hotspot for big mulloway for the same reason. I have seen this same thing happen with large snapper in shipping channels down in South Oz - the best time to target them was straight after a ship had entered or exited the port.

    Jeff
     
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  8. Old fisho

    Old fisho Well-Known Member

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    Copied from the 'net'
    It suggests and is no doubt right, that some duskies may go to sea. I never knew that.
    'Typically during summer' surprises me. That's when we get most of our flathead in the lake here,
    and they cover the range of the water, including 10km or so up the river.
    We recently found a couple about 25mm long up the river while pumping worm.
    They've had a long swim for such tiny critters.
    The lower reaches are of usually pure sea water.
    While checking I also read that 'not much' is known about breeding dusky flathead.

    [PDF]
    Dusky Flathead (Platycephalus fuscus) - NSW Department of ...
    www.dpi.nsw.gov.au › __data › assets › pdf_file › Dusky-Flathead

    Spawning appears to occur both in the lower reaches of estuaries and in the sea, typically during summer. The larvae enter estuaries and the small juveniles subsequently live in the same habitats as the adults. Dusky flathead grow quickly, reaching 40 cm total length (TL) after 3 years in NSW.
    Noel
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2019
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  9. Old fisho

    Old fisho Well-Known Member

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    Just adding a bit more Jeff. This is from a fairly recent study by Charles Sturt University.
    It discredits the former thesis done in 2013.

    Bigger female dusky flathead have a greater potential to contribute to reproduction than smaller individuals due to absolute fecundity but importantly, per unit of body mass the number and quality of eggs did not vary with size. These results differ from expectations based on the Big, Old, Fat, Fecund Female Fish(BOFFFF) hypothesis (Hixon et al., 2013)and instead suggest that small spawning females are equally important, per gram of body mass, as compared to large females. The contribution of different size-classes to reproduction and recruitment depends on the abundance of different age-classes in the population and their size-specific fecundity estimated here. For example, one very large(e.g. 800mm TL) female is expected to produce approximately 2.1 million eggs, which is equivalent to the number of eggs expected to be produced by approximately 12 small (e.g. 350 mm TL) individual females.
    Noel
     
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  10. diesel

    diesel Well-Known Member

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    Fascinating stuff, Noel. We discussed this same topic on fecundity 3 years ago and I never followed it up any further.

    https://www.tacklebox.com.au/threads/new-findings-on-big-female-flathead.7245/#post-58248

    I guess it's still a big learning curve for marine biologists with most species and now with the internet their research findings are accessible to anybody who wants to put in the effort to seek it. I like to have a good knowledge of the fish that I target, not just to help improve my catch rate, but it also fosters a higher respect for the fish - should I keep it for the pan or release it to fight another day?

    Jeff
     
  11. Old fisho

    Old fisho Well-Known Member

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    This bit I like Jeff.
    It has long been my belief that fish are entitled to respect,
    in particular in the way they are handled after being caught.
    Many fishers are still quite barbaric about it all.
    I have often enough said my piece about such treatment of (any) fish.
    Noel
    Fishing's their living.
     
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  12. Chili

    Chili Well-Known Member

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    Insert someone eating popcorn here ( .......... )
     
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  13. diesel

    diesel Well-Known Member

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    Not just fishers Noel, it's a trait of the human species - no other life form on the planet comes close to us when it comes to cruelty and I would have to put my hand up as being guilty at times, more so in my younger years before gaining a better perspective of our place in the natural world.

    I've always had a deep hatred of cats because of the huge impact they cause to native wildlife and yet it's not the cat's fault it's a killer - it's just being a cat. I have the same view when it comes to snakes, crocs, sharks, spiders etc - they do what they do because that's the way that they are. They will never change doing what they do because they lack the degree of intelligence required to trigger reasoning, but we on the other hand can make the choice between cruelty and compassion - we just don't exercise that option often enough.

    As far as the barbaric practice of fishers is concerned, the greatest turning point in how we treat fish has been the acceptance by many in adopting 'catch & release'. There is still a long way to go with it, but I think that it is gaining momentum.
    C & R.jpg

    Jeff
     
  14. Old fisho

    Old fisho Well-Known Member

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    Good morning Jeff.
    I always respect your postings and this one is no exception. I suggest though that catch and release really has gained much momentum. However, I also concede that it's practiced by a far lower percentage of fishers than I would have expected. I guess it came into my fishing vocabulary at least twenty-five years ago. I still have a cloth badge on my fly vest; 'fish for the future-catch and release'. The general belief at the time was that it would change in one generation and all would be honky dory. Not so. There remain many who, in my opinion, will never change. I suggest too that many of this same group are the perpetrators of what I call cruelty to fish (and likely other things too). It's therefore likely to need an entire lifetime to reach its optimum effect. That could easily mean three generations.
    I see relativity too in your examples of cats, (disliked by me too) snakes, crocs etc. I tend to think the same could be applied to at least some of our Asian fishers who come here to live. They are often maligned for the way they kill what they catch. But do we understand them and try to see their point of view? I doubt few do. They grew up in a world foreign to us; one that could often leave them without food. It was essential therefore that they took home whatever they could catch, with few options as to size and species etc. Thinking this way gives me reason to believe that, now living in Australia, which to some of them must be an unbelievable land of abundancy, that they can still catch and kill as they choose. Alternately, if they are often seen taking undersized fish; they are only taking what they have done for generations. It's simply normal. As you say of the other animals, and I note that people rarely include birds in these comments, the Asian people we see as repeat offenders are just being 'what they are'. There is perhaps good reason for us to think with some consideration here, while agreeing that they are in Australia now and have to live by our rules. Changing perhaps centuries of lifestyle doesn't happen after a short flight to our country.
    Noel
    Returning your soapbox.
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2019
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  15. Old fisho

    Old fisho Well-Known Member

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    I have only seen the place once. While on one of our trips we fished plastics near a coal terminal with a friend up there. I fluked a couple of reasonable flatties and two far sort of bream. It was good to see the fish in such industrial type water. Coal was being loaded perhaps less than 200m across the water. Have never fished any of the other places you mention.
    Noel
     
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  16. Chili

    Chili Well-Known Member

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    I fish because I like catching them and eating them. I take what I need. If I catch small fish, they go back in. If I rock up to a spot, fish for five minutes and catch a big trout thats it, I go home. If the reddies are on ill fish till theyre off and give a feed to my neighbors, some in the freezer. I dont believe in "sport" fishing where ultra light lines are used, the fish are fought for extended periods of time wearing them out, just to release it and have them eventually die because they have nothing left in the tank. With many fish thats a fact. How is that respect for a creature? Making it freak out for its life over an extended period of time? Some blokes I know reckon I'm a mongrel because ill catch a big trout and keep it. Why? They're not native, its put and catch! Its meat, food, I dont take more than I need. Why does that trout desrve to not be killed and eaten but a cow does, or a lamb, or prawn!? What, fish have special rights? I get closed seasons, stuff like that but, not saying its people here, but a shame people dont care more about people as they do animals.
    What's the difference chasing an animal across an area to the point of exhaustion, till its done, taking some photos of it and releasing it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2019
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  17. Old fisho

    Old fisho Well-Known Member

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    I don't think many will disagree with you Chilli. Putting small fish back shouldn't need a law. It's nothing but common sense.
    On the matter of trout as an example; I've chased them much of my life. I'd rather keep a big brown for the smoker than kill little rainbows as many do while trolling the lake.
    I fish light gear but it does not quality as what I am sure we both mean when speaking of 'ultra light' and is certainly not 'sport fishing'. I fish lighter gear than some because I catch more fish with it. The intention is still to boat a fish as quickly as possible if it's to be returned as probably 95% of mine are. If an occasional one dies and I have no way of knowing, is it any different to the one that was hit by a bird's claws and either lived or died after escaping? I've caught fish with a complete piece missing from their back, having been bitten by another fish. Yes, it can be called 'natural' but it changes nothing. Catching fish is natural to people too. I have no answer to that.
    Over-riding all this is the simple fact that if you can't keep a feed of fish when you want to, there's little point in fishing. I know I do and am happy to raid the freezer at present to put some whiting fillets on the table.
    When I speak of fish cruelty, I think of those who let fish die slowly in the sun instead of a quick kill, those who stand them head down in a bucket of warm water to spend perhaps half an hour dying; even those who fillet still live fish.
    That's the world of cruelty to me. My fish are entitled to, and get, as much dignity as I can offer.
    The best part of this forum is the ability and willingness of people to express a point of view. We can choose to agree or disagree with no offence. I like your post.
    Noel
     
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  18. blair

    blair Well-Known Member

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    someone having a cup of tea here, whith little finger sticking out
     
  19. blair

    blair Well-Known Member

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    I am waiting for a calm day to go out and look for striped tuna, do u guys have a time of year when they start appearing off the nsw coast, I have done well once at end of September according to my diary
     
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  20. diesel

    diesel Well-Known Member

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    I hear what you are saying Chili and I agree with a couple of your points, such as take what you need and release all undersize fish, but I would have to disagree with your view on fish 'freaking out for it's life'. To suggest that fish could and would 'freak out' is applying a human trait to a creature with the intelligence of a paper clip and devoid of any form of rational thinking. The jury is still out with marine biologists on the matter of whether or not fish feel pain to the same degree as mammals and research is pointing more towards them not possessing many, if any pain receptors.

    I have gone head to head with a lot of fish that I have battled to the point of exhaustion of not only the fish, but also myself and if I deem that my adversary will not recover from the ordeal, then I don't release it. That rarely happens because I take the time to assist the fish in regathering it's strength and if it takes half an hour or more of swimming the fish, then so be it. Those fishers who battle a fish to a state of near death exhaustion, unhook it and throw it straight back in the water thinking that they have done the right thing and the fish will live to fight another day are definitely doing the wrong thing - sure, some may survive, but most wont.

    I'm not sure how to respond to your comment 'a shame people don't care more about people as they do animals'. I've always thought that it's a shame that people don't care more about the animals because if we don't care about them, what other creature will. The human species seems hell bent on ridding the planet of every other living thing - then what?

    Jeff
     

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