For me, there is no better habitat for dusky flathead than that which exists in Port Stephens . . . (though you might have your own little secret spot.

The warm shallows west of Soldiers Point provides the ideal environment for big, lazy “lizards” to nestle into the sand on the edge of the extensive weed banks and wait patiently for an unsuspecting prawn or fingerling to swim past. “Whammo!” the strike is sudden. There is only one winner.  

Those who target duskies have kilometres of foreshore to wander, on a rising tide, on sunrise tossing plastics and hard bodied lures. Others, like myself, choose a well-presented bait of pilchards, hardy heads, poddy mullet or strips of slimy mackerel, mullet or bonito. Set on a gang of 3×3/0 hooks – the flathead can’t help themselves. 

At certain times of the year the duskies move down into the port and onto the beaches. Shoal Bay, Nelson Bay, Jimmies Beach and Corrie Island load up with broad shouldered, bright eyed duskies ready to rumble. With the breeze blowing over your shoulder and the sun peeking over the horizon toss into the shallow water and – hang on!

It’s mullet time. Excited schools are swimming north along the beaches. Sea mullet are a beautiful fish. Light up the barbie. Gather round the fire as the autumn settles in and enjoy a fishy feast! 

 Fishing writer, author and radio presenter John “Stinker” Clarke can be heard weekly, throughout NSW, on popular ABC Regional Radio fishing program “The Big Fish”. Check him out on or send an email to with your information and questions.

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