The highlight of our Australia Day weekend was a bbq with friends. The teenage kids went fishing from kayaks and caught a heap of flathead. We cooked them up and served them with chips, salad, bread and a heap of praise for the fishermen. We decided it would be a very good thing for them to do on a regular basis!
Flathead taste good, but they’re quite ugly really. They have a wide, flat body with eyes on the top of their head and a big mouth. Apparently known as bottom-feeders, they hide in the sand, mud, gravel or seagrass and then spring up to catch their own dinner of unsuspecting smaller fish as they float past.
The novice fisherman needs to be wary of the short spikes on the top and either side of the flathead. The spikes contain a poison (or venom). It won’t kill you, but it can cause some pain and possibly an infection down the track.
We wouldn’t be so cheeky as to give any advice about fishing. We’d heard that timing our run for cloudy, late-afternoon conditions would be the best bet. That proved a useful tip in this instance. It certainly wasn’t calm waters either… the kayaks were bobbing around in the waves quite vigorously, but with a modicum of success comes determination!
The secret to catching fish is not something we’re privy to. The Hobart fisherman pictured below (just a random stranger to us) is often seen during a sunny daytime trying his luck in calm waters, the complete opposite to the conditions during our recent taste of success. Who knows if he catches anything!
Dusky Flathead or a Tiger?
An expert may be able to confirm or deny this, but we’re assuming dusky flathead was the variety of fish we caught. They’re found in estuaries up to the tidal limit, and coastal bays around Australia. Other varieties are found further out to sea. There is a variety called tiger flathead, and ours were a bit stripey… so maybe that’s the Tasmanian version!
Whatever the official name, we’d have to agree with experts declaring them “excellent eating”. Not everyone at the bbq was an avid seafood aficionado; but everyone gave the meal a resounding stamp of approval.
Chuck Another Flathead on the Barbie!
While the fish were being skinned (not very skillfully, we might add) we sampled a few Tasmanian wines and nibbled from a cheese platter. We dusted the flathead in flour and a liberal sprinkling of salt and pepper, and then whacked them on the hot bbq plate for a few minutes. The weather was simply perfect and with great company thrown in, we enjoyed a wonderful celebration of Australia Day.
We finished the night with a plate of fresh Tasmanian berries, topped with ice-cream and white-chocolate sauce. Hopefully we’ll manage a similar seafood dinner before the next Australia Day comes around.