The mighty dhufish. They’re WA’s most iconic fish for a myriad of reasons, writes Western Angler editor Scott Coghlan in this week’s exclusive edition of Scott’s Species.
Fish: Dhufish, Glaucosoma hebraicum
Eating: 5 stars
ID: Stripe across head and through eye.
Dhufish are only found in the southern half of the State, from Shark Bay south to Esperance, and they’re arguably the State’s best eating fish.
Ask any offshore angler in the southern half of the State what they most want to catch and almost all will say: “a big dhufish”.
Dhuies are largely an offshore species, although occasionally encountered by shore anglers, particularly in the stretch around Dongara.
There have also been a number caught by land-based fishers along the south coast and South West beaches, by those using drones, in recent years.
They are found in good numbers off Perth, and the stretch between the Capes is another hot spot.
The Abrolhos Islands is definitely a dhufish stronghold, although the average size is probably better in more southern locations.
Dhuies can exceed 20kg, but any fish tipping the scales at more than 10kg is a meritorious specimen.
They are a slow growing demersal specie and given west coast demersal stocks remain under recovery.
An annual demersal closure is in place from 15 October to 15 December in the West Coast Bioregion.
Recfishwest urges good stewardship through fishing practices which minimise impact of fish dying post-release to protect this highly valued resource.
Dhuies are prone to suffering barotrauma when pulled from depths of over 20m and a release weight is a must for successfully releasing them.
Using release weights to release undersize fish and fishing for other species, such as pelagics and squid once you’ve reached your bag limit for demersals.
Slowing the retrieve is one way of easing the effects on the fish. There are many ways to catch dhufish, which are almost always caught close to the bottom.
Drifting across likely grounds, with reefy structure or hard bottom, is favoured and weighted baits are very effective, as are weighted soft plastics and metal jigs.
Slow pitch jigging has proven effective in recent years, as has a mix of jig and bait.
Squid, pilchards or octopus are good baits, while the weight needed will depend on water depth and conditions.
The angler should always try and get the line straight down to the bottom rather than having an angled line, for this reason braided lines are far more effective than mono.
Standard boat fishing combos will suffice for dhufish, with 23kg main line and 37kg leader often used. Lighter outfits are often used by jiggers, with main lines as light as 9kg-14kg.