Dhufish

Dhufish are one of the most popular reef fish in Western Australia and the Dhufish is miles in front of other reef species found in local waters due to the exceptional taste of these great table fish.

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Most people here regard them as close to the best eating fish in Australia as do I.

They are only found in WA. waters with their range being from Dirk Hartog Island in the north down to Esperance in the south, although they are more frequently found in the ocean between Walpole in the south and Kalbarri 600kms north of Perth.

Intrepid anglers will find plenty of Dhufish in the Recherche Archipelago near Esperance and then appear all the way up to Shark Bay in our north.

They are a deep bodied, solid fish, mostly silver in color with a purple tinge over the entire body. They commonly have a black stripe across the eye and males Dhufish have a long filament at the end of their dorsal fins.

Dhufish prefer a hard bottom which is predominately limestone. It is a fact that individual Dhufish can and will be found in or around caves and overhangs.

They do love a cave to hide in for safety and so they can ambush their prey. They are normally found between 10 and 200m of water.

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Lately, now that the weather is warmer they are being found off Perth with a report just the other day saying 9 to 10 kilo ones are being caught about 10 kms off Hillarys beach and off the northern tip of Garden Island to the east side of Rottnest Island.

The average size caught in coastal waters is about 5 to 10kg range with fish to 12kg not all that unusual and in a recent issue of Perth's Sunday times the report told of a 17kilo being caught using whole squid as bait. The angling record is a modicum over 26kg or 41lbs.

Fishing methods

Often a sea anchor is essential to stop the boat drifting too far and too fast in a stiff breeze.

A boat moving too quickly makes it extremely hard, if not unachievable to hold bottom, staying in touch with the bottom is important to the drift fishing method. Don't just drift around hoping for the best.

Make sure you mark your position on a GPS or you can heave a marker over the side of your boat, then start drifting upwind remembering to use the sea anchor.

Constantly check the direction and speed of your drift and make sure you allow for any unexpected changes in direction during your drift.

Tackle and bait

 For catching dhufish the drift method still reigns above all other methods of hooking them.

The rig I like best for drift fishing is the dropper loop. Most dhufish fisho's use a single hook on their top dropper and a pair of hooks on the bottom to carry even bigger baits. but the secret to success is always, just keep going fishing and learning.

Big fresh baits are the real thing when it comes to catching big Dhuies.

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My own personal preference is for the fish bait you can catch on the way to the fishing area you have chosen. I like small whiting best of all as it is high on the Dhuie's list of things to eat.

Occy is a great bait if you hack all the slimy skin off. Fish fillets, whole squid and mulies may prove to be good baits on the day you try for dhufish.

Make sure you do not bury the hook point in big baits. Last year to my surprise I was using a lure out the back of our drifting boat, casting out, moving the rods tip up and down and to each side (Spinning), as I reeled the lure in, suddenly I had a hit and managed to hook the fish which when landed turned out to be a Dhufish just short of the minimum size allowed, 485mm, so we unhooked it and released it for another day.

Fisherman still tend to opt to using big 8/0s and 9/0 sized hooks, but in my experience you will hook more Dhuies using two or three smaller hooks 4/0s to 5/O size all snelled together.

Snelling is a method of tying hooks together or tying a single hook to a line.

The hook up rate also increases by making sure that all your hook points are showing through your bit of bait.

If you intend to use whole fish as bait, place one hook through the head (The bottom Hook) and the other hook through the body of the bait just behind the gut and make sure the second hook goes around the bait fish's spine.

Snelling Knot

The Minimum size of Dhufish allowed in WA is
50cm and up to 80 cm

Weights I have been told, range all the way from just a few kilos to nearly 25 kilos

The boat limit for dhufish is 2 per day
Diving limit for dhufish is 1 per day

For more information on dhufish seasons, size and bag limits go to

Western Australian Fishing Regulations

Western Australian Dhufish are a part of the pearl perch family.

Fishing Recipe for Dhuefish

They are appropriate for most cooking methods, particularly steaming, frying or grilling with a light dressing of citrus flavors and considered almost universally among fish lovers as being one of the best eating fish in the sea.

The flesh is white and flakey and the taste is sweet and with a creaminess not found in other table fish.

One recipe I like, is to coat fillet in beaten egg and cover in flour and fry for a few minutes in very hot oil Add hot sliced potato chips cooked with the fish in hot oil if you prefer.

Serve with a salad consisting of shredded lettuce, sliced tomato, potato salad, capsicum, sliced or diced onion, hard boiled egg and topped off with a nice mayonnaise.

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