A croc-sized dusky flathead tagged in the St Georges Basin trophy fishery program has recorded an impressive 10cm growth rate after being recaptured just over three years after its release.
Angler Marley Watson, 13, recaptured the 97cm flattie while fishing on the southern side in the Basin on December 29.
The tag details reveal the fish was originally tagged on December 27, 2017 by local fisho Connor Barrett while kayak fishing on the north-western side of the Basin.
Basin-tagging stalwart Dave Loose, fishing nearby in his boat, assisted Connor in landing the fish, which was measured at 87cm before being tagged and released in excellent condition.
The big lizard was at liberty for 1097 days and was recaptured approximately 2.3nm from the original capture location and Sydney Charter skipper Matt Reid, holidaying with Marley and other friends, reported that the fish again swam off strongly after being re-released.
A 10cm growth rate over three years is significant for a flathead of this size as previous DPI Fisheries research indicated that growth rates for dusky flathead tend to slow after the fish reach "trophy size" of 70cm-plus.
Individual fish can, however, record noteworthy size increases.
This latest Basin recapture highlights the viability of catch-and-release fishing for large female dusky flathead as a management tool to protect important breeding populations while allowing multiple anglers to experience the thrill of catching a "trophy-sized" fish.
As they say, these spectacular fish are too good to catch just once.