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Your Ultimate Guide To Catching Dhufish: Complete Locals Guide

Dhufish, the prized catch of the South West, beckons anglers to the pristine waters of Margaret River. In this post, we’ll dive into the secrets of hooking this elusive fish, a favorite among local and visiting fishermen alike.

I’ll share the wisdom gleaned from countless hours spent with rod in hand, alongside my husband and our five sons, and from guiding thousands of holiday-goers in Margaret River since 2016.

They’re a great target for anglers from beaches (it is rare to catch them this way – however I very recently met someone who had caught one on a Friday afternoon drone fishing from a Margaret River beach!) and offshore. They provide some great table fare when cooked up correctly.

It doesn’t matter if you’re an expert or just starting out, I’ve got some great tips that’ll help you out. Let’s tackle the ups and downs of fishing for Dhufish together, and make sure your next trip is not just successful, but also one for the pool room.

big dhufish! caught at a fishing spot in Margaret River
Every fishers dream – a giant Dhufish!!

What Is A Dhufish? 

Dhufish (scientific name Glaucosoma hebraicum) also known as Westralian Dhufish, or Dhuie, is a Western Australian icon. They are found ONLY in the waters off the coast of Western Australia, meaning they are found nowhere else in the world. Dhufish can grow to be quite large, with the biggest on record being over 1 meter long and weighing in at around 26 kilograms!

What Is The Range Of Dhufish?

Dhufish are endemic to Western Australia, meaning they are not found anywhere else in the world. They have been caught all the way from Esperance, around the coast and as far north as Shark Bay, however, they are most commonly caught between Kalbarri and Augusta.

It is an inshore demersal fish, meaning it lives close to shore and close to the seabed.

Dhufish are usually found on reefs 20-50m deep, however sometimes they have been caught in water just 3m deep!

Description of the Dhufish Fish 

Dhufish have a very distinct appearance and are not normally mistaken for other fish. They are a silver/grey coloured fish with a mauve hue, with a robust body and a large head. They have a distinctive black stripe across their eye which is less prominent the older they get, and males can have an elongated dorsal fin filament which is absent on females. Most Dhufish are caught between 3-8kg, but they can reach up to 25kg.

Where Can I Catch Dhufish?

Dhufish are found in the waters off the coast of Western Australia, and are most commonly caught between Kalbarri and Augusta, although their range extends slightly further from Shark Bay to Esperance. They are generally caught offshore in 20-50m of water, however, they have been caught in water as shallow as 3m!

boy fishing at peppermint grove beach

Where Can I Catch Dhufish In Margaret River?

Dhufish can be caught in the waters around Margaret River. There are a few hot spots where they are known to congregate, so be sure to ask at a local fishing and tackle shop where the best places to fish are. They are most commonly caught offshore, but they can also be found near beaches if you’re really lucky.

As a general rule, look for coral bombies, large rocky outcrops, ledges and caves. Dhufish are sedentary, and will not travel far from home once they find their ideal habitat.

Dhufish Season

The Dhufish season in Western Australia has had changes in 2023. The Dhufish season is now very strict and it is VERY IMPORTANT you check the dates that the season is open before you even start fishing.

Current rules on catching Dhufish are available on Department of Fisheries Official Site.

Dhufish Size

Dhufish can grow to be quite large, with the biggest on record being around 1 meters long and weighing in at around 26 kilograms! Most Dhufish that are caught by anglers are between 50cm-1m in length. Dhufish can also live to about 40 years of age.

If you are lucky enough to bag a dhufish, you can keep it, no matter the size, and keep 1 of them as your daily bag limit in WA, and a maximum of 2 to your boat, as of November 2023, but there are VERY STRICT seasons for when you can catch and keep Dhufish, so please check the Department of Fisheries Official Site for up-to-date dates and information. 

Best Time To Catch Dhufish

The best time to catch Dhufish is as soon as the season opens, after December 15. This is when they move closer to shore as the water warms up.

Time of day is not a crucial factor for catching Dhufish, however, Luke Thom from Legend Charters recommends watching the tides, as he believes Dhufish are more active when the tide is changing.

fishing margaret river

How To Catch A Dhufish

Dhufish can be caught using a variety of methods, including bait fishing, lure fishing, jigging and spearfishing. It’s best to combine all methods if you’re serious about catching a Dhufish, as on different days they seem to like different things!

Whichever method you catch one on, here’s some advice for when they’re first hooked – get 6-10m on the fish and get them off the bottom. When they’re hooked, they will try to go straight for the cave or piece of coral they have come out from and will try to bust you off. If you can get them off the bottom there is nowhere for them to go, and you should be able to reel them up fairly easily from here.

Don’t forget that if you are out fishing on a boat, you will need a current Recreational Fishing License.

Dhufish Bait

Dhufish can be quite fussy with bait. Live herring, other whole fish, octopus and squid are the best options to use to catch a Dhufish, the fresher the bait, the better.

If you want to try and catch a Dhufish using bait, try an 8-10kg rod with 40-50 pound braid.

Dhufish Lures

Dhufish will also take a variety of lures, including soft plastics and hard body lures. When lure fishing for Dhufish, it is important to use a lure that imitates their natural prey items, such as small fish or squid.

Dhufish Jigging

Here, you use a soft plastic bait, designed to “flutter” down to the bottom of the seabed and attract the Dhufish’s attention. You then bring it up 5m, then drop it back down again, repeating as you drift in your boat. Use a lighter rod, and 30-40 pound line when jigging, so you don’t end up with sore arms from dropping and lifting the jig all day!

Dhufish Spearfishing

Dhufish can also be caught using a spear gun, although this is only recommended for experienced spearfishers. When spearfishing for Dhufish, look for the same features as you would when bait or lure fishing – coral bombies, large rocky outcrops, ledges and caves.

two young boys fishing at canal rocks
My two eldest sons fishing from Canal Rocks

Dhufish Rig

There are a few different rigs that can be used when bait fishing for Dhufish, but the most effective is a drifting method.

The most common rig for drifting is a deep water two-hook dropper loop rig with a sinker that is small and will keep your bait on the bottom.

Dhufish Burley

Burley is a method of attracting fish to your fishing area using the regular release of small amounts of fish food into the ocean, and it can be very effective when targeting Dhufish, especially if you are drifting.

Lots of fishermen have their own way of creating a burley pot, but the best way we have found is to;

  • Save all of your frames and heads and freeze them in your bait freezer
  • When you have a decent size of frames and heads ready to go, cook the whole lot in the oven
  • Then, put it all into a large bucket or wheelbarrow, and mash it up with a shovel
  • Mix in a large bag of chicken feed and a bottle or two of fish-attracting oil (available from your local Fishing and Tackle shop)
  • Pack the mix you’ve created into 2-liter milk cartons and then freeze
  • To use, simply take the frozen carton, cut some holes in the side and remove the lid
  • Tie a rope through the handle and hang the burley pot over the side of the boat
  • Give the burley pot 15 minutes to start working and then fish around it
  • You should attract large fish with the smell that will come out of the burley pot, but its important to not feed them, so make sure the burley is super mashed up before packing it in the milk carton

How To Fillet Dhufish

Would you like to know how to fillet Dhufish? It’s important to know how to fillet Dhufish correctly, so you don’t waste your catch, and you can get the most out of it. Make sure you’re wearing a safety glove  on your non-cutting hand, and you have yourself a nice, sharp filleting knife (this is the exact one we use and would recommend it highly!)

These are the steps to follow;

1. Holding the head in your non-cutting hand, place your knife behind the pectoral fin at a 90-degree angle to the backbone, and cut down behind the head, cutting halfway through.

2. At this point, place your non-cutting hand firmly on top of the fish, and turn your knife down towards the tail at a 45-degree angle and cut, following the back bone where the fin is.

3. Now you have your first fillet, cut the rib bones off.

4. Dhufish can be eaten with the skin on, or skin off, but if you want to take the skin off, grip the tail end of the fillet, and slide your knife between the fillet and the skin, heading in the direction of where the head would have been. It should come off quite easily.

5. Repeat on the other side and you’re done! Two delicious Dhufish fillets, ready to cook.

You may come across some bones, but they aren’t small, so you shouldn’t miss them.

boy fishing from beach Peppermint Grove Beach

How to Store Dhufish

Before eating your Dhufish, remove the scales, gills, and guts. You can also wrap the whole fish or fillets in plastic wrap or store them in an airtight container. If you want to save it for later, Dhufish can be kept in the fridge for 3 days or frozen for up to 6 months (whole fish) and 3 months (fillets).

What Does Dhufish Taste Like?

Dhufish are almost universally regarded as the best-eating fish in the sea, and with good reason! They have a sweet and creamy flavor with flaky white flesh which is unbeatable. The fillets are large with few bones making them perfect for pan-frying, baking or BBQing.

Dhufish is often compared to snapper and is a popular choice for both recreational and commercial fishermen.

I am pretty sure if you asked everyone in my family what their favorite fish was, it would be Dhufish!

How To Cook Dhufish

There are many ways to cook Dhufish, but some of the most popular methods include baking, pan-frying, and BBQing.

Here are some simple recipes to get you started:

1. Baked Dhufish

Ingredients:

-4 Dhufish fillets

-1/2 lemon, juiced

-1 tablespoon olive oil

-1 teaspoon dried oregano

-1/4 teaspoon salt

-1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a small bowl, combine lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, salt, and pepper.

3. Place Dhufish fillets in a baking dish and pour the lemon juice mixture over top.

4. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through.

2. Pan-Fried Dhufish

Ingredients:

-1 tablespoon olive oil

-1/2 cup all-purpose flour

-1/2 teaspoon salt

-1/4 teaspoon black pepper

-4 Dhufish fillets

-1/2 lemon, juiced

Instructions:

1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

2. In a shallow dish, combine flour, salt, and pepper.

3. Dredge Dhufish fillets in the flour mixture and then place in the hot skillet.

4. Cook for 2-3 minutes per side, or until the fish is golden brown and cooked through.

5. Remove from heat and drizzle with lemon juice before serving.

3. BBQed Dhufish

Ingredients:

-4 Dhufish fillets

-1/4 cup olive oil

-1/4 cup lemon juice

-1 teaspoon dried oregano

-1/4 teaspoon salt

-1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions:

1. Preheat BBQ to medium heat.

2. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, salt, and pepper.

3. Place Dhufish fillets in a large resealable bag and pour the marinade over top.

4. Seal the bag and let the fish marinate for 20-30 minutes.

5. Grill Dhufish for 4-5 minutes per side, or until cooked through.

Dhufish is a versatile fish that can be cooked in a variety of ways. Whether you bake, pan-fry, or BBQ it, Dhufish is sure to be a hit with your family and friends!

fishing spots margaret river

Dhufish Recipes

If you fancy something a bit more gourmet, try these Dhufish recipes:

Do Dhufish Have Bones?

Dhufish have bones, but if you fillet them correctly, they shouldn’t be a problem. We always check for bones before cooking though, just to be safe.

Is Dhufish High In Mercury?

Dhufish is a fish that is safe for most people to consume as it has low mercury levels. Pregnant women and young children can eat Dhufish without worry, though if you’re concerned about mercury in fish generally, it’s best to speak with your doctor or healthcare provider.

Is Dhufish Safe During Pregnancy?

Dhufish is a type of fish that has low mercury levels. This means it is safe for most people to eat, including pregnant women and young children. However, if you are concerned about mercury in fish, please speak with your doctor or healthcare provider.

Is Dhufish Good To Eat?

Not only are dhufish safe to eat, but they are also a nutritious choice. Dhufish are high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids and contain vitamins and minerals.

How Much Is Dhufish?

The cost of Dhufish differs depending on the store you buy it from. In general, Dhufish is slightly more costly than alternative kinds of fish. However, all seafood can be pretty pricey. If you’re looking for a fun activity AND want to save some money, try catching your own!

Wrapping Up: Catching Dhufish in Western Australia

There you have it! Everything you need to know about Dhufish in 2022. Catching Dhufish is great fun, and an enjoyable hobby we do together as a family. I hope this guide has been helpful and that you’ll consider adding them to your menu this year.

Related Posts:

Australia Travel Planning Guide

🚑Should I buy Australian travel insurance?

100% YES! — Australia has “free” healthcare but it’s only for citizens and permanent residents. Foreigners visiting need travel insurance in case anything happens on their visit. I like SafetyWing – their Nomad Insurance starts at just $1.50 USD a day!

🚗Should I rent a car in Australia?

Yes — Renting a car is a necessity in most of Australia! If you want to go on road trips or adventures outside of the major cities, and even if you’re staying in a major city, you’ll want to rent a car. If you are visiting Margaret River, it will be even more important that you hire a car, you’ll need it to be able to get around and see all the great attractions and wineries!

🏨What’s the best way to book my Australian accommodation?

My go-to for Australian hotels is Booking.com. Pretty much all registered accommodation use Booking.com (but not necessarily any of the other major booking platforms), and even most of the holiday homes and caravan parks use Booking.com too!

If you’re planning a trip to Australia where you will stay at multiple locations, it’s super handy to have all your accommodation listed in one place, and accommodation owners like Booking.com because it’s easy to contact the guests using the messaging platform if the guest has an international phone number.

I sincerely hope you enjoy your visit to Margaret River!