Distribution - The Northern Flathead (P. arenarius), sometimes known as the flag-tailed flathead, is endemic to Australian waters and is commonly found along beaches and in estuaries of Northern NSW. Its range extends through Queensland into the Northern Territory and as far south as Carnarvon in Western Australia. It has been recorded as far south as Jervis Bay on the east coast.
Size - The Northern Flathead is one of the smaller species of flathead, growing to a maximum length of 45cm (approx. 0.7kg).
Characteristics - The Northern Flathead has a pale brown body speckled with pinkish-red spots. The caudal fin (tail) is the best way to identify the northern sand flathead, with a pattern of almost horizontal flag-like black stripes across the tail (three distinct black bars on the upper portion and two on the lower portion of the caudal fin). Unlike many other flathead species, the northern sand flathead sporadically appears in schools.
Confusing Species - It is easily confused with the Bartail Flathead (P. indicus). The Bartail Flathead has a distinctive yellow blotch on the caudal fin, which the northern sand flathead lacks.
Fishing Tips - Trolling or spinning with lures along sand flats or a sand gutter drop-off at the top of the run-out tide is a popular way of targeting most flathead species. These may also be caught drifting over sand flats.