With February just around the corner, the flathead have come out in droves. They are one of the bread and butter species targeted by anglers in the estuaries and beaches of Queensland in Summer and Autumn. IN the last week, we have photographed more flathead than any other species, with quality fish being taken on lures, plastics and fresh baits.
Flathead are fairly poor swimmers and tend hide out in areas of lower current strength or will bury themselves in the sand in an ambush position with only their eyes showing. They lay waiting for small bait to swim over them and with a short burst swallow the bait fish with their large bucket mouth. A combination of week swimming ability and ambush feeding style helps us as anglers to locate areas that we believe to be good flathead habitats.
The best locations to try your luck in the estuaries are along rock walls, bridge pylons, snags, under pontoons, bends in the river, change in depth along the river banks and sand/mud bars. Areas of low current behind structure are where baitfish congregates. Try to fish on the down stream side of a structure or banks when the tide is running out for best results.
Boat-owners fortunately can access some of the best flathead haunts with ease. If you don’t own a boat, then hiring one may be an option. In an effort to make boating more affordable in times when many locals are struggling, the team at Swan Boat Hire has come up with some pretty sizable discounts on boats that would be ideal for targetting flathead in the upper reaches. For instance, we’ve knocked over a third off the price of all boats hired for half a day (5hrs), meaning you’ll only pay for 3 hours. There are other great deals to be found at www.facebook.com/boathire.
Another easy option is drifting in a kayak over water with varying depth is also a great way of catching flathead. One of the best things about these fish is that will eat almost any bait that drifts past their nose. Favourite baits are live herring, whitebait, small W.A. pilchards and larger green prawns. Flathead readily take lures of all shapes and sizes so it is well worth throwing or trolling a lure around an area that you believe to hold flathead.
Locals have had great results from the mud flats in the middle reaches of the river using soft plastics. The best results were achieved when working the edges of sand banks and channels as the tide floods across them. We used an array of plastics with the stand outs being:
Drifting with soft plastics is excellent for specifically targeting dusky and sand flathead, as you will cover a large surface area. Sand bank drop offs, yabby banks, channels and holes are where the action will be.
Using fluorocarbon or low vis leader material is a must when chasing flathead, especially in clear shallow water. I use a minimum of 2 meters of fluorocarbon leader when chasing any fish on soft plastics. Between 12 and 20lb is ideal for flathead depending on the size of your average fish. With 20lb you are pretty safe even with 3kg plus sized duskies.
So get mobile, be it in a boat or paddle-powered, and make the most of this beautiful summer weather while it lasts. Any angler bringing in a legal-sized flathead this weekend will have their photo featured on www.swanboathire.com.au as well aswww.faccebook.com/boathire. The best catch of the weekend will also receive a $20 tackle voucher to spend in Swan Boat Hire, with the winner notified by email on Monday. Good luck!
Ray Smith was fishing off Chambers Island with fresh prawn on the ebb tide when he hooked this 52cm dusky flathead.
Jimmy Hill was working pearl soft plastics around Picnic Point when he boated this 62cm flathead.