Hi, Thomas Mewes here, and I am a part of the Pro Staff team here at Tackle World Kawana Waters.
With the temperature starting to rise, the Flathead in our local waters have started to venture up to the river mouths to start the breeding process. Flatty are a lovely table fish, and also super exciting to catch when you hook one of the bigger females that are present in our local waterways. Flathead can be caught in a number of ways, so in this blog I will give you my tips and tricks that will help you catch your fair share of these lovely table fish.
Ways to catch Flathead: Flathead can be taken in a number of ways. They take a liking to a variety of bait and lures. Firstly I will cover a simple bait rig that have been successful for many anglers over the years. The most simple bait rig to catch Flathead is a simple running sinker rig. Depending on depth, a size 2 or 3 ball sinker will do the trick. From the bottom of your swivel, a leader of around a 12lb to 16lb, about 30 cm in length will be perfect. Choose your hooks to suit the types of bait you are fishing. With Prawns, Worms and Yabbies, I like to run a size 1 long shank hook. With larger bait such as Herring or Pilchards, you can either run a gang hook set up, or if you are good with your knots, you can snell 2 octopus hooks together. With the larger baits, hook size in both the gang hooks and the octopus, of about 2/0 or 3/0 will do the job. Flathead also take a liking to lures. They will take anything from hard body divers, soft plastics, vibes, and even swimbaits for the bigger sized fish. Hard body lures from 60mm to 110 mm that dive to a depth of about 3m have been most successful for me. It allows the lure to work close to the bottom whether it be with a cast and retrieve action, or by trolling them. The loud rattles and action of hard body lures can entice the Flatty to feed when the bite is tough. Soft plastics are also a great option to catch Flatty. Any soft plastics in a 3 inch, 4 inch and even a 5 inch can be very effective when fishing the right area. Flathead take a liking to minnow style and curly tail soft plastics. Depending on the depths of water you are fishing, jig heads of weights around a ¼ ounce allows the plastics to work close to the bottom. Depending on what size plastic you are fishing, hook sizes in the jig head of around a 3/0 will be suitable for most plastics around that 3inch and 4inch size. When fishing a 5inch plastic you may have to increase hook size to a 4/0. The lure market has expanded and have released plenty of soft and hard vibe lures which have been very successful for Flathead. The Jackall TN60 and the Zerek Fish Trap in a 95mm have been my two favourites this flatty season. These lures throw plenty of noise and vibration to attract the Flatty. Lastly, Swimbaiting for flathead has become very popular with those who want to catch the larger fish in the system. The Jackson Primal 164 and the Barambah swimbaits, in the Baby mullet and the Lazy mullet have been very successful. The swimbaits imitate larger baitfish, with a jointed construction, they have a super life-like action which excites the bigger Flathead into feeding. Lure colour is also important. Depending on the water clarity. In the clear water around the river mouth, I find natural colours to be most successful. In the murkier, brackish water, the more vibrant colours, such as, pink, black and gold, and nuclear chicken are very effective.
Technique and location: Flatty fishing whether it be bait or lures is quiet simple. Flathead are an ambush predator and will sit on the bottom and wait until their prey is in range. Step drop offs, deeper holes and higher up on sandbanks where the bottom has a rising and falling bottom is where Flathead like to lie. They like a bit of current in the area, so that their food is, ‘delivered to their doorstep’ as I like to say. This means the Flatty will sit facing into the current so they can see their prey coming. When fishing from the bank here is some tips. With bait, it is good practice to cast slightly up current and let the bait drift with the current, if no bites, slowly reel in and cast again, as Flathead like a moving bait. Same technique can be used with lures, keeping the lures working close to the bottom. When fishing out of a boat, a sounder is your best friend. Find areas in where the bottom varies in depth or where there is a rapid change in depth. Otherwise, just fish the drop offs on the edges of sandbanks, and let your bait or lure work its way down into the deeper area of water. This technique is most effective on an outgoing tide, due to all the bait fish having to travel into the deeper water. Trolling lures is also an effective way to find Flatty when the bite is slow. My best tip would be to be find areas in where there is a reed bed, or along the edges of sandbanks, and troll your hard body lures along these edges. Troll your lures about 20m behind the boat, and at a slow pace.
Gear: I have 2 set ups I alternate between when fishing for Flatty, and it all depends on what size lure or bait you are throwing. My lighter set up is a 2500 Stradic Ci4 spooled with 10lb braid and a 12lb leader on a Zodias 270ML (5-10lb), I use this rod when casting smaller sized lures, or fishing bait such as; Prawns, Worms and Yabbies, but any 2-4kg rod with a 2500 size reel will do the trick. My heavier set up is a 4-7kg Daiwa ballistic x, with a 3000 Daiwa Excellor spooled with 15lb braid and a 16lb leader. This rod is used when I am casting the larger lures and fishing larger baits such as Herring and Pilchards. These two rods allow me to throw the smaller and bigger baits for Flatty, depending on what is working on the day. If you are after a set up that is able to do both, aim for a 3-6kg rod with either a 2500 or 3000 size reel, spooled with 12lb or 15lb. This will be a great rod to throw the smaller baits, but also handle the larger baits.
There are my tips and tricks to catch the Flathead in our local waters, if you are after any more advice, feel free to drop into our store and ask any of our friendly team members for assistance and they will be more than happy to help.