DEEP TACTICS FOR FLATHEAD

A lot of people when they start there angling adventures at whatever the age tend to start out on the humble Flathead, I can remember that the Flathead was definitely one of my first fish on lure and since then has sparked my addiction to fishing and I seem to still get a sense of excitement fishing for Flathead even these days, especially the big girls in deep water.

Warm Days Ahead

The warm weather has finalised its grip along the East-Coast and your techniques and presentations need to change as the habitats and behavior of species change with the season. Myself and other keen estuary fisho’s alike search for the heavier sinking lures and head out with what started out as a search for Mulloway, essentially I had been bouncing plastics and vibes in deep holes that held Mulloway alongside the edges but by-catch often happens and in time can become a pain to anyone targeting a certain fish until I realized that big Flathead hold in some of the deeper drop off’s. Dedicating yourself to targeting these big Flatties is an ample amount of fun on some light gear providing you change up a few tactics, lures and presentations will almost dramatically increase the numbers of flathead you catch, sticking with these methods you will soon realize that mulloway will be few and far between. Flathead will tend to feed actively before the spawning season in September through to March and they tend to feed in shallow water but most often the larger Dusky Flathead will sit alongside deeper drop off’s in water around 10-20 metres of water. IMG_0109

A Few Facts

Now separating facts from squawler…. a very common mistake many estuary anglers make when fishing for flathead is using lures to small in deeper water for big Flathead, now let’s remember the bigger Flathead essentially 60cm and above have no problem at all engulfing a passing solid Mullet or Whiting and even Tailor so sometimes upgrading can be the focus point to a big Flathead using its energy and giving away its cover in the sand and eating, or waiting for a larger bait to pass. Fishing in deep water can be difficult sometimes to get a solid natural action from a lure in faster tidal flowing waters with strong current and let’s face it Flatties love noisy, heavy vibration and in built actions that a vibe puts out that finesse style soft plastic lures tend to lack, especially in cloudy water.

Options Galore

Companies supply an unlimited amount of choices when it comes to lures but there are a few stand out’s and these days the Japanese seem to produce the greatest and most effective tackle in the industry. I tend to look at two crucial factors in lures, size and weight. Now fishing deeper for Flatties with current I would tend to lean more towards a lure between 10-25 grams depending a depth and water flow. A great advantage with vibration lipless crankbaits is action, the highest amount of vibration in a lure seems to get the attention of flatties on the bottom. In addition to water depths beyond the 15 metre mark I like to convert to a larger profile vibration lures around the 140mm length and a generous amount in weight to get down to the deeper regions. _MG_0022GHDGF

Weight And Balance

It is paramount to remember that the weight of the lure or jighead you choose needs to reach the depths of where the big flathead are holding and this also comes down to the current flow just as much as the depth of water you are fishing, your offering should always make contact with the bottom even to a point as to where the lure puffs up the sand and makes sure it’s predator knows of its existence, but also not choosing a weight that is to heavy and will fall to quickly without any action.

Colour Choice

Most Angler’s will debate over colour selection for a various amount of species, but when it comes down to it I feel as though the position of the lure and being in striking distance of the Flathead out weighs the colour debate, I have caught Flathead on bright yellow and pink lures, but also caught them on dull browns and greens in the same spot, same tide, same depth and same day. Flathead are an ambush predator; they will tend to eat a meal that is well presented in front of their nose. Flathead wait patiently on the bottom of the water column often burying themselves in the sand brilliantly camouflaged as they ambush bait as it passes by, so keeping regular contact with bottom is a crucial fact to remember, if you think your vibe lure isn’t making contact with the sand due to the drift or the current then it most likely isn’t, so change to a heavier lure. Short hops along the bottom is the most effective and productive way I like to fish for Flatties, long lifts of the rod tip will bring the lure to far up the water column and most likely will miss a waiting fish on the drop. Pausing as the lure rests on the bottom will also make sediment which attracts the Flathead, mixing up the retrieve from 1 hop through to 3 hops and a pause. Each time making the lure move approximately 30 to 40cm each time. _MG_8256

Find The First Drop Off

The entrance to an estuary in most case will almost always have a distinct drop off zone, this is where the current flows runs through, this is where larger Fish will hold, especially if structure like coffee rock is present. Flathead will tend to sit adjacent to the structure and getting a good boat position for a good drift will allow you to present you r lure just a few feet from the structure as you work it down the drop off zone. Fish will sit just inside and down the initial drop zone awaiting passing bait. You will quickly work out your drift lines and once you do you can use two types I tend to stick to for results and the first one is a controlled drift, for when the boat moves at the same speed as the current and utilizing your electric to keep the boat on a straight line axis to have a greater contact with the lure and the bottom for a much better hook up. _MG_0069

Perfecting The Slow Drift

The second is a slow drift and I use this drift when the current is fast moving, using the electric engine to slow down the movement of the current. Casting into the current and working the lures back to the boat will eliminate the pendulum of the lure keeping it in close contact with the bottom. While the rear angler can try working the lure with the current, this is a time to consider sometimes using the reels anti-reverse switch and letting out line, but be aware to have that switch reverted for a strike. It is a tricky method that takes a while to get used to, but it gets you fish without having to cast over your mates’ heads fishing from the front. _MG_0031

Tide Is Critical

Tidal fishing for big Flatties is paramount, but every estuary is different. Some anglers will vouch by the run out tide, I much prefer the run in tide as I find that the run out tide carries dirty water when the run in tides brings in cleaning water and I find catching any fish in cleaning water is more successful than any tide. A good morning session coupled with a run in tide of around 7 to 9am, fishing deep drop off zones and changing up your technique just slightly and dedicating yourself to targeting these big Flatties should have you pulling in the bigger lizard models.
Dale Ward

About Dale Ward

Dale Ward grew up in both Sydney and Country Victoria and has fished as far back as he can remember. Dale has found himself casting lures at both freshwater and saltwater species along the East-Coast and prides himself as a new member of the Kaydo Fishing World team.

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