Flathead On The Fraser Coast – How To Catch More Flatties

Flathead, Duskies in particular, are a very common target species most places around Australia and here on the Fraser Coast is no exception.

This is especially true throughout the winter months and now, into the start of spring as we have been experiencing lately.

Flathead can be caught in a number of many ways using a variety of different techniques but in this  article we will cover a few ways that have shown to be productive for me over the last couple of years.

A sensational Sandy Straights flathead - read Aiden's article and catch top quality fish like this.

A sensational Sandy Straights flathead – read Aidan’s article and catch top quality fish like this.

Scope Out A Likely Area

The first thing when looking at catching flathead is scoping out a likely area. Flathead inhabit many different structures but they are predominately found around sand flats, mud flats, and rock bars. They are an ambush fish that buries itself into the bottom, and wait for their prey to swim past. This is why it’s particularly important to make constant contact with the bottom when fishing with either soft plastics, vibes, hard bodies or flies.

Newbies And Old Hands All Love Flathead

Flathead are a great species to target whether you are just starting out using lures or are a seasoned angler. They eat a great range of different lures including many different styles and colours of softplastics, hard bodies, vibes, and fly’s. Flathead are not generally fussy and put up a decent fight on the light gear when hooked making them fun for all ages and levels of experience to catch.

Releasing a flathead to live and fight other day.

Releasing a flathead to live and fight other day.

Soft Plastics The Go-To Choice

The most productive way of catching flathead in my opinion is by using soft plastics. Plastics come in almost an endless array of colours and styles these days, although the standout soft plastics for me are the Z-Man range.

These plastics are super tough and can handle a vast number of fish, even the toothy ones. The styles from the range that I like to use for flathead arethe 2.5” GrubZ, 3” ShrimpZ, 4” Curly TailZ, 3” MinnowZ and the 5” StreakZ. The colour of the plastic I use depends on the clarity of the water.

For instance when the clarity is good I tend to fish more natural colours such as Motor Oil. When the water clarity is a bit dirty it can help to fish a Pearl, Pink, or New Penny coloured plastic.

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Flathead are suckers for soft plastics – it’s as if plastics are the perfect bait for the iconic Aussie species.

 

Focussing On Jig Heads

I believe Jig head selection is almost as important as the colour and style of soft plastic you are using. Depending on the water depth and current flow you are fishing the weight of the jig head can vary. I generally use a ¼ oz jig head when fishing for flathead as it sinks quite fast and makes constant contact with the bottom.

Vary Your Retrieve For Best Results

A heavier jig head kicks up the sand or mud and essentially comes straight over the flatheads head sometimes annoying them into eating your plastic. The retrieve I like to use for fishing soft plastic lures is to cast out, let the plastic hit the bottom and to then give the rod 2 short sharp flicks, retrieve the slack line and repeat the process.

A sensational Sandy Straights caught flathead - Read Aiden's tips and catch top flatties like this!

A sensational Sandy Straights caught flathead – Read Aidan’s tips and catch top flatties like this!

This retrieve gives the plastic a great action as it kicks up a lot of sand when you give the rod a sharp flick and gives the plastic time to flutter nicely back to the bottom on the sink. Another way to catch flathead is by using hard bodied lures. Hard bodied lures are another effective method for catching flathead.

Best Choice Of Hard Bodies

The hard bodied lures I like using for flathead are Rapala X-Raps, Reidys little lucifer, little lucifer export and my own handcrafted Lollypop lures.

Many different colours of hard bodied lures work well for flathead, although I have had the most success on natural colours such as black/gold, Pearl, and mullet patterns. Two techniques are effective when targeting flathead with hard bodied lures, these two techniques are trolling and casting. Trolling is an effective technique when fishing the edge of a drop off. Trolling allows for a large amount of area to be covered quickly.

Heading off one perfect day on another Fraser Coast flathead mission.

Heading off one perfect day on another Fraser Coast flathead mission.

Make Them Notice It

Giving the rod an occasional flick can help to get a bite, as the lure hits the bottom and stirs up the mud or sand. Casting hard bodied lures is also effective, especially when fishing the creeks in a kayak during the run out tide. Casting hard bodied lures at the weed edges, and drop offs is usually a good way to get a bite from a flathead.

The retrieve I use is much the same as for soft plastics, once the lure is cast out I give the lure a few flicks but at the same time as flicking the rod I wind the reel, this makes the lure move erratically through the water.

Fly Fishing For Flatties

As saltwater fly fishing is growing in Australia more and more keen anglers are making the change to fly fishing. Fly fishing is definitely an alternative approach to catching species we generally catch on a spin or baitcast rod. Fly fishing is challenging but all in all very addictive, as once you hook the fish the fight is all in your hands until the fish runs you back onto the reel. Many different flies work for flathead, but you can’t go past a good clouser or shrimp pattern.

Clousers in orange and white, pink and white and yellow and white I have found to work best, and for the shrimp patterns natural colours. Either floating or intermediate lines are good for targeting flathead, especially when chasing them up on the flats the water is not generally too deep. The retrieve I have found to work well is to give the line two strips and a long pause.

Another nice flathead - this one was caught on fly fishing tackle.

Another nice flathead – this one was caught on fly fishing tackle.

When you think about it it’s basically the sameretrieve as to what you might do with a soft plastic or hard bodied lure. If you haven’t tried fly fishing yet I would definitely recommend giving it a go. The tides that I like to fish for targeting flathead is generally the run out tide, on the high tide the flathead come up onto the flats and onto the rock bars where they sit and wait for the tide to start to run out.

Fly and lure casting along structure-covered banks such as this one can be very productive for flathead.

Fly and lure casting along structure-covered banks such as this one can be very productive for flathead.

On the run out tide they lay in ambush and wait for the baitfish to be pushed back into the deeper water from the flats. When fighting flathead it is important to keep their head in the water, as when their head is exposed from the water they tend to thrash it around which can easily dislodge the hook. Keeping their head in the water and keeping constant tension on the fish can help minimise the risk of losing the fish.

 

Aidan’s Gear Of Choice:

Spin Rod Gary Howard Aussie Natives Tidal Terror 2-8lb 7’ Quantum Exo 15 Spin reel Rovex KOR 10lb Braid.

Soft Plastics Z-Man 3” ShrimpZ, in Rootbeer gold, New Penny Z-man 2.5” GrubZ, in Motor Oil, Violet Sparkle, Watermelon Red Z-Man 3“ MinnowZ in Pin Fish, Sexy Mullet Z-Man 4“ Curly TailZ in New Penny, Motor Oil, Pink Glow.

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