John Didge Flathead Special – Part 2

Last week John ‘The Jigman’ Didge let us in on his years of flathead secrets. This week, as he continues his two-part article, he pin points some of the top spots to target these sensational sports fish.

  Lake Tyres in far East Gippsland has over the last few years become one of the hottest location in the country to chase big flathead. About 4 easy hours drive from Melbourne to the East, regular catches of Flathead from 80cm to 95cm in length are common in October to December but they can be still caught all year round but the warmer months yield the bigger fish. But it’s not all about Giant Flat Faces, its common to get Flathead around 45cm in fact it is the average in the Lake.
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Another big ‘Coota fish, this one went 77cm.

 

Steep banks, Deep Water

What’s interesting about Tyres is that the banks tend to drop very sharply down into the water to depth over 10 meters in places yet the fish are not caught in 10m often but most of the fish that blokes like Matt Duggins get are in less than 1 meter in fact in a lot of cases under 10 inches of water. What’s Interesting is that flathead are opportunistic feeders and will nearly always look for the best ambush spot on the flats, generally where the food is coming to them, food as in bait fish or prawns.

Golden Tip

So if you are looking for the best ground its about finding the direction of flow and working from there, here is a tip, find the most protruding point in the estuary and fish the edge or side the water flow is washing over. From this point moving forward its a process of elimination, the best spot will be guarded by the biggest girl in the area. Duggo is to put it simply a gun when it comes to targeting big Frogs and to boot he owns the local tavern.

Bag And Size Limits

  A very important thing to remember if you are fishing and of the east coast estuaries is the bag and size limit on dusky flathead up this end of the state. Because people often can’t tell the difference in flathead species, all flathead caught in Eastern Victoria and NSW are deemed dusky flathead. That means you are only allowed 5 flathead between 30 and 55cm in length.
Dugo shows how to catch and handle a decent sized flathead.

Dugo shows how to catch and handle a decent sized flathead.

Lake Conjola

Every year I fish another location on the South Coast of NSW called lake Conjola. This is an amazing location, it’s where my PB 97cm 15 ½lb flathead come from so as you could well understand it holds a place in my heart. So much so I have gone through 2 divorces because of this place, it’s that special. What’s great about jolly is the diversity of the flathead fishery, its not an easy place to fish but the rewards for effort can be huge, what Conjola has that’s a stand out is of course your vast sand flats and drop offs apart from the main Lake its average depth is 4m and in my mind 2 – 4 meters is the best depth for sand flats to drop into, my best result’s have come from these waters, but what Conjola has is shallow edges with a huge a coverage of debris like Gum leaves and Tree branches.

Variations

Ever noticed the marking on a flathead, catch the fish in mud or clay and they are almost black, catch them in sand and they can at time get closer to white in color and as I said early in the piece they are ambush feeders. This I why Conjola is such an awesome place bucket loads of big fish up high in less than 3 inches of water. So many soft plastic fisho’s don’t catch because they drop there plastic 3 to 4 meters back from the bank to where the fish aren’t, for me when I fish at Conjola I cast onto the bank and flick the soft plastic into the water.
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Paul Mayer hooked this big girl in less than 3 inches of water as night fall hit. We put over 50 cast in but no hit till darkness.

 

Big Numbers!

Now when you go there to Conjola and you will just remember you are now going to get a lot of fish so only keep a few and put the rest back. As I write you may think I’m jumping all over but there is a pattern, the edges at Lake Conjola drop from zip to 4 meters over a distance of 20 meters out from the bank –  same as Lake Tyres and same for Corio Bay … I think I see a pattern. But I suppose not all is the same and as a good friend says all the time same same you will see.

Another Hot Spot

On the south coast of NSW there is a little land locked Estuary called Lake Walligoot, a big Fish Bowl, It starts at only a few inches deep and drops to 10 meters very quickly. Walligoot is a little different and I think that’s because of its land lock water but here the fish are sitting and I will get to it, in 20 – 25 feet of water but to catch them you still must cast up high and work your way down the edge, or sorry no fish today. But here is the interesting part to this for the top 3 meters of the edge or drop off its dense weed so I suppose the theory still sticks because the bottom half of the drop off is 2 – 4 meters, see the patterns starting to emerge and to boot the Flathead here fight harder that any flathead I have ever caught before.
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The writer John Didge shows of yet another solid flathead – great going John !

 

Down To Detail

  Now lets get down to the Nitti gritty of things when I comes to Soft Plastic selection that’s a choice that only you as a angler can chose, but what I say is use the plastic you are most happy with and go from there, for me I like colors that are natural like pumpkinseed or UV colors like watermelon pearl and I will give you my reasoning for that.

Catching Their Eye

Watermelon Pearl reflects light, flashes and looks very real where as pumpkinseed takes on the colors of the bottom, what makes this interesting is that if you venture up onto the flats what you will see is whiting, Mullet swimming all over, whiting with there white belly reflect the bottom so that they look like the sand as do mullet, its there form of camouflage and flathead spend most of there time buried under a little bit of sand waiting for some thing to come along like Whiting or Mullet. For Mr. Flathead it’s all about hiding so to ambush the next meal.
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Paul has no shortage of big Fatties in his diary.

 

Tricks To Try

I want to give you a few things to try over the xmas break, get up on the Flats and fish a popper or a light weighted soft Plastic and cast it long up onto the flats and work it slowly back to the boat or bank depending on what you are doing.  Look for shadows that may indicate deeper water or grey patches of ripped up bottom where a big frog may have been feeding on a early morning gig when the water is dead calm the outcome will blow your mind. If you are lucky enough to fish the waterways with large areas of mangroves then fish high up with weedless semi snag proof Jig heads on the high tide same deal awesome, I use the new Jigman SOSo Weedless jig with a big worm on it.
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What a way to finish! Dugo with a whopper flathead.

 

All About Action

Selecting your jig head and soft plastic are the easy bit most of the time you put in front of the Flathead he will eat it but action has a lot of bearing on the success in the end, I have seen so many so called gurus in NSW come home fishless not that there bad fisho but they refuse to try something new. Many times I have sat next to these blokes in my boat and seen them work up a man sweat whilst they rip there Jigs hard and fast, its not needed so why burn yourself out, don’t be afraid to work you Lure Or Plastic slow, let it hover around and jump up and down near or on the bottom.

An Easy Target

Flatties love an easy target so make life easy move it slowly. I hope that as part of this Kaydo special I have helped you or at least inspired you to get out there and have a go. All the pics in this Article are what the Team Jigman Pro-staff have nailed over the last season and a bit so enjoy. As a bit of a deal because I’m feeling Santary if that’s a word jump on the Jig Man web site www.thejigman.com.au and for all purchases over $25 we are offering a $10 discount all you need to do is put the code word Flathead in on check out and the discount will apply
‘Stay Hooked,’  The Jigman
 
John Didge

About John Didge

Owner and C.E.O of The Jigman John has had a passion for Soft plastics for the last 30 years and is widely renowned as one of the best in his field of Soft Plastics. But the passion really kicked in about 20 years back and In 1990 it basically become Johns only form of fishing, dedicating himself totally to fishing Soft plastics and nothing else. His reputation is as a big Flathead specialist travelling the coastline of Southern Australia in search of big Flathead and as Captain of Team Jigman along with Paul Mayer and Adam Van De Lugt The Jigman team is well known and it has sent fear into the minds of the Dusky Chasers (trash Talk). John Didge is also well respected in the fishing Media as host of the Geelong Fishing Show for the last 26 years but also on stage talking about fishing at Fishing expos and angling clubs (He never shuts up about Plastics Fishing). Second in the Media Classic during the 90’s at lake Mulwala, 6 time winner of the Conjola Flathead teams invitational (Dodgy little mates event), winner of the Mallacoota Reel it in Flathead Challenge in November 2013 and following it up next year with winning the Narooma Flathead Challenge in Feb 2014 and taking out Big Fish with an 81.5cm Flathead in Narooma Flathead Challenge in 2015.

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