Nick Whyte Talks about Flathead Top Gun Win

Recently, I was lucky enough to be participate in a great concept fishing tournament run by the Gold Coast Sports Fishing Club. The tournament is called the Flathead Top Gun. The way it works is the top 10 finishers from the Flathead Classic from the previous year are asked if they are willing to be auctioned off to fish with the highest bidder on tournament day.

I think it’s a great concept as you get to share a bit of your knowledge with others, help out the club, and the monies raised from the auction go into the prize pool. To fish the tournament, you don’t have to bid on a top gun. You can take them on with your own team of 2 or 3 anglers.

At auction night, there were 8 top guns up for auction and 150 people to throw some money around. I was lucky enough to have Michael Angus put his faith in me. The auction raised over $4000 for the prize pool.

On the morning of the event, there were 28 boats in total that took to the water to catch, photograph, and release their 5 biggest Flathead. I set a plan to target fish in deeper water to catch the biggest fish. This time of year is not known for big congregations of fish like in October. However, it will usually hold good sized resident fish. We just needed to find them.

I like to target fish by sounding around with my HDS Gen 3 units until I find good patches of bait. I will place a waypoint on these bait schools and use the GPS screens to position the boat to be able to target these areas.

We landed a small 40s fish in the boat reasonably quick for our first fish but had to wait 2 hours for our 2nd. It was worth the wait as an 88cm crocodile slid into the net. This is the sort of kicker fish you need to take out a tournament like this. I had set myself a goal of 300cm for the day and knew if our 5 best exceeded this we were in with a chance.

With the bite being pretty tough for us we slogged it out for the next 2hrs putting a lovely 77 and 72cm fish in the boat. We had 3 great sized fish in the bag but it took 2 hours to catch our last. How hard could that be…..? With 15 minutes to go, we finally managed to boat a small fish to fill our bag and put us over the 3m target I set at the start of the event.

It was a very tough day with a few dropped fish but managed to make the right ones stick. We took our score sheets back with a total of 315cm of flathead for our 5 fish. This was enough for us to take out the champion top gun team and champion team overall. We walked away with a nice new Lowrance HDS 12 and a sweet little payday for our efforts.

One of the biggest advantages that helped me was having my units on the front deck networked to the console sounders. By being able to pinpoint the bait from the console, marking them, and having the waypoints and sonar from the stern shared to the bow made it easy to choose the right area. The clarity and benefits of the added SideScan range from the 3D transducer also made it quite easy to detect bait schools out to the side of the boat. This cut down time driving around looking and gave us more time for fishing.

My best lures for the tournament were the Zman 4in Diezel minnow in Redbone glow and my go-to bait was the Sexy Mullet 5in Paddlerz. Next time you’re out targeting a few flatties, try spending a bit of time sounding out the bait and where it’s prevalent. See if it helps you put a few more on the deck.

Nick Whyte, Australia

Navico

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