Want To Catch More Flathead? Squidgie Tells Us How

Flathead fishing for me Is a passion that I have had since I was a small boy. On some days those big brown fish hit like a freight train, others just that light donk that only a flathead can do. You know the bite and you’ll never forget your first flathead you caught.

When I moved to the North Coast of NSW around 30 odd years ago to my dismay I was in fresh water country and for a flathead fix I had to drive two hours to get to salt water. Sweet water was not my thing in them days I needed salt and the big mouth brown bass was my thing (flathead) not sweet water bass.

From Bass To Flathead

Kyogle was the town I was in and bass and eel tail cat fish were the main fishing done in these parts to me this was sacrilege no flathead or bream after a few trips to the local watering hole I got to meet a few guys that fished salt water every weekend and they were off for a bobbing trip fishing for flathead now I had never bobbed for them before so I was really interested in the technique and were to use this style of fishing. Heading to Ballina to fish the Richmond River we launched the boat in town but headed way up river well past Wardell and up to Ryley’s Hill now that took near on thirty minutes to reach with a 50 horse motor on the back of the boat the boys were looking for something no sounder on the boat but they were checking out long stretches of river where you can drift run-in tide was the go and the gear was to just not right to me they had 20lb mono line on a hand reel a 9 ball sinker two 2/0 long shank chemically sharpen hooks and a curly tail pink soft plastic.
Want to catch solid flatties like this? Read on!

Want to catch solid flatties like this? Read on!

The Chosen Rig

The set up was 30lb leader around 400mm long – one hook on bottom and one hook floating so it was on leader but not tired on a swivel at top on leader. I also added a 9 ball sinker on top of swivel on the bottom hook a prawn was added on the floating hook. A soft plastic was attached this set up had me a bit bemused and not sure where or how to use it but things became a lot clearer when the boys dropped their lines over and began yo yoing (lift and dropping) their lines hence bobbing. The whole object is to make sure your sinker hits bottom hard and as you lift your prawn comes alive and the soft plastic dances and believe it or not the plastic is the more likely to get hits than the prawn. You are continually lifting and dropping till you find the fish then normally they are schooled up and you can get your quota very quickly once you found the fish.  

Areas To Look

Places to fish now in my area we were not far from bass fishing spots so being still salt we were a long way up river bream were caught as well we were not far from Woodburn so if you lived in Newcastle I would use this technique say up around Hexham now that’s a long way from Newie. Just remember long straights water over 3 metres deep don’t fish corners as they are normally deep you got to remember these are schooling fish dusky flathead and normally no females caught your biggest fish will be around 50cm most are in the 40cm so good eating ones also they have a darker brown skin as they are in blackish water.
Change tactics according to where you are fishing to get more consistent results.

Change tactics according to where you are fishing to get more consistent results.

Keep Looking!

It might take you a bit to find the fish but if you have a sounder and you find the bait mainly prawns you will find the flathead drifting is the only way you will get fish, another thing just check you main line were the sinker continually hits this can become weak as sinker hitting knot can cause break offs so I have used a big green stopper to help stop breakoffs.

Have a Plan B

The best time of the year is when the prawns start to move up river mid-winter to October, around September flathead move to the bottom of river to breed, something I always take with me when bobbing is plan B if fish are not playing the game I always have a second option so I will fish deep corners of river for flathead and I will use blades or soft vibes blades a really easy to use just that flathead love them and the mortality rate can be high in that I mean you will lose a few to the flathead gods many of my blades grace the walls of flathead lairs think it must be like a jewellery store the amount I have lost over the years, anyway as I said blades are easy work I like slopping banks on corners.

Always having a back-up plan will help you to continue to get good results.


Casting Near Banks

This way you can cast blade at bank and slowly work it down now this is done by lifting and dropping don’t go fast just gentle lift and drops no big lifts just use your wrist remembering this is cold water and fish are a bit slower hence slow lifts all the way to the bottom but hopefully you have a fish by then you need to stick to the area for around ten minutes if no bites move to next corner. Blades I would use are Terminal Tackle (TT) ½ Oz Pink Bimbo, Pink Hussar and Chartreuse, Ecogear 40mm or 50mm colours 439, and 424, Atomic Metalz AYU, Green Shad and Ghost Gill Brown, just remember slow roll or slow lift and drop.

Vibe Options

Now in the vibes I use Samaki Vibelicious 100mm or 125mm colours Clear UV Mullet, Smoke Orange and Silver Glitter the way to use these vibes is lift and dropping so drop lure over side of boat let it sink to bottom then slow lift and drop wristing once again and you can drift whole deep section of river just make sure your lure stays directly below boat the strike will be just the tightening of your line or line going the other way of your drift.
A bag of flathead  great reward for a day's effort.

A bag of flathead great reward for a day’s effort.

Plastics For Bottom Bashing

This young angler was thrilled to catch a solid flathead.

This young angler was thrilled to catch a solid flathead.

I always carry soft plastics on my boat but I don’t use the plastics I would normally use for bottom of the river flathead fishing up in the upper reaches of river I use 4” Berkley Power Baits Ripple Shads colours White and Holographic Gold and Black. Once again I cast up to the tree line and slowly work plastic down the face of bank slow lift and dropping the big tail on these plastics vibrate really well and they just bring in the fish it’s like a dinner bell going off. You really don’t have to put in a lot of work with these plastics just wristing once again and slow you will notice I have said slowly a lot of times the reason for this is I see a lot of fishers coming in and saying these rubber bands don’t work well first thing I ask is how are you using them and nine time out of ten they are working them to fast you remember to tortoise won the race over the rabbit so slow yourself down you will catch more fish.

That’s A Wrap

If you are not into plastic or hards all you need to do is make your leader around 200mm long use a 3 ball sinker and add prawn to long shank size 2/0 hook and cast to banks and slow lift and drop the same way I have said with plastics let line hit bank then just lift rod gently let it sink again wind in slack and repeat your catch rate should improve.

About Gary Palmer

My name's Gary Palmer, I live on the North Coast of NSW and most fishers up this way know me simply as Squidgie. I have been fish since I was a kid growing up down the South Coast of NSW and cut my teeth on bream and flathead in Lake Illawarra. I've been living up here for over 30 years and have not used bait for many years. Soft plastics and hard body lures are my drug - well they say once you use these rubber bands it's welcome to the dark side. I write for fishing mags and had my own radio show on fishing for a long time until I became ill and couldn’t continue, but still do small reports on radio. I love bass and estuary perch fishing but bream and flathead are still up there for me. I also love blackfish don’t think there is anything better than watching a float go down with fish on. I am a river rat I love fishing rivers but I do fish beaches and occasionally go out in the deep blue.

Previous Working Lures to their Full Potential
Next Spring Is Coming – Yakking Tips For Early Spring

You might also like

Fish Talk

Chasing a Feed from the Reef

When it comes to great tasting fish, we Queenslanders are particularly spoilt. From flathead and whiting from the southern rivers and creeks, to barramundi and threadfin in the north, there are literally dozens of species that are considered top class table quality.

Chris Raimondi

About Chris Raimondi

Chris Raimondi is a Brisbane based angler who's passion for fishing began in the estuaries chasing bream and whiting with his dad and grandfather. These days, Chris spends the majority of his spare time fishing offshore of South East Queensland anywhere from Cape Moreton to 1770 chasing snapper, red emperor and other reef species. Despite getting offshore at any opportunity, Chris also loves nothing more than chasing snapper on plastics in the shallows of Moreton Bay and prides himself on being an 'all rounder'.

Fish Talk

Baitcasters – Setting up and Tips

Neil Slater provides some useful and basic principals in setting up Baitcasters, and provides some tips in using them and the pitfuls to avoid

Neil Slater

About Neil Slater

Neil Slater grew up in Geelong Victoria and has fished local waters since he could walk. Neil has fished around the country and is always seeking new waters and eager to help anyone he can.

Neil has worked at CSIRO since 1989 and started writing articles for magazines around 2001. Publications ranged from computers to photography and camping plus co-author of a Land Based Fishing Guide for Corio Bay and the Surf Coast. Neil has shot a couple of weddings and has held the odd fishing club presentation but he has gravitated towards fishing articles and local reports over the last ten years.

Neil has amassed a wide variety of fishing gear spanning a few decades from light fly to 24kg spin tackle. “I’m always worried that if I did pass away, my dear wife would sell my fishing tackle for what I told her I paid for it! (I pinched that quote, but one of my favourites)”.

“I love a good joke, campfire and company. Cheese is good too. I love cheese.”

Fish Talk

Lake Purrumbete

Lake Purrumbete is a popular fishing destination lake located in the Western District of Victoria. Lake Purrumbete is approximately 15 kilometres east of the town of Camperdown.

Mark Grenovich

About Mark Grenovich

Mark Gercovich is a school teacher who lives in the Sth West of Victoria at Warrnambool. He has been contributed to a wide variety of angling publications for almost 20 years. Despite being a successful bream tournament angler he enjoys a wide variety of fishing scenarios from fishing skinny water for big trout to chasing meter plus Kings on lures and live bait. Mark has also traveled extensively having fished in every state of Australia as well as Vanuatu.


No Comments Yet!

You can be first to comment this post!

Leave a Reply

Prove you are human * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.