QUICK GUIDE TO CATCHING MORE FLATHEAD
Flathead are among the most abundant fish species in Australian waters and are a sensational target for a variety of reasons. Flathead are aggressive predators that readily accept baits and lures, they grow to substantial proportions, are common in a range of estuary and coastal habitats, and are among the best-eating fish available.
Here are a handful of tips for targeting Flathead and improving your catch.
FLATHEAD ARE AMBUSH PREDATORS
Flathead are benthic ambush predators. This means that Flathead lie motionless on the seafloor awaiting opportunities to pounce on vulnerable baitfish or crustaceans. Flathead possess a variety of traits that enhance camouflage and are clearly designed for a predatory purpose. These features include a mottled sand or mud colouration, a flat profile that buries easily into sediment, top set eyes for upward hunting, and a large mouth for sucking in prey.
THE TIDAL LINK
Ambush predators such as Flathead conserve energy by sitting in predictable areas where tides and water currents deliver them food. Gutters, channels, sand bars, drop-offs, sand spits, and the mouths of creeks are prime locations for Flathead.
Identify areas where receding water drains through narrow passages as the tide drops off inundated sand and mud flats. It’s usually most productive to access these areas on a high tide and fish them as the tide runs out.
Flathead will always sit at the edges of drop-offs or channels and face into the outgoing current. A high tide that coincides with sunrise is the best bet for fishing sand bars.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK WHEN FISHING FOR FLATHEAD
A good way to scope out potential Flathead grounds is to explore sand and mud flats on a low tide and search for Flathead lies. When Flathead nestle into the sediment, they leave an imprint which resembles a footprint in the sand. It provides clear evidence that Flathead have recently been active in the area and is an encouraging sign for productive fishing once the water returns.
BAIT FISHING FOR FLATHEAD
Flathead can be caught on a range of common estuary baits. Prawns and nippers will do the trick for many pan size Flathead, but your best bet is to use baitfish for the big girls.
The most productive method is to use small dead baitfish that are hooked through the snout and rigged on a running sinker and swivel rig. Cast and retrieve the baitfish with skips, hops and pauses, similar to that of a lure. Flathead won’t be able to resist the flash and action of the moving bait, especially when they catch hold of its scent.
THE EASIEST LURE TARGET
Flathead are among the easiest fish to catch on lures. In fact, Flathead can be so aggressive and abundant in some areas that they become an unwelcome nuisance to devoted bream anglers.
Being ambush predators, Flathead typically bite first and ask questions later. Thus, any appropriate size soft plastic, hardbody, or blade lure that twitches within striking range of a Flathead is usually snapped up quick smart. A slow steady retrieve with a lure that kicks or beats just above the sediment is an ideal temptation.
Flathead are the perfect target for anglers who are experimenting with lures and flies for the first time.
Flathead have small sharp and raspy teeth so leaders should be between 5-10 kg in breaking strain. Always check the leader following a Flathead capture as the leader is likely to be chaffed and require a re-tie. Also, be aware of the spikes that adorn the gill plates on a Flathead. These spikes can inflict nasty and painful puncture wounds to unwary anglers. Handle Flathead with caution or wear gloves.
Flathead are a sensational fish to target, catch, and eat. They are a common and aggressive predatory species that fight incredibly well on shallow sand and mud flats. They’re also the perfect lure and fly target for new or seasoned anglers. Rig up with a basic spin outfit today and chase your local Flathead population.
FLATHEAD SPIN ROD AND REEL OUTFIT
Rod: 3-6kg spin rod
Reel: 25 size spin reel
Line: 6-10lb mainline
Leader: 10-20lb monofilament or fluorocarbon leader
Baits: Prawns, nippers, baitfish
Lures: Shad, or grub style plastics with beating tails
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