TIPS FOR FLATHEAD FISHING IN ESTUARIES
With their flattened, wide heads and binocular vision, Flathead are perfectly designed to hide in the sand and strike at unsuspecting prey. They live in mud, sand and weed beds in estuary waters.
If possible, inspect the area at low tide to find imprints of Flathead in the mud. This will give a good indication of where they are hunting and likely to be located once the tide comes in again. It’s always good to keep moving when fishing for Flathead so having a number spots you know about is important, too.
While every fisho has their own strategy, here are some basics that always work for me when chasing Flathead.
WHEN TO FISH FOR FLATHEAD
If you time it so you are fishing in the two hours after high tide, you will be able to capitalise on the Flathead’s hunting timetable. As the tide goes down, they will often wait in channels to strike at bait fish. I’ve always found the best results as a tide goes out in the morning.
BAIT AND TACKLE
My favourite approach to taking Flathead is a couple of 3/0 or 4/0 hooks loaded up with half a Pilly, rigged with 4-8lb braid and a 60cm, 16lb fluorocarbon leader. If the tide is up and the Flatheads are on the bank area, I go for a No. 2 ball sinker but if I’m just going to float the bait through a channel from upstream, then I would go for a No. 0 or No. 1. Here you only need enough weight to keep the bait moving along the bed.
I personally use a 9’ rod of 4-6kg, with a 3000-4000 reel. But I have caught Flathead fishing Alvey, spin and even a hand line when I was younger. My mate usually uses a light 7-8ft fast action rod with a 3000-series.
I like to get set up in the middle of a channel and target my cast back towards the bank. If the tide is moving off them, set your cast upstream with a sinker which lets your bait drift along the bottom and let it drift down with the run of the tide. This should draw the Flathead to strike from their mud when the bait is just above them.
Once you are onto a fish, don’t pull the rod too quickly or forcefully. It is easy to rip the bait from their mouth. The first nudge you will feel on the rod is likely to be them holding the bait, just wind the bait in slowly to then draw them into taking the bait.
Wind them in slowly, check your drag setting beforehand because they can turn sharply and quickly. Once you have them, don’t lift their head from the water, as you may find your line bitten off in a violent and aggressive shake of the head. Just be patient and slowly bring the Flathead in across the bottom and you will be rewarded.
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