By Andrew Badullovich.
Flathead are an extremely popular species due to their abundance, and willingness to attack an artificial offering. The flathead are ambush merchants, and commonly feed in shallow water. This is great for the shore-based angler, as most of the flathead’s feeding zones are accessible by foot.
Try looking for a shallow sand-flat adjacent to a deeper channel. Flathead will station themselves close to a depth change, where they will prey on bait-fish and prawns. These depth changes or “drop-offs” are easily identified by contrasting water colour. Try to identify subtle signs of flathead activity; such as, lies or impressions in the sand that are left by flathead.
Wade into the water with caution, and spend some time casting your lure around any likely location. Flathead may not eat your lure on the first pass, and can be a little slow to move in and attack. Other days, they can be ravenous and belt lures with gusto; however, a slow and methodical approach is best. Cast up-current, and work you lure back with the prevailing tidal flow…this will allow your offering to look natural.
Soft-plastics are great; however, I prefer hard bodied lures. The action of the hard-bods will stir up the sand, really attracting the attention of the flatties. I feel that you can cover a lot of water at a more efficient rate with hard-bods, which is great if you do not have a lot of time. Lures such as, TD Minnow Silent and Presso Rolling Cranks are ideal for catching flatties in shallow water.
Concentrate your efforts around the last two hours of the run-out tide, as this is a proven bite-period for flathead. Carry a small shoulder bag or back-pack to ensure you have everything you need, whilst remaining mobile. Depending on the size of your chosen location, you could practically walk for kilometres! Tools to carry are: plyers, braid scissors, lip-lock or glove, spool of 10lb leader, and a selection of hard bodied lures. You could add a water bottle, and a camera to this list.
A light spin combo consisting of a Generation Black – Itchy Twitchy & Exceler DX is perfect for the job. Spool your reel with 4-8lb braid, and attach a rod’s length of 10lb fluorocarbon leader to this via a double uni-knot. If you struggle with tying knots, it may be worth investing in one of Daiwa’s “Knot tying Tool”.
This style of fishing is on offer from September to May, but will really fire in the warmer months of the year. It’s a lot of fun, and a great way to provide a tasty meal of fresh fish. Don’t be surprised if you find some extra-large flathead up in the shallows either…the big breeders frequent these areas too. If you catch a flathead in excess of 70cm in length, it’s advised to release it unharmed to ensure future stocks.