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Flathead bonanza hits Lakes Entrance
  |  First Published: December 2012



As expected the flathead in Lakes Entrance and Lake Tyers have come to life in a very big way!

In some areas the water is as warm as 23C and the lizards are loving it! Areas like the Glasshouse, Mill Point, Fishermas landing and Blackfellows arm are firing. Soft plastic baitfish patterns are doing well, as are prawn imitations. Hardbodied lures used while targeting bream are also picking up their fair share of duskies and are a tasty by-catch. Some of the flatties have ben pushing up around the 90cm mark!

One positive move lately has been the introduction of a slot size limit for flathead. This basically means any flathead BELOW 30cm and ABOVE 55cm must be released. This is to ensure the big breeding females are able to continue doing what they do best and preserve flathead stocks.

There are a few different things to look for when targeting flathead. First is either sand or mud flats with scattered weed and rocks. This provides cover and ambush points for the flathead to feed. The second is bait, schools of anchovies or mullet, prawns or garfish. Then its a case of matching your lure to the bait present and working the areas.

A few solid bream have been caught on the flats and in the lower reaches of the Nowa Nowa arm on hardbodied lures and peeled prawn both early morning and late afternoon. Live prawn is scoring the better fish if you can get hold of them but dead baits are getting plenty of attention too.

Blue Green Algae

In lakes entrance that horrible blue/green algae has again begun to take hold and the water quality is less than desirable. Visibility in some areas is less than 30cm so finding the seagrass beds is extremely difficult on some days while chasing the whiting. Numbers of whiting this season have been very slow compared to previous seasons, but they seem to be much larger fish up to 53cm. Fresh bait is always best and mussel and prawn are good options.

Pipis are extremely expensive and if the toads are thick the session is generally over fairly quickly. A few leatherjacket, mullet and small salmon have been caught whilst whiting fishing too.

Best areas of late have been the back of the Rigby/Fraser Island channel near the Barrier Landing and around the red marker at Nungurner in about 3m of water. Fish with a running sinker rig and the first 2/last 2 hours of each tide change is prime time.

Cunningham Arm

Cunningham arm has been fishing well around the jetties for silver trevally and a few nice bream on shrimp and sandworm fished on a slack line. Some nice luderick are being caught by the guys fishing weed under a float around the boat hulls closer to the entrance. Flatties have been patchy but working the sandbanks around the footbridge and in front of the Central Hotel have caught some nice fish up to 65cm on plastics and fly.

Because the water is dirty, stick with stand-out colours like blacks, browns and white/glow and work the drop off and weed beds.

The rock walls along Kalimna, Rigby Island, Bullock Island and the more dangerous Entrance Walls are fishing well for big luderick and black drummer. It’s quite surprising the number of drummer that are showing up and are up to 2.5kg! While they started as a by-catch whilst drifting weed along the walls chasing luderick, we began throwing baits of cut crab, mussel or prawn on a small running sinker rig and out catch rate went up!

If treated correctly these hard fighting fish are fantastic on the plate. We keep the fish alive in one of those floating keeper nets until we are finished the session, then quickly dispatch the fish and ice them immediately. While they have sharp spines and gill plates they are relatively easy to clean and provide a couple of beautiful clean white fillets. The luderick have been up to about 2kg and these are thumping fish.

While it is extremely addictive fishing watching the float and fighting them in the fast current extreme caution must be taken, as over the years there have been a few guys fallen in or washed in off the stones by not keeping an eye on the conditions. never fish these rocks alone.

For added safety we fish the entrance walls and wear a PFD at all times and if in doubt don’t risk it.

Surf Beaches

The surf beaches are tough due to the huge sand bars but on a good high tide salmon up to 3kg are being caught on pilchard and squid. The sandbars are making life difficult for anglers wanting to chase gummies at night and are casters are having to wade out up to 100m to make a cast.

Those persisting have caught a few gummies and some good flathead but its definitely a lot of hours between fish. Surprisingly this season there have been very few skate present, although numbers of swell sharks and old maids are well above average, So much so that we managed nearly 20 one afternoon in a few short hours!

While all this has been going on there has been a slowly growing band of anglers paddling baits out chasing big toothies, and a couple of locals have been catching some thumping big bronze whalers up to 3m long! While it is not for the faint hearted, land-based game is an adrenalin rush and just shows what is capable of being caught without a boat.

As the water warms up even more expect more sharks to be caught.

Offshore

Offshore has been tough due to the weather conditions, but some nice snapper have been caught at the 6 mile reef on pilchards, snapper snatchers and a few on soft plastics. Barracouta have been a problem in areas but make great bait for big snapper. Large numbers of calamari have been caught on the reef and in close the flathead have been patchy but huge numbers of big bulleye gurnard are present and it handled carefully they are pretty good on the table.

Gummies have been caught along the 20m line down to the west on fresh salmon and squid tentacles.

Four-year-old Thomas Smith (the author’s son) with a cracking 70cm Lake Tyers flathead he caught all by himself on a soft plastic that was then released.

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