Last month I talked about luring for bream on the Tweed and I mentioned how good the bycatch it can be. But what happens if you specifically target these other species with plastics or hardbodied lures, such as flathead, whiting or tailor? April is a good time to target these fish so I’m going to share with you some hot spots, what lures to use and when to use them.
Let’s start with the Tweed lizard. Big flathead will take little lures but not on all occasions. Recently I spotted a monster flathead under my yak, then I quickly backed off and cast a 2” Gulp Shrimp at it, bouncing a TT 1/12oz jighead along the bottom. The first cast it went by its mouth by a couple of centimetres and it didn’t bat an eyelid. Hmm! Guess I need to get closer. This time the lure hit its head (I was hoping I’d foul hook it) and it still didn’t move.
Was I seeing things? One way to tell – I paddled over and sat right on top of it and banged the side of my yak with the paddle and yep, a big flatty alright! It took off like a rocket but interestingly stopped 10m or so away (I was glad I had my Spotters sunnies on so I could see all this). So I had another go at it with the same result. I think this fish was toying with me.
A week later I was trolling through the same arm (yeah I know, trolling!) with my jack rod. I had on a ZMan Paddle Tail SwimmerZ with a 3/4oz TT jighead. When I got to the area where I’d seen and cast at the big girl I got smashed by a 90cm plus lizard and it got me thinking it was the same fish and the bigger lure did the trick. Those big girls are pretty territorial after all. Oh, and I swear she winked at me when I let her go.
I like to name the big fish I let go, particularly the big flatties. Well, Norma was caught in the stretch of river behind PKG’s Seafood and if you do happen to catch her, treat her kindly, take the photo and then enjoy the pleasure of watching her swim away.
OK, now for the fun stuff. How do you go about catching a whiting on a hardbodied lure? These fish love fast moving surface lures, whether it be a popper or something like a Megabass Dog X Junior. The technique is very important.
When I first discovered you could catch whiting on surface lures I couldn’t have been in a better spot to have a crack. I’d hired a houseboat for a week and we were anchored off Ukerebagh Island right next to a massive sand bank which, on the high tide, made the perfect whiting hunting ground. When my girlfriend had her beauty sleep I paddled on over to try this new idea out. It worked! I caught a whiting on my second try, not legal but at least I knew the approach was working.
Initially I found myself getting a bit too excited and kept pulling the lure away from the following fish, but by the end of the week I found the best way was to just keep working the lure regardless of how many fish were chasing it. Keep going even if it’s getting bitten, and only strike when your rod loads up. Sometimes it can be hard to do as it’s all so damned exciting! Give it a try and it won’t be long before you’re addicted. Some awesome flats to check out are the Cobaki Broadwater and the Terranora Broadwater, really anywhere it’s shallow. If there’s weed and rocks on the bottom, so much the better.
Tailor are my favourite fun fish. This time of year the big greenbacks can be caught on a cheap slug lures skull dragged over the top of the water. Both the rock walls at the Tweed work well but I prefer the Fingal side, casting into the surf. Any surface lure angler will tell you that the hits are pretty cool, particularly when a tailor hits the lure so hard that it flies out of the water. My favourite spot for tailor is near Fingal Light House. It’s the causeway, really a little island all on its own, kind of like a ‘rock boat’, i.e. you can fish from it just like on a deck. A word of warning: you have to cross the causeway to get to it and this can be dangerous, so watch what the waves are doing, wear shoes and get into ‘em!Reads: 2113