Prawns mean flathead
  |  First Published: November 2014

Warmer weather and warmer water have the prawns on the move, and more prawns equals plenty of flathead to be found for anglers. Now is the prime time for those big flatties to be moving about in the river, and at this time of year the main food source for the lizards are prawns. As a result of heavy winter rains this system has received good prawn stock which is great not only if you’re a flathead, but also if you’re a human with a liking for these tasty crustaceans.

When there are a lot of prawns about like this, soft lures are the way to go. Early morning starts are a must as the predators are lurking for that stray prawn that hasn’t yet returned to the sand, and some of the strikes can be awesome. If you are into early starts, try getting up before daylight, grab your prawning gear and go gather some fresh bait. Once you have your prawns, keep them alive by simply placing damp seaweed over them. You can either fish them from the shore or, if you have a boat, just drift around on the tide above the bridge with a simple running sinker rig with the prawn hooked once through the middle. It’s not just the flatties that respond well to this – you can also encounter bream, trevally, mulloway and many more of the estuary’s inhabitants.

Offshore we’re seeing a great run of flatties, mainly tigers, with some very nice sand flathead thrown in. The tigers are prolific anywhere over 50m of water, with the hot spots being out from Bournda and east of Wapengo Lake entrance. Check weather patterns as to which way you should go so you can travel home with it. The winds are likely to be predominately northeast, so I suggest you go north which will also eliminate boat traffic out of Merimbula, plus give you the added bonus of fishing the reefs out from Aragunnu and Nelsons Headland.

Speaking of these reefs there are plenty of morwong coming from them with a handful of snapper. Ocean perch, leatherjackets and wrasse will keep anglers occupied while waiting for the better fish.

Keep in mind, on the full moon fish a little closer to shore out from any of the beaches within the area, where you can target gummy sharks. These areas will also produce good sand flathead to top up bags. Those gummies can also be targeted by shore-based anglers fishing the beach. Night time is the best, using fresh squid or fish strips as bait. Find a good gutter and remember you will have to put in the time. Using those baits may also see small whaler sharks appearing on the catch list, with an occasional mulloway to boot.

Of course, you would expect plenty of salmon at this time of year and that is just what is happening with lots of schools migrating back down the coast after visiting their northern breeding grounds. This year has seen some exceptional fish being captured, with some specimens reaching double figures in the old scale. Not only are anglers targeting them from the beach, there are just as many being captured from the rocks or Tathra Wharf by those casting lures.

Speaking of the wharf, no visit to Tathra is complete without checking it out. Once there you will find silver trevally on the chew, as are the yellowtail and early season mackerel. Night time can be special with schools of tailor lurking in the shadows. They will eagerly fall to a well-presented mackerel strip, providing a nice way to round off the day.

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