The year of the flathead
  |  First Published: December 2014

There is no doubt that this flathead season is going to be the best for many years. There are a few reasons why this will be the case.

Possibly the most important is the number of just undersized fish in the system last year. These fish are now legal and are populating the lower and middle reaches of the river. We have also experienced a long period of little rainfall and when rain did fall, it soaked in and didn’t create any flow in the freshwater part of the river. This allowed the water below the falls to become saltier than normal, and hence the fish moved further upstream.

While these conditions remain in force, we can expect plenty of baitfish to move up-river and, consequently, provide food for the flathead to hunt. Already there are some reasonably large fish appearing in the lower reaches, but by January they will be well and truly ensconced in the lower part of the estuary, ready to spawn and start millions of baby flathead on their lifetime journey.


At present, the river at Harrington has plenty of small, legal flathead hanging about the rock walls, as well as along the edges of weedbeds further upstream. They are taking mullet strips, yabbies, prawns and whitebait, as well as soft plastics and hardbodies. The bream have moved upstream and while there are still some nice fish being taken along the wall, better bags are being caught much further up-river. Luderick are eating weed baits during the day and are more plentiful upstream than at the mouth of the estuary. Some nice whiting have been caught on the sand flats at night on worms and yabby baits. These have become more numerous since Christmas. Mulloway have been scarce, except for small fish around 20cm in length.


It has been hard work for the beach angler over the past month. The tailor have failed to turn up and we must now wait until the Christmas choppers arrive. Salmon are present in great numbers and it is no trouble to land 4-5 of these great scrappers a trip. They are a tough fish and most survive being returned to the water to fight again.

A few travelling bream have holed up in a gutter on the southern end of Crowdy Beach, biting on worms, mullet strips and pippies. Small whaler sharks to a couple of metres in length have appeared on the beaches, and when they arrive it is better to try another spot unless you have plenty of rigs to spare.

The rocks at Crowdy Head and Diamond Head are also worth a try in summer for big blue groper and drummer on crabs and cunjevoi baits.


Offshore anglers have been enjoying great fishing over the past few weeks. Snapper have been on the tooth on the northern grounds, with some big fish being boated. Trag have also been on the chew from the same spots. Out wide, bar cod and mahimahi have been caught, the latter up around the 10kg mark. The FAD has been reinstalled, so these colourful fish should gather around it in the next few weeks.


January is the time of the holidaymakers, with most of them being fishermen. The rock walls at the mouth of the river are usually packed with people, mainly fishing for flathead. Great and numerous will be the tales of the one that got away!

Now that’s a snapper — all 13.51kg of it, caught by Paul Harvey.

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