David, the flathead jinx
  |  First Published: March 2015

Just recently, I did something I’ve never done before; I bought a filleting knife. As I don’t keep any of the fish I catch, I’ve never needed one. After spending a good 5 hours on the water the other day, I went down to the local fish shop. I really felt like a classic Aussie feed of flathead and chips. Well I looked at the price, and it was a whopping $39.95 a kilo!

I stood there scratching my head, trying to figure out how much ‘money’ I’d let released earlier that morning, as I’d caught about 6 50-70cm flathead. Anyway, I paid for my fish and chips and quite enjoyed it. I even asked the fishmonger to teach me how to fillet them. He gave me a go and after a couple of attempts I ended up with a nice fillet, so look out flathead!

At first light the next Saturday I headed out with 4 rods all loaded with various Z-Man lures covered in stinky scent. I gave my shiny new knife a wink and away we went. I thought the first place I’d try was Cobaki Lakes, which is a renowned lizard hunting ground. I had one major problem though; storms had been smashing us down on the Tweed, so with a lot of runoff coming from Piggabeen Creek and Bilambil Heights, the river was not in a good state at all. It was really muddy, with floating logs everywhere, and I saw a dead chicken and a bloated roo floating downstream. I wondered if this would affect the bite? It did! Some 4 hours of trying everything and I only got one bite, but hey, looking back it was probably a rock.

Okay, so the next day I thought I’d give Terranora Broadwater a try. Same thing, probably a bit worse actually, and again no flathead, but I did catch a nice bream on a hardbody right behind the tourist crab boat. I returned home, cleaned the ’yak, frowned at my shiny knife, and thought ah, next week.

A week later the water had cleared, but again 2 days and hundreds of casts for nothing. This has easily been the worst fishing of my life; it makes you lose confidence in your choices and ability, but fishing, like life, has its ups and downs, so it’s gotta get better.

So is there anything biting at all? There is, but in another part of the river — Oxley Cove to be exact. There’s a couple of young guns, Josh Gurney and Codie Munro, who chase jacks and mulloway off the walls and jetties in the area, and they are constantly posting photos of themselves with massive 65cm red devils. At night-time it’s bull sharks, legal schoolies and all the rest! These 2 are on fire. Josh has invited me up that way for a fish, so I’m keen to see how they target them, as they also post photos of some impressive leader bustups.

At the time of writing, the water is clearing and the bite is back on. There are a lot of little jacks hanging around most bridges, and in all the years I’ve fished the Tweed I’ve never caught so many. I don’t chase them, but I’ve noticed a lot of garfish, a nice size too, swimming around in schools.

The big flathead should be out near the seaway, so try for them on the higher tide when the water is clearer. Big greenbacks and trevs will make an appearance soon, and I love chasing them also. Screaming a slug across the top of the water, a big splash and you’re on. Try Jack Evans Boat Harbour, both rock walls, and Fingal Headland.

The trawlers are always worth a go and you can walk them, but it’s always hard pulling something big out from under a crusty old hull. Another thing I’ve noticed is the quality of the mud crabs being caught in the river, so if you’re into crabbing they are in there.

I’ll finish on a funny note. I was under Boyds Bay Bridge just as it was just starting to get light, when I noticed what looked like a body wrapped in sheet. I peddled over for a closer look and it was a body alright, a naked girl wrapped in a sheet. I couldn’t tell if she was breathing or not, so I got closer and poked her with my paddle. She screamed and I screamed! It transpired that she had a little too much to drink, had an argument with her boyfriend, and fled, but just hadn’t realised how close she was to the water — gotta love the Tweed.

PS: The knife is still shiny.


Dave with a good whiting. No flathead though…


A cheeky blue swimmer that ate a lure.


Dave with a couple of young fish groms —Codie Munro and Josh Gurney.

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