The 22nd Flathead Classic once again proved that the Gold Coast waterways are a prolific flathead fishery. A total of 551 competitors in 217 teams – the largest ever field – made their way to their favourite locations trying to catch a humble flathead.
For the first time in my memory of the Classic, the Queensland weather turned it on for competitors, and the predicted and usual windy weather held off and sunscreen was the order of the day. Teams were met with an early morning low tide each day with a high tide just after lunch. Competitors knew the key would be to get fish early and then hope that their traditional high tide spots would allow them to take advantage of a good start.
Representing Fishing Monthly was myself, Michael Fox and Chris Byrnes. Fishing Monthly teams have enjoyed some success over the years so we had big shoes to fill, but with Foxy as our illustrious leader we put in a consistent performance and came 25th overall in the teams event. Chris was our best performer in the individual stakes with a respectable 66th place.
Like all of the teams, one of the challenges we faced was trying to avoid the pocket of dirty water that inundated the waterway as the tide filled after the early morning low. We enjoyed a good start each morning, but found it difficult in the dirtier water. We did find the odd patch of cleaner water, however, which kept all on board in good spirits and happy with our efforts in 2015.
Once again credit must go to the Gold Coast Sport Fishing Club for running such a great event. It’s a huge task to feed and entertain 551 competitors, sponsors and organisers after a long day on the water. For the record, competitors enjoyed 7500 cans of the major sponsor’s product!
This year’s presentation precinct not only provided anglers with a opportunity to relax and chat to other competitors, but gave the sponsors of the event a chance to show off their wares and explain their latest tools to catch a flathead and many other species. Thank you to the people who came over to the Fishing Monthly stand to have a chat and take advantage of the special subscription offer we had for the Classic.
Competitors also got to take home a sample bag that was chock-a-block full of lures, line, caps and magazines to give anglers a taste of the sponsors’ products. The Gold Coast Sport Fishing Club tells me they handed out 4400 lures and 82.5km of line to competitors.
The random prize draw is always popular, and this year there were two Bluefin boats with Mercury outboards available for a lucky senior and junior angler. Glenn Hurrey and Hayden Swain were the winners this year, with plenty of other anglers walking away with thousands of dollars worth of prizes.
I am always blown away by some of the facts and figures to come out of the Classic. This year 5786 flathead were caught – that’s 226 more than 2014. The total length of those fish was a bit over 2346m, so the average size fish for the event was 40.5cm. I know the boys and I could have used a few more 40.5cm fish!
The best technique was trolling once again, with three brands standing out for anglers: Lively Lures Micro Mullet, Pig Lures and Zerek Tango Shads. So if you don’t have one of these in your tackle box, you probably should.
It would be remiss of me not to mention soft plastics. The individual and teams winners certainly showed that trolling isn’t the be all and end all (see how they did it in the winners wrap). Bright colours seemed to be the key, with the chartreuse Berkley Gulp Minnow a stand-out. UV colours were also very popular with anglers, in particular those taking advantage of the fish in deeper water. Zerek Fish Traps and Samaki Vibelicious Thumper tails were popular amongst competitors.
The biggest flathead was a 96cm fish caught by Ming Liu from Team Berkley 1. Prior to the event, Ming hadn’t caught many flathead, so this fish gave him an amazing introduction to this popular recreational species. The fish was caught on a Berkley Gulp 4” Jigging Grub in chartreuse colour on a 3/8oz jighead. The team worked the drop-offs on the flats closer to the ‘Pin when Ming hooked up. Ming’s fellow team members were convinced the fish was a stingray until it showed itself at the boat. Following a bit of chaos, the fish was in the net. This fish was caught on the first day of the Classic, and although a number of fish hit the 90cm mark during the competition, none could beat it.
As with most tournaments, a bit of preparation and time on the water prior to the event to prepare a plan of attack is the key to success. Knowing where the fish were holding and planning around the tides and conditions seemed to be the theme coming from the leading anglers.
Wilson Fishing had two teams that filled two of the top three spots in the Teams event. Both teams fished the Tipplers area as they found concentrations of fish holding in the channels at the bottom of the tide. They targeted them either trolling Tango Shads or casting 110mm plastics at the mouths of drains. UV colours and dipping the tail of the plastics was a couple of keys to success.
As the tide flooded over the banks, rather than leave to find other fish, the boys followed the fish and the water onto the flats and targeted them in any deeper hollows or channels they could find. Although they did take the odd break and target fish in the deeper water, it was this faith in knowing the fish were in the area they were fishing that proved to be a winner.
Similar thoughts came from many of the other teams in the top 10. After they found concentrations of fish in an area, these competitors were determined to continue to fish the area thoroughly, no matter the time of the tide or the colour of the water.
The deep bite was a little more hit-and-miss according to the people using this method. What was similar to the shallow bite was the need to continue to fish areas that had produced fish. It was not unusual to have two or three boats in an area catching very little, and then have the next drift in the area produce a number of quality fish. Varying your lures and UV colours were a few keys to success.
Fishing Monthly is proud to once again have been part of the 2015 Great Northern Brewing Flathead Classic, and we look forward to being part of it again next year. The club will be showing off its new purpose-built premises in 2016, which everybody is looking forward to seeing.
Great Northern Brewing Company
Doug Burt’s Tackle World
The Mad Huey’s
Papatura Island Retreat
Gold Coast Fishing Tackle
Rapala / Storm
Atomic Lures/ Samurai Rods
Fishing Monthly Magazines