Wilson Fishing are no strangers to classics – with a Barra Classic under their belt and a very near win at the Cod Classic, they look to be well on their way to becoming kings of the classics!
Wilson’s Kord Luckus, Rob Payne and Scott Fleming took out the Gold Coast Flathead Classic top team with a whopping 3222 points, landing around 90 flathead for the three days of competition.
Their tactic was to troll over shallow banks, but a lot of planning went into their trolling runs. Trolling is known for producing lots of fish, but not necessarily big fish, and their results are a good reflection of this theory. Their largest flathead measured 69cm, with many just legals and sub legals in the mix too.
Kord Luckus took us through his thought process before the competition, and exactly what he did to win the teams category.
“We used Zerek Tango Shads, 99% of our fish came on the Tango Shads, and they were all caught trolling,” he said.
“When trolling for flathead, you’re looking for broken ground instead of nice clean sand. If it looks good and you’re not getting weed on your lure, you can be pretty sure you won’t land too many flathead. They really like the broken bottom. Sometimes they’ll sit on total weed, but more often than not we’ll begin our search over the broken stuff.”
Kord also stressed the need to take note of the tide – the Wilson boys worked their fishing around the tides of each day.
“The next most important thing to catching flathead trolling is current flow and clean water,” he said. “They don’t like still water, and if the water’s dirty they probably won’t be able to see the lure.”
Kord also believes that trolling speed is very important when chasing flatties on the troll.
“It really depends on the day – sometimes we troll quick and sometimes we troll slow,” he said.
“It’s all to do with the mood of the fish. Some people think you just throw a lure and drive forward, but there’s actually a lot more to it than that.”
“We also find that adjusting the length of your line is important as well. If your lure is diving too deep and ploughing the bottom, it’s not getting that nice erratic action that flathead love.”
Scott Fleming also shared some interesting stories from the day, and said they had a secret lure that dug them out of the hole.
“We do it every year. I get an unpainted Tango Shad and take it home to the family and we get the kids’ nail polish out,” he said. “We painted one up this year called ‘Lieutenant Dan’ – he had a black back, orange belly, which was a horrible orange, finished with a glitter stripe down the middle. It was beautiful.
“He ended up dragging us out of the bottom of the pit on the second day. At the end of the day, no one really knows whether colour makes a big difference or not, but we’ve noticed our colour choice has affected our fishing in a big way.”
“For instance, we found that the UV colours were really great with the overcast weather of the first day.”
Wilson Fishing will now shift their focus to the upcoming Cod Classic, and they’re looking for redemption after last year’s near win. Hopefully, the boys can use this win as momentum going forward. No team has ever won a Flathead Classic, a Barra Classic and a Cod Classic before, so the Wilson boys are looking to create history.
Franco Martinese used some very exciting and new techniques to take out top honours in the individual category. Franco managed to amass 1784 points over the three days, with his best fish going in the mid 80s, and many fish above 70cm. Franco probably deserves an additional award for fishing the whole three days despite breaking his foot just before the comp started.
“I was loading the boat and slipped and broke it, so I got on some painkillers and Red Bull and just dealt with it – clearly it was good luck!” he said.
“Chris Metcalfe [fishing partner] had to baby me through the whole comp and net my fish, which was fine because I netted all his fish last year!”
Franco and Chris were trying out some new techniques Chris had been working on in the last year, and their success had created a buzz in the fishing community.
“We were throwing really big soft plastics up to 9” in shallow water, mainly the Silstar Slapstix, but a few other types as well. We caught them trolling too, and we’d been working on our trolling since last year, as it was once one of our weaknesses.”
What’s interesting is how visual their fishing was, and many of the fish the guys caught were spotted before the cast was even made.
“We often cruise over the before we catch them, or watch them come up behind the lure – we’ve even had them get airborne on the strike like a Spanish mackerel!” He said.
“We fished from South Port to the ‘Pin, and everywhere in between.”
“Everything is 10ft or under, and the key is to be stealthy when working in these shallow areas,” he concluded.
Franco and Chris’ team Out 4 A Quickie!! finished on top in the two-person team division, and fourth overall!
It will be very interesting to see what comes of these new techniques and the angler experimentation that will inevitably ensue as a result.
The coveted Longest Flathead prize was taken out by local Christian Cross with his 96cm snorker. This monster flathead was also his PB, beating his previous PB by 2cm. The story of this crocodile remained true to the theory that trolling gets numbers rather than quality, and casting gets quality rather than numbers.
Christian caught his 96cm flathead casting in quite shallow water.
“We were inside Tipplers and we had half an hour before the end of the session, and at this stage the tide was getting too low to troll our lures,” he said. “When we found a gutter in amongst this shallow stuff, we decided to throw some plastics and bang!
“My previous PB was 94cm, so I was stoked to better that with this fish.”
Christian believes his choice of lure and tackle is important, and played a large roll in this capture.
“I was throwing the 3.5” Ecogear Balt in green/silver, weighted with a TT pink 3/8oz jighead,” he said. “I had that rigged on 6lb mainline and 10lb trace, which is pretty light compared to everyone else, and this fish had it deep!”
Christian knew early on that the fish had swallowed it, and took his time gently coercing this slab to the boat.
“We saw it had eaten it deep and chased it with the motor. Daniel [fishing partner] had a few shots with the net but missed them unfortunately, but we got it in the end, and that felt good.”
Christian also measured the biggest tailor for the competition, which came in at an impressive 50cm. That would have zinged off some string on his light flathead gear!
These names will go down in the history of The Classic, and it looks as though trolling and throwing massive soft plastics in the shallows is going to be the coolest thing since sliced bread leading into next year!
A mention must go to the winner of the Longest Flathead in the junior division, Simon Sweeney. He cracked an 86cm monster, still one of the longest flathead measured for the tournament.
Jamie Horner took out the individual title for the juniors with 866 points, which is 200 points more than his runner up!
Katie Watsford’s impressive 1069 point total was enough to secure a win in the female category, which was enough to smash her opposition by more than 400 points.
The by-catch categories told a story of their own, revealing that the Goldy isn’t just a great place to catch big flathead. Tony Jewel measured a 101cm mulloway, which are becoming a more and more common catch when flathead fishing.
BJ Leonard’s 80 cm trevally is almost unbelieveable… not that he hooked it, but the fact he managed to wrestle the beast in on flathead gear!
Michael Thompson tangled with a 58cm estuary cod, and that dirty fight would have woken him up and straightened out any kinks in his gear!
Warren Stevens nailed a 41cm elbow-slapping whiting while he fished for flathead, which is a fantastic whiting in any waters.
Finally, Andrew Mayhew would have get a shock when he first saw colour with his 39cm bream.
While that metre mark hasn’t yet been cracked in the event, the absolute mass of flathead measured and released each year gives hope that we’re getting closer! Who knows… Christian’s 96cm flathead might be over a metre next year!
Photo courtesy of Wilson Fishing.
Photo courtesy of Wilson Fishing.
Photo courtesy of Gold Coast Sportfishing Club.
Photo courtesy of Christian Cross.
Photo courtesy of Gerry Nicholls.
Photo courtesy of Gerry Nicholls.
Scan the QR code to listen to Steve Morgan chat to the Wilson Fishing boys and Christian Cross on presentation night.
Scan the QR code to watch the Wilson Fishing boys do an hour long Q and A about their tactics at the Flathead Classic.Reads: 619