Don’t Forget the Beanie
  |  First Published: August 2007

Flathead continue to be the unexpected star of the show. Most anglers are successful in chasing these great fish and arriving home with a feed. There seems to be an unseasonably large number of bigger fish in the area, which are now being released.

The anglers enjoying the most success are slowly working large soft plastics along the bottom. Plastics to 125mm are working well with fish from 40cm and well over 80cm. Some of the bigger specimens are spewing up herring in varying stages of decomposition. This provides an obvious hint for those wondering which lure to tie on.

Trollers catch plenty of quality flatties too. The key to success is following the drop-offs on the run-out tide in two or perhaps three metres of water. A sounder is useful, as the catch rate will drop if you are trolling very shallow water or indeed very deep water.

The run-out tide always seems to deliver the goods. However, sometimes after a big fresh and the run-in phase, the lower reaches could be better. Trolling with the flow can be difficult depending on the speed of the current. Flathead will be facing upcurrent waiting for a tasty morsel to drift past. Trolling against the current produces plenty of fish and it can be much easier to get your lure spread to work effectively at slow speeds.

Lure choice is very important. Colour is really a personal preference, however depth is critical. It will not be a very productive session if you tow shallow run lures in 15ft of water. Similarly, trolling extra deep minnows in 3ft of water could also deliver the dreaded donut.

The Noosa River flathead seem to be feasting on herring. A suitable lure of similar size, shape and colour to the herring would be a great start. Trolled plastics can also do the job, however it is hard to beat casting for these fish. Hopelessly addicted trollers will wind their way up and down the river endlessly until they have secured a feed. Other anglers will follow the contour lines and depths that they favour and as soon as they hook a fish they will pepper the area with casts.

The lure that hooked the fish will obviously be worth casting. A large plastic could be deployed by your angling buddy or a Rio’s Prawn which has caught countless huge flathead in this system. Work the lures slowly and deliberately, and cover every square inch of bottom structure that you can reach. Once you have worked the area well, try somewhere else or recommence the troll.

Flathead are generally regarded as rather glutinous. Occasionally they are found dead with large fish (sometimes other flathead) stuck in their throat. Considering that bait fishing is a worthwhile pursuit, drifting is a well-recognized way of finding the flatties. They are lazy bottom dwellers so take the bait or lure to them. Good baits are fresh strips of flesh, mullet, legal whiting and the aforementioned herring. The livelier the bait the better, however, fresh bait will also do the job.

Generally by September the flathead are beginning their spawning congregation. There have been some excellent flathead around at the moment. It seems unlikely that it has kicked off earlier this year, as it has been rather cool for the first month of winter. Whatever the reason, get out there and catch a few, release the big girls and enjoy the moment.

Other news in the beautiful Noosa system is the welcomed downfall of fresh water. This helps increase activity, as a bit of colour can help shy fish shake off their inhibitions. In particular, bream can respond well to some colour. They will forage and hunt for much longer when they have some cover to operate in. The Frying pan is a good place to target bream and some judicious use of berley will help no end. Whiting will get in on the act and you might see a few tailor and trevally also respond to the trail.

Opposite the DPI Fisheries Office is a good producer of bream. Other areas to look out for bream are structures, such as moored boats, jetties and bridges. Live nippers and prawns are gun baits for bream, although I do come across anglers using their own bizarre creations with excellent results.

Weird mixes of ‘pudding’ baits including various forms of offal, cheese, tuna oil, bread, fish scraps and almost anything else. The advantage of these forms of bait is that they self-berley and generate a trail that can bring fish in from far and wide.

Trevally and tailor have been hunting in the lower reaches. The best bet is to target them at dawn. Small slugs or poppers work quickly and will deliver the goods. Trollers bait anglers catch these fish with live offerings.

Offshore, the snapper season is well underway with quite varied results. Moving around to locate feeding fish seems to work for some, while others prefer to anchor up and berley. Fish will appear depending on how long you can wait.

August is a very good month for the offshore brigade. Besides the snapper and squire there is a good chance of picking up a red emperor (particularly out wide), scarlet sea perch, pearlies and Maori cod. A few solid cobia, sweetlip, stray mackerel and tuna just about round up the options that the offshore scene has to offer.

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