The Gold Coast Flathead Classic was held from October 1-3 in blustery conditions that made fishing hard for the majority of anglers, but the top four teams showed the field exactly what was available across three days of tough tournament fishing.
Heading the pack after three days was Bush ’n’ Beach with a sensational 3656 points, easily eclipsing second-placed Team Atomic on 3082 points. But the winners did not have it all their way, especially on day one when Team Atomic looked set to break all sorts of records with a sensational 2000-plus point day.
But it was the weather that had competitors talking, with the wind rarely dropping below 15 knots for the entire competition. The strong northerly dirtied up usually productive shallow areas around the Jumpinpin and into the Broadwater, forcing the top teams to look for cleaner and deeper water to find their fish.
This caused a few bottleneck areas where keen flathead fishers gathered to target their fish. One, which ultimately proved to be the location preferred by the top two teams, was found at the bottom end of the Jumpinpin near the green-zoned Swan Bay.
Big concentrations of large flathead were lying in 5m to 15m of water and the top teams used a variety of lures to target these brutes. A popular choice was jighead-rigged plastics, either in a curl-tail grub or the popular jerkbait. These lures were delivered deep to the fish on jighead weights ranging from 1/2oz right up to 1oz jigheads.
As Doug Whaley (winner of the largest flathead trophy at 94cm) said, ‘You get strong arms and sore wrists fishing this way’.
These deep fish were keen on brightly coloured lures such as lime green, chartreuse and hot pink, with most lures retrieved straight up and down in the fast current at the mouth of the ’Pin.
While the top teams battled it out around the ’Pin, other anglers looked for their fish in areas like Crab Island, the Gold Coast Seaway and on the shallow banks of Crusoe Island. Team Fishing Monthly worked Crusoe Island each day but found the fishing tough, apart from day two when Shayne McKee landed two terrific flathead in two casts at 80cm and 67cm.
The dirty water also showed the importance of having back-up plans and the need to adapt. Our team members are not deep-water flattie fishers. You might say we are really ordinary at it, so instead of attempting to compete with the anglers who were a good chance of winning and getting in their way while we muddled through the deep techniques, we decided to head into some back creeks that were not so dirty and troll.
Trolling is considered a bit of an old-school technique these days, yet we caught enough fish to have us finish in the top 20 teams. Trolling for flatties was totally new to me and using a bright pink Lively Lures Micro Mullet and some gold Willow Lures, we managed to get a number of fish over 50cm.
Ben Job, from Team Atomic, even managed to troll up a 90cm flathead on a Micro Mullet in the last half-hour of the competition. So the lesson was to remember the old techniques – sometimes they can be winners.
But the major lesson was all about deep fishing with bigger plastics and heavier jigheads and stronger rods. And that is the beauty of the Flathead Classic, there are always things to learn from the winners: Locations, tactics, techniques and more.
The winner of the random draw Blue Fin prize boat was Barry Lawson. Barry was planning to fish the 2008 event but had to pull out at the last minute. He gave his ticket to a mate who went on to win last year’s Blue Fin boat.
This year Barry was surprised to be pulled out as a final 20 contestant and I don’t think there was a competitor who wasn’t happy he eventually won the BlueFin Scoundrel package. Everyone was talking about karma and how good it was he won.
A very excited Hamish Munro won the junior random draw Blue Fin Tinoo with electric motor and battery.
With over 340 competitors, this is a major sportfishing event that everyone should experience at least once. Every night there are random draw and raffle prizes along with a hearty meal and plenty of good-natured banter.
I am in no way a competition angler and go into the Flathead Classic to learn a few things about flattie fishing, meet like-minded people and have a great time. It is the effort from the Gold Coast Sportfishing Club to run a big event and keep everyone happy that is the true success of this event. As well as the message to anglers that it’s actually OK to let flathead go in a healthy state.
|Champion 3 Angler Team||Bush n Beach|
|Champion 2 Angler Team||Anglers Connection I|
|Champion Angler Senior||Keith Stratford 1921pts|
|Champion Female Angler||Tracey Mammen 692pts|
|Champion Angler Junior||Robbie Daly 623pts|
|Longest Flathead Senior||Doug Whaley 94cm|
|Longest Flathead Fly||Brendon Knight 58cm|
|Longest Flathead on Hard Body||Ben Job 90cm|
|Longest Flathead on Soft Plastic||Doug Whaley 94cm|
|Longest Bream||Chris Armstrong 34cm|
|Longest Estuary Cod||Steve Lennard 44cm|
|Longest Mulloway||Nigel Webster 113cm|
|Longest Trevally||Ashley Bingham 49cm|
|Longest Whiting||Marcus Hird 35cm|
|Longest Tailor||Nigel Webster 51cm|
|Most Metres Senior||Keith Stratford 16.81m|
|Total Number of Flathead caught||2708|
Top 20 Teams
|1||Bush n Beach||3656|
|5||Budd's Bait & Tackle||1998|
|8||Anglers Connection I||1704|
|9||Doug Burt's Tackle World||1634|
|10||Logan River Marine||1589|
|13||Team Next Year||1368|
|14||Anglers Connection II||1354|
|16||QLD Fishing Monthly||1329|
|18||The Marlin Hunter's Health Retreat||1249|
|19||Crack A Flat||1186|
|20||Team Blue Fin Boats||1165|
Top 20 Seniors