Shallow thinking
  |  First Published: November 2009

Even if you’re a fish, the warmth of that Summer sun feels great and where do fish go to achieve this? The shallows, of course.

Fishing the shallows is an art that requires patience, persistence and, above all, observation, but the rewards are worth it.

With that lovely Summer warmth, fish move over flats and into the shallows to sunbake as much as to feed.

Start by walking the flats and shallows at low tide, looking for signs that fish have been feeding there. Indications may be obvious, like the sandy silhouette of a flathead, or a crushed crab or oyster from a bream; indents in the sand over worm or nipper beds where mullet and whiting have been fossicking, or skittish mullet on the fringes as the tide rises.

There are several ways to hunt these fish so be prepared to diversify.

Wading is a way to keep cool and maximise the stealth factor by getting right up close and personal with your intended prey. A short cast at a fish spotted through polarised sunnies is a tactic and there’s no better feeling to have sighted, hunted and captured your fish.

In a boat or canoe you may need to lengthen your sights and casts to achieve the same results. Sometimes the extra elevation allows you to spot fish before they see you.

Nippers are arguably the best baits over the flats, while fresh prawns or squirt worms will also take their share.

Whether you use lures or bait, expect plenty of action.

The bream, flathead, whiting, blackfish and others are in such good numbers this season that a sly angler fishing in this stealthy method should have a lot of success.

A lot of anglers may be unaware that game fish, especially marlin, like to sunbake in the shallow layers of the ocean. The sun’s warmth brings these fish to the surface, where they just glide along with the waves.

When you spot a marlin doing this it may or may not respond to a lure or bait; more often not. Note your position and return later in the day, maybe on the change of the tide.

Those fish will be in that area for a reason, more than likely a food source, so at some stage they will feed; if not today maybe tomorrow.

Marlin are already increasing in numbers, following a series of warm eddies that are also hosting good numbers of yellowfin, striped tuna and albacore, along with shadowing mako, blue and hammerhead sharks.

Berley trails will work well on sharks, as will a bridled striped tuna also likely to entice a marlin.

There is plenty closer to shore for the bottom fishos with tiger flathead in excellent numbers in around 50m.

Anglers starting on the reefs in this depth will also encounter snapper and blue and jackass morwong. Drift off the reefs and you’ll get flatties and gummy sharks.

Up at Montague Island the kingies are plentiful all though some weeding out is required to find fish of size. Jigging, live-baiting or strip fishing will work on its day.

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