Flathead fantastic
  |  First Published: February 2010

Flathead season has definitely been in full swing over the last month and the action should continue on into autumn with similar consistency.

The peak summer temperatures have attracted increased numbers of flatties into the shallows. Anglers using a slow drifting boat as their platform will soon find a few patches where they can gather a bag of these tasty fish.

The majority of local anglers seem to have moved onto an artificial plastic lure approach to flathead fishing. The multi-rigged paternoster style and single jighead rigs are both popular soft plastic methods for flathead.

Relatively fine braided mainline (8-20lb) really helps in keeping lures on the bottom while drifting, especially when using single jig rigged plastics. Monofilament lines need to stay in the 12lb range in order to cut through the water column and to make sure the lure is on or near the bottom as much as possible.

Storm Bay and Frederick Henry Bay outside of the Derwent entrance are loaded with flathead at the moment. Fish the shallower areas early in the day, then move toward channels and depth change zones once the sun is bright. Using a chunky 100mm Squidgy Wriggler or double tail soft plastic will help to sort through some of the smaller fish.

Popular jig sizes are 1/4oz 2/0 and 3/8thoz 3/0 jigheads. Go for finer hooks to maximise hook penetration. Using a snap swivel above the jig is not a bad idea as it also stops line wear near the jig during busy sessions. A snap also makes short work of changing to a metal slice when salmon appear nearby.

Australian salmon

Quality Australian salmon are also about in fair numbers so keep an eye out for schools that often surface to feed on the hordes of baitfish inside Frederick Henry and Norfolk Bays.

Salmon of around 3kg are being caught so make sure your rigs are worthy of the sort of battle these fantastic little sportfish can dish out.

Smaller cockies and couta will make up the bulk of the catches for those working the open water.

Trolling shallow diving minnows and slices will catch plenty of fish but trolling can put the schools down if you get too close or collide with the main school. At times it can be better to place the boat upwind and drift onto the fish, casting stickbait plastics, poppers or diving minnow lures.

Silver Trevally

Silver trevally are showing up in decent numbers and sizes of late. Small schools of fish averaging around 1kg will work their way onto the open flats at high water and then seem to retire to deeper water.

Stickbait type soft plastics on a 1/8th jig are an excellent lure for trevally. Try channels created by faster flowing water and the deeper gutters that skirt around headlands or any prominent outcrop. Slow lift and drop retrieves have always worked for me. Most reports of sizeable silvers have come from the Pittwater channels or about the Dodges Ferry area and nearby headlands.

Yellowtail kingfish

Yellowtail kingfish are continuing to show up here and there. The most recent captures were taken just outside the entrance to Blackman Bay near Marion Bay.

Fresh cut baits drifted under a stationary boat did the trick. From the pictures I’ve seen the kingies are in the 2-4kg class. They really are a magnificent fish and local interest is definitely growing. Betsy Island is attracting many anglers looking for a chance to catch a local school kingfish. Other reefs in Storm, Marion and Frederick Henry bays should also be holding fish at the moment.


Albacore tuna are turning up in patches and hence the tuna brigade is showing some interest. Although most recent catches have been modest rather than memorable, better days can’t be too far away.

With water temperatures creeping up, we should soon see more consistent action closer to the coast very soon. Pusher style skirted lures, jethead skirts and bibless trolling lures like the Halco Max or Lively Lures Mac Baits (11 or 12.5cm) are all good choices when starting out.

Fantastic Bream

What can I say about the bream fishing? I recently caught my PB Derwent bream (taken on an Ecogear MW62F) at a shade under 44cm to the fork, a memorable fish that had to be at least 2kg given its fantastic condition.

I had just finished a morning of filming on the Derwent which luckily had turned it on for the cameras. By early afternoon we had managed 20 or more kilo-plus bream. I don’t think there are many places in the country that could boast those sorts of figures. The fish don’t bite like that every day but the river starts to really fire up as summer turns toward autumn.

Bream will be visiting all their favourite haunts right now as they settle into regular feeding patterns. Likewise, anglers should try any spots where they have found success in the past. The best spots will hold fish for weeks or more but they can change their bite times from day to day.

Move about the river and mix up your presentations between a hardbodied lure approach and a 3” jig-rigged stickbait-style soft plastic for best results.

You will soon see some action if you fish light enough to get your lure movement looking natural. Shallow flats and associated outcrops or structure will attract plenty of bream throughout the mid reaches during March.

Once you locate a good patch of fish, you should be able to get some regular and quality estuary action.

Trout scene

The Derwent Valley streams are giving up some healthy small-water trout at the moment. Grasshopper and beetle patterns will be a common choice for most flyfishers this month.

Most streams and rivers returned to lower levels recently and in the absence of good rains, many streams will have numerous areas of slow flowing pools to exploit.

Pocket water on the edge of currents creates great ambush positions for trout to feed from. Fly and lure can both be good choices in these conditions. Ecogear MW48F and Strike Pro Smeltas are both very good shallow water stream lures and are well worth a try.

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