Week 11: Off Shore Flathead by Andrew Ettingshausen
Drifting for flathead is an effective way to capture this tasty species. You can find flathead right around Australia and they can be caught just about all year round. I set out with my good friend Paul in his 12 ft Quintrex on a beautiful winters morning to chase a feed of flathead.
When fishing off shore for this species, I like to fish in waters 30-50m in depth. Flathead love to ambush passing prey, so drifting over a sandy bottom where the flathead love to hide will put your bait in the strike zone. My favourite rig is the old paternoster, but I like to use a flasher rig, which is like an oversized fly. These rigs often come pre-made with two or even three hooks attached. Adding some bait to the flasher rig seems to be a sure way to get plenty of bites. I was using a combination of 6-10kg snapper rod and 4500 Shimano bait runner, packed with 20 pound braid, the flasher rig with its 3'0 hooks had a heavy snapper lead attached to the bottom.
The idea is to drift along in 30m of water with the baits right on the bottom. When you find a patch of fish, a quick click on your Humminbird sounder will mark the GPS spot of where the fish are laying. I like to work this patch of ground several times before moving on.
The fresh bait we were using was caught on the reef on the way to our sandy spot, and this was a mixture of slimy mackerel and yellowtail. The idea is to cut thin strips of bait to entice the flathead to bite. A bait of pilchards or squid will also do the trick!
On occasions we were pulling them up two at a time and we quickly had our bag limit! Most of the time I am into catch and release, but this time around the fillets were bound to end up on the BBQ plate for lunch with friends.
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