The moment those plants in the back yard start to bloom, and the days get that little bit longer – it’s time to pull out the big colourful plastics.
There are few fish that like those big colourful wiggly plastics more than the flathead, and spring is a great time of the year to be chasing them!
The lower parts of the estuary become a focussing point for big female flathead and their entourage of male wannabe’s during August to October.
These fish will stage in any spot that enables them some form of shelter and a point the focuses food sources.
Anywhere there is some drop off point or solid structure that also regularly brings food past via the current – will hold flathead. Once you have located the prime locations you can work on a good strategy for catching a few!
I like fishing around the tide changes for flathead. As the tide begins to move and pick up speed and just before the flow starts to ease up into a tide change, are prime times to be casting a lure.
The key approach to catching flathead is to find a way to keep a lure close to bottom, and in front of the fish for as much of your retrieve as possible.
Flathead are a favourite of many lure anglers because the retrieve used to catch them is simple.
To start the process, select a lure choice that will enable you to fish a retrieve that keeps a lure close to bottom for most of the retrieve.
Having a lure choice that makes it easy to get a lure to the bottom and also keep it in certain locations for extended periods – makes for a very effective flathead lure.
For this reason one of my favourite Spring time lures is the 6 inch GULP grub. This lure is a big offering, but is readily eaten by most common sizes of Spring time flathead.
By rigging the grub on to one of the Nitro jigheads (3/0 to 5/0) that is weighted heavily enough to get you to bottom, and stay close to the bottom – you are well on the way to catching some quality fish (rule of thumb includes ¼ to 3/8th Oz for 1 to 3 metres and ½ Oz for 3 to 6 metres). Keep in mind that the size of this lure makes it well worth a big fish going out of its way to grab the offering (and the occasional jew!).
My outfit for Spring flathead includes Berkely Dropshot rods in 3 to 5kg and 6 to 8kg weightings. When fishing the deeper water where some of the really big fish hold, I have no better tool than the 6’10 Dropshot in 6 to 8kg.
I match the rod with Abu Soron Stx40’s and braided lines in the 10lb category. The lines are completed with 2 metre leaders of Stren Coral material in 10 to 20lb breaking strains.
This may seem heavy – but XOS Spring flathead are very good at destroying light leaders!
There are many lures on the market that will catch flathead. As described above – my Spring favourite is the 6 inch grub.
I urge you to try different lures until you find your confidence offering! When targeting flathead – keep in mind they like big, colourful prototypes that produce added vibration.
The retrieve for Spring flathead is best described as the deep shakey retrieve. Having cast the lure, allow it to sink to bottom.
Using a quality braided line like a Code Red or Stren Sonic makes it all the easier to feel and see when the lure has hit bottom.
Once on the bottom – jig the lure up off the bottom by aggressively shaking the rod. You want the lure to lift no more than a couple of feet – so don’t be ripping the lure metres away from local fish! Once the lure is up off the bottom, drop the rod tip, quickly wind up slack line, and let the lure drop back to bottom.
Repeat this process until the lure is back at your feet or under the boat – and make another cast! Bites will register as sharp taps through the rod, and once you have had the first one – you are well on your way down a path of discovery!
Spring is a great time to tangle with big flathead. If you are new to lure fishing, then this is a great time to get started. Use some of the simple approach tips described above, get out on the water and enjoy yourself!