A QUEST FOR BIG FLATHEAD
After fishing the Tamar for many years and catching thousands of Southern Sand Flathead which the average size is around 25 cm. Flathead where not a species I readily target. That was up until this year when a friend of mine Barry Pagett and Peter Lees of Swan Point caught a 3.8kg (81/2lb) Southern Blue Spotted Flathead just off Bridport. After viewing the photos of this magnificent fish it gave me hope that there are flathead around bigger than 25cm.
After this I did some homework. I spoke to a couple of my fishing friends, Gareth Chandler and Brian Lade who regularly fish the Northeast for flathead. They were a great help and told me that shallow water was the key to success. My first trip targeting big flathead was at the end of March this year. It started off as an early morning Snapper fishing session that didn't turn a reel so I decided at 7.30 am that this was to be my first trip targeting big Blue spotted Flathead.
I sounded the beach for a shallow water bank where I thought flathead might be found. I tossed out the anchor and rigged up 4 rods with fresh calamari which I had caught earlier. I cast my rods out and took in the scenery of the beautiful Northeast beaches.Ten minutes had passed without a bite when one of my rods bit savagely. I picked up the rod and wound in my first shallow water flathead which I weighed on my Boga Grip and it weighed exactly 1kg. I was rapped. It was bigger than any Tamar flathead I had seen before. Another 15 minutes had passed when my ugly stick bait casting rod buckled over and my Daiwa CVZ baitcaster started losing line. After a short hard fight I got colour on an even bigger Blue Spot. I couldn't believe my luck he weighed 1.6kg. At this stage I was on cloud 9. I had caught the 2 biggest flathead that I had seen in the flesh in under 2 meters of water. It died off during the next hour and I only managed to land a huge Gurnard.About 15 minutes after this my Daiwa CVZ let out a short loud howl and stopped. I ran over to my rod and struck at the fish, my line came tight. The fished turned and started running away from me at a rapid pace. I thought I was connected to a nice Gummy Shark which are regularly taken off Northern beaches. The fish stopped running and I commenced to retrieve some line. After a few more short runs I got my first look at the fish. My eyes nearly popped out of my head.It was a similar feeling to when I caught my first big Snapper. My knees turned to jelly and my heart rate soared. I quickly grabbed my camera and reeled off a heap of shots while the fish was still in the water. I got my lip grip and lifted the into the boat. It was a massive Blue Spotted Flattie. It weighed 3.7kg(8lb3oz). I set the timer on my camera and proceeded to wind off a whole film. It was a dark morning and I am sure Flinders residents would have sea my flash. I couldn't believe that a Snapper trip gone bad could turn out so good.
I was using a running sinker rig which is a scaled down snapper rig . which consists of a 1 ounce sinker a medium sized crane swivel , 45cm of 15kg trace and 2 octopus hooks.
All my fishing, in every situation I try and use the best bait I possibly can. (fresh is best) The biggest flathead had a whole whiting in its stomach.
I used ugly sticks or Daiwa heartland baitcasting rods couped with Daiwa CVZ 300A baitcasting reels, spooled with 6kg mono.
This particular day was fished on an out going tide and after speaking to some Victorian flathead experts the out going tide seems to be more productive. The flathead sit on the channel edges waiting for the bait fish to be pushed into the main channel.
I don't know if it was luck or if there is a reasonable population of big Blue Spotted Flathead along Tasmania's North coast but I do know that I am going to be targeting big flathead a lot more often.