Rob and son Matt from TEAM PREDATEK recently got out on the water together for a couple of flattie sessions, their first together for a few years; Rob lives in Port Macquarie, Matt in Sydney. The venue was the Hastings River, a waterway that has been closed to commercial fishing for a few years now. They fished a few favoured spots as well as some previously unexplored territory. The photograph below, taken in 2005, shows typical country they fish for Dusky Flathead—Platycephalus fuscus.
Fish the last couple of hours of the afternoon runout tide, along mangrove-fringed banks, in water ranging from a few centimetres to 1.5m in depth. Hold in position or travel slowly against the tide with a bow-mounted electric motor. Cast to the shallows and retrieve into deeper water and/or slow troll/retrieve parallel to the bank and against the tide. Retrieve erratically with rod-tip jerks or reel handle pauses.
The first afternoon session proved how rusty they were and the risks of fishing with light leaders in territory that can harbour serious lizards. They ended up with about 20 strikes and two just-legal keepers in the boat for a meal. Should we talk about the ones that got away? :-(
Matt was tight to a fish that slammed his 'Purple Thing' M50D MinMin in a metre of water surrounding a fallen mangrove tree. It was obviously a decent flathead because it behaved as though it didn't know it was hooked...for a few seconds. The line slowly traced a straight vee on the water surface and the horizontal rod held a fixed curve. Then the tip went under as the fish pulsed away. The fish was not sighted because the water was muddied from the tide fretting the shoreline, but a decent boil on the surface said good fish. Another lunge...the rod unflexed and the line wafted in the breeze. Bitten off! Six-pound fluorocarbon leader was not the go!
Later, further up the river near Rawdon Island, Rob's battle-scarred M50D MinMin was ambushed in less than a metre of water about thirty metres from the bank. Here, the water was clear and the fish was visible, looking to be 60cm or so. What happened next was embarrassing for TEAM PREDATEK. While trying to manoeuvre his line away from Matt's, Rob's spinning reel bail-arm picked up Matt's line and wound a few turns around his spool, working into the gap between the outside of the spool and the reel body.
"Great!"—a good fish cutting a wide arc across the shallow sandflat and Rob's reel unwindable! The pair tried to free Matt's line by disengaging the anti-reverse on Rob's reel and winding backwards to tease out the fouled strands of gelspun line. No good. Matt went for the knife and cut his line free.
The fish was still on and brought to the boat...but not beaten. It thrashed on the surface and bolted each time the landing net came near. On the final lunge, the MinMin's single-barb grip on the dusky flathead's lip let go and it was 'See you later, suckers' as the fish scooted off. "What a pair of amateurs we are", said Rob. They laughed. That's fishing. Good luck to the flathead.
The next day TEAM PREDATEK returned to the place where Matt had been monstered. This time they had another crew member, Matt's fiancé, Leesa, who had never caught a flathead. They couldn't raise another big dusky but it was a great session nonetheless: twenty-odd hookups on M50D MinMins; four keeper duskies for the table ranging from 37-47cm; and a couple of yellow-finned bream to 35cm taken on a M40D MicroMins.
Lures used in the flattie sessions. The two top lures are superseded old timers. The favourite 'Purple Thing' was missing in action.
Not a keeper, but a milestone nonetheless—Leesa's first flathead, caught on a colour that she chose for herself out of the tackle box. It's one of the Transparent M50D MinMins in the colour called 'Pink Panic'.
Flathead and bream wait in the live-well to be photographed at the end of the session. The bream were released. The flathead made a tasty meal for four adults. The pink and purple lure is one of TEAM PREDATEK's favourites for flathead, the M50D 'Purple Thing'. It's a classic Predatek colour. Unfortunately, the only one in the tackle box in the boat was lost during the first session.
Next Flathead Blog Post: Stayed tuned for the next post on Flattie Fishing which will deal with some of the specifics of technique for fishing Predatek MinMins for Dusky Flathead.