The shallow diving hardbody did the all work while the tide came in and flooded the flats…….
Conditions: Flat glassy water in the second half of the incoming tide
Strategy: Get as far south before the tide pushes me back
Technique: Bring shallow divers in over rock and week beds
Gear: 3-5kg 7ft graphite rod with 2500 size spin reel, 8lb braid & 8lb leader
Lure Types: 80mm shallow diver & 100mm shallow diving jerkbait
Session Rating: 6/10
South East Queensland had recently copped a lot rain and so the challenge would be to find somewhere with enough saltwater to get a bite. I figured Sandstone Point on the making tide may would give me the best chance at catching fish. I set the alarm early and arrived before dawn. The tide was halfway in and there was not a ripple on the surface. It is always quite magical when morning’s first light appears over the horizon in perfectly glassy conditions like these.
First fish of the day
After a short spell with a surface walker under the bridge lights, I switched to an 80mm shallow diver. This landed me a small Flathead which was soon released. I headed south past the new hotel development to try and get as far out along the sandbank before the tide pushed me back north. As usual there were Stingrays everywhere. I shuffled rather than walked to reduce the chance of me standing on one and getting stung . By the time I was half way out, the water was up to my waist. The deeper water made it difficult to identify the sand patches I was targeting for Flathead.
The shallow diver is ideally suited to these conditions as it stays above the weed without getting it’s hooks entangled. It also swims in feeding zone of Bream which move in on the incoming tides. The twitch and pause retrieve worked well and the lure was hit. After a minute or so, I tightened up the drag and had a good looking Bream hanging from my lure. I took a photo and released it.
The rising tide was beginning to lap my naval and so I turned back. I headed to the main sand bank and waded north to the narrow channel that separates the sand bank from the mangrove lined shore. This spot looked like it would concentrate bait through the channel flow and I realised it was therefore a good spot to focus on. I slowed everything down and put some casts into the small channel drop off.
Fish hanging out in the channel drain
It felt like my first two casts were “touched” without actually hooking up. I was sure that this channel structure was going to be the best chance to score some Flathead from the session. I waded back over to the mangroves, turned around and started covering the area with more casts. A small Flathead took my lure which told me that the fish were definitely there. A couple of casts later and there was a solid tug about 3m in front of me but again there was no hook-up. Was this the same fish that had touched my lure when I was on the other side of the drain channel casting into this area?
I put another cast or two in there before sending one out long. I connected with a 43cm Flathead which was my first legal one for the day but not quite the size I like for a feed so I sent him on his way also. Returning to the same spot, I finally set the hook into the fish that had been sitting in front of me the whole time. I was onto a better fish which was finally pulling some line. Despite the line coming close to a few oyster covered rocks in the area, I got him safely to shore. It was a beautiful looking specimen of a Flathead measuring 55cm and my favourite size to keep for a feed.
Some unexpected company
At around this time, another angler stepped out from the mangroves about 25m north of me and tied on a large paddle tail plastic. He asked if there were any fish about. I took a moment to think of the best response but eventually opted with honesty and said that there was a patch of fish right in between where we were both standing. He asked about fish size and I told him what I had caught and then pointed out that there was a good chance a big girl was in the area given that I had caught a few smaller male-sized fish.
He moved south toward me and I moved behind where he was so I could keep going north. His next cast was out in the middle section separating us. It was here that his paddletail connected with the big girl that was lying in wait. He only had on a 6lb leader but eventually got her to the shore after some big tail splashes. I didn’t see the fish but he estimated her to be over 65cm before he released her.
I started the march north back to the car and picked up another small Flattie before the jetty. It was time for a lure change and so I pulled out a large 100mm jerkbait and tied it on. If a larger fish was in the area, upsizing of the lure would give me a good chance to connect with it. A breeze from the east was picking up and so the extra weight of the lure helped when casting into it.
The bigger girl to the north
On the second cast, the lure stopped dead on the retrieve. I thought the hooks had snagged on a rock. I put a bend in the rod to test the snag. It began moving toward me and before I knew it, I completely lost tension in the line as it picked up speed and continued straight at me. It breached the top of the water about 3 metres in front of me and I saw a magnificent Flathead which finally realised it was hooked. Line whizzed off the reel as she banked right and took off for deep water. My drag was still pretty loose from the previous fish and I so tightened it to put some pressure back on her. As more line peeled off the reel in another run, I remember thinking “this feeling right here is why we fish”.
The fish was not quite ready to be pulled up onto the beach and continued to make attempts to flee every time she was guided into shallow water. I finally hauled her onto the sand to get a proper look this stella Flathead. Both of the hooks had caught on her under side as she flopped about on the beach. I reached down to get a hand under her when her gill spikes buried deep into my index finger. Blood poured out of my hand. I took some photos, got the hooks out, measured her at 70 cm before sending her back. There is always something special watching these big girls lazily cruise back into the depths and this was no different.
My last fish of the day was an ambitious sabre toothed Whiting (also known as a “Pike”) which I hooked under the bridge on the same big lure. I finished up and called up my brother to tell him about the big female Sandstone Point Flathead I had just landed.