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Fishing the flats

Flats fishing is without doubt my favorite form of fishing, I just love sighting a fish and casting at it, seeing its reaction whether it flees for safety or eats the lure, it’s addictive! I spend four months every year guiding on Cape York, most of it fishing the flats with clients from Australia and overseas, it’s rewarding and exciting!

Releasing a small flats black marlin

Coming home to south east Queensland must seem boring……not so!, here in Hervey Bay we have some amazing, if not world class flats fishing. It is the only pace in the world I know where you can cast at golden trevally, permit and tuna then turn around and cast at a black marlin in water often as shallow as 1.5 meters.

Spin tackle used here must be capable of long casts, very long at times and still have enough grunt if you do hook a whopper. As most of our flats fish run between 4 – 12 kg a good 20 pound spin rod is ideal, big longtails can and do turn up, some of these over 25kg and the small blacks can hit 100kg so it’s a good idea to have a 30 or 50 pound spin rod rigged and ready.

Adam McGlachlan with a flats queenfish

Tuna, queenies, mackerel and the blacks are usually hunting gar and flying fish on the flat so a good, long casting lure like the new Over There stickbaits are ideal, both size and action are perfect for these predators, cast in front of the fish (we call this leading the fish) and crank the lure past the fish, 2 – 3 meters in front is ideal, try to create the intercept, some of these fish are really motoring so be quick.

Diamond Trevally are always a welcome catch

Golden Trevally, Permit and sometimes Queenfish need slower, more deliberate lure placement, depending on what there feeding on. Smaller tides are often better for flats fishing as the water is cleaner due to less tidal range, clouds can be a real nuisance making it harder too see, quality sunglasses are a must!

Always look for life, this big manta ray had some cobia following, we caught 2!

Areas to look, any flat where you have good visibility and there is bait will hold fish, sometimes they will be feeding there or using the flat as a corridor to travel from one location to another. So there you go, it can be frustrating but when it all comes together I bet you won’t be able to wipe the smile off your face.


A nice flats permit from 2013

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