Social Flathead Challenge V
Well my intention had been to head out on the first Saturday of the competition with Biggles but the prediction had been for very wet weather and wind so I cancelled the trip on the Friday when the weather was terrible. When I woke the next morning the weather gurus had got it wrong and the day ended up being relatively pleasant. Oh well that’s Murphy’s Law!
So the trip was rescheduled for the following weekend but this time the wind was up over 25 knots and so another weekend went down the gurgler. As I postponed the trip for yet another week I desperately watched the weather which seemed to be settling down only for the wind to pick up yet again for the Saturday. In the end I made the decision that I was going on the final day of the comp regardless of the weather.
Unfortunately Biggles had been laid flat with a nasty flu but a quick call to Simons Rat had him meeting up with me at my local later in the afternoon to finish the session.
I headed off early and arrived at my launch site at 6am. The tide had already began its run out and the conditions looked perfect. With eager anticipation I geared up the kayak and hit the water. Initially I headed up stream while the current was fairly gentle with the intention of allowing it to take me downstream when it picked up the pace. I cast at the first few drains and inner bends in the river with no luck. It wasn’t until I reached one of my favourite banks that I managed my first fish.
This bank was atypical habitat for flathead but for whatever reason I always seemed to manage to find a fish or two. Casting my 100mm Squidgie Wriggler in Black Gold it was slammed hard and I was onto what felt like a good fish. The fish lacked the tell-tale head shakes of a flathead but I was still optimistic that it might be my target species until the dark black spotted body of an Estuary Cod came to the surface. At 38cm it was a great way to start the trip and meant I had avoided the dreaded donut even though I was not on the scoreboard.
It wasn’t long before I was on again and I managed a small pike on a home-made lure that a friend had sent me from Townsville. He has started making his own lures from Resin and I have to say that are an awesome quality. The best thing was that I was able to design my own colour pattern for flathead; the worst thing was that I managed to lose the lure 30 minutes later after the leader failed. I think the Pike had damaged the leader and I had missed the abrasion.
I continued targeting my usual structures but the flathead seemed very quiet for this system. So I changed my tactic and switched to a 100mm Z-Man Curly Tail in Motor Oil and I began casting at structure in the hope that I might find some other fish to entertain me while I waited for the tide to drop further to the conditions I find ideal to target flathead.
It wasn’t long until finally my SP was picked up and I finally felt the characteristic headshakes of a flathead on the other end. It was a good fish to start my Bag and at 54cm I was very happy to kick off the SFC V with some points on the board.
I headed downstream and I returned to the bank where I had caught the cod in the hope some flathead had moved in with the dropping tide. Sure enough s I neared the end of the bank my Z-Man was picked up again and although not a monster fish at 40mm it meant that I had a full bag and could now concentrate on upgrades.
I continued drifting downstream content in the knowledge that I had managed a full bag and continued looking for something bigger. I had been lucky enough to have the river to myself early in the morning and I wasn’t pleased to see four stink-boats appear within 20 minutes and create a huge wash along my favourite banks and disturb them. To make matters worse three of them were cast netting the inner bends for prawns or collecting crab pots from the front of all the drains I l liked to target.
As a result I drifted peacefully along the shallow banks casting and hoping to find a random flathead in the near perfect conditions. Along one bank the Sp was picked up again and this time I was onto a cracking fish. A quick run and the flathead came to the net way to easily and without much of a fight. It was almost like it refused to accept the fact it had made a mistake and eaten something that was not edible. However once in the net and raised above the waterline it accepted the dilemma it was in and it began to flip out!! I felt like the greatest pancake chef as the flathead continuously flipped up into the air only for me to reposition the landing net below it and prevent it from landing back in the water. Eventually I placed it safely in the front well of my Viking Tempo which is ideal for keeping flathead especially large unruly ones.
At this point I realised there was no way that I could easily handle this fish and so I paddled over to a nearby pontoon where I saw a man spray painting. I politely explained to him that I had landed a large flathead and asked if I could jump onto his pontoon to handle the fish. He was happy for me to do so and I was ecstatic to finally measure and photograph a great flathead of 69cm. Now that is what I call an upgrade!
I continued to drift downstream but the ever present stink-boats seemed desperate to disturb every prime flathead location in an attempt to find a feed of crabs and prawns. I had managed all my fish by 9.30AM and the rest of the morning was dead without even a slight touch.
As the ebb of the tide began to slow and the low tide was almost at its peak I decided to head back upstream to target a few bream while I waited for Simons rat to arrive and fish the afternoon with me. On the paddle upstream I tried casting at my favourite bends again hoping that a few more fish had moved in with the dropping tide.
On one such bend I managed another flathead of 47cm that obviously was not an upgrade but left me optimistic that I might find another good fish to increase my score. I continued upstream and although my SP was whacked a few times by bream I did not manage another fish.
A call from Simons Rat told me that he had arrived and eventually he paddled upstream and meet up with me. The tide had begun to flood in and we drifted upstream hoping to pick up another fish or two while we chatted away. Steve eventually hooked up and managed to catch a small flathead which we decided to measure and photograph to get him on the board. Instead of netting it he managed to grab it in some awkward grip and in an attempt to get it over to my kayak for a measure, I managed to knock it into the water with my paddle. Bugger!
We continued upstream for a while with no action and then turned back downstream but the flathead had vanished. On the paddle back to the cars Steve noticed some small fish being chopped up some predatory fish and quickly rigged a surface soft plastic to see if he could hook up. Eventually his softie was hit by a fish and the SP returned to the yak with the tale removed. Steve surmised that they were probably small Tailor but continued casting could not tempt another to have a go.
Eventually I reached the launch spot and this was where the strangest thing happened. I jumped off my kayak and stretched my legs and then bent down to start unrigging it. Looking into the small well between my legs I saw a 15cm dark brown fish. It looked like a flathead and I assumed it was something that the large flathead I had caught had regurgitated and that it was partially squashed so it appeared round. I reached down to grab it and it moved. This fish was alive and had been in the well in a small amount of water for who knows how long.
I put it in a bucket of saltwater to show Steve and he had no idea what it was either or how it could have gotten into my kayak. He took a few photos with his fancy camera to document the catch. My guess is that it was some strange species of flathead but buggers me what it was. It was an interesting end to a good day on the water. Thanks Steve for the afternoon paddle too!