The flat profile of these fish points to a species that prefers to hug the bottom and is capable of moving through shallow parts. It's this physical trait, combined with a military grade camouflage paint job and closely spaced eyes for great all-round vision that makes them such a well matched fish for the shallow flats environment. The shallows are often clear, relatively sheltered environments and these fish are perfectly equipped to be a successful predator in areas where there's often very little cover to hide behind.
The ability of flathead to push through the shallowest of waters means their range is basically up to the shoreline and quite often they'll sit within feet of the shore, especially when undisturbed. It pays to fish the first few metres of water out from the shore before you start wading around in it.
Coastal flats are the perfect areas to find a flathead. Rather than being expansive, barren environments, flats actually have a lot more going for them than initial impressions may reveal. Tidal flats have many subtle features about them that flatties will use to their advantage when sitting and waiting for their meal to swim past. The more tidal the area is, the greater the number of gutters, little drop-offs and ledges and even patches of exposed rock/low reef. These sorts of features will all attract these fish, which are true blue ambush feeders in every sense of the word.
Estuary systems are also known haunts for flatties and again the fishing is better where there's more bottom features, which is often towards the mouth sections of these waters, although some systems will produce quality fish along most of their length. Rock walls are noted for attracting the XOS fish in some states and these can be fished from the shore. There's generally good channel formation in these areas and plenty of drains coming off the flats and out of the mangroves. Flatties will sit in these patiently waiting for their prey.
For the most part you're looking to find something different to aim your casts at. This could be a patch of weed, a few rocks, a hole, a drain or anything out of the ordinary. Rather than try cast over every inch of a flat or estuary, narrow down things, and use what you've learnt to make less casts for more fish. Only when you've explored all the structures in the area for little result, should you start making more random casts in an attempt to cover ground and pick up the odd fish. You'll find you get better numbers around the structures and only sporadic fish out in the open most times—it all makes sense as these are the areas where bait gathers.
The more successful shore flickers will have a desire to find new grounds and push their flattie exploits to the limit. While they'll live in rather obvious areas, and even calm metro shorelines can hold them, as you walk you'll find greater numbers of fish. They're an ideal target if you don't mind throwing on waders, and grabbing a flickstick and backpack and going walkabout. Don't think that you have to wade to find them, as there's many low rock ledges you can cast from to reach flattie water and you won't need to get wet to do it! Also look for them from wharfs and other structures which jut out over shallow inshore waters. Otherwise look for sheltered beaches and coves and generally areas where there's minimal swell.