Lately I’ve been doing a fair bit of walking along local beaches, casting soft plastics around the shallows. This time of year is ideal for this style of fishing, as we get plenty of large afternoon tides, we have consistent westerly winds (offshore along my local beaches), and more importantly, this time of year we get our bigger flathead and salmon along these beaches.
It’s pretty easy to have a two-piece rod and a backpack or bum bag stowed in the car, and if time should permit you can easy walk along a local beach flicking lures for an hour on your way home from work. And that’s what I really enjoy about this style of fishing; it’s low stress, easy and you still get a quick fishing-fix without having a big clean-up job at the end of the session.
For this style of fishing, all you need is a light threadline outfit, a backpack or bum bag and selection of lures and leader material. A rod around 7’0” – 7’2” and rated at 2 – 4kg is perfect, together with a 1000 or 2000 size reel. My favourite outfit at the moment for this type of work is the Zodias 681 spin 4-8lb matched with a Stradic 1000. I normally go with 6lb braid as my mainline down here in SA, with 12lb leader offering protection against the raspy teeth of a flathead.
As far as lures are concerned, we flick soft plastics for the most part. Plastics are easy to use in this situation; they cast well and can be worked along the bottom where flathead are waiting to ambush passing prey. The size and weight of soft plastics and jig heads can be changed easily to suit differing conditions and water depth.
We generally start at a given point, and we make our way along the beach or rocky shoreline, casting around sandy drop-offs, clumps of rock and around weed beds. We usually fire several casts around a likely looking spot before moving on to the next.
I prefer a slow retrieve for our bluespot flathead. I usually let the plastic settle on the bottom for a couple of seconds before doing a double hop, retrieving the slack line and repeating. Remember to work the plastic all the way to the shoreline as our flathead will follow a plastic for quite some time and will commit to hitting the lure at the last second.
Good plastics for us this year have been Squidgie 70mm Fish, 80mm Squidgie Whip Baits, 100mm Wrigglers and 80mm Squidgie Pro Range Prawns. The ever reliable 85mm Flick Baits are another gun plastic for this kind of work. By keeping on the move we’re prospecting a lot of likely water, giving us the best chance to locate some fish. My favourite colour scheme for our flathead along these beaches is white lightening, without a doubt.
I usually take a backpack or bum bag with my lures and a camera, as well as some long nose pliers, lip grips and a bottle of water. Admittedly our target species is the southern bluespot flathead, but we do pick up some good salmon, herring and even yelloweye mullet. It’s an entertaining form of fishing, and offers some exercise too.