This interview with Russell was ALF EPISODE #601. Check out our lure fishing archives for more information on Flathead Fishing!

Russell Babekuhl fishing bio

Russell Babekuhl

Australian Hobie Champ 2022

Russell is an accomplished tournament angler, and although we’ve listed him above as the 2022 Australian Hobie Tournament Champ that’s just the latest in a long line of accolades that stem back over a decade and are to numerous to mention here. Russell grew up in Wingham, NSW, which gave him the opportunity to fish the Forster area regularly – he still counts it as one of his favourite fishing destinations. 

Russell Babekuhl fishing bream forster facebook   russell babekuhl instagram  

Russell’s Tips For Forster Flathead

  • Focus on areas with rugged country and a lot of structure, especially around oyster racks. Target areas with strong currents, crystal clear water, and dominant structures like oyster poles. Flathead are often found within a metre of these dominant structures.
  • Russell prefers topwater fishing for flathead, especially in November and December. The last hour of the run-in tide and the first hour of light give optimal results, especially when fishing areas with oyster racks, sand pockets, and weed-covered sand flats. Fish close to the shallowest point on flats, especially during the last hour of the run-in tide.
  • A minimum of 1.3 meters of tide is required to access most of the best fishing spots.
  • Fishing from either boat or kayak is effective, but Russell prefers boat fishing better mobility, visibility, and access to multiple spots.
  • Clear days give better visibility but some ripple on the water can be also be beneficial. Good sunglasses are essential for this style of fishing. Check out my advice for choosing sunglasses to get the right eyewear for your needs.
  • Being the first to fish a spot for increases the chances of success.
  • Clear water allows for sight fishing, and Russell enjoys watching the fish explode on topwater lures. He attributes aggressive retrieval to triggering reaction bites, especially in high current area
  • Handling Big Flathead Near Structures: An aggressive initial pull will prevent fish from getting under structures, winding frantically to control the fish’s direction. The key is to get the fish’s head up and away from structure, then back the drag off once in the clear.
  • Use a large, knotless net to land big flathead, handle them quickly and minimise the time they’re out of the water. Wet the brag mat and place it on a cool surface, quickly get one or two photo’s and release the fish.

Russell’s Forster Flathead Fishing Tackle

  • Russell casts big lures and pulls large flathead from heavy structure so he needs to get their heads up and control them quickly. As a consequence his tackle is more like snapper gear than what would normally be regarded flathead gear. A Penn Regiment, 6 to 10 kilo, seven foot two rod coupled with a Penn Slammer 300-4000 reel with a large ball handle, 20lb braid and 20lb leader complete his outfit.
  • Russell keeps the leader length relatively short, especially in clear water and emphasizes the use of fluorocarbon for a bite leader.

Russell’s Forster Flathead Lures

  • In general, bigger topwater lures take larger flathead because they attract attention and represent a more substantial meal. Large lures and hooks aid in getting a good hook set.
  • Russell’s favourite lure for big flathead is the Berkeley Bender, ranging from 100mm to 150mm. These lures have strong, sharp trebles and allow him to cover a lot of ground looking for aggressive reaction bites. The lure should be cast as far as possible across the flat and worked with a walk-the-dog technique with aggressive taps, some pauses and burning winds. Berkeley benders dive under the water while moving side to side. Pay attention to any following fish and adapt the retrieve accordingly. Work the lure across current where possible.

  • Other lure options include OSP Bent Minnow (130mm), 3-inch Gulp Shrimp or 4-inch Minnow (if downsizing to increase catch numbers), especially in summer.

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