XL Flathead

by John Costello | Australian Lure Fishing

Tweed River Mangrove Jack Map
John Costello

John Costello

Kayak Fishing YouTuber and Blogger

John has been fishing the Gold Coast for 25 years and is a well known lure fishing YouTuber and blogger, posting numerous reviews of lures he has tested on his local waters. A keen kayak fisher, he’s also produced some instructional DVD’s for anglers wanting to get into kayak fishing and for those wanting to target mangrove jacks and flathead on the Gold Coast. John’s not sponsored by tackle companies, preferring to keep his tackle reviews impartial.

John’s Top Tips For XL Gold Coast Flathead Fishing

  • John likes the run-in tide for big flathead, but reckons they can be caught on pretty much any tide if you adjust your techniques and find the bait.
  • The perfect day for Gold Coast flathead fishing is overcast with 10-15 knot southerly wind. John likes the bigger tides around the new and full moons but stresses that fish can be caught on any tide and moon phases and the important thing is out in plenty of time on the water.
  • Stealth is critical. Fish can be in water as shallow as 15cm and John has taken topwater flathead in water up to 5 feet deep. A kayak shadow or too much noise can easily spook fish in these shallow systems.
  • All large fish are breeding females and should be handled with extreme care and returned safely to the water with minimal trauma.
  • Using big lures takes some getting used to, but it effectively weeds the small fish out. Lures of 20cm are not too large and can incite aggressive strikes reminiscent of iconic sport fish like barra.
  • It’s important to cover plenty of ground during a session until you find where the fish are aggregated. It’s not uncommon for one to five big flathead to be in the same general area, but if you’re using smaller, standard flathead lures you’ll probably only pick up the smaller fish.
  • If the fishing is slow, that’s when you learn the most. Downsize everything from lures to leaders and really focus on being stealthy, moving around looking for bait.
  • Google Earth and Queensland Globe are the flathead hunter’s best friend, allowing angers to check out the extensive flats in this area, look for incoming creeks and drains and find likely access points.
  • Best time of year for the really big fish is Spring, but smaller fish are already in good numbers. Early mornings before the boat traffic are best.

John’s Preferred Flathead Fishing Tackle

  • 2000-3000 size spin reel on a Dobyns Fury 702SF series rod is great for bigger flathead because they have a fast action for casting and working lures. Fish need to be played carefully on fast action rods though, as they can easily pull hooks.
  • John uses a Dobyns Swimbait rod for the really large lures.

John’s Top Lures For Big Flathead

  • A big glidebait tends to work well for finding larger fish. John likes the Lucky Craft Real Ayu swimbait, but it’s hard to get now. Good alternatives are the Jackall Gantias or Gancraft Swimbaits. There are other good quality versions around too, but avoid the cheaper knock-offs, which tend to be poorly balanced and less effective. These lures work best in areas of minimal current. Replace the heavy hooks with a chemically sharpened, light gauge hooks and fish with a “tick, tick” of the rod or half winds of the reel followed by long pauses in between. Fish a heavy drag to set the hooks, but be prepared to quickly lighten the drag once a fish is hooked.
  • 9” Slapstix in lumo colour are a great soft plastic option that can work well even when there is a bit of current flowing. They are best cast long and worked back in twitches with long pauses in between. John rigs these unweighted with a 7/0 Twistlock worm hook and a treble hook stinger in the tail with one hook pinned into the underside of the lure. This not only improves the hook set rate, but also stabilises the lure action. Lunker City Sluggo’s, Storm Sand Eels and large Berkeley Gulp Eels work well too.
  • John’s favourite lure for topwater flathead is the 195mm Crossfire, which is often taken very aggressively, although it can also be quite subtle at times. These lures are heavy and can be cast a long way, then left to sit for quite a few seconds before working them. Keep the rod tip high and give it plenty of “ticks” to make the lure flop around on the surface, then follow with a pause. Hits usually come on the pause, so be prepared to set the hooks.

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Best Lures For Flathead

John’s YouTube, DVD’s And Blog

In a 45 minute podcast we can barely scratch the surface of what there is to know about fishing for big flathead on the Gold Coast. Fortunately, John is here to help with his website, Facebook, YouTube and DVD’s.