Mark’s Top Tips For Lake Macquarie Flathead

  • The biggest flathead don’t bite every day. Mark’s noticed over the years that some days the big ones are biting all over the lake and other days the smaller fish are biting all over the lake. .
  • Lake Macquarie is a year-round flathead fishery. The system is artificially heated courtesy of warm water released from power stations at the southern end of the lake. However, if it’s surface fishing the flats that turns you on then the best times are from October to April when the prawn runs are happening.
  • This system is on the doorstep of a fairly heavily populated area and cops a fair bit of fishing pressure. Over the summer months the serious flathead fishermen will focus their efforts on the very early mornings and late evenings when the boat and jetski traffic isn’t too heavy.
  • Over the warmer months the bigger fish start to move from the deeper water into the shallows, so focus on the edges, flats, weedbeds and so on. Swansea channel is another key location where flathead congregate over the warmer months.
  • It is critical to keep your lures in contact with the bottom, touching the sand and sending up occasional puffs.
  • The turn of the tide is a key time to fish, but particularly the bottom half of the runout tide is often best in the shallow water. In the deeper areas the tides are less relevant, Note that the differences in tide times between the various parts of the lake can make things challenging. Aim to fish for a long enough period that there at least one tide change during a session.
  • Overcast days with a light breeze favour the flathead fishing and also seem to scare off lots of the less serious boaties.
  • Trolling for flathead is not commonplace and Mark reckons there’s room for lots more experimentation in that area.

Mark’s Tackle Recommendations For Flathead

  • 7ft spin rods with 2500 or 3000 size reels are a good choice for most flathead fishing, offering longer casting, which often helps to prevent spooked fish. Mark typically uses 10lb braided mainline for most flathead fishing, but will switch up to 20lb when he’s fishing the deeper water. A rod length of 14lb fluorocarbon completes the setup. If a really light leader is required he suggests using a 30cm bite tippet of 20lb fluorocarbon.

Marks Flathead Lures For Lake Macquarie

  • Small vibes will catch all of the common species in Lake Macquarie. The Samaki Vibelicious is a great option because it is made of 10x plastic, which helps to resist the frequent assaults by tailor as the lure is sinking to the bottom. These lures also have just the right sink rate and flutter nicely through the water column. Because Mark’s main focus is big flathead, he usually uses the 20g, 100mm model, which stays in contact with the bottom regardless of conditions and tends to filter out the by-catch of bream and other species. Mark casts this lure ahead of the drift and works it back with small hops of no more than 50 cm above the bottom.
  • A paddletail or grub tail soft plastic on a single hook jig head is essential equipment for Lake Macquarie flathead fishing. For bigger fish 100mm Samaki Bomb Shads, Samaki Curlicious single tails or Zman paddle tails are good choices because again, the 10x material resists attacks by tailor which are prevalent. Squidgies Wrigglers are also good. Size the lure down and add some Sax Scent if the fishing is tough. When fishing the edges a 1/4 or 3/8 oz jig head is usually effective in 3/0 or 4/0 sizes. TT jig heads are good with 10x plastics, other jig jeads may require a spot of superglue.
  • Hard body lures are good on the flats. Bassday Sugar Pens, OSP Bent Minnow, Crossfires all work well on the surface during the prawn season. Mark usually uses hard body jerkbaits over the flats and finds them very effective.
Mark Williams Fishing Bio

Mark Williams

Fishing Journalist And Flathead Enthusiast

Mark has been fishing the Lake Macquarie area for his entire life and grew up fishing for flathead. He’s been a writer for Fishing World Magazine for 24 years and has been the technical editor with Fishing World for the past 20 years. Mark currently coordinates the trophy flathead tagging program on Lake Macquarie.

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  1. stuart

    Hi Mark,
    which colours do you mainly use in the samaki vibes?

    • Mark Williams

      Hey Stu, with the drought our local waterways are really clear so ove been sticking with natural colours such as Ghost Bait, Whitebait, UV Squid and Turbo Mullet. In low light I like Smoking Orange and Fairy Floss. When we get rain and the water gets discolour I think Fairy Floss will be a real winner in those conditions.

  2. Rob McDonald.

    The forceps that are best for hook removal are needle holding forceps used for suturing. We use them once and throw them out. Happy to send you a pair if you want.

  3. Andrew Rutherford

    Hi Mark, first I have to say I’m inspired by your advice and your ethos on fishing in general-and specifically concerning flathead. Having been a bait fisho for most my life, I’m relatively new to lures. I’ve fished the lake all my life, yet lures are something I’ve really only dabbled in-it’s time to progress (after 47 years!). My question is simple. What knot would you recommend connecting to a vibe? Would you use a loop knot (which is my thinking), or something tighter? Thanks in advance.


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