Fishing Guide & Sponsored Angler
Paul is a Port Stephens based fishing guide and magazine writer who has been fishing the area for his entire life. When it come flathead fishing he has his finger well and truly on the pulse and through a concerted effort has notched up a couple of metre flathead along the way.
Paul’s Top Flathead Fishing Tips
- Flathead fishing in Port Stephens is a relatively shallow water affair. Typically if you can’t cast your lure from a boat or kayak onto dry land you’re too far out. Quality fish are taken from the deeper water (4-6m) around rock walls at times, but usually at the bottom of the tide. The vast majority of Paul’s bigger fish come from water less than 1m deep.
- Look for “lines” where there is a change from one bottom type to another, the edge of a weed bed, a shadow line or other point of change. Flathead usually lie in wait in these areas.
- The technique you use to work your lures is critical and can make the difference between a great day on the water and a fish less outing.
- Flathead are not quite a year-round option in the Port Stephens area as they go a bit quiet in the cooler months and they also move up and down between the rivers and the mouth depending on the time of year. The trophy flathead tend to appear in the warmer months, usually starting around October/November.
- Remember that flathead are a schooling fish and that they are less mobile than other species. If you’re having a quiet day and are confident that your fishing technique is good it may be worth moving around until you locate the fish.
- Fish can be caught on all phases of the tide but Paul like the start of the fall, when the flathead are often in shallow on the flats and are definitely there to feed.
Paul’s Flathead Fishing Tackle
- Paul recommends a reasonably fast taper graphite spin rod in the 3-4kg line class. The fast action is required so that the right action can be imparted to the lure. He recommends a 2500 size reel for longer casting and faster retrieval and loads the reel with 8lb braid, although lighter line can be used if you prefer. A 14lb fluorocarbon leader gives the right balance between abrasion resistance and getting enough bites. Paul finds that even dropping down to 12lb leader can result in the loss of fish as small as 65cm if the lure is taken deep.
Paul’s Suggested Flathead Fishing Lures
- The Pro Lure Fish Tails soft plastic lure in 105 or 130mm sizes will take plenty of fish in all sizes, although the larger lure is often better if you re focussed on catching less but a higher quality of fish. Depending on depth, Paul fishes them on a 1/6 to 1/4 oz jig head. These lures are very versatile and can be used to follow contours where the bottom starts shallow and then slopes away, or even in deeper water of 4m or more at the turn of the tide when the run slows down. Paul recommends making sure the lure is down deep and close to the bottom and fishing the lures with short, sharp jabs. Between jabs it’s important that the lure free falls naturally on a slack line.
- The Daiwa Double Clutch is a very effective Lure in the Port Stephens estuary, particularly if you’re fishing a flat with a nice, even depth where the lure can be in the strike zone for the full retrieve. The 75mm works well on smaller fish and will take the odd larger one, the 95mm size is better if you’re happy to catch less fish but want to target the bigger models. Technique is critical, Paul fishes this lure by slow rolling it until it gets a nice wobble going, then gives it two short, sharp twitches of the rod tip. Rinse and repeat all the way back to the boat.
- The 100mm Sumaki Vibelicious is a great option when you’re fishing the turn of the tide in 4-6m around the rock walls. Work it close to the bottom in the same direction as the current and use lots of short hops and twiches
Pro Lure Australia supply the Fish Tails soft plastic paddle tail lures that Paul loves for targeting flathead in the Port Stephens system.
Tackle Tactics supply a massive range of lures and other tackle and have supported Paul’s fishing for many years.
Black Magic Tackle are a source of top quality leaders, hooks and lures and Paul uses their products on his charters.
Shimano also support Paul and are one of the country’s leading importers of rods, reels, lures and a wide range of tackle and accessories.
Mako Eyewear supply high quality polarised fishing glasses that are critical to successful flats fishing
Port Stephens Estuary Charters
Paul operates Port Stephens Estuary Charters charter service and is able to tailor trips to target flathead, jewfish and plenty of other species within the Port Stephens Estuary. He can cater for up to four anglers ranging from beginner to trophy hunter. Be sure to get in touch and organise a trip out with Paul if you’d like to shortcut the learning process for catching flathead in Port Stephens.