David Johnstone Fishing Profile

David Johnstone

St George Basin Fishing Personality

David has been fishing St Georges Basin for many years and is a well-known local flathead fishing guru. He’s a member of the elite metre-plus flathead club, is involved in the trophy fishery flathead tagging program and is active in helping other anglers through his strong social media presence.

David’s Top Flathead Fishing Tips

  • A change of tide with some wind is usually a prime time for flathead to come in the chew. Wind helps stir the food, causing the flathead to feed, but also causes the boat to drift, enabling the angler to cover more territory. If the wind is too strong you can slow your drift by putting a second drogue over the side.
  • David doesn’t get too excited about lunar cycles, except for new moons when the fish are generally gorging on prawns overnight. He recommends using a prawn imitation lure during the afternoons for best results on this lunar phase.
  • David fishes the edges of the basin, but doesn’t work the really shallow water, instead concentrating on areas where the bank shelves to depths of 12-23 ft. Variations in water level within a short distance usually are good places to fish. For land-based anglers, wading the eastern shore will allow you to easily cast into 28ft of water and is a good place to target flathead and other species.
  • To avoid spooking fish, make long casts ahead of the drifting boat.
  • Playing fish out on a light drag is the best way to avoid losing fish boat side. These losses are usually because a fish that is lightly hook has enough energy to put up a final surge when brought alongside. Let the fish recover for a few minutes in a barra-sized econet and use the time to prepare cameras, wet brag mats and so on. This will aid in the healthy release of the fish.

Dave’s Flathead Fishing Tackle

  • Dave uses custom and stock Millerods for his fishing and finds that 2-5 or 3-6 kg line class spin rods coupled with a 2500 size reel are more than enough for flathead and give the angler enough grunt and line capacity if a jewfish is hooked. A Daiwa braid mainline of 6lb and a fluorocarbon leader comprised of two rod lengths of 8lb completes the setup.
  • The rod action depends on the lure selection. If using a lure with treble hooks a slow action rod gives better shock absorption and results in less lost fish due to head shakes. For single hook lures a faster action rod enables the lures to be worked more briskly.

Flathead Fishing Lures

  • To minimise damage to the fish David uses only single hook soft plastic lures when he’s targeting flathead. He sticks with a 3/8oz, size 4/0 jig head and doesn’t mess around with other weights. It’s important to get the lure close to bottom quickly as time spent wafting down through the water column is time wasted.
  • The soft plastic lures David currently prefers are the Gobbler Lures 4” Paddle Tail and 4.75” Jerk Shad. Other options include the 3” Riptide and 3” Z-Man Swimmerz.
  • David casts these lures long, let’s them reach bottom. The Jerk Shad he gives a single, long, aggressive rip and then lets if sink to the bottom again on a semi taut line. The Paddle Tail can be worked more gently as the tail imparts plenty of action and vibration. Fish will nearly always take the lure just as it begins to fall after being lifted, so watch for a “tick” on the line and be prepared to respond by reeling fast to set the hook.

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Best Lures For Flathead

Dave’s Sponsors

Millerods produce the quality Aussie made fishing rods that Dave uses in the basin

Compleat Angler South Nowra support Dave’s fishing efforts.

Tonic Eyewear supply some of the best angler friendly polarised fishing glasses on the market.

Sax Scents sell the scents that Dave like to use on his flathead lures.


  1. Graeme

    I’ve been fishing the Basin for at least 60 years.I never knew there was a tide except for the inlet.

    • DocLuresFishing

      I don’t know the St Georges Basin area too well, so can’t comment on the specifics of tidal movement there. However, plenty of top anglers attest that there are often bite windows in storages that coincide with tide changes at the coast, despite the storage being landlocked. Impoundment Barra guys in particular swear by tide changes. I’d imagine it would be even more the case in a system that has connectivity to the ocean.


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