Greg’s Tips For St George’s Basin Flathead Fishing

  • St Georges Basin is one of 24 NSW Recreational Fishing Havens where commercial fishing has been bought out to improve recreational fishing. It’s also one of only 3 Trophy Flathead fishery under trial by NSW Fisheries where fish over 70cm are being tagged to better understand and manage flathead.
  • Over the spring months the basin will offer recreational anglers plenty of opportunities, particularly as the water starts to warm up. Rain early in the season helps the fishing. In spring the big flathead move up to the edges of the system. Large tailor are available year, round, with schooling bream and juvenile snapper providing plenty of sport. Surface fishing for whiting will start to fire up in November.
  • St Georges Basin has unusual tides by virtue of the fact it’s slightly above sea level and has a narrow entrance. Rather than the typical 6hr tidal cycles experienced in the region, the Basin receives minimal tidal influence, filling slowly over a couple of weeks and emptying just as slowly. The usual flathead fishing strategy of fishing the waters edge on the incoming tide and the drains and sandbank edges on the falling tide don’t apply.
  • On days when the Basin is draining, fish will move to the gaps between the weed and will stack up on the edges. When the Basin is filling or full, the fish tend to be in the shallower water along the edges.
  • There are over 200 tagged flathead in the basin of 70cm plus in length. Keep an eye open for tags on any fish you catch and record the GPS mark and length of fish. You can pass the tag data to Reidy or to NSW Fisheries to make a contribution to fisheries management.
  • It’s important to strike at the slightest “tick” on the line to set the hook, but equally important not to go straight into and lift and wind technique – this will often result in lost fish. Reidy prefers to wind like crazy and keep going until the fish takes a run, when he backs of the drag and allows the fish to swim.
  • Spawning occurs in mid-late Spring and mid-late Autumn, coinciding with the two spawning periods for flathead in this system. At these times the large female fish become very aggressive and are much easier to tempt with a lure.
  • On a glassed-out morning there will often be a hot bite for about 15 minutes following the first puff of winds.
  • Prime conditions occur on still, overcast afternoons when the barometer is around 1014-1020 (not too stable, some movement helps), especially when bait are visibly present. Despite the lack of tidal movement in the Basin, bite windows often occur around the turn of tide in nearby tidal systems.
  • For some reason, there are periods when flathead don’t seem to eat cast lures but will take trolled lures freely.
  • Night fishing on full moons can be very productive with poppers and deep diving shad styles.
  • Find the bait and you’ll find the fish. When boat-based, look for areas of 3-5m deep with pockets of sand and bait in the vicinity. Bait schools herded into shallow water can be an indication that flathead are present.
  • If you catch some smaller fish, stick around and put in more casts. In the spawning season these smaller males might be accompanying a large female.

Reidy’s Preferred Flathead Fishing Tackle

  • Reidy likes to use longer rods, from 8’6” to 10’6” for their long casting capability. Flathead in the shallows at St Georges Basin can be fairly spooky, so being able to cast a long way and covering a lot of water. An exception is when he’s trolling for flathead, when he’ll switch to a shorter rod.
  • For smaller lures a 2-4kg rod is sufficient, but for casting 3/8 oz jig heads a 2-5 or 4-8 kg line class rod is preferred. For really big plastic and swimbaits a 5-10kg rod is appropriate.
  • Reidy uses a 2500 size reel and 6lb braid (at most) with a 10lb leader and up to 30lb bite leader.

Reidy’s Best Flathead Fishing Lures

  • 105 mm shad style plastics on a 3/8 oz jig with 6 lb braid and 10 lb leader is a consistent approach and in spring you can catch plenty by fishing around the edge of the basin with this style of gear. Let the lure sink to the bottom, then give it one big rip and let it sink again. The Rip Tide Swimming Mullet in root beer colour is a reliable option, as is the 105mm Pro Lure Fishtail in brown bass or mangrove gold colours.
  • Soft vibes are also a reliable option, go for a quality brand. Also, hard body lures in the 110 mm size range that dive to around 6m are deadly both cast and trolled.
  • The Crossfire Lure is a staggeringly effective lure for big flathead off the surface in the 110 and 195 mm sizes. It seems that flathead require a fairly large morsel to tempt them off the bottom to take a surface lure, smaller sizes aren’t as effective. Don’t make the mistake of thinking the crossfire just another “Bent Minnow” knock-off. This lure was inspired by the bent minnow but has it’s own characteristics and mode of use. Long rods are critical for this fishing and it’s best worked by wading the flats as boats can spook fish. Cast long and the instant the lure hits the water, wind like crazy with rod tip shakes to zig zag it for 5 metres or so, then pause. Let the lure sit for 20 seconds or so, then give it 3 big jabs with the rod tip down, then pause again and let it float slowly back up. Flathead rarely hit these lures while they are moving, the bite almost always comes while the lure is stationary. Big pauses are key.

Greg Reid Fishing Profile

Greg Reid

Gun Angler And Former Local Fishing Guide

Reidy has been fishing Jervis Bay and surrounds for over two decades and knows the area like the back of his hand. He’s presented fishing segments on IFish with Paul Worsteling, Escape with ET and Fishing Australia with Rob Paxevanous. He’s fished with Michael Guest, Lee Rayner, Mark Berg and more and is a regular fishing speaker at the Sydney Boat Show. As a former fishing guide, Reidy has helped hundreds to catch the fish of their dreams from Jervis Bay and St Georges Basin.

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