How to Catch Flathead
Though Flathead can be less than visually appealing, the meat itself is much under-rated in its taste. The flesh is tender, white and sweet, and battered or crumbed fillets shallow fried offers the best results to the taste buds. Flathead also freezes extremely well. The "Sand" flathead is by far the most common in and around SA waters.
The most common tackle used is handlines with 5 - 12kg strain. Handlines are much easier to manage, as are the fish, once hooked and landed. A handline provides you with the sensitivity needed in detecting small nibbles and bites on the line.
The best way to catch flathead is from a boat on the drift. This drift should be slow, so that the fish have time to see the bait as it passes by. If your drift is too fast, a great way to slow the boat down is to make a sea-anchor by tying a couple of buckets onto ropes and hanging them over the side.
Another point to ponder on, is if you have been catching good flatheat on a particular line of drift, go back over it again and again. Chances are, there are heaps of flathead waiting for your bait to come past.
It often pays to try a drift 100 metres or so back from any breakers. Flathead are a fish that tend to wait for their food to arrive. They ar effectively a species that lies in wait to ambush their prey, and they are most definately a visual feeder. The motion of the bait and sinker dragging along the bottom is enough to attract their attention.
You can also catch flathead in large quantities from the shore. Casting from the beach and slowly retrieving the rig offers the best results.
Once hooked, many flathead are lost at the point of retrieval into the boat. Often the flathead are'nt hooked properly and release the bait as they get to the boat. Flathead also has a very large mouth, and therefore baits should be big. When using fish fillets, shape the bait like a small fish and leave a 2cm tail hanging from the hook. When the fish takes the bait, strike hard as the flathead has a very bony mouth, so sharp hooks are a must !
Some precautions need to be taken when handling Flathead. When landed, flathead should be handled with care. They have sharp gill plate spines, which can inflict nasty lacerations.
A common and popular way of un-hooking a captured flathead is to lie the fish on a chopping board and drive a small knife thru the top of its head. This serves the dual purpose of killing the fish humanely and rendering it less likely to cause injury during the un-hooking process.
For further information on flathead, have a look at Flathead Fish File.
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