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The seasons are changing. The temperature is rising.

The water is warming. It is all happening a bit earlier this year.

Lizards are crawling on the roads. And “Lizards” (flathead) are crawling in the sea.

Water birds are gathering, lining up for a feast of baitfish from above.

The Flathead are lining up for a feast of baitfish from below.

In these ambient temperatures, food is plentiful in the shallows.

The ecosystem has had a great kickstart with the rise in temperatures and every thing comes alive and thrives on the sandflats.


Temperature is the biggest driver for a series of chain reactions, in the sandflats ecosystem.

I am forever monitoring the water temperatures.

The rise in water temperature is early this year.


A series of natural events occur, which results in delivering us fishers, some fine Yellow Fin Whiting and Flathead.

Stimulated by the rise in water temperature about now our local Prawns, the Western King Prawn, start spawning in their mid gulf grounds.

Also now, the Haswell Shore Crabs shrug off their cold weather torpor and also spawn in the inshore shallows.

Post larval Juvenile Prawns start migrating from mid gulf to the warmer, shallow, inshore waters of the upper gulfs.

The Haswell Shore Crab larval zoea, now abundant, provides food for the juvenile Prawns and schools of baitfish.

There is a boom in the population of Juvenile Prawns, Haswell Shore Crabs, and Baitfish in the inshore waters … And also their predators. YFW and Flathead, have moved in, enjoying this abundance of food.

Having experienced a sustained period of exposure to higher water temperatures, the YFW have now, increased their metabolisms and have developed voracious appetites. The larger predatory YFW that I like to target are now aggressively hunting on the sandflats. Devouring juvenile prawns and shore crabs.

So it is a perfect time to place myself at the end of these chain reactions and target some YFW and Flathead.


I took advantage of the warm weekend.

Given the tides, I selected an area that amplifies the small tide movement and works best on the slower tides.

I started with chasing Flathead on the falling tide. The Flathead are very active chasing the baitfish as they retreat to the shelter of weedy areas in deeper water.

Fishing for them in heavily weeded areas does present it’s challenges.


Lures with trebles catch too much weed. And when a Flathead is hooked they will head into the weed. All the exposed treble barbs, hook onto the surrounding weed and help the Flathead throw the lure.

I have recently started to use floating hardbodies like OSP Bent Minnows, with singles and assist hooks, for these areas. These hooks pull through the weed easily. So far, I have yet to have a Flathead throw these hooks.



Look for where the Herons are feeding to show you where the baitfish are and the Flathead will be holding just downstream.

I was able to extract 3 Solid Flathead that were hiding around the weed, terrorising the baitfish, before the tide slowed.


Next on the agenda were the YFW. A good depth of water was holding over the softer feeding sandflat areas. Usually you will find this substrate holds more food and fish.

Whilst not feeding as aggressively as when there is more water movement, the YFW were still keen enough to take a well worked lure offering over the sandflats. My usual favourites, Sugapen, Ecogear ZX and Zipbaits Skinny Pop, were the more successful lures.

However it is a new season and there are always a few new offerings to try out.

They did not get too much time in the water but both these new lures took fish.

The New Sugapen Splash, which is perhaps better suited to a choppier day still took a fish.

Daiwa’s Slippery Dog 80cm in the colour “Ebi” that I had not previously come across, I thought could work well in this area, had some success.


A drop in air pressure with a change in wind direction from North to SW, pushed water up into the gulf and provided a small wind tide. The water movement, stimulated the fish to bite late into the afternoon. “Bob the bag snatcher” is also making an early season appearance. I normally don’t see them on the sandflats till November.

I kept 14 of the better YFW. Most are over 35cm. And the best a very nice 42cm.


The Flats are Firing early this year !!! Hopefully we can look forward to a great season ahead.

The only downside is the heavy toll the professionals have taken over this winter as they increasingly search for alternative species to supplement their restricted and dwindling catches.



Tight lines all.

Cheers, Des

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1 hour ago, imfishn said:

Amazing insight and information Des, and what a great haul of beautiful fish ...well done👍  it all sounds very promising for us keen anglers. Do you think this pattern will also carry through to our metro beaches for YFW? 


Warmer water early in the season will certainly bring them into the metro areas earlier. I saw a post from Brighton Tackle claim they had been sighted locally.

As I have previously mentioned the ongoing heavy netting of this species over winter in the last few years is having a significant detrimental impact on the overall stock status. Hopefully they are resilient and bounce back.

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