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The sandflats north of Adelaide, at the top of both the SA gulfs, hold some unique terrain and ecosystems. At low tide, these sandflats can drain out for over 2 kilometres. The tidal movements are, over 3 meters in St Vincents Gulf and upto 4 metres in the upper Spencers Gulf. The water temperature ranges from 11C to 25C.  Typical of shallow, protected water bodies, it is a highly productive ecosystem holding a lot of fish and marine life.

It is home, for two of my favourite fishing targets, the “Southern Blue Spotted Flathead” -Platycephalus speculator and the “Yellow Fin Whiting”  -Sillago schomburgkii. Both of which I obsessively chase.



On the run off tide, water drains off these sandflats and into drains and channels. Which in turn, run into wide areas of seagrass beds.

The numerous schools of baitfish and juvenile prawns that feed on these extensive sandflats, now retreat back with the dropping tide, and take shelter in the weedy areas.   

Such a concentration of food will always attract and hold a lot of Flathead and also the larger predatory models of Yellow Fin Whiting.

The densest weed, offers the baitfish the best protection. The Flathead will also move into the same densely weeded areas following the baitfish.

Targeting Flathead here, makes fishing for them a challenge.





With the thick weed cover the first challenge to overcome, is the reduced visibility of your lure. It is hard to present your lure clearly to the fish for a prolonged spell.

This is not as easy as fishing an open sand flat. There are only small windows of visibility in the gaps between the weeds. Only small windows of vision for the flathead below to spot baitfish above hiding amongst the flowing weed plumes.

A critical aspect in a high tidal flow area, is considering the lay of the weed with the direction of the tidal flow. The tidal flow lays the weed over creating “a directional vision”. There is greatly reduced visibility looking back into the tidal flow and into the weed flowing over.

It’s like looking through Venetian Blinds. The blinds have to be angled the right way to get a clear view out. Looking back in from the other way, you see little or nothing.    


I find these Flathead facing down with the flow of the tide and not facing into the tide. With this lie, in this setting, Flathead provide themselves with the widest and clearest view through the “Venetian Blinds” of weeds. It is more effective to cast down the tidal flow and draw or suspend your lure back into the tidal flow and into the face of the flathead that is facing down the flow.

With a lot more drone footage of Flathead behaviour today, it is becoming clear that Flathead are often found laying down with the tide, rather than the popular belief of always lying into the tide.

These 2 Reels show flathead settling in with the tide, which is flowing over their backs and out in front of them. They are facing with the tide.

https://www.facebook.com/reel/250011617793874   and this




My go to lures are, Suspending lures, shallow diving minnows, and floating top water hardbodies.

The OSP Bent Minnows and Berkley Benders are very successful in this terrain. They provide that great erratic sideways and diving movement that immediately grabs the attention of hidden flathead.


I am also using Floating shallow diving, Rapalas, Atomic Hardz and Yozuri Duel or Crystal Minnows. If the bibs are too big and makes the lure dive too deep, I grind the bib down smaller.

We are fishing shallow water upto 5ft at the deepest. And probably at best, just 2 feet of weed free water above the weed plumes.

Floating lures like Sugapens, Zipbaits Fakie Dogs, Atomic Bulldogs, which I also use for YF Whiting are also occasionally successful.

All these lures can be floated and retrieved over the weed plumes without the weed fouling the lure.

On retrieval, when the lure arrives above a window of vision between the weed, it is time for some short, shallow, diving jerks, followed by long pauses. If the tide is flowing strongly just some vibrations, dances and jiggles while the lure is holding against the tide flow and suspended above the window in the weed. This most often brings about a strike, should there be a Flathead holding there.



The trebles on these lures are always replaced.

Lures with trebles catch too much weed. And when a Flathead is hooked they immediately head deeper into the weed. All the exposed treble barbs on the lure, will hook onto the surrounding weed and help the Flathead throw the lure. I lost too many fish before changing to alternative hooks.

The trebles on these lures have all been replaced with single or assist hooks.

These hooks pull through the weed easily.

I am consistently getting more strikes on the lures with assists, than with trebles.

Most importantly so far I have yet to have, a hooked Flathead throw these assist hooks.



Soft Plastics and Metal Blades can also be used in this terrain but require employing some unconventional tactics. I suspend Soft Plastics and Metal Blades under a float. The strategy here is … If the lure sinks … put it under a Float !!!

For the same reasons that apply to the floating hardbodies.

There is a bonus in the unconventional tactic of putting lures under a float.

There seems to be a double attraction from both the float and the lure.

The float often catches the eye of the Flathead first. It attracts the Flathead’s attention, and will rise to inspect it. Although most often it quickly dismisses it.

However, it is now, in a now heightened state, and alert. The Flathead usually responds with a strong strike on the Soft Plastic following behind the float.

Occasionally the float even gets attacked.

It is not an uncommon tale, of wading SA Gar fishers having their floats attacked by a large Flathead. Occasionally they even manage to jag a Flathead with their small Garfish hooks.

Drone footage such as the many reels on here: https://www.facebook.com/JCsFishingShenanigans   show Flathead stalking, monitoring, and considering the bait for quite a while, before they finally commit to taking it. And a bit of pre strike stimulus by the float, ahead of a suspended bait or lure may well help.

It does pay to hold and dance your Soft Plastic above their eyes, when it is suspended above a gap in the weeds.

Yes Bait also works !!!!

A Pilchard on 3 ganged hooks suspended under a float takes a lot of fish.


I have tried weedless hooks on Soft Plastics.

Also various SPs that are already weighted and designed as weedless. Like Zerek Weedless Fish traps. They have not been successful working them through this thick weed.

They don’t hold in the strike zone for a prolonged spell, like a floating lure suspended and dancing above the Flathead’s eyes.

Furthermore, when you do get the strike, the concealed hooks of the weedless SP options, have a significantly lower hook up rate compared to an exposed hook on a Soft Plastic or Hardbody.


A consistent nice by catch of these techniques are very large Whiting.

The large whiting are also ambush predators and lay in ambush in the very same area. They have the same aggressive responses.

I am sure they are Whiting identifying as Flathead !

Yellow Fin Whiting will often take SP minnows under a float in the weeded areas.

The smaller OSP Bent Minnows 75mm size are also successful with the Yellow Fin Whiting here. But your retrieve rate needs to be a lot faster than you would use for Flathead.

If I am trying for both, I will cover the same area, with the same lure, with two casts with two different styles of retrieves. One faster one to attract YFW and the other slow and pause one, to attract Flathead.


Give it a try and Have fun on the sandflats!

Cheers, Des

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6 hours ago, MAH said:

What size assist hooks and singles are you using?



Hi Mark

OSP Bent Minnows 76mm or similar: 

Assist Hooks Size 4: https://www.anglerswarehouse.com.au/atomic-trick-bitz-assist-hooks-no-skirt

Single Hooks Size 4:  https://www.anglerswarehouse.com.au/bkk-imp-inline-single-hooks

OSP Bent Minnows 106mm or similar: 

Size 1: https://www.anglerswarehouse.com.au/atomic-trick-bitz-assist-hooks-no-skirt

Single Hooks Size 2:  https://www.anglerswarehouse.com.au/bkk-imp-inline-single-hooks

Rapala Shadow XRap SXR12 120mm or Atomic HARDZ SLIM TWITCHER 110mm 

Size 1: https://www.anglerswarehouse.com.au/atomic-trick-bitz-assist-hooks-no-skirt

Single Hooks Size 1/0:  //www.anglerswarehouse.com.au/bkk-lone-diablo-inline-single-hooks

Cheers, Des


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