Trolling for Flathead on a Kayak

An often-heard question from the more traditional bait-fishing anglers is how do I catch a fish on a lure? While this may seem very simple to seasoned anglers there will always be those on the somewhat steep learning curve looking to bring about new levels of satisfaction and overall excitement. With time and experimentation comes knowledge, and in time you will be catching far more fish on lures than you did on bait.
If you’re starting out chasing fish on lures from a kayak there is no simpler way than to troll a couple of lures for the humble, yet tasty, flathead. Flathead can be found in most coastal estuaries right around our country and the huge advantage kayaks offer is ‘stealth’. A combination of suitable lures while slowly trolling your estuary is a highly successful technique whereby the angler can cover huge amounts of ground which in turn seriously increases your chances of that solid hook up.
Flatties by kayak
In my opinion the three main factors for encountering flathead in good numbers are the area/terrain, the tides and of course the chosen lure. My intention with this ‘how to’ type article is to bring about some insight into the when, where and how, which will hopefully lead to your first, or many more future flathead encounters.
Dream Paddle Boards
To me the two most important factors are also intertwined together, they are the tide and the location. Most old school fishos will swear by the run-out tide for flathead, as this tends to congregate them into the deeper channels which makes them easier to find and also means less water to search. The fact is though, you can catch flathead on any stage of the tide by thinking about where they will be on the different tidal stages, as mentioned before on the run out and across the bottom of the tide, the flathead will move into the deeper channels and feed as bait gets pushed off the flats. On the run in and across the top of the tide the flatties will move up onto the flats and pick off any stray baitfish that crosses it’s path. Since we are talking about trolling for flathead we know we’ll be targeting the deeper channels of the estuaries so by looking at the facts above, we know we want to try and fish the runout and across the bottom of the tide, this way we tip the odds a little in our favour. The location factor of the equation is pretty simple too you need to find sandflats that have food on it, cruise around at low tide and check out your local flats and look for soldier crabs, weed beds and yabbie holes. There will always be flats that seem to hold more crabs and yabbies on them than others, these are the ones to start targeting as there’s a higher chance of whiting and other baitfish hanging around on these flats as compared to one that has no food on it.
Lures for flathead
So now we’ve checked the tides, we’ve looked at our local estuary and picked some channels that run alongside sandflats that have signs of food on them, so the next factor is probably the easiest one, the lure. Too many people worry about lure choice but when starting out it’s best to make things easier and stick to some of the proven flathead lures. Things like Lively Lures micro mullets, Ecogear SX60, Tilsan bass and Halco scorpions all have a proven track record, with the pink Micro Mullet probably the one lure that proven flathead fishos wouldn’t be without. In saying that flathead will eat almost anything if it’s presented on their nose, so rather than worrying about constantly changing lures looking for the ultimate, worry more about where you’re trolling and especially the depth. The lure should bump the bottom every few metres, this stirs up sand and get the flathead excited, I prefer to work channels in the 1.5-2 metre range and most of the lures mentioned above will work well in that depth range.
Ecogear SX60 Dream Kayaks
So now we have an area scoped out, the tides are right and you’ve tied a sexy looking lure on the line. The next thing to do is jump in your yak and get paddling! I usually cast the lures behind me and troll from the rod holders behind my seat. While this keeps my rods out of the way for paddling, it does mean you need to keep looking back to check that your lures aren’t fouled. Some others prefer to troll from the rod holder between their legs or the two mounted in either side in front of you. It’s a matter of what works for you. Just remember to keep an eye on your lures and if the rod tip stops bouncing it’s time to check they haven’t caught a bit of weed or fouled up.
Chasing flathead on a kayak is a great place for new kayak anglers to start. So why not get down to your local estuary and have a crack!?
Some Awesome Stuff to Check Out:
Click here for HEAPS more info on targeting flathead on a kayak.
Click here to check out Dream Kayaks’ Facebook page, a great community of yak anglers!
Click here to buy Lively Lures Micro Mullet – recommended by author.
Click here to look at great value kayaks at Dream Kayaks
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Trolling for flathead by kayak

by Stewart Hansen

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