Left: A happy customer and his personal best 50cm snapper taken on a Zerek Flat Shad. Right: Flathead are still about but in slightly deeper water when the water temperature is high.

Local flathead and snapper action

The water around the southern bay islands is getting clearer, but is still rather dirty, especially when we start going south of Macleay Island.

So over the past month we’ve tried to concentrate on areas north of that, looking for cleaner water.

To achieve this, I’ve only been fishing incoming tides, staying away from the outgoing tides.

This means we haven’t been out on the water but, by using these principles, the charters we have done actually produced some nice fish.

Also, considering the surface water temperature most days was somewhere about 28C – with the highest so far being 31C, which is rather warm – this definitely had an effect on my flats fishing.

Trying to catch flathead in warm and rather dirty water has been quite difficult, however we’ve still managed to pick a couple up.

A lot of the flathead came out of 6-7m of water – my theory is that they’re moving into the deep water where it’s cooler.

I had a standout trip this month with a fisho called Michael, who wanted to learn how to catch a few flatties on soft plastics.

I met him at the boat ramp at 6am and we headed to an area that I felt would have slightly cleaner water.

Michael was stoked with his catch, an 84cm flathead taken on a Zerek Live Shrimp Hot Legs on his second cast of the morning.


The spot was somewhat deeper, roughly about 3m near the edge of a mud bank.

Taking my theory into account, even though it was close to the flats, in that depth it might be a little cooler for the fish, rather than fishing close to the mud bank edge in about 0.5m of water that would be at a higher temperature.

We arrived at the location for the last hour of a run-out tide.

I put the old electric out and popped it on spot-lock while we had a chat about why the fish should be there.

Michael’s personal best 84cm monster flathead.


As well as the retrieves we were going to use, the right sized jig heads, the coloured plastics for the depth of water we were fishing in and the clarity of the water – which was fairly poor.

Because prawns were around, we put on a Zerek Live Shrimp Hot Legs, the colour being slightly darker due to the clarity of the water.

I put a cast in to show Michael the retrieve that he should use and then basically handed the rod to him.

He started casting while I got a couple of rods with different lures ready to show him how they worked.

Michael made his first cast and got his lure back to the boat.

A Zerek Flat Shad scores a personal best 59cm snapper.


He then made his second cast and, right at the boat, just before he was about to pull the lure up, the old rod buckled over with a big clunk.

Before we knew it, Michael had a rather large lizard close to the boat.

Now the fish was very green, but I had a net shot and scooped her up.

Unfortunately for us, this flatty had a completely different idea.

With a huge kick of its tail, it punched a hole straight through the net and took off.

I had the fish still hooked on one side of the net with the rod on the other side of it.

We opened the bail arm and let the fish settle down.

It had made a rather large hole in the net, so we were able to feed the rod through this.

I told Michael to lock the bail arm back over and take up the tension.

Ryan caught a nice southern bay snapper on the first cast of the morning using a Zerek Live Flash Minnow Wriggly.


He was back on fighting the solid lizard, which was a little upset and giving Michael plenty at this stage.

Eventually, he had the beast beside the boat.

While Michael was fighting the flatty, I had fixed the net with a couple of zip ties, so this time I scooped it up and put it on the deck.

Long story short, 84cm of solid southern bay lizard was boated.

Needless to say, it was a personal best for Michael – flathead fishing 101 on his second cast.

I said to Michael, “There you go mate, there’s a nice flatty, that’s how you do it.”

He said, “That’s not a flathead, that’s a monster – we can go home now!”

Obviously we didn’t and, after a few quick photos, we had the beast back in the water swimming away to fight another day.

Another predominant species in the bay, even though it’s rather warm, were southern bay snapper.

Glen managed a decent 48cm snapper on a Zerek Live Flash Minnow Wriggly.


Admittedly, they too were hanging about in 6-8m, possibly doing the same thing as flathead and looking for cooler water.

While not in huge numbers, when you do find some, they’re a good quality table fish.

The techniques that work best for me are using soft plastics and trolling hard-bodies for them.

We had plenty of this species around prior to Christmas, then the rain came and dirtied the water, which made them rather scarce.

And this is why I’ve been fishing in the cleaner water on bigger incoming tides.

I’ve definitely found that the fish turn up as soon as the water turns a lovely green colour, instead of that very ordinary brownie-grey.

For all of our charters, we have fun when we catch fish, though there’s usually a standout for the month.

This was a charter chasing snapper – I tried to get the fishos to go on a different day because the day they wanted didn’t have the best tides and I was a little worried we weren’t going to find any clean water.

The crew were adamant that the date scheduled was the only day they could all get off together.

Glen’s 48cm snapper on the brag mat.


So, we made a plan and, as usual, I met them at the ramp at 6am and we headed out.

I have to say, the first few hours went very slowly.

The water temperature was 29C, which was quite warm, and the water was dirty.

Luckily, about halfway through the charter, the water started to clear into that lovely green colour.

Suddenly, like a switch had been flicked, drags were screaming and rods were bending – the fishos were onto some great fish.

The first few to come over the side where a couple of 50cm plus snapper.

And it didn’t take long before the rods were bending with a couple of nice trevally.

After a few quick photos, I had lines back in the water.

Then there were more bent rods and screaming drags and the crew had a couple of decent pinkies in the net.

This 52cm southern bay snapper couldn’t resist a Zerek Flat Shad.


The fishos kept fishing until the end of the charter, picking up a few more snapper and trevally.

Most of the fish were about 50cm, with the biggest snapper being 59cm, which was a fantastic outcome.

The crew had a ball.

They caught a nice feed of fish, and what could have been a very ordinary day turned out to be great.

The one thing we definitely had to have was that green water.

Once we had that, the fish couldn’t resist the Zerek Flat Shads, which were the standout lure of the day.

As we all know, with our jobs and lives we are time poor, so if you can learn more to optimise your time on the water, why not – remember knowledge is key.

Until next month, stay safe on the water and, if you’re interested in our fishing tuition or want to do a fishing charter, give me a call on 0432 386 307, send an email to seanconlonsfishing@hotmail.com or check out the Facebook page Seano’s Inshore Fishing Charters and Tuition.

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