Double hook-ups of quality whiting on MMD Splash Prawns are common when you find the perfect spot.

Topwater tips and techniques

Robbo with one of the many whiting he caught on surface lures in the Tweed River.
Watching a nice flathead take a surface lure will always put a big smile on your face.
Manny used surface lures and caught a huge number of whiting holding in 300mm of water.

G’DAY everyone, I hope you all had a great Christmas, with Santa putting a bit of fishing gear under the tree for you. This month, I’d like to give you a few tips on one of my favourite techniques – fishing with surface lures.

For those anglers who have never tried surface fishing but have witnessed the thrill and rush as fish rise from the bottom to smash the lure – you have to give it a go. The best locations in our local rivers and creeks to fish topwater are over the very shallow sand flats that hold yabby colonies and shallow areas around seagrass beds, as seagrasses have small fish and prawns hiding in them. Topwater technique

If you find a location that has both yabby beds and seagrass on the same flat, you have found the ultimate area to fish topwater. Once you have located your chosen ground to fish, it is of utmost importance that you choose the right depth of water. I always emphasise to my clients that you can fish too deep, but you can never fish too shallow with this technique.

As a bit of a guideline, I try to fish in 600mm of water or less, with my most consistent results coming from around the 200-300mm depth range. Another vital factor for success is that you need a slight wind blowing to break the surface tension of the water, as most fish are reluctant to rise in glassy conditions. Topwater technique

Or course, technique is vital for success and this comes from a continuous slow to medium retrieve, while at the same time using a short left to right twitching of the rod tip. This can take a bit of practice because it takes a degree of coordination to bring the left and right hands together to work – one of my clients once said it was similar to patting your head and rubbing your belly at the same time.

Once you have mastered the technique, your lure should come across the top with a tight left to right action, while spitting jets of water from the front of the lure. I believe that the spitting of water from the front of the lure is a major influence in attracting the fish and making them rise from the bottom to strike. Topwater technique

Whiting, bream and flathead are the main players when fishing the flats. For whiting, keep the lure moving at all times, even if they are hitting and missing it, because with this species if you pause, they usually go straight back to the bottom.

With bream however, you can try a pause-start-pause approach to induce a strike. Flatties, well they are pigs and will explode from the bottom at any time and use their bucket-like mouths to suck down the surface lure. Another thing I do is always stop the lure just short of the boat on every retrieve, as a lot of fish follow the lure to the boat and have last minute strike of it. Topwater technique

These strikes right beside the boat are common and provide the ultimate rush. More positives that come from surface fishing – apart from the fact that it catches a lot of fish – are that your lures do not snag, you can fish areas without fouling the lure with weed and you do not need a boat to try the technique.

The better areas to fish topwater are best walked, with a stealthy approach along the shallow parts of our rivers and creeks. You don’t need fancy equipment either – any light 7’ spin outfit loaded with light braid and a light fluorocarbon leader will do the trick. Topwater technique

There are heaps of surface lures on the market that are perfect for topwater fishing, but my favourite go-to lures are the 70mm Bassday Sugapen and locally produced MMD Splash Prawns. Well, everyone that’s all for this month.

I would like to wish you and your families a very happy new year.

About Brad 'Smithy' Smith

Smithy has been working as a full-time professional fishing guide for over 20 years, which makes him southeast Queensland’s and northern NSW’s longest-serving guide. Above all the commitments Smithy has in the charter industry, his overriding passion has always been to pass on his specialist experience to anglers and teach people of all ages and angling abilities the correct techniques required to catch all the Gold Coast’s estuary species on a variety of different lures. Smithy’s unique charter operations guarantees you will catch fish on lures or you don’t pay.

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One comment

  1. with the top pic you mention double hook ups do you mean you have 2 lures on the one line? if so how do you set this up? thanks, Peter

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