Lake Cathie – Wading the Flats (Story by David Poulton. Images lureandfly.com)

Light tackle fishing has a vast variety of dimensions, wading the flats is possibly one of the purest. Armed with a rod, reel and a handful of surface lures can amount to an afternoon of pursuing a piscatorial passion.

On this occasion the objective was to secure some shots of this great pastime. As you can see from Greg Seeto’s photography it is a wonderful way to spend a fishing session, and was mission accomplished, or is just the beginning…

On this outing Chris Seeto and myself armed ourselves with a Diawa Caldia reels and a couple of Tournament Master –Z interline rods. And Greg armed himself with a backpack of photography gear and his new toy, and underwater housing for his Nikon 7000.

Pursuing whiting on the flats requires some simple principles. Long casts, reading the water, observing changes in depth and looking for fish. If you can pull at least two of these together you increase your chances of capturing whiting on surface lures.

The first principle to get right on the flats is a long cast. Four things can assist you in getting the best results. The rod selection is important and longer rods with a fast taper, enables you to load up the rod on a cast and really let the lure fly. The Daiwa TMZ-I 762LFS enables this with little drag on the line, providing a lengthy cast. Second is the line you use, primarily I like to use a 2lb braid with an 8lb leader this creates less friction coming off the spool and is lighter and thinner than most other classes of line and certainly aids in long casts. Thirdly is your lure selection, the heavier the lure the better, and the profile of the lure makes a difference also, a thinner profile will cut through the air and sail to its destination, the Bassday sugapen is the ideal lure for flats fishing for whiting, and my preferred lure. And last of all which cannot be predicted is the wind. If the conditions suit sailing the lure on the wind will greatly increase your chances of putting out an ultra long cast. But if you put the other four things into place they will aid you in casting into the wind. And a little wind while fishing the flats it well and truly preferred.

Reading the water and understanding the changes in depth are the next two principles. Knowing what the tide is doing is essential. When targeting fish on the flats I like to fish the top of the tide and the start of the run out. It’s like last call for drinks at the bar, everyone wants one. Same goes for our piscatorial friends, when the tide falls it’s their last chance to feed on the flats before bar runs dry. Current flow over the flats is vital and changes of flow direction can stir up food, and is a natural fish holding structure, along with changes in water depth. Using good Polaroid eye wear and surveying the area can aid in detecting this structure. Whiting will hold in less than 4 inches of water, if there is a deeper section a short distance away they will attack things trying to make it to the deeper water. So spending some time analysing your fishing destination can be highly beneficial.

Using decent Polaroid glasses can aid in observing structure on the flats, but it will also be highly beneficial in looking for fish. The old saying “The fish you see is the one you never catch” is a rubbish. When fishing the flats you’ll see signs of fish movement and if you stand still and concentrate you’ll also see fish moving and rolling in the water. Casting ahead of these fish and working the lure across their pattern of feeding will get you into some nice arm wrestles on the flats. When blind casting for whiting you need to look for signs of fish movement. A blind cast is like prospecting, you send the lure out to the end of the longest cast you can achieve and work the lure not knowing if fish are in the area. Working the lure aggressively with a vigorous wrist action gets any fish in the vicinity excited and this is where your eyes enable you to gather information about the fishes feeding patterns. Most aggressive whiting will track behind a lure before they eat it, and you’ll spot a bow wave behind the lure, sometimes if you’re lucky you’ll see competing fish, shouldering each other out of the road competing for the lure. Keep burning that reel and twitching your wrist as the faster you go the more likely it will be that the dominant whiting will win the race. And if they don’t hook up then your observations tell you the area and direction the fish were travelling for repeat casts in the same area.

So if you can put a few of these principles together then you can improve your chances of a good session on the flats into a fun filled session. Just remember that fishing isn’t always about the capture of fish, it’s the experience and these photos taken by Greg really depict that. A great afternoon spent with a few mates walking, talking, taking pics and interrupted a few times by some fish.

David Poulton

4 responses to “Lake Cathie – Wading the Flats (Story by David Poulton. Images lureandfly.com)

  1. Great article Dave. I will be giving it a go for myself in the next few days. Love the photos, the underwater photography adds another dimension to the usual grip and grin fishing photos.
    Regards,
    Craig

  2. Awsome information and some great fish so close too home you gotta love topwater whiting and from an author I know well couldn’t get better.

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