When times get a bit rough.
With the recent spell of easterly winds on the north west coast, sea fishing from the trusty tinnie has been a bit ordinary to say the least.
Needing to get out and have a fish, Duck Bay estuary came to mind. This is still one of the coasts best systems for quality flathead fishing with soft plastics, along with the chance to catch gummy sharks, Australian salmon, King George whiting, couta and tailor and maybe a snapper. Smithton on the far north west coast is situated on the edge of the Duck river and this is where you can find a three lane boat ramp with plenty of good parking close by. When launched it pays to stay in between the channel markers to ensure a safe passage north to the main fishing area on the bay. Be aware though that the channel moves so take great care.
Bearing all this in mind Mason and I headed down with an out going tide with the intention to fish the channel where the flathead should be lying waiting to ambush any unsuspecting baitfish coming of the vast sand and mud flats. After passing several oyster boats which traverse the channel frequently we started the days fishing in about three metres of water, casting up on to the sand flats and bouncing the soft plastics back into deeper water. My choice of lure was a shad style in a bright pink colour while Mason was using a sand eel pattern. After several casts I got the first hit which resulted in a 40cm flattie and was quick to let the big man know all about it. He was as quick to remind me how far it was back to the ramp as we were in HIS hornet. My second fish followed next cast and was pleased of how my not so expensive threadline gear was going.
With his eyebrows firmly touching each other Mason soon matched it with me with a couple of good sized lizards. Moving on into some of the other bays with the electric motor [which is not essential, but handy] we were getting hits nearly every cast. Mostly these were undersize flathead, which for a while was fun, but knowing there were some monsters in the bay we opted for another channel. Still only catching small ones we decided to go out the channel past Eagle Point and enter the open waters. The wind had dropped and conditions were perfect.
Still no fish and at the bottom of the tide we came back into the estuary noticing that the tide was making rather fast. Using this to our advantage we drifted the channels and bays with some better results and renewed hope of a big one. The tide was covering the exposed flats at a steady pace and with that some small cocky salmon were hooked as they were searching for a fresh feed.
It's hard to comprehend the amount of water that fills this estuary as it enters via two channels on each side of Perkins Island.
Still flicking plastics we started to wonder if what we had heard about the bay was for real. Yes there were flathead but average size large amounts of mullet and a few skates hanging about but no big lizards to be had. With the thought of leaving for home after five hours on the bay, I put a cast behind an outcrop of rocks where the backwater of the incoming tide created the perfect spot for ambush. In only two foot of water I got nailed by the biggest flathead I have ever caught. The big man was quite animated as he handed over the net and with a couple of good runs it was boated amongst some half-hearted cheers from the man, a few snaps taken and then the big female was safely released.
Now for those who have fished with Mason would know what happened next. You guessed it, he was not going until he got one better. So back to the hot spot three casts and the big feller was on, playing what seemed to be a ripper and was giving a good account for itself. Admitting it was not as big it was released to fight again. Realizing that in the haste to get the fish back into the water no measurements were taken but after seeing the photo's we were more than happy with their size. Heading for home our thoughts of Duck Bay were that you can fish it in average weather, through all of the tide and there is big flathead to be had.
Going down the channel on the run out tide and then fish back on the incoming tide seems to be the better option, remembering it does get shallow in places so go easy for a safe trip.
Our lure selection was all plastics in various colours including pink, yellow, green, blue and clear. You don't have to be too fussy with presentation as long as the lure is bouncing on the bottom which should encourage these fun fish to attack. So if the sea is not so inviting and you need a reel fix Duck Bay estuary at Smithton could save the day. It did for us.
When: All year round
Gear: Light weight spin
Line: Best with braid
Lures: Most soft plastics, hard bodies, metal slices
Catch: Flathead, salmon, gummies, couta, whiting, snapper, mullet, bream.