Sandflats are one of the most popular and prolific fishing grounds for anglers. With masses of worms, crustaceans and other marine creatures buried in the sand, larger predatory fish make the sandflats their regular hunting grounds.
Predominantly attractive to fishermen throughout the warmer months, the sandflats are home to several of the common species for fish that weekend warriors and holiday anglers are in search of. Whiting, flathead, bream, dart, tailor and flounder can all be taken from the sandflats locations.
Wading at low tide
Low tide is a great time to fish sandflats, as it restrains the fish to a smaller area. Inspections of the sandflats at low tide will regularly reveal some very significant evidence to a sharp-eyed angler. Depressions or indentations left in the sand at low tide will expose a favorite hangout of fish at high tide. With repetition, a fisherman can learn to recognize these marks. Flathead leave a coffin shaped indentation, while flounder leave a distinct oval shaped mark. A slender depression occasionally indicates a whiting hot spot. When the tide comes in the sandflat angler is prudent to return and fish these tell-tale sites for the apt species.
Reading the Sandflats
As with other fishing sites, there is constantly a benefit in looking for the most fruitful spots on the sandflats. For those anglers fishing the mouth of a river, the first backwater inside the river is always a worthwhile spot. This area will hold even more fish throughout the turn of the high tide. Moving water on the sandflats is alternative hot spot. A channel with turbulent water which is fighting against the tidal flow will also typically yield fish. A good method is to cast your lure or bait into the lively water and retrieve it with an unpredictable action. When interpreting the sandflats it’s well to be conscious of what certain fish would be doing at that specific time of the day and during that particular tide. For instance, smaller fish such as bream, whiting and mullet are forced into gutters and channels leading to deeper waters throughout the ebb tide. Flathead stay at their normal ambush post which is just beneath the outer edge of a channel. They are lying in wait for appetizing morsels to be forced out of their sandy territory by the outgoing tide. From its hiding spot, the flathead can shot out and pursue a lure or bait with astonishing speed.
Wading or Boating
A good sandflat frequently covers a wide area, with the angler having to wade quite some distance from the shore. Often, to gain access to good channels, and angler may find himself some 100 meters or more from land. While wading, remember that whiting and flathead can often be captured in water not much more than knee deep. Walk cast and retrieve is the usual pattern of attack in the shallow sandflat areas.
Landing a small fish in these circumstances can be quite simple, but taking a big fish without a landing net can be problematic. Larger flathead with sharp spines can be challenging to handle, as can tailor which have very harsh teeth. Gripping the fish by the gills is the best way to evade injury. Numerous anglers prefer to drift over the sandflats in a boat or kayak and cast lures or baits towards all the likely spots. A good tip is to use a pair of Polaroid sunglasses which takes the glare off the water and makes it easier to spot fish.
Avoid Noise and Erratic Movement
Wading across sandflats should be done gently and cautiously. Try to avoid any splashing jumping or waiving your arms about as these movements easily alarm fish. It should also be remembered that if you can see the fish then the fish can more than likely see you. It’s always a good idea to stand back from the edge when the first few casts are made. With repetition, the angler will learn how to sight and recognize fish movement behind the lure throughout the retrieve. This can be a very significant ability.
Fishing at Night
Fishing sandflats at high tide is best done at night. As a rule it’s safer to fish from dry ground rather than wading after sunset. During darkness, small fish come into the shallows to feed and larger fish trail them, looking for a nice tasty meal.
Deep channels adjacent to sandflats are hot spots at night. Big fish move from the channels to the flats and back again in their hunt for food. Water just 70cm or so in depth will regularly contain big fish at night.
Rod, Reel, and Tackle
A spinning rod 1.8 to 2.2 meters long is good option and can be combined with a spinning or bait caster reel. Light wire or heavy mono traces are worthwhile for flathead and tailor. Lures frequently used by spinner fishermen include the soft plastics, vibes. Flasher rigs such as Hook in Mouth Tackle’s flasher rigs work exceptionally well on the flats particularly on flathead and whiting. The flasher rigs use an iridescent material which catches the eye of the fish. The rigs can be loaded with baits that are natural in the water, such as prawns, squid, whitebait etc. Hook in Mouth Tackle has evolved the technology on flasher rigs by using an ultra violet material, that when charged up by natural or artificial light glows 10 times brighter than a standard flasher rig, this is a game changer and works wonders in attracting fish. https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0068/7620/1071/products/SUPUV8_720x.jpg?v=1548070266
Sandbanks in the surf hold a rich supply of food for fish. While hard for the human eye to see, the fish inhabitants in the surf know they’re there and search those places where the sand is stirred up and their food dislodged.
The movement of sand seems to have a definite bearing on the capture of surf dwelling fish. However, a sandbank which has heavy stir-up is not a good spot; fish usually prefer only light moving sand.
Fish only those areas where the water remains clean as the waves break over them. Stirred up sand which makes the waves brown and dirty are not normally productive spots.
Tailor and Salmon
A popular catch with surf anglers, tailor are mostly taken throughout daylight, dusk and dawn hours by casting into deep gutters and channels and around the edges of deep holes in the surf. Alternative tailor hot spot is the corner of a beach where shoals of baitfish often shelter in the shallows near a rocky headland. The presence of tailor is often showed by the arrival of birds which swoop down on floating pieces of bait fish which have been chopped up by the hungry feeding pattern of tailor. Also using the same tackle the surf angler can also spin for salmon which dwell in the same sandflats. Salmon tend to prefer gutters with a deep entrance carrying a minimum of stirred-up sand.
Flathead and Dart in the surf
Gutters in the surf are also a known hiding spot for flathead who can be taken with lures, flasher rigs and baits. Drop-offs next to to a sandflat and junctions where an estuary meets the surf are also flathead hot spots. Flathead often occupy the shelving bank edges of sandflats and can also be found at the bottom of a deep hole. Dart are another species which often swim in shallow sandflat surf water. Dart prefer the wild white water and the deep gutters below the frothy foam which often forms when a wave breaks over an outer sandbank. These fish bite best during the day light hours and deliver good sport for their size. A dart of over 1kg is considered a very good specimen.
Bream and Whiting
Bream are usually taken over shallow sandflats and a good spot to try is the corner of the beach and along the edges of channels and gutters next to sandflats. Stand well back from the edge and cast into the deeper water, working the bait back towards the sandflat.
Occasionally captured by anglers spinning for flathead, bream will take the right lure quite eagerly. However, they are a anxious fish and are put off by noise, so avoid movement in the shallows will certainly diminish your odds.
Whiting like shallow gutters, holes and neighboring sandflats, while it’s not common to take whiting with a lure it is becoming increasing popular to use small surface poppers. Whiting are drawn to bait which is kept continually moving across the bottom. Whiting bite best on the rising tide. At this time they feed between the sand beds that were previously denied to them by a lack of water depth. Good spots to cast into include the area behind breakers on shallow sandbanks, on the sandy shallows formed by the last breaker on the beach or in a shallow gutter.