Beach Fishing For Flathead

People often only think about “beach fishing” as Ocean beach fishing.Yet the bays, like Port Phillip Bay, can be very productive, especially for species like the flathead.As always use a satellite map to explore where the rocks, weed beds, sandbars and holes are located in advance.In the shallower water, you may find dusk/after dark or even dawn fishing to be the best times.Fishing the turning tide is ideal. Flathead will often wait in the gutters when the tide is running out from the beach.There’s a whole lot of good stuff like crabs, beach worms and smaller baitfish in this zone that they love to eat.

Scientific Name: Platycephalus sp (16 species in Australia)

Beach fishing for flathead can be a highly productive technique. That’s because flathead often sits offshore of beaches. Especially on the outgoing tide. Waiting for food being swept towards them.

I keep mentioning burley (chum) and attractants – and I’m going to mention them here again. In the following sections, I’ll explain in more details. But suffice to say for the moment – I always use a burley pot when beach fishing for flathead. I also always use attractants.

There are two main ways of flathead beach fishing. In both instances, after the turning of high tide is generally ideal as the water is slightly deeper at this time. Fishing the gutters as the water starts to run out.

Wading Into The Tidal Zone

Yep. Wading. Up to the waist if it’s safe to do so. But certainly as far as you’re comfortable. This, of course, applies to calmer bays – not ocean beaches. It’s generally unsafe and unwise to wade into ocean beach surf to fish.

A short rod. 7 to 9 foot is good. Some people wear waders. You’ll need a knapsack or someway to safely carry your tackle – and your catches.

Wading gets you out into the range of the deeper waters where the fish are more likely to be.

Using A Surf Rod When Beach Fishing For Flathead

A surf rod, cast from the beach, in some places, is a great way to target flathead. Check the local conditions for water depth. This is because you need to get your bait or lure out of the shallows and into the deeper channels or gutters.

This is also the only safe way to target flathead on ocean beaches. A surf rod 10 to 12 feet for the bays and a heavier 12-foot rod for ocean beaches.

Get The Burley Out There!

Get that flathead berley going on the beach!

Use a berley bucket tied to a stake. Let the bucket wash in the wave zone on the beach. The contents will spread along the beach. This will attract fish.

But there’s a tip I learned way back in high school geography!

It’s called “long shore drift.”

Beach Science – Long Shore Drift & Flathead Beach Fishing

Beach Fishing For Flathead long shore drift

Basically you will get best results if you know which direction the long shore drift is flowing.

Facing the water is it from left to right? Or right to left?

Determining this will help you to know where your berley is going to drift. Thus giving you the area you should be casting out to.

To test it you can use a simple plastic bottle on a long length of sting. Say 50 metres. Toss the bottle out (milk bottles are good as they are white and easy to see) and hang onto the line. Watch the direction the bottle drifts in for about 4 or so minutes.

That’s the direction of long shore drift. That’s where your berley is going to flow.

Now you can concentrate on casting directly out or in the general direction of the drift. Because this is where your berley should be attracting both baitfish and flathead.

Bonus – it’s also the direction sand travels down the beach. Building sandbars and sandy flats as well as where natural flathead food is drifting down the beach.

If there’s flathead on the beach it’s pretty much guaranteed they worked out the long shore drift long before you did!

Back To: Flathead Fishing: The Ultimate Guide



I'm Dave, I live and fish in and around Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
When it comes to fishing I love going out to land-based fishing spots, heading out in the tinny (aka an Aluminum Boat) and kayak fishing.

I've been fishing since I was a teen. Beginning way back in the 1970s. It was a hobby I picked up myself as my family certainly had no interest. Making me the black sheep! My favourite fish is Flathead and Snapper. Though I'm partial to Flake (Gummy Shark) and Calamari too! While I enjoy fishing for freshwater species like Redfin and Murray Cod I prefer eating saltwater species. They're just so mouth-wateringly tasty!

I love writing about some of my favourite Melbourne Fishing Spots while fishing around Victoria. As well as the tackle I use and test.
If you see me while you're out fishing say "G' day" - I'll be the one in a bush hat.

When I'm not fishing I'm working on my websites, such as Getfished, or writing computer software (my profession.)

I try to be as accurate as possible on this website. Most of the information is based on personal experience. However, if you spot an error or think there's something that I should add - no worries! Please use the Contact Form.