Flathead Pier Fishing

They seek them here. They seek them there. Aussies seek flathead everywhere. But flathead pier fishing remains the place most people begin in their quest to catch this wonderful Aussie table fish.

Scientific Name: Platycephalus sp
(16 species in Australia)

Flathead Pier Fishing is almost synonymous with land based fishing throughout most of Australia.

The structure afforded by piers provides an excellent habitat for many species of marine life. Including those that flathead like to eat. So it makes sense you are likely to find good populations of flathead around these man made structures.

You are likely to find flathead directly off and under many piers. Unfortunately, they tend to be amongst the most cautious.


Because they spend most of their life with sinkers plonking all around them from other people fishing. They are more likely to have been hooked before – and shy for this reason as well.

But there are some smart ways around this. They work because people really do consistently catch flathead off piers.

Piers Are Nearly Always Worth Trying For Flathead

There are those who will tell you most piers are simply too busy to be worth trying.

Flathead Pier Fishing

This isn’t true. Catching flathead off piers is absolutely possible. Even off busy capital city piers. It’s more about changing your technique when flathead pier fishing.

So, there’s two main ways of targeting flathead off piers in regards to the physical pier itself.

The first is fishing the structure under and around the pier. The second is reaching reefs and structure offshore, within casting range from the pier.

Often these reefs are off towards the end of the pier. A look at Google satellite maps can help you identify these kinds of features.

You can consider using either a rig such as a running sinker or a paternoster when flathead pier fishing.

Flathead Pier Fishing – Berley & Scent

First and foremost.

The Number One Thing People Get Wrong.

Not using berley.

Just saying this seems to make some folks really cross. I never understood it. It’s such a simple tool that yields excellent results. Yet there is this huge resistance.

Look. You may well get by without using scent. But not using berley is like trying to change a tyre without a jack.

Yet so many people fail to do it. In so doing they frequently fail to get a single bite, let alone hook up a fish.

Using berley is one of the single biggest changes you can make to flathead pier fishing. Or any marine fishing for that matter.

Using berley to catch flathead is so important in my own fishing that I have written an article on it over here.

Metal Berley Bomb Cage Large

There’s really only one time when you may get away with not using berley. That’s when you’re spinning with soft plastics.

Even then – I use berley.


Because using berley on a pier can reduce how far you need to cast.

Berley can be used by tossing it out off the pier. This is OK. But look.

Get a berley bucket. Or make a berley bucket yourself. Tie it off the pier. Suspend it so that the wave action can wash the contents slowly out.

Given some flathead piers can become very crowded this can be a very important factor. Sometimes there isn’t enough room for a long cast.

It becomes possible to bring bait fish and flathead in towards your bait. Sometimes you need only drop your line over the side of the pier in calm conditions.

Or – in rougher conditions where the current is heading under the pier casting a little further out to counteract drift.

The key with this style of fishing is to avoid getting snagged on the pylons, posts and structure around the pier.

So in calmer condition you can certainly aim for a lighter sinker. Whereas in a stronger current, where flow or wave action moves your rig more quickly, a heavier sinker can be advantageous.

A 7 tp 9foot rod is my recommended setup for this style of flathead fishing. You can fish fairly light. 10 to 15kg max. With a stronger leader.

Flathead Pier Fishing – Casting Out Off the Pier

Casting a distance out off the pier when flathead pier fishing is probably the most common method you see.

This is because the deepest water can be found off the sides off of a pier or structure. Deeper water, particularly during the day, can be more productive.

A regular spinning rod of around 7 to 9 feet is often the most common choice. A larger surf rod*, however, can get you out further to any reefs, sea-grasses or deeper holes.

This is because it offers more protection for many fish species. Particularly smaller bait-fish and crustaceans such as crabs and prawns.

Basically this involves casting a fair distance away from the pier. This can be very effective. However, you will dramatically improve your results if you know a bit about the underwater topography before your fishing trip.

To do this you can use the likes of Google maps satellite. Look for areas where there are patches of weed, rocky areas etc. These indicate reefs and seagrass beds.

As we’re targeting flathead it will often make more sense to target the periphery of these areas as this is where flathead are likely to be laying in wait.

You can also identify sandbars and holes. Both are excellent spots to target flathead. Particularly around gentler drop-offs and within shallow sandy holes.

 I like to spin and cast bait out from a pier, rock wall etc. I also always use flathead berley and attractants*. We will take a look at these vital tools below.

For some great Victorian flathead, locations check out our articles on fishing spots from piersbeaches and estuaries.

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.