Shallow – Andy Pennell – Jan 16

I don’t know how many times I have fallen into the trap of fishing deep water just out of fear that the shallow stuff couldn’t possibly hold as much fish life in comparison.

While this may well be the case in some instances, it pays to know your quarry and experiment with a few variables every now and then.

Being able to do something ‘out of the box’ is something very few people have the gusto to try.

More often than not things won’t turn to gold, but every now and then you happen come upon something that may change the way you fish, or at the very least, provide you with a technique to add to your arsenal.

If you’re lucky enough you may just get a nudge in the right direction from the fish you’re targeting, as was the case when fishing a completely dropped out tide on a slow day with my old man.


We had been fishing the drop-off of a great looking sand ledge where 15 cm of water dropped into about 1.5 meters and catching absolutely squat.

In my peripheral I saw some commotion on an exposed sand peninsular adjacent to where we were.

I asked the old boy what exactly he thought that might have been when again, water thrashed and small bait scattered in what appeared to be impossibly skinny water.

After a brief moment it became apparent that whatever it was had beached it self chasing bait, and now sat flapping in an inch of water.

After being yelped at by my decky, I jumped ship and began running to the sand bank forty meters away.

Whilst in hot pursuit of the mystery fish flapping for its life I noticed the 15cm deep sections were intermittently broken up by thin gutters about 60cm deep. These narrow highways were the perfect ambush spot for predators. I also made a mental note of the lack of visibility in such shallow water.

The outgoing tide was essentially being filtered by these gutters and bigger fish were having an easy feed in these natural debris traps.

There isn’t a flats boat in the world that could have made it into some of these sections and if I hadn’t been investigating a beached mystery fish on foot, I probably would have never ventured in there.

As I made my way to the sandbank I was surprised to see well over a kilo of yellowfin bream making a desperate effort to get water bound once more.

My surprise came not from the fact that it was a humble bream, but that this fish was over 15cm deep through its body.

My point is simply this, there wasn’t a patch of water more than 10cm deep within casting distance of this brute bream, yet this fish had swum on its side to get to the easy dinnertime pickings.

Don’t get caught up trying to find the magic deepwater honey hole.

Instead concentrate your efforts on areas that condense potential food sources and be willing to try what others won’t.

I can remember hearing Jason Wilhelm talking about frogging for barra in its infancy, and it seemed like madness until it produced numerous mammoth fish. Dialed in anglers know very well that running a presentation the fish haven’t seen before can reap big rewards.

Getting the mix right between clever experimentation and absurdity is where the skill lay as an angler.

More importantly learn to adapt and fish to the conditions, and do not get locked into the “well it worked last time” ideology.

As it turns out, a return trip to this spot a few days later produced some amazing flathead and bream fishing that many anglers drive past routinely.

80cm flathead off 15cm deep sand edges may seem silly but let the fish make that decision.

I was running small hard bodies like the Atomic Hardz, Jackal Chubby and Berkly 3B’s through these narrow channels on this particular day, but remember every day is different to the last so play it by ear.

On another note I generally run as light as possible when fishing sand flats like the one in this story.

I do this purely so I fish with confidence in my presentation.

Knowing your braid thickness or leader size is not a deterrent to the appearance of your lure can put you in the right mindset to stick at it through a slow bight period.

Furthermore, sand flats are usually devoid of any nasty’s that fish can do you on, so enjoy some fun on light string.

A lot of readers may well have employed the techniques and theories I have detailed in this article already.

In an age when fish are more pressured than ever before, it is vital to maximize your time on the water. Any edge or advantage you can equip yourself with may separate you from the other 95% of anglers vying for the same slice of the pie. And remember with fishing, as in life, it is “who dares wins”.