Peter Zahradka with a nice Swan River whiting.

The greatest joy of summer in Perth

One of the great joys of summer in Perth is wading the river flats of a morning, targeting the range of species which call the Swan and Canning rivers home.

Warm, still early morning conditions are perfect for chasing the likes of flathead, flounder, tailor, black bream, whiting and maybe even the elusive giant herring which move up into the shallows when the water is at its warmest.

A little gap in my schedule offered the opportunity to catch up with passionate Perth flats fisher Peter Zahradka last week and a plan was hatched to go wading for flatties one morning.

Peter loves fishing the Swan, not only wading with a rod in hand, but also diving at night to get a feed of crabs and squid.

He’d been getting some nice flatties in previous weeks, and I had also caught a nice fish near Applecross a week or so earlier (and also spooked a very good flathead from its sandy lie), so our hopes were high when we met at around 6.30am, which he considers gentleman’s hours.

We were at one of his favourite spots, and I decided to use a Mister Twister soft plastic.

These were the plastics I used to great effect catch flatties in the lower Swan back in the late eighties and although they have been superseded by much more durable models, I was hoping to invoke a bit of nostalgia by catching a few flatties on them again.

Peter noted that he couldn’t see any imprints in the sand where flathead had been lying as we waded out, which he said was unusual for this particular location.

It turned out to be a sign as we simply couldn’t find any fish, although he had caught a good 50cm fish there only a few days earlier.

We didn’t even spook any, which is in my flattie experience in the Swan was very unusual, and after an hour or so Peter decided it was time to change spots.

I suggested we try a location near Claremont which has always been good to me and we jumped in the cars and headed there.

Conditions were idyllic when we got there and we set about wading what I have always found the most productive stretch, but again couldn’t find a flattie.

It was disappointing, but the setting more than made up for it, and we could see whiting, mullet and bream, along with the odd crab, moving about the shallows, and there were plenty of people out on the banks enjoying all the Swan offers.

At other times at this spot I’ve had a front row seat as dolphins have herded fish into the shallows, which is a spectacular sight.

Although the fishing was slow it was just a delight to be on the water in such perfect weather, but the change of spots did also lead to a change of lures as the ravenous blowies around Claremont made short work of the double tails on my Mister Twisters, reminding me of why I stopped using them.

Sadly, we just couldn’t turn up a flattie, although I did have a small flounder chase my Live Shrimp right to the rod tip.

After a few hours it was time for me to head off, while Peter opted to keep trying a little bit longer.

Just as I walked out of the water, he called out to me and I turned around to see him playing a fish, which turned out to be a yellowfin whiting and the first real catch of the day (other than blowies).

It was a nice fish too and a nice reward for a few hours of effort and while we didn’t get any of the flatties we were after, it was nonetheless a great way to spend a morning and it’s a style of fishing I never tire of.

Caption: Peter Zahradka with a nice Swan River whiting.