I can’t remember the last time I fished for flathead, or even had an estuary session, without tying on a Berkley Gulp! Shrimp at some stage. This seemingly basic but ever-reliable favourite has earned the confidence of many anglers over literally decades.
Therefore when I saw the news release in the August issue of Hooked Up about the new Berkley Powerbait Power Shrimp, I was itching to get hold of some of some to have a crack at the spring run of big flathead here in Queensland. A quick message to magazine editor Kosta and an extra-quick response – I had some of these new soft lures at my doorstep. The Power Shrimp comes in three sizes of 2, 3 and 4-inch and is available in six colours. It’s essentially the PowerBait version of the Gulp Shrimp – it’s more refined, tough and stretchy, its appendages offer more action and – coupled with the realistic translucent colours – offers a better prawn imitation in clear water. It features two large antennae at the head but no legs, which the Berkley team claim (after extensive R&D) is more appealing to fish.
I was out on the water at the first opportunity, Power Shrimp in hand. As the sun started to rise at the end of a run-out tide in extremely shallow water, I was ready to go. I rigged one 3in Houdini colour on a 1/6oz Nitro Stealth jig head and a 3in Blue Shiner Gold colour on a 1/4oz Nitro Stealth jig head.
Conditions offered clear water, increasing low light and minimal tidal flow in less than a metre of water, where I was casting virtually on to sand and retrieving the Power Shrimp back into the water. On my third cast with the Houdini colour, it suddenly came to an abrupt stop with the tell-tale puff of sand in around 25cm of water before a beautiful big flathead bolted for the deeper water. Five minutes later a nice 85cm flatty was in the net for a few solo pics then release.
“These things might just be OK,” I thought to myself. I managed a few more nice fish on both the Houdini and Blue Shiner Gold before the tide started to run, the wind blew and the water became very discoloured. I then swapped the Blue Shiner colour for the darker and more and less transparent coloured Camo.
These two lures remained on my lines for the total session with leaders shortened occasionally from flathead scuffing the fluorocarbon, and when I say occasionally, I mean it. The pairing of the Power Shrimp with the Nitro Stealth jig head provides a head-down, tail-up action, resulting in a perfect top jaw hook-up almost every fish, with minimal leader damage.
I did not take another lure from the packet for the six-hour session – they lasted the whole time and I mainly used the Camo colour due to the water discolouration. This single soft plastic lure landed 12 flathead, two bream and a tailor. The lure held together and was still useable after the session, with a couple of minor nicks and half an antenna missing. The Houdini colour caught eight flathead, lost one antenna but no visible body damage and the Blue Shiner caught three flathead with no visible damage. A total of 23 flathead and other species using three soft plastic lures – it’s of huge benefit on multiple levels.
Not only are there obvious financial benefits of a lure being built of a material that can withstand severe punishment, there are also environmental considerations in a product that is far less disposable, or single-use. The other benefit that really hits home for me is the added fishing time – there was less time spent changing lures and more time casting and catching fish. It all adds up.
A basic retrieve of maintaining bottom contact through lift and drop with variable speeds and a few very minor rod twitches and reel winds just drives the flathead crazy. The smaller Power Shrimp in the 2in range are also attractive to the flatties but are far more enticing to smaller species such as bream and whiting. Using the 2in models around structure with very light weight or unweighted certainly stirs up the bream. I’m really looking forward to trying a similar technique for mangrove jack with the 3 and 4in Power Shrimp once water temperatures increase.
The 2in models are almost irresistible to bream and work an absolute treat fished around structure and pontoons, particularly when unweighted. The six colours are perfect for almost every fishing situation, with Houdini, Camo and Blue Shiner Gold being stand-outs while the Disco Violet was highly effective in extra-clear water. Of course, the old faithful Bloodworm is the absolute all-rounder.
As I said at the start, I can’t remember the last time I fished an estuary system without tying on my confidence lure, the good old Berkley Gulp Shrimp – particularly where flathead are around. It’s a lure that has earned its place over many years catching hundreds of fish and notching plenty of competition wins for me. I can’t imagine heading out in a boat anywhere near salt water without a few packets of Gulp Shrimp, but they may just start becoming the second choice now after experiencing the Power Shrimp. Get on them.
Words & Images: Steve Vidler