Fishing the Tides

April 28, 2015 by  
Filed under General Fishing Tips

Estuary anglers must allow for the reversal every six hours of tidal flow, and alter their fishing spots accordingly. The most productive ends of reefs, structures, channels and gutters reverse with the tide. The sea entrance to an estuary is a good place to fish on a running tide, as fish passing from the estuary to the sea, or vice versa, must use this corridor.

fishing the tidesAs the tide falls, small fish, prawns and crabs leave the shelter of sand flats, weed areas and mangrove roots, and return to the channels, where the larger fish are waiting for them. A selected bait, cast into a channel at the right time, is likely to be grabbed by a fish expecting to feed. The main areas to fish at low tide are around structures, gutters and drop-offs, with the deepest holes carrying the best fish. Predatory fish such as flathead face the run of the tide, lurking around the edges of sandbars, gutters and channels waiting for smaller fish, prawns and food scraps to be drawn towards them.

At high tide the small fish, prawns and shellfish spread out, and the larger fish go after them and also the worms, crabs and other types of food that live around the flats and mangrove banks. This expands the range of fishing but makes it harder to pinpoint the spots where the fish are feeding. Structures, holes and gutters still exist and should remain the target.

Some fish break the rules and stay close to shelter behind structures and often close to overhanging banks or mangrove stands. Mangrove jacks, for example, has to be sought in these sheltered spots.

Tides has less effect in the middle of an estuary or bay as the movement of water is not so strong.

Make sure you have a current tide chart for your area. The chart times relate to certain major points such as a port or headland. Work out the time variation of high and low tides between the places you normally fish and those named on the chart, and plan your trips around the tides.

One strategy is to gather bait at low tide and begin to fish along the channel edges and drop-offs as the tide rises and the water floods out of the channels. Equally, you could time your fishing to just before high tide, and fish the edges of the channels and drop-offs as the water receded and the small creatures begin to be drawn back into the channels. In very shallow estuaries you must time your departure to avoid being left high and dry on a sandbank!

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Mulloway, Trevally and Whiting

April 21, 2015 by  
Filed under General Fishing Tips


Some of the mulloway (jewfish) found in bays and estuaries are residents, others are only occasional visitors. They frequent areas jewfisharound bridges, points, holes and creek mouths, where they hunt or ambush their favoured foods of small fish, prawns or squid. Live or dead baits of these are effective, as are large minnow-style lures. Mulloway are found in estuaries at any time of the year, heir whereabouts being dependent on the presence of prawns, squid and schools of pilchards, mullet and whitebait on which they feed.


trevallyTrivially frequent many estuaries, the silver variety being common in temperate zone, and species such as giant, older, gold-spotted and bigeye usually found in warmer areas. Most really will take lures; all will take baits of small fish. Silvers will also take various worms, crustaceans and shellfish. Larger trivially are usually caught offshore.


There are some eight common species of whiting; of these the best known are the trumpeter and sand whiting, the yellow-finned whitingwhitening, and the King George whiting. Whiting are a warm weather fish and leave estuaries in the winter.

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Bream, Flathead and Snapper

April 21, 2015 by  
Filed under General Fishing Tips


Bream are likely to be found almost anywhere in an estuary or bay, but prefer areas offering a structure and shelter. The three main species breamare black bream, yellowfin bream and pikey bream. Unlike most other species, bream stay in the estuary over winter and, rather than migrating offshore, they move up the estuary to where fresh water meets salt and spawn there.


flatheadFlathead come in more than a dozen forms, but three commonly encountered species are sand flathead, a widespread inshore species; dusky flathead, the most common species in temperate estuaries; and tiger flathead, a heavily built version common in cooler areas. In estuaries, flathead favour the edges of sandbanks, scattered patches of weed and any place where the current is deflected into eddies. In bays, they congregate where tidal flows meet, and offshore, they father in depths around 40m – wherever currents combine to form food lanes.


Juvenile snapper live in bays and estuaries, while adult fish spend much of their time around offshore reefs. Periodically, however, big Snapperfish do move into sheltered waters, usually in spring and summer, and are reasonably easy to catch.

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Estuary and Bay Fishing

April 19, 2015 by  
Filed under Fishing Information

Estuary and bay anglers fish from land, from land-based structures such as piers, wharves, jetties and bridges, or from boats. Estuaries exist in bays, inlets, lakes, lagoons and tidal rivers, whoever fresh water meets slat, result in brackish water.

Many fish spend their entire lives in the estuary, but it is also a spawning ground, nursery and feeding area for fish from the open ocean or the lower reaches of freshwater rivers and streams.

estuary fishingWhen to fish

Most fish inhabiting estuaries and bays feed at dawn and dusk; their behaviour is also strongly influenced by tides. For the angler, forward planning is important and should include:

  • decided on the species you are trying to catch,
  • collecting bait,
  • preparing barley,
  • setting suitable tackle, and
  • considering the effect that tide and time of day will have on where you fish.

Dawn and dusk feeders, such a bream, flathead, whiting, snapper and mulloway, will feed in the shallows in low light, but are inclined to seek safer depths during the day. Mullet, leatherjacket and luderick are less demanding about time of day, but still their behaviour is influenced by the tides.

Fish are habitual creatures with seasonal cycles of spawning and forage migrations, and certain habitat preferences. In temperate climates, for example, snapper, heritable, luderick, mullet and bream move in and out of the sheltered waters of bays and estuaries according to season and locality. Generally, fishing is best during the warmer months. During winter, many estuary dwellers move out of the estuaries to deeper offshore waters, returning in spring to spawn.

Where to fish

Fish within estuaries and bays tend to base their lives around structures – whether artificial, like wharves, bridges, rock walls, oyster leases and buoys, or natural ones like weed beds, gutters, channels, points and holes. Such places provide the fish with a reference point, with food and with relative safety. You will do much better fishing these ares than those that are featureless.

Sand or mudflats that are exposed at low tide are excellent areas to explore when the tide is rising. The best fishing occurs on flats that have a deep channel or gutter running alongside. A good flat will have around one metre or more of water over it at high tide.

In many bays and estuaries, you can fish quite effectively from shoreline features such as river banks, beaches and rocky points, or from structures such as piers or breakaways. In mangrove lined estuaries, a boat is essential.

The keys to successful land-based fishing are to be prepared, have the right tackle and bait for the species you are after, and work the tides so you are there are the same time as the fish.


Fish tend to favour the food items commonly found in whatever habitat they are in, so when fishing in estuaries and bays, as elsewhere, locally available baits are often the best choice. To ease the pressure on bait stocks, especially near cities and towns, only gather as much bait as you need for immediate use.

A type of burrowing shrimp often lives in tidal sand flats and can be gathered with a suction pump. Bloodworms and squirt worms ca be dug or pumped, using a bait pump, from exposed tidal flats. Prawns, shrimp, small fish and squid are good baits, as are cockles, oysters and mussels.

Other useful baits for estuary species include the various whitebait, pilchards and blueberries. They are best for flathead, though large flathead prefer tiny live muller caught in a small bait trap. Baits for fresh striped tuna and squid are also effective and chicken gut is very popular for bream.

You do not need bait for all species of fish. Many will attack lures, and tackle shops can often advise which lures work best on the fish in their locality.

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