When I tackle a tidal river that I haven’t fished before or I haven’t fished in a while, I try to stick to a couple of basics. There is usually a lot of water to cover, so it’s important to have a plan.
I like to start at low tide near the mouth as the water starts to push back into the river from the sea. There is almost always a drop-off or first hole near the mouth where predatory fish will wait in ambush for smaller baitfish and crustacea to be washed off the bank by the pushing tide. In this picture below, you can clearly see the drop-off.
This is where the humble Bucktail Jig really comes into its own. Because it is such a versatile lure, it is the Ultimate Speculator. It can be fished quickly near the surface, slowly on the bottom and anything in between. It also covers all species. Everything eats a bucktail.
Stay a few paces back from the drop-off, especially in clean water, as your target is often holding right at your feet. And keep your eyes open for any signs of feeding fish. Fish quietly, and systematically cover the area. Slowly at first, and then varying your retrieve if you don’t get a bump after a dozen or so casts.
Try to stay in this area as long as the pushing tide allows. Remember that fish are moving around within the river system, so just because you’ve had a bunch of casts previously, it doesn’t mean you’ve missed out yet. The fish could turn up and turn on at any time.
As the water starts to move and surge strongly with the pushing tide, I like to change to a slightly heavier lure to allow me to stay in contact properly during the retrieve. (This is one of the most important aspects of fishing bucktails. Flicking the lure up and down with a slackline in between is no good. Chances are if you do get a bite, you’ll probably miss it anyway. It is vital to try as best as you can to work the lure with the minimum of slackline).
On a recent trip to the Transkei, we found ourselves in one of those situations where conditions were just too good. Perfect bright skies, crystal clear water and no wind but this makes catching fish on lures very tricky indeed. So, we decided to scale down – smaller lures, natural colours and lighter tackle.
The new Dirty Prawn ¼ Oz Olive-White was the obvious choice and it took only a few casts for it to produce. By the end of the trip, it was responsible for 80% of the fish caught in the estuary that week. A definite addition to the “Estuary Essentials” collection.
The new Dirty Prawn ¼ Oz Olive-White is the perfect choice when you need to scale down. Smaller and with natural colours.