How to

Estuary “edge fishing” techniques

IT’S the classic angling conundrum.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re fishing an estuary system for the first time, or the hundredth time,
knowing “where to begin” is a common dilemma.

A lot of fishers, especially relative newcomers, are too often seduced by the deepest sections of the system – the middle of the lake or river.

Even relatively seasoned fishers can be coaxed away from the shoreline and drawn to deeper water. In doing so, they’re at risk of overlooking some of the most fish-rich parts of an estuary, regardless of whether it’s a narrow creek or vast inlet.

I’ve been poking around a few estuaries that are new to me of late, and one thing I’ve learnt is that
you can’t go wrong by starting around “the edge”.

When I’m talking about “the edge”, I’m referring to that area where the extreme shallows drop off
into deeper water.

In some systems, the drop off can be acute, and the depth can go from a few centimetres to a few
metres in no time.

Typically, though, the average edges I fish see the water go from about knee height to around 1.5-
2m in depth. There’s usually weed growth accompanying these areas, too.

Think about it – if you were a fish, it would be the perfect place to hang out. Shallow water,
brimming with food. Weed beds to feed and hide in. And deeper water close by to retreat to if
predators appear. It’s why the edges tend to be the fishiest terrain in any given estuary.

On edge
Luring the edges is arguably my favourite form of fishing. It’s possible to lure-fish edges from the
shoreline, or from a kayak or boat.

I prefer to fish them from the water, casting back towards the bank. It’s more practical, given you
tend to be retrieving your plastic or hard body ‘away from’ instead of ‘into’ the weed and shallows.
You don’t really need a sounder either, with most edges visible to the naked eye, especially in the
clearer systems. A pair of good polarised sunglasses makes the task a lot easier.

Essentially, what you are trying to do land your lure on the ‘edge’ of the edge (if that make sense)
and retrieve it back, imitating a baitfish or prawn fleeing for the depths.

I really like edge fishing on the first half of the run-out tide. You’ve got a bit of water to play with,
but you’re also fishing at a stage where, because of the natural movement of the water, baitfish and prawns are leaving the shallows for deeper areas.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re using a plastic or a diving minnow, predatory fish patrolling the
edges will jump on lures with gusto under these circumstances.

Target species

Bream and flathead are the most common edge fishing targets in the southern estuaries. They
inhabit similar terrain and will hammer the same lures so it’s very common to catch them side-by-

You can usually tell what species you’ve hooked straight away – bream will try anything they can to
snag you up in whatever structure they can find, including weeds and rocks.

Flatties, meanwhile, almost always head for deeper water. If you’re fishing from a boat or kayak,
they’ll often come straight back at you, so keep that line taught, or you’ll lose them.
Other species that are likely to turn up during an edge fishing session include trevally, whiting,
flounder, tailor, blackfish and estuary perch.

And don’t discount the possibility of crossing paths with a decent mulloway, either. Plenty of solid
jewies are caught around the edges of southern estuaries, sometimes in water just a couple of
metres deep.

A wide range of soft plastic and hard-bodied lures suit edge fishing. The key is to experiment.
A 40-50mm floating or suspending hard-bodied minnow that dives to a maximum depth of two
metres is a good starting point.

You can work such a lure in shallow water or close to the weeds in varying depths, pausing
throughout the retrieve to allow it to either sit still momentarily, or slowly rise to the surface
(absolutely deadly on bream in particular).

As the edge drops away, you can crank the lure harder so that it reaches its maximum depth,
remaining in the strike zone for longer.

Using an ultra-slow retrieve, a smallish soft plastic is also irresistible to ambush predators waiting for a free lunch.

An 80 – 100mm soft plastic wriggler, minnow or prawn-imitation fished on a 1/6 oz or 1/8 oz jig-
head is a deadly combination.

They mimic perfectly a herring or mullet or crustacean making its way from shallow waters to deep,
and they tend to be deadly when fished to coincide with a receding tide.

Take it to the edge
Edge fishing is active, productive and addictive.

If you’ve never really focused on the edges of your local estuary before, you’ll be pleasantly
surprised by the calibre of fishing on offer in and around the margins.

Best of all, it makes the task of deciding ‘where to begin’ a whole lot easier.
So grab a light spin stick and an assortment of lures and try fishing closer to the edge.

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