Fishing in an estuary is like a box of chocolates

2013-06-22 00:00

THERE are approximately 32 000 different kinds of fish in the world. Why then do anglers get so caught up in focusing in on one species or another? Surely anglers should test their skills against a variety of species instead of merely focusing on one species.

Artlure is anything that involves throwing artificial lures in an attempt to catch a fish and can range from targeting tiny bait fish to fish at the top of the food chain. It is not limited to any one species of fish or to a specific type of water. It can be practised on dams, rivers, estuaries and in the ocean.

Most anglers like to boast about the big fish that they have landed. Catching a whopper is often met with whoops of glee and can be cause for making another notch in your rod, yet you are unlikely to hear that it is often the smaller species that are the most difficult to catch. Smaller species mean smaller hooks. Often half of the challenge in hooking one of these whippersnappers lies in threading your line through the eye of the hook. Finding a needle in a haystack holds nothing over this challenge and anglers past their prime may find themselves reaching for their reading glasses, as their arms struggle to reach an adequate distance from their peering eyes. Fly fishermen can attest to the difficulty of working with these minute hooks.

Estuary fishing is the epitome of artlure angling as it requires a combination of fresh and salt­water angling techniques. A variety of species can be caught in estuaries. These include grunter, bream and perch, and even the occasional Mozambique tilapia, barbell and bass. Typically open-water species, such as snoek and shad, may even offer up a bite as they venture inland.

The equipment and tackle needed for estuary fishing is much the same as that used on a dam, so don’t worry that you won’t be equipped to dabble in something different. The boats used for dam and river fishing are more than adequate to use on estuaries and spinning rods are perfect for saltwater angling. Just make sure that you give them a good rinse when you are done for the day.

The one element of estuary angling that makes it so different to dam fishing is the tide. The tide is the ever-changing facet that will determine whether you succeed or fail at a day on the estuary. There is a small window period in which the tides will be at their fishing optimum. Basically, the rules state that you want to be on the water for the two hours before and after high tide. This is not to say that you won’t catch any fish at low tide, but your chances do decrease.

One point to remember is that the tides in an estuary fall a bit behind the state of the tide on the beach. This is because it takes a while for the water to push inland. The movements and feeding patterns of fish living or feeding in estuaries are dependent on the tidal activity. This is why it is so important that anglers take this into consideration when planning a day on an estuary.

Forrest Gump got it right when he said that life was like a box a chocolates. With a line in an estuary, you are never sure what fish you are going to catch. So keep an eye on the tide, a finger on your line and make sure that you pick up a copy of my next column for an in-depth look at estuary fishing techniques, because things are about to get interesting.

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