While we see so much kayak and boat fishing for estuary favourites like bream and flathead in the angling media these days, the truth is you don’t actually need much more than your own two feet to get into some action with these and other estuary species.
Many big name anglers started fishing in their younger days down at the local jetty, bridge or other easy to reach, shore based spot. Interestingly, while fishing from a fully kited out boat or yak, the same anglers now cast lures straight back to the same type of urban structure they started fishing from years earlier.
Not all of us end up being involved in the tournament scene, but we still take our estuary lure flicking very seriously. I’ll admit to being a full on kayak fishing junkie, racking up well over 100 yak outings each year, if not more. Most of these trips are in local waters and many of them targeting bream.
However, I started out fishing around a few local bridges as a kid and still, many years later, enjoy getting back to the very same spots for some easy shore based lure flicking. While the tackle and techniques have changed, the fish are still there to be caught.
I’ve always been a huge fan of fishing around bridges, large or small, in many different waterways along the NSW coast, down into Victoria and up Queensland way. In fact some of my most enjoyable bridge fishing has taken place around Sydney’s famous Botany Bay. Despite the large population and heavy angling pressure, I really do rate the shore based fishing around Sydney as first class.
Flathead are one of the most reliable target species found around bridges, especially those with some overhead street lights that illuminate the water at night. Just as moths or other insects are attracted to lights at night, so are baitfish and predators.
To make it even easier for shore based fishing, the main areas where baitfish, prawns or squid congregate are the shallows, towards each bank on either side of a bridge. If these shallows are lit up by overhead lighting then you’ve got a flathead spot and quite possibly a very good one.
By far the deadliest technique in this situation is casting small, light coloured soft plastics. White is my all-time favourite here, but lighter pinks, chartreuse or gold softies also work well, particularly if they have some metallic fleck in them. Simply cast out, in an up current direction and once the plastic sinks, slowly bounce it back in towards the shore. Most flathead will pounce in the lightest part of the water, which is often only a few metres out.
Of course, the same technique works well on flathead where ever there are strong lights shining over the water at night. So boat ramps, wharves, large pontoons and docks are other places to consider. While flatties may be the main target, plenty of other species are attracted to illuminated structure and they include bream, flounder, tailor, trevally, perch, tarpon and even barra.
An endless variety of different rods and reels can be used for lure casting around such spots and I’ve tried just about everything over the years. Recently though I’ve been having some great fun with the Phantom X rods and Revros reels. The Phantom X 702MLFS is perfect for bream and other average size estuary fish, while the slightly heavier 702MFS is more suited to specifically targeting flathead with softies. Both rods though are a lot of fun to use and versatile for a range of species or locations.
Of course, a landing net is almost mandatory when chasing flathead and a head torch is pretty handy when fishing after sunset. Needless to say it’s also important to stay safe, so always fish with a mate, take a mobile phone and tell someone where you’re fishing.