Light Tackle Sports Fishing- Estuary Style

With the staggering amount of new refined fishing gear that is available, light tackle sports fishing can be enjoyed along our estuaries and bays around Australia as fishing guide Peter LeBlang explains in this article.

In days gone by to fish 4lb mainline you were targeting estuary spices such as bream, whiting and flathead. These days you will be amazed at what you can catch with the purpose-built rods and reels. Without going into a long-winded spiel about what brand or what gear to use, I will say this though – you need to be comfortable and confident with the fishing gear that you are using. Your drags on the reels need to be smooth and the line in good condition. The guides on your rods need to be checked to make sure they are clean with no dirt stuck to the rings and your knots need to be perfect. Once these things have been checked you can get out there and try your skills against some bigger fish than your line class is intended for.
This is what sports fishing is all about, bent rods, screaming reels and people with smiles on their faces.

This is what sports fishing is all about, bent rods, screaming reels and people with smiles on their faces.

Fishing Light

There is a multitude of species that can be targeted when fishing light. You don’t have to attack every species with light tackle to start with but if you do, the learning curve is steep. At this time of the year we are blessed with a few species that are perfect for light tackle. Australian Salmon are a prime target for most anglers that enjoy going light. These fish are a lot of fun with their acrobatic displays, hard deep dives and a never give up attitude. Stopping some of the bigger models on 4lb gear can be quite a task but always a load of fun. Light tackle tactics for surface feeding fish is firstly about positioning your boat. For Aussie salmon they always seem to push into the wind when surface feeding. This can be used to your advantage by stopping the boat up wind of the fish and turning off your motors. The salmon will come to you.
Aussie salmon - sensational light tackle fighters on the right gear.

Aussie salmon – sensational light tackle fighters on the right gear.

Starting Small

Try smaller lures to start with and don’t be scared to vary your retrieve before changing over lures, sometimes by simply slowing your retrieve you can trigger a hit. Use lures of similar size as the baitfish that are being smashed and cast your lures to the edge of the schools where possible. Another method to catch some bigger fish when there is surface feeding activity is by hooking up a live bait and place it in the water with some glow bait on it. This method is used when the fish are finicky and fixated on live bait. The glow bait will make your livie become a real target as it glows an iridescent green. There’s nothing like standing out in the crowd! Tailor can be a bit of fun on the light tackle as well and can be targeted at the prominent headlands and points usually the ones with a bit of wash. Trolling bibbed minnows or metal lures will see you in with a real chance. Trolling at a speed that the lure is working its best is the key to getting a hit when the fish are found.
Kingfish like this one can be caught if your knots are good and your tactics are sound.

Kingfish like this one can be caught if your knots are good and your tactics are sound.

Serious Sport

One of the easiest fish to spot in the surface feeding activity are kingfish with their bright yellowtails and thug type feeding smashes. Although they can be the easiest to spot they can be the hardest to catch on so many levels. One hour they are impossibly difficult to tempt and the next hour they are so easy to catch its mind boggling. They can be a zero or hero type of target that is for sure. Kingfish can also be targeted on the lighter tackle with smaller lures but finesse is needed to get them to your boat. The way kingfish pull line is always amazing and after many fights with them there are a couple of tricks to try. The first one is after you have hooked up to a solid kingfish and he is doing its best to brick you, back of the tension on the fish. Don’t free spool but keep the pressure just on the fish to keep the hook in its mouth. More times than not the fish will stop at the release of pressure and you can use the gentle, gentle technique to slowly wind it back to your boat.

Always Take A Net

Have the net ready because when it sees the boat it may be the last chance you have to net it. The other tip is to make sure that you move your boat towards the danger or structure so the fish pulls away from you. Once they have pulled you away from the structure make sure you move away with them and don’t pull them back to the structure as it will probably end in tears. These are just three pelagic species you can target but truly you can have a ball on light tackle no matter what species you want to chase. Flathead, bream even squid are all great fish to target when using light tackle. The only thing that varies is the lures or baits used and the position in the water column you need to fish.
Be prepared for salmon to pop up anywhere, even amongst the moorings as this one did.

Be prepared for salmon to pop up anywhere, even amongst the moorings as this one did.

Braid Advice

Remember with braid now days we use fine diameter lines. These help a lot when fishing with lures or baits. Having fine diameter line helps with the sink rate and for finicky fish is harder to see. Using Fluro Carbon leader should become a standard for you when using light gear and will present the lures and baits nicely. I hope this article will have you grabbing your bream gear and a hand full of small metal lures or soft plastics to go out and chase some bigger pelagic species. Truly, if you get the chance to chase some surface pelagic species with light tackle, Do it, it must be the most fun you can have with your pants on. Go out and give it a go.
Peter LeBlang

About Peter LeBlang

I have had a passion for fishing since the tender age of 3 when I caught my first mackerel with my father and grandfather. I never liked to eat fish back then and still don’t now! Since then I have been lucky enough to catch massive dogtooth tuna in Vanuatu, big Gt’s at Fiji, Barra, Mackerel, Jacks and Queenies at the top end of Australia just to mention a few. Now days I love to target and show people how to catch big kingfish, jewfish, snapper and flathead with a variety of techniques. My favourite fish to catch are kingfish using live bait on downriggers. I am lucky enough to be based on Pittwater in Sydney. I own and operate Harbour & Estuary Fishing Charters and this has led me into article writing and reporting for wonderful outlets such as Kaydo Fishing World. I also do fishing reports on radio for ABC Big Fish programme, 2CCC (Central Coast) on Saturday mornings. My biggest love in life are my kids, wife and family. Remember that fishing is only fishing when alone but when you can share it with someone, then it becomes an adventure. Peter.

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