Deepwater Lure Fishing Part 2 – Upriver Bridges

In part 1, Mark Saxon discussed fishing the downriver deep water sections of our rivers and mostly based it on structure such as break walls and winter bream. This time he will look a little further upstream and see if we can put you onto some more fishing options which we can use throughout the year.

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As we head upstream depending on the system you are fishing you will find a few scenarios which will be of interest. Let’s take a look at bridges.

Most East Coast rivers will have one of these, maybe more. On these bridges the pylons can be unbelievably good fish holding structure. The pylons going across the river are usually located in deeper water so you should have a few at least that are in a good depth. Take note though, deep can mean in relevance to the water around the area of the bridge. Three metres may be considered deep and will hold good fish such as Bream, Flatties and even jewfish especially if water around area is shallow. The water depth I do consider optimal in my systems is the five to ten metre range but this again can be variable, so still give it a go in more or less water.

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There are many things we look at when approaching these pylons. Firstly is there a lot of current and eddies around pylons. If this is the case these will be great for bream but you may have to wait for the tide to slow before you think of jewfish.

All mid north coast rivers get floods and these floods do scour the bottom around these pylons so a quality sounder can really help. I’m using the Lowrance HD 9 gen 3 on my sport fishing charter boat and the sounder is amazing. Not only clearly defining bait fish, target fish and depth but also showing me structure that may have become lodged near the pylons.

Over the last few seasons with the use of the sounder I have managed to find many fish holding areas in the deep that a lot of anglers drive straight past and many are within sight of the obvious areas.  What I’m trying to get across is if you turn up on the weekend and there is a boat on every pylon do not be put off, look around with your sounder in the area. Even the drop offs from the shoreline leading to the bridges can hold some good fish and if bait is present then your right in the game.

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The techniques I use when fishing bridge structure can be varied depending on time of year and again water depth. Personally being more interested in Jewfish most times I will use vibes 70 to 100mm and also bigger plastics. For the jewfish I prefer to fish the hour either side of the tide change and the slack period, the high or low doesn’t bother me however it will be up to you to find out which tide works best for your location. Remembering we are throwing our lures into the current when casting and sometimes the lay of the bottom will mean certain tide changes are better on the fish and can also mean you will not get snagged up as much and be forever trying to get your vibes or plastics back which can happen in rougher bottom when working lure on a certain tide.

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Success on the bridges will come when you get to know the secrets of them. Baitfish movement through the year is worth following as is the movements of schooling fish. Both bream and Bass will make these holding areas on their spawning runs. Bass will be more in the brackish areas but in some systems they can be extremely hard to avoid and early in the bass season river bass can be found in big numbers near the pylons.

I have only touched on techniques or lures to use because there are so many options for jewfish a plastic from 3 inch to 7 inch on a ¼ to 3/8 jig head with a hook to suit the plastic will catch you fish. A few worth using is the Large Dragon Maggots a worm style lure also the 6inch nemesis from Berkely and the 5inch flash j from fish arrow. These have all produced and seriously that is only a starting point. There are many great plastics for jewfish.

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Once again acquaint yourself to your sounder and to the bait the fish that are feeding on in your area then if all else fails go through a few different styles and sizes of plastic. I honestly don’t think there is a plastic style that I haven’t caught jewfish on, but believe me for some periods of time and that period could be for a fair while they will have one style on their menu and that lure tends to out fish the rest!

When I am hedging my bets on catching fish in these areas the lure that stands out is the soft vibe and the “Samaki Vibelicious” is a standout performer. The 70mm puts you right in the game to catch any fish be it Jewies, bream, flatties, whiting and most recently deep water luderick. Retrieves for the vibes is again by casting up and past pylons and hopping them back with plenty of pauses this definitely will let you know if there is fish around. Recently while fishing we decided to avoid the bream and try the 100mm vibe from the same company. We did not get bream but did land a 75cm flathead as well as two nice jewfish so don’t forget to use the bigger vibes it may change your day.

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Bridge pylons as we have touched on hold quality bream and while they can be ridiculously easy when schooling the rest of the time we may have to work to catch them so a different approach will be needed. I like to use my lighter gear which to some isn’t that light but 4lb braid and 6lb leader to me is enough when it’s tough in the deeper water. The bream will usually be found right up tight to pylon and they could be high in the water column or hugging the bottom so lure style again needs to be adaptable small metal vibes. Deep running hardbodies work a treat and also the crab lures be it the Cranka hard crab or the soft plastic crabs from Strike pro or Koolabung. These when dropped down the side of pylons can be deadly but as is the case in most bream situations slow working of your lure can be the difference between fish and that dreaded cake with the hole in it!

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Rods and Reels we use around bridges varies. When throwing 70mm vibes for bream we were using 2 to 4 kg Samaki Extreme rods matched with smaller threadlines and 3kg braid plus 4kg fluro leader and these have been perfect for this application however when a decent jewfish gets in the way sometimes you can be under gunned as I found out recently. I have placed two 3-6 kg samaki extremes on board and while not my preferred rod for bream with a 2500 or 3000 sized reel and 4 to 5kg braid it really hasn’t stopped bream from coming to the net on a regular basis. Gear specific if targeting the bigger jewfish is 4 to 7 kg rods with 6 to 8kg braid loaded on 3000 to 4000 sized reels. Fluorocarbon leader varies from 6 kg to 10kg depending on tide and the average fish size at time of year.

Now we have looked at bridges as a deep water fish holding spot, next in part 3, I would like to take you further up river following the tides and fishing deep water snags and bends. Here we can touch on a forgotten saltwater technique that catches a lot of fish. Mulloway trolling plus casting those barra lures that get left in the tackle boxes from northern sojourns. Until then “Get ya rod bent!”

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Previous Deep Water Lure Fishing
Next Trolling Hard Bodied Lures–Fishing Deepwater Part 3

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