Plan a Morning’s Fishing
  |  First Published: July 2008

We all approach our fishing in different ways. There is the casual approach: no planning, just chuck a rod in the boat, get on the water as soon as possible and hope there’s a fish out there somewhere. But it’s been a long time since I’ve done that, as I get too much of enjoyment from planning a trip.

This forethought is true of an area that you’ve never been to before, but it’s also important for areas you know well. Because of car commitments, I only get to use the boat two or three days a week, and with the rising price of fuel, I have started to look at our local creek and river in even more detail.

It’s been a blessing in disguise, I now plan my morning on the water to get the best out of the tide on the day, and also the limited areas on offer in a small estuary system. My fishing is always from first daylight (a little later in the winter) through to about midday.

Over the years I’ve come to know the Maroochy River and Pumicestone Passage inside out. I know where every sandbank and snag in the river and associated creeks are. You might think this is a bit boring, nothing new to look forward to – but this isn’t necessarily the case. Even in six to seven hours of solid fishing it’s nigh on impossible to cover a river system and do it justice.

Fishing times are different during the warm water summer than the cold water winter. I love the breaking daylight period to work surface lures for hungry bream during warm weather. But in the cold, for instance last winter when we had a six-week cold snap and the water temp plummeted to 14C, I couldn’t get a strike before 9.30am. So this winter I won’t plan to be out there before 9am.

My first chore in planning a trip will be to consult the bible – the tide bible that is. Knowing the river as I do, the actual tide makes no difference to me, what it does do is dictate where I fish and when. So as I launch the boat in the water, I’m not wasting any fishing time looking for a place to fish and I know exactly where I’m going, and when.

My preferred tide is a high ebbing to low at midday. This tide allows me to begin fishing 100m away from my local ramp. Just opposite the ramp is an old oyster lease and lots of broken rubble ground, which bream love, where I do a lot of lure experimenting. This is the prime surface lure hunting country in my river.

Every new surface lure I buy gets baptised here. As each lure works differently, this is where I get to see how to work that lure to its best advantage. These little walk-the-dog lures (WTD, as I call them), all require different actions to get them to work properly. If you work them too vigorously they won’t sway, or walk properly.

This little oyster bank has proved to me just what a wide range of colours, sizes and actions bream will attack. I use this knowledge of the lure action to then target a specific area later in the day. For instance, if a lure needs to be worked with a faster, harder rod action, then this is a good lure to work over a sandbank where you want to cover a lot of water as the fish are spread out. On the other hand, if I’m going to work a small snag or submerged log, I’ll want my lure to stay close in to the area as I work it. Knowing your lures intimately will catch you more fish and save you wasting your fishing time.

In one creek, there’s an area of bank I work that’s about 200m long with about eight snags of different sizes. If I fish this stretch of water on anything but half low to half high tide, I won’t get anything. Fish it at the right time of the tide and I can easily pull three or four fish. This is because the bream have gone up into the mangroves to forage when the water is high, and they come back and hide under the snags as the water drops.

Use this knowledge combined with your tide book to plan your fishing day.

Not far from the oyster lease is a yabby infested sandbank that attracts bream, whiting and flathead, and this area is a target for me on a mornings rising tide. Both plastics and surface lures work well here at times.

If the bible indicates that today’s fishing will be on one of the neap tides with very little run in the water, then I have a rock wall that drops into 6m of water and is normally only fishable on the top or bottom of the tide, and for some reason still only produces fish on the run out.

If I hit the boat ramp on the bottom of the tide I might head straight for some exposed sandbanks bordered by deep gutters, guaranteed flathead country and great fun on ultra light line.

I use this approach even when I’m going to fish a new system. By also consulting a detailed map of the river or estuary in question, you can save time and money, and increase your chances of better catches. Besides, when you’re at home and not on the water fishing, the next best thing is planning that next trip. – Ivor King

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