Awesome Autumn And Tidal Pivots.
  |  First Published: March 2003

SO WHAT is it that makes Autumn different from any other season of the year?

Firstly, with four public holidays in close proximity, Autumn is a great time for fishing. Cooler temperatures also play a significant role in making this season a prime time to target Brisbane’s local estuaries. Stabilised water temperatures tend to see fish holding for longer periods over vast areas within our rivers and creeks, and baitfish and prawns are abundant.

Another benefit is that yabbies and worms are less likely to seek deeper refuge during the cooler conditions, making them a little easier to collect. Mud crabs will also be well conditioned, meaning that you’ll encounter empty ones less frequently than during the Summer months. With reasonable rain during February, sand crab numbers may also pick up.

You can also happen upon some of our more exotic and rare estuary dwellers at this time of year, with stargazers, sole and estuary cod often turning up as a bycatch for anglers targeting flathead with flesh baits. Stargazers can be mistaken for stonefish or large sea toads, but don’t let their appearance put you off – their flesh is delicious.

But although fish are well distributed throughout our rivers and creeks during Autumn, there is one geographical formation that’s worth extra attention: tidal pivots.


Tidal pivots are found in areas where both the rising and falling tidal currents deposit sand, silt and other marine debris in a common area. The shallow flats and sand banks inside our coastal bars are a prime example. These exist on a much smaller scale within our rivers and creeks, and their shallow nature at low tide often means the end of the line for those travelling into or out of an estuary. Depending on the nature of the river or creek, they may be found in several different locations.


Some pivots contain blind gutters, shallow run-offs and shallow split channels. Consider all your options. Fishing at either end where the tidal pivot gives way to the major channel is a great starting point. Depending on their accessibility, it may be necessary get to your destination prior to low tide, but many pivots are not shallow and are able to be navigated [see diagram].

1) Fishing the upstream side of a tidal pivot during the early stages of the rising tide will give you access to fish waiting for food to be washed from the flats. The success (or lack of it) you encounter here in the early stages is usually a good indication as to how the area may fish for the remainder of the rising tide.

2) When there is enough water covering the flats, a quiet and steady drift is the order of the day. Your earlier session will be a good indicator as to which species are a favourable target over the flats.

Bream are less likely to respond to drifting bait, so anchoring up and working your baits along the edges of the banks will be more productive. As the tide reaches its peak, slow cast and retrieved baits may be needed to keep you in touch with the fish.

3) Blind gutters are usually part and parcel of tidal pivots, and I’ve found that there are certain criteria to be met to successfully take fish from these. The entrance needs to open with considerable depth, and the gutter itself also requires a little depth along with discoloured water, structure in the way of logs, old broken mangrove branches or overhanging shrubs. Time and tide are also crucial, and my personal best results have come when matching sunrise with the early stage of the tide making its way into the gutter. Flicking a live bait or lure into a structured blind gutter has often provided me with a heart-thumping start to the day.

4) When the tide has receded from the flats, it allows you to stretch your legs a little and work the small shallow channels during the final couple of hours of the run-out tide. As long as you are not in a protected marine zone, tidal pivots are without a doubt one the best areas within an estuary to collect yabbies, worms and baitfish. It’s not uncommon to land fish in the spot where you’ve just dug a worm or pumped a yabby.

5) Once the tide has bottomed out, check out the deeper sections at either end of the tidal pivot. Fish will often seek refuge in these areas until the tide begins to make once again.

6) Don’t forget to take along a crab pot or two. Feeder creeks adjacent to tidal pivots are well worth trying for a muddy.

I hope this information has helped you to better recognise and understand this particular formation. Tidal pivots will prove beneficial for pursuing anglers during the months of Autumn, when local fishing promises to be both challenging and rewarding.

1) Autumn provides a fantastic opportunity to collect a great feed of prawns.

2) Blinds gutters with plenty of structure will hold many different fish and provide an excellent fishing area.

3) Drifting over the flats and casting lures is a great way to cover ground and to connect to fish like this bream.

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