Fishing Saltwater Estuaries

Estuaries, like bays are made up of a mixture of fresh and salt water, these bodies of water contain both freshwater and saltwater fish.

This means you’ll need a big tackle box if you plan to fish in an estuary. You can either fish from the shore or in a boat. Bays are partially enclosed bodies of water are directly connected to the ocean. Estuaries are partially enclosed bodies of water flow into the ocean but unlike bays are not directly connected to ocean waters. Estuaries usually form where the mouth of a river joins the ocean. Here you can find saltwater fish, such as redfish, striped bass, snook and tarpon. This is also the spot where some saltwater fish like to mate, so you can also find herring, shad, sea-run trout and salmon in these locations. Freshwater fish, such as largemouth bass, like to gather in estuaries too due to the low salt content.

Many different factors will determine the fish you’ll find in these locations on any given day, including the weather. If it’s been stormy, fresh water from the rivers gets pushed closer to the ocean, bringing more freshwater fish and if the weather is dry, salt water will move further up into the river, bringing more saltwater fish up into estuaries.

Which fish species live in estuaries?

Estuaries attract many different types of fish. Some fish, like flathead fish, live in estuaries and spend most of their time there. Other fish, like tailor and salmon, live elsewhere, but like to visit estuaries for a few months each year. These fish will follow baitfish schools into the estuary, which can make for great fishing when the timing is right.

The different seasons can affect the types of fish you find in estuaries. In some seasons, there are “runs” where fish form large schools. This increases the number of fish you can find in one location. Examples of fish that “run” include mullet, garfish, bream and luderick. To check which fish are currently biting in your area, go to a nearby boat ramp. Take note of the types of fish people are bringing in and cleaning or simply walk along the edge to see what is swimming around. Local tackle shops are also a good place to get information on which fish are in season. The people working at these shops know a lot about fishing and are usually happy to help. They can give you a good idea of which types of fish are biting each season.

What do I fish for?

For the best chance of success, you should try to catch whichever fish are biting at the time you plan to go fishing. Choose your bait based on the type of food that fish likes to eat and pick your location based on where they like to hang out. In any given season, there should be plenty of different options.

It also helps if you keep a fishing log. Use a notebook or your phone to jot down things like date, time, location, water clarity, moon phase, bait and anything else that might have affected your fishing. Then, use the information from your log to help you determine what to use and where to fish next time.