Estuary fishing can be fun - Baywater Anglers, for example, has a lot of events at such places where a surprising number of fish can sometimes be caught.
A lot of people fish the higher reaches of estuaries, usually for mullet, but they soon discover that they also hold large shoals of small bass. What happens then is usually one of two things; either the person is put off by the relatively small size of the fish or they decide to see what can be done, on the odd occasion, to make the level of sport a bit more interesting.
Personally, I prefer the latter approach. Where I live, for example, there are times when an easterly wind completely wrecks the fishing on the coast. At such times I used to write or mope about the home, but nowadays I reach for a very light freshwater match rod, equipped with a tiny fixed-spool and 4 lbs breaking strain line, and head for the nearest estuary.
Now the bass this far up wonít win any prizes for size, but they are quick to bite, give a determined little struggle and can provide a bit of fun when my normal fishing grounds are unfishable. (If I used normal tackle, of course, they would not be able to do much other than give a quick flicker of protest, but on the match rod it is completely different. They give a good little fight.)
The moral of the story is that if you want fun with smaller fish you are going to need to try much lighter tackle than normal. Nor will you catch only bass, for if you follow the advice in this article you should, on occasion, find your bait taken by flounders, mullet or eels.
Your first step is to check out the waters that you are thinking of fishing. This far from the sea many estuaries will be controlled by the Environment Agency, so you will have to obtain their written permission to fish, usually after you have sent your own letter of suitable enquiry.
Permission, if granted, will usually come with certain conditions attached, especially since some of these estuaries will be covered by MAFF nursery regulations and will, in addition, be the start of sea trout and salmon fisheries. The result is that you need to find out and follow those conditions quite scrupulously. If you donít then you will lose the opportunity to fish there and will probably find yourself in a fair bit of bother besides.
The usual conditions that apply to fishing such estuaries are:
1) Legering and float-fishing only. (Definitely no spinning or fly fishing, which would catch either trout or salmon.)
2) Sea baits only; no earthworms, maggots or suchlike. (Because of the trout.)
3) No sandeels, in any form, to be used for bait. (Nursery regulations apply.)
4) All bass and silver eels must be returned alive to the water as soon as possible. The same definitely applies for any trout and salmon accidentally caught.
5) Geographic limits Ė some places will be out of bounds, so it is in your interests to make sure that you observe any limit, or limits, imposed.
Some other things that you might consider are crushing the barbs on your hooks and using a long-handled net for safely returning the fish to the water.