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.
Once you have obtained permission to fish, then you need to know what to do. For myself I like to use leger tackle, with a simple running rig set up on a 15 lbs b.s. leader. (A leader is a length of stronger line attached to your main line to take the shock of casting. ) As for the weight I use a 2 oz bomb, because the tide can run quite quickly, even so high up the estuary, while the trace to the hook is tied in 6 lbs b.s. line.
The trace is one of the most important features of your tackle. It needs to be long enough not to alert the fish to possible danger. A short trace will park the bait by the weight and frighten off any takes. A long one will wave about with the current and act much more naturally. I like to use a trace about eight to ten feet long with this tackle, matching it with a size 6 Aberdeen long shanked hook. This will catch not only bass, but will give a surprising hookhold in a mullet, enabling you to hook and land even these elusive fish.
The reason for this is that the aberdeen, unlike the tiny hooks which most mullet anglers use, will catch in the flesh behind the membrane, giving a secure hold. I have, for example, handlined a specimen mullet up the side of an estuary wall, which you definitely should not try with a freshwater hook!
There are also some other things that you can try if you want to get a few more bites. These include painting your lead weights green, black or brown to make them less obvious, or paying out for expensive camouflage leads, while you can also use black swivels instead of shiny silver ones. You should, in fact, try to avoid anything flashy, especially if you are hoping for a few mullet along the way. Your tackle needs to be quite subdued, so that it blends into the background, to which end you should use tiny black beads either side of your weight instead of bright red, yellow or green ones. You might also stick to clear, brown or dark green lines, since the brightly coloured ones are very obvious and, in my opinion, probably put off the fish, or at least seem to on the marks that I have tried.
Bait is another important issue. Personally I use ragworm, since lugworms are not present in the higher estuary reaches, and, if I am moving downriver, closer to the sea, peeler crab. Both will catch fish, while prawns can also be effective on occasion.
After you have cast, then you need to keep a close eye on the end of your rod, where you will soon learn to discriminate between the type of bites that you will get. A bass, for example, will give you a hard, rattling bite, while an eel will give a series of small twitches. A flounder gives a series of little twitches or pulls and a mullet either gives a determined lunge or a most peculiar kind of shuffling bite unlike any of the other fish. (An interesting point to note is that, using this method, the smallest mullet that I have landed is three and a quarter pounds in weight. It does not seem to attract the smaller ones.)
Flounder will often take your bait, especially if you are fishing just after, or before, the low tide.
A lot of the bass will be small but early in the year some quite big ones nose up the estuaries, almost as if revisiting their childhood haunts!