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ZMANNING THE ESTUARIES

Aidan Robertson

Estuary systems are diverse places with a wide range of species on offer. They are filled with flats, mud banks, rock bars and submerged timber. If I was a fish, I think it would be the ideal place to live and for anglers they are also a good place to seek shelter from the wind!

When I am on holidays the fishing is non-stop, but unfortunately the wind gods didn't want to play nice, so we decided to head up a few estuary / creek systems to fish some sheltered rock bars, mud banks and submerged trees, using the ZMan range of soft plastics and TT's HeadlockZ HD jigheads.

After putting in some solid hours on numerous trips, catching different species each time, we had finally worked out a couple of spots that were producing quality fish.  Working out the tides, time of day, where to cast your plastic and what to look for all contribute to working out a few likely spots. 

Fishing the rock bars in the estuary, or rocky points, can be a productive area to fish. Look for distinct current lines where baitfish might wash through as these can often indicate where the predatory fish will be sitting in ambush. Casting ZMan plastics into the current line and bouncing them off the bottom into the calmer water, where the predatory fish will be waiting, is a good technique for this type of fishing.

This technique has been used on different occasions to produce some cracker fish, threadfin salmon in particular. On one particular trip we positioned the boat in the calm water and held our position with the electric. Using the ZMan 5" StreakZ in Pearl, rigged on a TT Lures HeadlockZ HD 1/4oz 3/0XH Jighead, we cast up-current into the current line and worked the lure back to the boat. Keeping the plastic close to the bottom and working it slow was the key to success. Using two short, sharp flicks of the rod to make the plastic dart around and the fish stood no chance. The darting action of the StreakZ is enough to fool the threadfin salmon and other species into eating this baitfish imitation.

As the tide rose the threadfin salmon pushed up over the rock bar and onto the flats to forage in the mangroves. They can then be effectively targeted using the TT Snagless Weight System (SWS) and ChinlockZ SWS jigheads rigged with ZMan 3" Scented ShrimpZ or ZMan 4" CrawdadZ. On this trip the fish we were sight casting to were not interested in taking a well presented plastic, so we moved back around to the rock bar. 

The current line was also where the tarpon were sitting, waiting for something to hit the surface. It didn't really matter what you threw at them as they were hungry and quickly scoffed down the ZMan plastic. The hardest part is keeping the hooks in tarpon; with their acrobatic nature, they tried their best to throw the hooks one way or another! The ZMan 2.5" GrubZ, 3" Scented ShrimpZ and ZMan 4" StreakZ Curly TailZ were working the best for them. The Tarpon usually hit on the drop, so using a 1/4oz jighead was perfect. We cast into the current line that was in the deeper water and let the plastic flutter to the bottom or until it was hit. Giving the rod a shake or flicking it continuously was working well, getting them angry and encouraging them to eat the plastic.  

Once it reached the top of the tide the current stopped and the bream and jew (mulloway) came out to feed.  The 2.5" GrubZ in Motor Oil was the pick of the plastics for the bream, rigged on the TT HeadlockZ in 1/4oz 1/0. The Jew (mulloway), tarpon, blue salmon and barramundi also like this plastic / jighead combo! Another good plastic for the bream is the ZMan 4" StreakZ Curly TailZ in New Penny. Casting out along the ledge and using a nice slow retrieve and hopping the plastic seemed to do the job. With the bream hitting on the drop you have to be ready.

As for the jew (mulloway), you feel a few very soft taps on the plastic. When you feel this, leave the plastic in that range and just shake the rod softly. Every time I did this they couldn't help themselves and ate the plastic... before you know it you are hooked up!

A move of location and we could fish some different country, this time some submerged timber. On the outgoing tide the water drains off the sand flats and through the fallen tree-lined channel. If the fish wanted to get out of the creek they had to come through this channel and past our plastics!  Submerged trees are a good place to pick up grunter, jew, bream, cod, mangrove jack and barramundi. We landed most of these species and got done by the mangrove jack. There was no stopping them on light gear, that was for sure! I guess that's what happens when you fish light.

The grunter took a liking to the ZMan 2.5" GrubZ in Watermelon Red rigged on a TT HeadlockZ 1/6oz jighead. They are usually not a very fussy fish and would be more than happy to eat the ShrimpZ and 4" StreakZ Curly TailZ, especially in New Penny. The cod liked the ShrimpZ in Houdini, as did the mangrove jack we couldn't stop. Bring on the heavy gear next time! We also experienced some awesome sunsets over the holidays whilst out fishing... perfect sunsets to finish off great days on the water! Until next time...

Cheers, Aidan Robertson

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FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2017