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Soft Plastics - Location Do and Do Nots

By Sean ‘Skip’ Thompson

In my last TT technical article, I ran through some simple ‘dos and don’ts’ tackle tips to get you started on soft plastics fishing. In this article, I step things up a notch. The aim is to improve your soft plastics fishing results, whether you are very new to it, or even an experienced plastics angler who is looking for some extra little tips.

Location – what not to do!

Firstly, let’s start with some tips on what you DO NOT want to be doing with regards to choosing your location to fish.

Probably the biggest mistake that I see inexperienced anglers making is heading down to the local creek, jetty, breakwall or estuary flat and fishing the first area they come across. This can be a problem for a few reasons.

Firstly, it could be barren featureless sand or mud, that will likely not hold fish like flathead or bream. Fish need structure for protection, ambushing and food.

Secondly, spots that are easy to access also commonly appeal to swimmers or people taking their dogs for a swim. Even if the area did hold some underwater features that would hold fish, any time of day when the swimmers and dog lovers are around, the fish will be long gone.

Thirdly, even if anglers do come across a location that has structure and can hold fish, if they turn up at the wrong stage of the tide, they will simply not catch fish. Take the example of a breakwall. Trying to throw a soft plastic out in the middle stages of the tide, when the water is rushing in or out of the river, can simply be in vain as your plastic quickly gets washed into the rocks. Added to this fact, fish will not sit and attempt to feed in an area where they need to expend more energy than they may gain from a feed.

Location – what to do!

The best anglers don’t achieve results by chance, instead building a solid foundation of planning and preparation. Before selecting your spot to fish, think about your target species, the time of year, best tide for the type of features that you plan to fish and other such variables.

The best anglers have learnt from their own experiences and detailed fishing diary records. Before that, they researched spots from reputable fishing authors online, in magazines, via tackle shop expertise and studying the features of the location, including depth changes and contours, via Google Earth or sounder map charts, even before heading out.

So, what sort of locations should you look for? Well firstly, avoid the crowds and walk or drive the boat or 4WD that bit further than them. Then you want to be targeting an area that will hold fish as it contains food, for example yabby banks. Also look for an area that offers cover for the fish, such as fallen trees, or that has underwater structure, such as patches of rock or patches of sand amongst seagrass beds. These can be used as ambush locations for predators feeding on the baitfish holding around rocks or amongst the weed beds.

Some examples of prime fish holding locations may include drop-offs, oyster leases and mangroves.

Deeper drop offs along a river or estuary flat, or even smaller drains running off an estuary flat will attract fish such as flathead. These are a great target area, provided you fish it on the right tide. On a falling tide baitfish and smaller fish, like whiting or bream, will flee the shallow flats on the last couple of hours of the falling tide. Fish like flathead, grunter, mulloway, and barramundi know this, so they will be waiting on the deeper side of the drop for an easy feed. This is where you want to be casting your soft plastics at this same stage of the tide. Letting them sink naturally, with as lightly weighted a jighead as possible, will deliver best results.

Oyster leases are an example of a manmade feature that will attract fish to the area. Oyster leases are a hot spot for bream, where they are attracted to feed on any scraps as oysters are being harvested. Fish are also attracted to the creatures that call the structure home along with the wild growth on nearby posts if the oyster beds themselves are covered up. Anglers should be targeting these areas a couple of hours just before and after the high tide, as this is when the oysters are accessible to fish on top of the leases or posts.

Mangroves on the other hand are a great natural fish attracting structure. These areas are best fished closer to the top of the tide as the mangroves normally sit on the outer boundaries of the high tide reach. Small baitfish will seek shelter in the mangrove roots at high tide and larger predators will wait around the edges of the mangroves for the bait, or even hunt over the roots on a big king tide. Flicking lightly weighted plastics around mangrove edges an hour and a half either side of the high is a top tactic.

So, there you go. The Dos and Don’ts of choosing a location when fishing with soft plastics. Keep an eye out for ‘Soft Plastics Tactics’ in the next of the Dos and Don’ts series, from Sean (Skip) Thompson of Ontour Fishing Australia.

Cheers, Skip

Gearing Up:

TT Black Mamba Spin Rods – BMS701ML 7’ 2-4kg
TT Red Belly Spin Rods – RBS701ML 7’ 2-4kg
Okuma ITX Carbon Spin Reels – ITX-2500
Platypus Bionic Braid X9
Platypus Stealth FC Fluorocarbon Leader
TT HeadlockZ Finesse Jigheads
TT HeadlockZ HD Jigheads
ZMan 10X Tough ElaZtech Soft Plastics