6 Fantastic Estuary Fishing Locations In Victoria
Estuary Fishing refers to fishing within the area where a river, creek or lake meets the ocean for fish species that live in – or move in and out of estuaries. This zone is often salty and rarely has purely freshwater species. Some estuary species can tolerate levels of high salinity and/or low salinity (such as freshwater.) Many species use estuaries as nurseries where they lay their eggs and their offspring grow up in the estuarine environment. Moving out into the bays and oceans as they reach maturity.
One of the largest estuary fishing spots in Australia is the Gippsland Lakes system. While Port Phillip Bay naturally operates as a form of massive estuary due to its limited opening, of two kilometres, to the ocean (Bass Straight).
By far the most sought after fish species in the Black Bream.
Catches of mullet, flathead, Australian Salmon, Pinky Snapper, Tommy Rough, Whiting and even Squid (Calamari) are very uncommon.
Larger species include the Mulloway – not a common catch but targeted by many anglers hoping for a powerful fighting fish.
By-catch species include the puffer fish or “toady.” While they may seem like a nuisance they are an essential species to the ecosystem and are 100% protected in Australian waters. So they must be returned, unharmed, into the water as quickly as possible.
Generally lighter tackle works better in most estuary systems – unless targetting species such as Mulloway.
So a 2000 to 4000 sized reel on a 6 to a 9-foot rod is generally correct.
Light lines under 10 lb are preferable, with a leader if desired.
For most species, a "https://www.clixgapaternoster rig makes a great all-round multi-species fishing rig for use in estuaries.
This rig will work well for most common estuary species such as Bream, Mullet, Flathead, Tommy Rough and even Pinky Snapper.
Avoid the kind they sell in some stores with the wire traces. These rigs will consistently do one thing – fail to catch you fish.
The reason being they sink to the bottom, along with your bait. Stick to monofilament leaders in an estuary system.
However, when there is thick weed a paternoster rig will tend to foul up quickly.
In these instances a running sinker rigged weedless, can be more effective.
A running sinker with a single hook will work best.
The sinker should move freely above the hook.
But stop short enough of the hook itself as to not offer the fish a lump of lead.
The best bait for estuary fishing is nearly always what the fish are eating when you are there fishing. Often called “matching the hatch.” So, choose your bait according to what you observe to the best of your ability. If baitfish are visible then choosing whitebait, bluebait or pilchards pieces may work well.
If you observe prawns moving amongst reeds or weeds then choosing prawns is a great choice.
Many estuary species will willingly take earthworms after heavy rains. That’s because the worms get washed into the estuary system during heavy rain. So choosing earthworms after a heavy rain event can be very effective.
As with bait the best lure will depend on the conditions in the estuary and what food is currently available. If you observe baitfish schooling try casting baitfish replicas like softplactics, hardbody etc. The same goes for when prawns are active. This is often called “fishing the hatch.”
Estuary baits include whitebait, pilchards, squid, octopus, pipis, sandworms, prawns, chicken and even earthworms.
Lures, particularly soft plastics, work extremely well in Victorian estuaries.
Many anglers deploy float systems to suspend their bait and this method can be very effective.