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article: fish’n’tip 0602 surface luring from a kayak by rob paxevanos
Dated: 15 September, 2011
TOP TECHNIQUE: Craig Coughlan can’t get enough of the spring estuary bite!

Rob’s weekly FISH’N’TIP 0600 written for the week of Wed 14/9/2011



The awesome options for kayak fishing on my home Turf along the NSW South Coast are endless-the hardest decision for me each trip is which estuary to fish!

With the warming weather, I thought it would be a good time to share some tips on my favorite technique - surface luring for common estuary species.

Water depth and structure are the first thing you should be looking at, fishing the wrong spots will leave you without any success and the poor old surface lure gets chucked back into the tackle box never to see the light of day again. All of my best fish have come from water depths between 0.3m to 1.5m. Shallow sandflats where you would find nippers are an ideal place to start, along with shallow weed beds particularly if you can find areas with patches through the weed.

It doesn’t matter how shallow these flats are, as long as the weed isn’t up on top of the water and your surface lure fouls up on weed. It will surprise you to see how big some of the fish are that come off the very shallow flats.

Fishing the front edge of weedbeds where they drop into deeper water is also a great place to look, fish will hide in the weeds waiting to ambush any baitfish, crustacean or cephalopod that crosses nearby. Retreiving your lure either across the front of the weedbed or over the top of it often results in some fantastic fishing.

I keep a large range of surface lures with me on the water, different sizes and colours are always in the tackle box and most have landed plenty of fish. The sizes I use range from 35mm up to 70mm in various different brands and colors. I prefer the natural colours like baitfish or prawn, but it is the action of the lure that is most important.

There are many different types of surface lures, but the two types I prefer are the poppers which splash and make the bloop sound, and the walk the dog style lures that dart and zigzag across the surface which are usually the better lure on calmer brighter days.

A good quality spinning combo will make your experience much more enjoyable, surface luring all day long can get quite tiring, it’s especially hard on your wrist so a nice light and well balanced combo is going to keep you fishing better and longer. Graphite rods in the 6-7ft ranger are ideal, i prefer the shorter 6ft rods matched with a 1000-1500 size spinning reel.

As with most fish species, light line will catch you more fish, the only down side to this is if a big flathead decides to take your lure you want to have some sort of chance of getting her in. I found that 4-6lb braided mainline will give you good casting distance, and the 6-10lb leader is ample for landing the majority of the larger flatties. Your hooks are also very important, some lures come with cheaper treble hooks so I always upgrade the trebles to quality ones like Owner stinger's.

Your retrieve style and speed will play a large part in what you will catch. Whiting prefer a faster, quite aggressive retrieve with no pauses. Slowing the lure down a little then speeding back up will often entice the fish to strike, but I’ve found as soon as you pause the lure, most of the time the whiting will shy away from it. I find the popper lures to be the best when specifically targeting Whiting.

Bream will hit either of the two surface lures I mentioned but the retrieve is slightly different. Slow the retrieve down for bream, add a few twitches to the lure then pause for around 5 seconds, and repeat until your lure is back to you or a nice big bream takes the lure off the surface. Bream commonly take the lure with a gentle slurp while its paused so always be ready.

Flathead i find are a little harder to target specifically, plenty are taken using both methods mentioned above but the most reliable way of getting them is a very slow retrieve, just a twitch or two of the lure then pause, similar to bream just slower retrieves and sharper twitches using the bigger 60-70mm lures over sand patches in the weed beds or the edge of a sandy drop off.

Getting the technique's right can be challenging, but the rewards in the end make it a worthwhile procedure and I guarantee you will be glad you put the time and effort into learning how to catch fish on surface lures, it truly is a spectacular way of fishing for the common estuary species.

Craig Coughlan

Rob Paxevanos Fishnet Pro Angler

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