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Catching Fish In Brackish Water

Brackish Water Fishing

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Linda caught this 15 pound tripletail while fishing with Captain Mike Evans

Linda caught this 15 pound tripletail while fishing with Captain Mike Evans

2007 Ronnie Garrison licensed to About.com
In many locations there is an area where fresh water mixes with salt water. Georgia's coast is one and there are many others around the world. This brackish water area is unusual in many ways, and most of them mean good fishing. You can catch both salt and freshwater fish in these areas and they tend to be strong from fighting the current. I also understand the fish are more active in the winter than they are in lakes. If you have brackish water near you, check it out.

I got my first taste of brackish water fishing on a creek off the James River. My uncle Mayhu took my wife and me fishing for catfish . We used Mepps Spinners and cast near the marsh grass around cuts and points as the tide started out. We caught lots of channel cat, bass and bluegill during the early part of the dropping tide. It was fast fishing for a couple of hours and then they just stopped hitting.

The tide movement is one thing you have to get used to in most brackish water areas. I had never fished a tide before and was surprised how it controls the fish feeding. You might as well stay at home if you don't plan your trip around the changing tides to take advantage of the feeding fish. This experience is also what convinced me the Solunar Tables worked since they are based on what causes the tides.

When the bass pros fish places like the James River, I understand they will make long runs to keep up with the tide. They can hit the first hour of the dropping tide near the mouth of the river, run up and catch the first hour again upstream. They can do this a couple of times during a tournament day.

I have made several trips to the Georgia coast around the Altamaha River. We caught catfish near where we saw tarpon, the real reason for our trip. A little ways upstream bass are caught regularly and big bream are common. You have to choose your bait to control what you catch. Alligators swimming around at high and low tide make that area even more interesting. I haven't been back since the time I almost got my bass boat hung up on a oyster bar on a dropping tide. We thought we would have to spend the night there with the alligators!

Several years ago I fished a bass tournament in Washington, North Carolina on Pamlico Sound. That was interesting, catching flounder on Zoom pumpkinseed lizards. I had my best luck running way up the river, above where the tide affected it, and fishing small cuts with worms. I heard the tournament was won by a local fisherman casting worms under docks on the lower river and "leading" the bass out before setting the hook. If hooked under the dock, they cut his line on barnacles. That is a problem you don't have on freshwater lakes!

If you fish brackish water, remember to wash your gear carefully. A reel that will last for years without cleaning in fresh water will rust up beyond repair after one trip to salt water if it gets inside. Don't just wash off the outside with a hose - that may actually wash salt into the reel. Clean it inside and out, and clean off your rod guides and hooks too.

Brackish water is usually very fertile and the fish are usually healthy and fat. If you live near the coast and fish brackish water, let me know about your patterns. Do you fish the tides? Is the winter fishing good? Tell me about it. Also, you can also post information about it for others on my message board - you must register to post but can read the board as a guest. Also, if you have thoughts you want to share about this topic, let me know about it at fishing@aboutguide.com.

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