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How to look at potential fishing spots (landbased)


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 Hi Raiders,

Thought I'd start a thread on things anglers look for when they are in a fishing spot. I'll also give up a few of my 'Spot Xs' (which honestly are no secret if you read my posts) and tell you why I think they are successful spots for me.

Before starting, I'd preface this by discussing the 'X marks the spot' phenomenon* (see doclures' podcast link at the end). It seems that many of us, particularly early in our fishing careers, think that if you find fish in a given spot, that it is a magic 'spot X' that is very special and must be jealously guarded. However, there is a lot more to a 'spot X' than just the location; often you need the right time to fish and the right methods. Further, if you start thinking about why a particular spot is successful for you, you'll start to find spot Xs everywhere you look.

I will also give one caveat to everything I'll say here; the spots and attributes described are ones that suit my style of fishing. My forte is shallow water (0-3m) bream and flathead luring, particularly with soft plastics. So it is through this lens that you should read this post.

Things that get my casting arm twitching

There's nothing special about the following list of things that I'm going to mention here. These are general things that bream and flathead seem to like (as well as a host of other species) and I get a bit excited when I see any combination of them in one place:

  • Flats, both sand and mud, clean or rubbly (lots of the latter in the Parra river)
  • Rock walls
  • Mangroves
  • Creek/canal entrances
  • Moorings
  • Marinas (particularly within casting distance of shore)
  • Bridges + pylons
  • Wharves
  • Fallen trees
  • Bays
  • Points
  • Bends in rivers

I tend to rate spots in my head, looking for things like these. Each additional feature I notice is an extra 'point' in my books. I'll give a cast at or around any of these features, but two or more in one place get me very excited indeed. I also give extra 'points' to a spot if I see food sources like:

  • Nipper/yabby/worm holes 
  • Small crabs
  • Small fish
  • Prawns

If I see any of these, then it also has some influence on my lure choice. Match the hatch, as they say (or take the lazy option and rig on a 3-inch soft plastic flick bait, which in the right hands, will catch anything that will eat any of the above).

Then there are current/water movement features, which I only started to pay attention to in the past year. When I started thinking about current, I uncovered a whole lot of new fishing spots that held good fish. Things like:

  • Is the current slow or fast? What direction is it moving on a rising or falling tide? (it's a good habit to look at the tide chart before heading out, so you are aware of what is happening)
  • If the current is fast, where would the fish be hiding or waiting for food?
  • Eddies - can you see areas where the water is relatively still, or moving slowly in the opposite direction of the main current?
  • Floating rubbish/leaves etc - are these accumulating in a given area? Often if it does, food will accumulate too, so these spots can be worth a few casts.

Almost all of the spots where I consistently catch fish have some or all of these attributes mentioned in this section. When I am in unfamiliar territory, I look out for these things and when I find them, I invariably find fish as well.

A few spots and why I like them

Now, let's look at a few spots which I have found a few fish at and discuss why they might be good spots. This is where google maps and any other application with satellite imagery is useful. By all means give these specific spots a try, but also look for locations with similar attributes and try them as well.

Rushcutters Bay


Rushcutters for me is a pretty consistent spot for bream, flathead and flounder on lures. Fish-holding structure wise, it's a very interesting spot. For instance, it is hard to miss the marina, which holds a lot of big bream. But also notice:

- Sandy/weedy edges close to shore, which hold a few flathead and flounder. No real size to them, but every one I have caught here was legal.

- Moored boats, which like the marina provide refuge for big bream

- The canal/canal entrance, where good bream and flathead sometimes hang out

- Flats, where there are plenty of whiting (which I haven't seriously chased yet)

- Quite deep water further out > 3-5m deep. It's actually the deepest spot I regularly fish. However, most fish I catch are hooked in the vicinity of the dropoffs, or in the adjacent shallows.

You can't make it out on the map here, but a lot of the flats in this vicinity have nipper holes (note you can't pump them here - intertidal protected zone). Also there tends to be a lot of bait fish around. When you put all of these things together, it's little wonder that this is a pretty good spot.

Iron Cove (Rodd Pt Precinct)


Whenever I have a beginner wanting to nail a flathead on a lure, this is more often than not the first place I suggest. There's a bit of bias here; I caught my first ever flathead on a plastic here! But biases aside, I've found this to be an incredibly consistent spot for bream and flathead luring. I still come here quite often. By the way, I first learned of this spot via Fishraider.

This spot is characterised by sand/mud flats (hard to miss), with mangroves, rock walls and rubble beds punctuating the underwater environment. On a low tide you'll notice lots of little crabs and shellfish, and there are worm/nipper holes present. I also know from family that there are prawns here - they used to catch them in the general vicinity in years gone by. So there are plenty of reasons for fish to hang out here. Everywhere in this picture is prime luring territory, on either side of a high tide. In fact, everywhere in Iron Cove is a pretty reliable spot to cast lures. On the bottom right is Dobroyd Aquatic club where @Mike Sydney brains the bream on his Crankas.

Spots like these are a dime a dozen in the Parra. Five Dock bay is similar example. As is Hen and Chicken Bay. Find any mud flats like these, wait for a high tide, and start casting. I have on occasion waded flats like these on a low tide, and found fish as well. But in my old age, getting muddy is just a little uncivilised for my prude self 🤣

Meadowbank precinct


Now, let's take a look at the Parra River at Meadowbank. At the back of the bay is a small system of mud flats, exactly like Iron Cove. It fishes similarly to Iron Cove. I got my 70cm PB flathead at the back of the bay (pictured) in the shallows, and plenty of 45cm+ models on the areas of shoreline highlighted in red.

Right at this exact moment, with all the rain and the recent fish kills, this area is fishing terribly. But it is still worth discussing because there is lots to talk about, particularly about current. The red arrows represent the direction of the runout tide, and the blue arrows represent the run-in. The highlighted area (in red) closest to the ferry wharf is the site of a large rock slab which can hold good populations of bream and flathead on the right day (but is very slippery - I wear rock cleats for fishing spots like this). On the right of the pontoon (under the words 'Ryde Wharf Market' is the place I call 'flatty corner' - a spot of very shallow mud, rock and mangroves from which I have pulled a few 50+cm flathead.

The majority of anglers who fish this area will target the ferry wharf and the pontoon on Ryde Wharf Reserve. They'll position themselves on the wharf and cast out into the main channel, where the current is racing , anchor their bait with a heavy sinker, then hope for the best. Now, there is nothing wrong with doing this if it floats your boat; I have seen these individuals get the odd good fish like this. But mark my words; I have never caught a fish on a lure, fishing either of those spots. This is not for lack of trying. I suspect this is because the current here can be so strong it is difficult to keep a lure in the strike zone without excessive weight. One day I'll find a successful technique to lure the wharves (I'm thinking dropshot).

Instead, I tend to target the bays and points in this precinct. I always thought the bay was a good spot for bream and flathead because it provided refuge for fish from the current. That is probably true, but there's likely more to the story here. The water here is calmer than in the main channel, but it is still moving. Again, the blue arrow represents the run-in tide and the red arrow represents the run-out. Notice here the current seems to go in the opposite direction to the main channel. So this is the site of a massive eddy, so the fish not only have a place to hide, it is likely that it is a place where the food comes to them.

As an aside, I only noticed the behaviour of the currents in the past 12 months, after watching floating leaves and rubbish as I fished. I then realised another good spot, which is close by, is the site of a similar eddy! So it pays to keep your eyes open and your mind ticking over, no matter how long you have been fishing for.

Mosman Bay

I've had my eye on this spot for about a month now, after scoping it out on google maps. I spend a bit of time scoping out spots in this way, earmarking good candidates for an exploration. Apart from interesting structure, being landbased, I'm also looking for good shoreline access; 500m - several km of shoreline to walk along, casting all the way.

I have yet to spend a lot of time actually fishing this spot, but structurally it's interesting. More than that, it's hidden away from the main harbour in an interesting manner (area highlighted below):


Looking at the structure, there are a number of things that get me excited here:


There are:

- A ferry wharf

- A marina

- Flats/dropoffs

- A retaining wall

- A canal entrance (hard to see - in the top right corner)

When I finally got down there to fish, I noticed there was a little bit of current in the bay, which I didn't expect. It was raining, so it could have been stormwater runoff.

In my mind there had to be fish there, and lo and behold, when I gave it a go, I found them. Looking at the flats/shallows here, I have a strong suspicion that there might be flatties here too, but I haven't caught one yet. I might need to tee up a session with @DerekD because this is his stomping ground.

So start looking...

Hopefully this provides some insight into the things that you can look for when looking for potential spots to fish. There are plenty of other indicators, especially when you consider other species, but I've been rambling on for long enough :D 

Over to you raiders, what other things to do you look for? If you're comfortable sharing, show us a screenshot of your spot and tell us why you think it fishes well!

*I've just listened to the Doclures podcast here: Mistakes Anglers make | Finding Fish | Greg Vinall | Australian Lure Fishing (doclures.com) which covers the 'Spot X' phenomenon comprehensively. It's worth a listen.


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Good job on sharing some tips and a great write up Little_Flatty.

I've found casting a plastic into the faster flowing water right on the edge of and eddy to be quite productive.

I believe fish are sitting on the edge of the slower current and fast water to bring food to them. A "dead sticked" minnow style plastic is a great lure for this presentation, simply cast and let the current do its job, dragging the lure along the edge of the flow change. Its particularly effective on bream and uncanny how many good luderick will take a Pearl Watermelon, Bass Minnow.

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