Fishing in saltwater rivers and inlets can be immensely rewarding. Most saltwater rivers are located close to the ocean, which means a wide variety of fish can often be found. However, fishing a saltwater river is different than fishing in the ocean, and even many experienced anglers have little experience with saltwater rivers. Here are four tips to help beginners succeed at saltwater river fishing.
1. Know What Fish You’re Targeting
Many novice fishermen make the mistake of fishing a body of water for anything that’s biting. If you want to have success when saltwater fishing, know what species of fish you’re likely to run into and prepare accordingly.Rather than take up space in your boat or kayak with pounds and pounds of tackle, choose bait made for catching particular kinds of fish. It’s also a good idea to briefly research where certain fish tend to hide or make their nests to get a better idea of where to cast.
2. Go where the Fish Are
Another key to successful saltwater river fishing is to choose your spots carefully. Generally, the mouth of the saltwater creek, river or inlet is often where bait fish gather, attracting the larger fish that you’re trying to catch. Another common gathering place for fish is any type of structure, such as clusters or rocks, submerged logs or docks that extend into the river.
3. Set the Hook
One of the most common beginner mistakes is to try and set the hook the second the fish first hits. However, if you wait an extra second or two, you can often set the hook when it’s fully inside the fish’s mouth. This makes it much harder for the fish to escape the hook, or to steal your bait if you’re using live bait, and is especially important when targeting larger fish in saltwater rivers. Remember to set the hook properly to increase your chances of landing more fish and prevent the big one from escaping.
4. Use Fresh, Live Bait
Live bait is almost always the better choice with saltwater fishing, but if you fail to keep the bait fresh, you may have a hard time attracting fish. If you’re using small bait fish, keep them in a bucket of salt water and change the water periodically. Shrimp, crabs, and mollusks such as clams or mussels can also make great live bait. As an added bonus, mollusks and crustaceans can usually be kept alive for extended periods in a ice-filled cooler, so long as you pad the ice with paper or vegetation so the bait aren’t directly contacting the ice.