QUICK GUIDE TO FISHING IN STRUCTURE
Fishing structure can be a brutal business. It’s a daring, exhilarating, and potentially rewarding fishing approach, but it can also be a heartbreaking and expensive experience.
The reason anglers repeatedly test fishing fate around submerged obstacles is because structure is a fish magnet. Many of the most aggressive and appealing sport fish lurk around and within underwater obstructions. If you want to catch them, you must learn how to deal with nasty and unforgiving terrain.
Here are five tips on how to effectively fish in and around structure.
NO GUTS, NO GLORY
Whether you’re chasing bream among pylons or barramundi in mangrove snags, the one rule for fishing structure is that you must cast into the thick of it. This usually involves a high degree of risk of becoming snagged or being obliterated by rampaging fish.
Playing it safe and casting wide of obstacles dramatically reduces your chance of drawing strikes. You must pluck up courage and cast with confidence into the gauntlet of timber, metal or roots. Often the fish are sitting deep within the pockets between branches, rocks and tangles of metal. In this game, 30cm can make the difference between a ferocious strike and an untouched retrieve.
Be brave and crazy in equal dose and cast over and through obstacles.
BATTLE FISH HARD OR GO HOME
There’s no room for light drags or messing about in these unforgiving environments. Beef up your tackle, push drags to their limits, and pull hard on fish. You need to take control of the battle as soon as the strike connects. If you give the fish any leeway in this terrain, you’ll be stitched, buried or busted-off in the blink of an eye.
The trick is to turn the fish’s head to clear water before it has a chance to dive into cover. You’ll need to be switched on and ready to react instantly. There are only a few feet between a successful catch and an epic disaster and a delayed reaction almost certainly guarantees the latter.
LURE RETRIEVER RELIEF
If you’ve lost the initial battle to extract the fish from structure but survived a line implosion, there may yet be hope. A lure retriever (especially the pole varieties) can rescue your lure and the fish kicking at the end of it.
If you do find your line buried in a snag, keep the line taut to identify its position and minimise the chance of further tangles. Slide a lure retriever pole down the line and jiggle the lure and fish to free them.
Although this technique is a last ditch effort to retain a hooked fish, it has roughly a 50% chance of success. A lure retriever is definitely a worthwhile investment and will reduce the loss of fish and expensive lures.
TALKING FISHING TACTICS
There are a few techniques to get lures close to structure while minimising the risk of becoming snagged. The first approach is to use lures as intended, but take extra care around the structure. This approach is for experienced anglers as it involves plenty of insight and an ability to read or interpret submerged features.
The second approach is to use weedless rigged plastics that can be thrown deep into the gauntlet of doom with less concern. This is a sure way to wake up fish, but weedless rigs can decrease the hook-up rate and they still have a tendency to wedge in structure. The biggest advantage is that they are cheap to replace.
The third approach is to use floating hardbody lures with large diving bibs. These lures float over obstacles but can be twitched down into pockets among the structure. If the lure bumps structure on the retrieve, you can float the lure up and over it.
TOUGH FISHING TACKLE
To improve your chance of netting fish around structure, don’t mess about with questionable lures, leaders, or components. Upgrade hooks, split rings, and jig heads to ensure that you have the ability and confidence to lean hard on fish without risking tackle failure. Choose rods with plenty of guts and reels with solid drag systems.
Structure fishing is one of the most exciting and rewarding ways to fish. When a glorious trophy fish is extracted against all odds from a gauntlet of timber, metal, or stone, the pain and suffering due to lost lures and exploded leaders diminishes. The rewards from structure fishing are worth all the pain.
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