Tropical mangrove habitats present one of the most challenging lure fishing environments. Most tropical estuary target species, such as Barramundi and Mangrove Jack, reside within and below the tangled mass of mangrove roots and branches. This behaviour demands deep casts into the gauntlet of snags to entice strikes.

Not surprisingly, if your casting isn’t up to scratch you’ll either short-cast and catch nothing, or you’ll spend more time picking lures out of the vegetation than fishing.

Here are a few tips on how to get the most out of lure fishing tropical mangrove habitats.


Tropical creek fishing conjures images of monster Barramundi and ferocious Mangrove Jack. While trophy fish are there for the taking, it’s not always as easy as the magazines and video clips portray.

Casting accuracy plays a critical role in these environments and can make or break a fishing outing. This is especially the case for travelling anglers who are unfamiliar with the terrain or casting requirements. If you are paying big bucks for a tropical adventure getaway, you must make sure your casting is up to the task.

Practice casting morning, day, and night and build up your confidence. Place a few buckets around the backyard and learn to cast the lures into them from 10-15 metres away. To add another degree of difficulty, place chairs and broomsticks between you and the bucket and weave your way to the bucket.

This might sound ridiculous, but this pinpoint accuracy will decide whether you catch fish or go home empty handed in mangrove creeks.


Although proficient anglers can effectively use spin outfits in mangrove creeks, baitcast outfits are the best option for accurate lure casting. Baitcasters deliver exceptional control with their thumb spool design and they work perfectly with medium to large, hardbody and soft plastic lures. Choose a shorter rod to permit underhand casts in tight country.

Travelling anglers should get their hands on a baitcast outfit long before a trip north and keep practising.


Weedless rigged soft plastics can be used around mangrove habitat with caution. Weedless rigs don’t usually have the best hook-up rate on Barramundi and they still get stuck on or between timber. Medium size floating hardbody lures are the best option for casting deep into mangrove habitat. Select models with large bibs because they dive sharply into the water pockets around structure. Twitch hardbodies down to wake up fish and then pause and float them over any obstacles.

Ensure that casts are tight to structure, as wayward deliveries won’t catch fish. A killer method to entice explosive bites is to cast and retrieve over and between submerged branches. This makes for risky, but exciting fishing.


It’s important to fish mangrove creeks on a suitable tide. Big tides and strong currents make fishing dense mangrove habitat virtually impossible. In fast moving water, controlling a boat and making accurate casts into structure is an exercise in frustration. To compound the challenge, in strong currents the fish tend to hold deeper within the structure. The only fishing option in mangrove creeks on big tides is to fish drains or find areas out of the main flow.

Ideally, try to time mangrove creek fishing with neap tides when there is less current. The fish are more likely to emerge from the snags, casting will be easier, and it makes for much more pleasant fishing. Fishing through the bottom of the tide is also a good strategy, as it tends to concentrate fish on any remaining submerged mangroves or snags.


Given the nature of the terrain in mangrove creeks and the necessity for risky casts, lures will inevitably lodge in trees. The hollow, rubbery mangrove roots are also unforgiving and once a hook is embedded, they rarely let go. An extendable pole lure retriever is a valuable tool that will save you hundreds of dollars in lost lures. A lure retriever is a worthwhile investment that will pay for itself in a very short time.

Whether you’re a tropical local learning the ropes on creek fishing or a southern adventurer planning a tropical fishing adventure, never underestimate the challenge of fishing mangrove habitat. These tips will give you a head start but don’t forget that the fundamental factor that will decide your fishing fate is casting accuracy.


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Peter Hollingsworth
Peter Hollingsworth

Peter has been fishing all around Australia since he was a boy. He loves camping, fishing and kayak fishing.