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One of the most accessible types of saltwater fishing is fishing inshore. But what is inshore fishing exactly?
Although there is no exact definition for ‘inshore fishing’ it generally relates to saltwater fishing that is fairly close to the shore and in water no deeper than 30 meters. Fishing in water deeper than 30 meters is usually regarded as offshore fishing.
Inshore fishing can include fishing closer to shore in smaller boats or kayaks, estuary fishing, fishing river mouths, sand flats, harbors, piers, and saltwater lakes.
Inshore fishing offers the ability to use a wide range of techniques and catch a lot of different species.
While you won’t be able to catch a monster tuna or marlin while fishing inshore, don’t think that inshore fishing means small fish, as you will be able to find some bigger species that cruise in shallow waters closer to the shore, such as redfish, snook, tarpon, permit, stripers, bluefish, jacks, and so many more.
You can also find greater quantities of fish at times when fishing inshore locations, especially when fishing around some kind of structure where large numbers of different species will shoal and school.
What fishing gear is best for inshore fishing?
As the variety of target species can vary significantly while inshore fishing, so can the equipment you should use.
You should never need to go too heavy with your gear when inshore fishing, even when targeting bigger species that frequent that shallower inshore waters.
When looking at spinning reels, the heaviest you should need for inshore fishing would be around a 6000 size, and the heaviest line you should use would be around 30 lbs.
Of course, there are exceptions to this, and you may be targeting some bigger inshore species such as Tarpon, but in general, this is probably the heaviest you should go when fishing inshore.
As for the spinning rod for this heavier set-up, a 15-30 lb rod anywhere from 6 to 6 feet long would be the ideal match.
If you didn’t want to fish as heavier as this, then a good all-round set-up to use would be a 3000 or 4000 size spinning reel and a 7-15 lb rod that can be anywhere from 6’ to 10’ long, depending on the type of fishing you would be doing.
Then for your lighter set-ups if you were targeting smaller inshore species, then you should be looking at a 2000 or 2500 spinning reel, and a 4-8 lb rod that should be anywhere from 6’ to 8’ long.
Different methods to use for inshore fishing
There are many different methods that can be used while inshore fishing, and it really depends what species of fish you are targeting. Here are some of the most productive methods when fishing inshore:
We’ll start off with one of my favourite methods, and one that I have had a lot of success with then inshore fishing, and that’s fishing with lures.
One of the beauties of lure fishing is that you don’t have the mess and hassle that you have when you use normal bait. Plus, I find that when using lures you can move around a lot more freely and try different areas to find out where the fish are, rather than waiting for them to come to you.
One thing I have learned about lure fishing is that you should keep a range of different lures in your tackle box. Make sure you have some that are best for the bottom feeders, so mid-water lures and also some surface lures. Also make sure you have a variety of colors.
If you start fishing with one lure and have no success, try another lure. Keep going through your range of lures until you start to get interest from the feeding fish. It’s also a good idea to try and match the color of the baitfish around at the time with your lure.
Vary your retrieve with your lures as well. If you start of retrieving your lure slowly and get no interest, then mix it up and start retrieving a bit faster. It’s all about giving the fish what they want on the day, and what works one day may not work the next, so keep trying different things when fishing with lures.
If you have a small boat or a kayak, then trolling can be a very effective method when inshore fishing. You can use a variety of lures designed specifically for trolling, or even fashion some dead bait so that it can be used for trolling.
Fishing inshore often means that you can fish in shallower waters or sand flats, where fish can be seen swimming around. This gives you the opportunity to cast to the fish when you see them and offers a very exciting way to fish.
Sight fishing can be done in a number of ways. Fly fishing is one way to subtly present a bait to a fish you see. You can also cast a bait or lure to the fish, the trick is trying not to spook them though. It is important to use baits, lures, or flies that match the baitfish in the area you are fishing.
Surface fishing is one of the most exciting ways to fish, and when you are fishing inshore you have plenty of opportunity to use this method.
There are plenty of different types of surface lures you can use, from poppers to stick baits. The exhilaration when you see the big splash when a fish hits your lure should be an experience that every angler has.
If you prefer fly fishing, then this is also a very popular way to surface fish around sand flats and over shallow weed beds.
It can even be as simple as floating some bread on the surface as bait and waiting for any fish beneath to inhale the bread.
One of the most popular ways to fish inshore locations is bottom fishing. You use a sinker, and hook (or hooks) and your bait and cast it out and wait for the bites.
There are many different rigs you can use for bottom fishing, so it’s about using the one that best suits the conditions and location you are fishing in.
There are so many different baits you can use when bottom fishing. Below is an example of some popular baits, but certainly not limited to just these:
- Squid strips
- Fish strips
- Chicken (yes, chicken! Try it)
Tip: I have had great success cutting up chicken thigh into chunks (chicken thigh tends to stay on the hook better), and then soaking it in fish oil. It is a very versatile bait and attracts a range of species.
The above article is a brief outline of what inshore fishing is, but it really offers you so many options and opportunities to catch a wide range of fish. It also makes saltwater fishing very accessible and fun for anglers of all levels.