Whether you're trying inshore saltwater fishing for the first time or haven't been too successful with it in the past, brushing up on a few basic tips should go a long way toward making the experience as enjoyable and successful as possible. As with any type of fishing, relying on luck alone is a surefire way to come home empty-handed. Experiment with the following tips, and your inshore saltwater fishing game should improve considerably in no time.
Use Strong, New Monofilament - Sure, having to swap out the monofilament constantly gets old fast. However, old monofilament is weak monofilament. With this type of fishing, you need something strong and durable to avoid the heartbreak of reeling in a big one and watching the line snap right in front of you. When the monofilament starts feeling rough and/or looking dull, replace it with new stuff.
Understand the Nuances of Tidal Currents - It's easy to assume that tidal currents follow the tide. However, that's often not the case. Near channel entrances, inlets and the like, in particular, tidal currents can lag behind tides significantly. Fish in the are are likely to respond more to the speed and direction of the movement of the water than to the height of the tide, so keep this in mind to reel in the fish you want the most.
Invest in Strong, Durable Equipment - If you've mostly gone fishing in freshwater in the past, this is a biggie. Saltwater wreaks havoc on fishing gear. The water is highly corrosive, so low-quality, inexpensive gear tends to become rusted and worn quickly. Also, the water is rougher and more turbid, so more strain is put on reels and the like. Stick with 10-pound test monofilament lines, and use spinning reels whenever possible. In terms of materials, stainless steel and titanium are excellent choices.
Keep Live Bait in Good Shape - When using live bait, good water circulation is a must. Incoming water is ideal, but it's not always an option. Using an aerator is a good alternative. If you absolutely must keep the bait in a bucket or the like, change the water frequently to remove waste and to keep it sufficiently oxygenated.
Purchase Noisy Lures - If the water where you're fishing is noisy or especially turbid, use noisy lures. They work much better at attracting fish and stand out way more than standard lures.
Protect the Reel After Use - After using a reel in saltwater for hours, it's crucial to rinse it and clean it as much as you can. Even if it's a high-quality reel, corrosion could set in without doing so. When you're done fishing, soak the reel in a bucket of clean, fresh water for several hours.
Find Hotspots with Current Marine Charts - Avoid wasting a lot of time by investing in decent, up-to-date marine maps and charts. These will point you in the direction of hotspots for inshore saltwater fishing in your area.
Use Bright, Shiny Lures - As nice as it would be to use the same lures for years on end, the truth is they start fading over time. For saltwater fishing in particular, it pays to use bright, new lures that really stand out from the surface of the water. Make them stay brighter longer by soaking them in fresh, clean water for a few hours after you're done.
While these tips won't guarantee your success while inshore saltwater fishing, they're a good place to start. As you gain more experience, you'll be able to figure out which ones work for you and which don't. What tips do you have for anyone trying their hand at inshore saltwater fishing? Share them in the comments below!