How to Fish Brackish Water

Are you looking to fish brackish water for the first time? As this can be a little different from other environments, look at our tips for how to fish brackish water successfully.

Have you been fishing for some time? Have you found that you always go to the same freshwater or saltwater locations?

Perhaps you are finding it a little boring just going for the same type of fish all the time. Are you looking for a bit of a challenge or to land different species of fish, without having to travel to various locations? 

Brackish water fishing can give you that kind of experience. If brackish water fishing is something you find attractive, but you want to know how to fish brackish water successfully, you’ve come to the right place.

In the following post we will provide brackish fishing tips, but before we dive into that, let’s look briefly at what brackish water is and where it can be found.

brackish water

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Wait! What’s Brackish Water?

You may be used to fishing specifically in bodies of water regarded as being either freshwater, with a low salinity level or saltwater, that obviously has much higher levels of salt.

Brackish water is, therefore, somewhere in between. It has higher salt levels than freshwater, but lower salt levels that saline water. 

If you want to get technical, it’s water with around 0.5 to 30g of salt in every liter. So, in general, brackish is a term that applies to various salinity regimes and is therefore not really considered a firmly defined water condition.

In fact, the actual level of salt in so-called brackish water can vary quite a lot over a large area and over time.

For a more in-depth explanation, don’t miss our guide explaining all things brackish water.

Where’s it Found?

Now you understand what brackish water is, if you’re interested in brackish water fishing, you need to know where to find it. As noted, brackish water is a middle point between fresh and saltwater in terms of its salinity. Therefore, it makes sense that estuaries are the bodies of water most commonly where brackish water can be found, as this is where freshwater meets seawater. 

Estuaries are those wide and generously sized river mouths where the water traveling along a river leads into the sea. Some of the most notable estuaries in the world include the one at East River, San Francisco Bay and Chesapeake Bay here in the US, and others across the world include the Amazon, the River Thames, and the Nile. 

Swamps are rightly considered to be brackish sources of water and contain salinity levels that fluctuate and have unique eco-systems with a wide range of different aquatic life. There are some larger bodies of waters such as lakes and seas considered to be brackish waters too. The Baltic Sea, for instance, is another example.

Although it is called the Caspian ‘Sea’, the famous body of water is a lake and one of the most popular brackish water lakes. 

brackish estuary

Tips on Fishing Brackish Water

Now you know what brackish water is and where it can be found, it’s time to really dig into some tips to help you have success when out there brackish water fishing.

  • Speak to Locals Who Know the Area Well

As brackish regions can vary highly from season to season, it is hard to learn the various ins and outs of specific estuaries and river mouths, so speak to local fishing experts. Even local staff at bait shops will be able to tell you where best to cast off depending on which type of fish you are looking to catch and when.

  • Analyze the Temperature of the Water

One of the biggest influences on fish movements is the temperature of the water. If you learn the temperature range a species of fish you are looking to catch prefers, you’ll have a better understanding of their behavior and movements. 

Take, for example, channel catfish, that prefer water with a temperature from 82 to 89-degrees Fahrenheit. So, if you’re looking to land some catfish, avoid fishing in waters higher than that temperature range.

  • Keep the Current and Tidal Flow In Mind

Similarly, when you’re fishing in saltwater sources, the current and tidal flow are vitally important. When you are planning on fishing in a specific body of water, find out if there is an accompanying tidal chart for it. This may make the difference between having success fishing there, as you’ll know when the tide is falling or rising. 

  • Arm Yourself With the Right Lures and Baits for Fishing Brackish Waters

Two of the best natural baits that work well when fishing brackish waters are finger mullet and shrimp. However, if you prefer to use more artificial rigs, then topwater poppers, bucktail jigs, and spoons may give you the success you’re after.

  • Take Along the Right Gear

In line with the above tip, you will want to make sure you invest in and take along the right gear when fishing brackish water. It should be heavier than the equipment you’d use when fishing in freshwater bodies. Tarpon, snook and red drum are three examples of some of the largest and toughest fighters you’re likely to face off against. 

Look to using something like a 7ft fishing rod with a medium-heavy build and pair that with a medium-heavy fishing reel. Ideally, you should have it spooled with at least a 10 to 12lb test line, tying it on 2 to 3ft of the test leader material. 

  • Fish From Bridges 

Fishing from bridges is perhaps the most effective and certainly the most popular way of fishing brackish waters. The best way to approach this is to use a shrimp-bait and drop it with as much weight as possible to ensure it reaches the bottom of the shaded water underneath the bridge. However, suspending the bait, such as live minnows is also an effective technique. 

You need to be careful that the live fish you use doesn’t get tangled up in the line while it swims.


New to fishing? Don’t miss our fishing glossary! We explain all those technical terms that you didn’t understand!

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