Burned out on the same old lakes and rivers in your area? From the Carolinas all the way to Texas there are millions of freshwater anglers who live within a couple of hours of a whole new world of fishing, inland saltwater bays, marshes and bayous. It really doesn’t take a lot of new gear to make an occasional inland salt trip using your everyday bass equipment. There are a myriad of bass lures that will certainly take multiple species of saltwater fish. Flounder, trout, and redfish react just like their freshwater counterparts to topwater, jigs, spoons, spinnerbaits and the like. The key to this crossover style fishing is preparation and common sense.
It’s no secret that saltwater corrosion is the biggest concern especially on boat components. I know several anglers who “occasionally” use their bass boat for a quick day or two saltwater trip. Heck a lot of great inshore fishing is easily done from a Kayak or Jon Boat. Larger boat owners can search out areas that are brackish or salt/fresh mixed to reduce some of the effects. Sealing an outboard motor with a corrosion resistant spray before going for the first time can help reduce engine wiring connector corrosion for example. A thorough soaking of the entire boat with freshwater to rinse salt deposits is needed as well as flushing the motor at idle speed with a muff style hose connection device for at least 10 minutes - to reduce corrosion. Any decent bass rod and reel whether spinning or casting that is suitable for bass will suffice for light saltwater. All rods and reels that are NOT saltwater rated should be thoroughly rinsed and lubricated after a salt trip.
Location, Location, Location. If you are heading to a new area maybe consider hiring a guide the first time out and learn the area. Todays GPS units can help keep you out of trouble but always proceed in a new area with caution until you learn the water. Pay attention to what others seem to be doing around you and adapt similar techniques. Be a bird watcher, diving birds are a serious fish finder and can pay off big. Study any online information you can of local fishing reports, news articles etc. and do your due diligence on google maps or similar satellite photos that may speedup your location searches.
Basically you’ll be looking for areas that either provide structure/depth changes or current flows and eddies just like you’d expect. Saltwater fish really react to tidal changes that either push or pull water into/out of flats, tributaries, jetties, etc.
Soft lures that simulate a shrimp or baitfish work well on a lead head jig only or suspended underneath a popping cork and are always a good choice. Hardbaits like jerkbaits, rattlestyle baits, walking baits and chuggers are great early or late in the day. Always experiment with different retrieve speeds and lure presentations until you discover what will work.
All-in-all crossing over from fresh to saltwater can bring a new adventure if you are burned out on your local lakes. Make sure you have all proper licenses and required equipment per state and area regulations and know your creel limits. A brochure or phone app to identify salt fishes if you are a newbie is also helpful.
Until next time…Fish On! Be sure to check back each Tuesday for new tips from our expert staff and pro staff around the country.