Although it happens at times, as a rule fish can’t always be caught at your feet when you're land-based, and sometimes you need to go one step further to access them. This is where wading really shines as a tactic for the more adventurous shore angler.
The feeling of wading around well away from the shore is akin to that of fishing from a boat, in that you’re far removed from the majority of people and can easily get lost in the chase. It also puts you deep into a fishing environment and surrounded by marine life, and you soon learn to study bottom formations and pick up on subtle fish indicators. The more you do, the more you'll tune into the fishing and will get a rush of blood every time there’s a spray of bait, a large ripple, or a fish shoots off as you encroach on its personal space, and that's even before you get hooked-up to a screamer!
Wading the shallow to medium depths is a super productive pastime around much of the country where it's safe to do so. For many forms of fishing from flicking soft plastics for flathead and bream, through to casting baits and lures to whiting for example, wading does put you in the box seat for regular hot shore sessions!
Before going up to your armpits in the wet stuff getting your gear sorted for this fishing should be a priority. When wading there's a need to be both mobile and self-sufficient, which necessitates the need to carry a basic range of tools and terminal gear with you at all times. You don't want to walk several hundred metres back to shore every time you need to change a lure over for instance, as this will seriously eat at your available fishing time and energy levels.
A small backpack or bum bag with a functional selection of terminal bait or lure tackle, a bait bucket on a belt and a shoulder bag for your catch is some of the core gear you want to be carrying. For lure only sessions this can be reduced right down to a few lures, leader and Shimano Braid Scissors for instance, or maybe a small Environet as well if you feel necessary. Some bait anglers go the extra yards and even construct custom floating tubs that are tied around your waist and will hold your catch and other times, but they can restrict the ground you can cover somewhat.
A good set of polarised sunnies will tilt the odds further in your favour allowing your vision to cut through the glare opening up the piscatorial playground below the water surface. Wading anglers are privy to many clues around them that will point the way to your target species, by not rushing around and trying to spot as many fishy hints as you can, you'll improve your strike rate considerably.
While far from a fashion statement, yet an essential wading item in many areas, a set of goofy-looking rubber pants (AKA waders) will allow you to get in the water and actively seek out many fish species with bait or lure and will put you right in the thick of prime country for a host of popular species. Waders also allow you to fish grounds for a length of time that simply wouldn’t be comfortable without some sort of protection between you and the water/elements, especially in cooler more southern areas.
Most waders come with a small internal pocket and this is a great place to store a few easily accessed pieces of terminal tackle. A couple of lures, leader and snips for instance can get you a long way if you want a low-fuss luring session on lizards for example. All in all pack light and you should be able to keep on the move and find your quarry.
Besides this, all you need is your favourite Shimano outfit capable of long and accurate casts at any fish spotted or any structure/likely grounds you've spied.
The aim of the game when wading, like all fishing, is to fish smarter rather than harder. Many of the areas you'll fish wading are highly tidal, so the tides must come into your planning. Also it pays to have game plan in terms of the areas and features you want to focus on while the tide allows. Approaching a session like this will mean you won't need to walk a million miles in the water, and by the same token, make a million casts. Narrowing down where you fish and what you want to achieve from the session will make it a bunch more enjoyable and less draining physically.
For fish like flathead and whiting, to pluck out two popular targets, you want to be concentrating effort on any gutters, bait beds, drains, or around any obvious weedbeds or low reefy structures in the shallows where they may be holding and feeding. If you're looking to go after larger predators then finding areas where the bait is holding, or working obvious structures, drop-offs and edges could be the main tactic. Wading fishos soon learn quickly that fish of all sizes can be caught in not much water, so don't think you need to fish deep to necessary get your rod bent as fish will be pushing close to shore, especially on an incoming or high tide.
All is not lost when the water is low with this fishing. Sure you may need to trudge through more mud to reach them, but many areas have sweet drop-back fishing where the fish can be holding on low water, or when the tide is dropping. Some fish like whiting can actually be easier to catch when there's less water on a flat as it can concentrate them.
Both bait and lure anglers should remain active. Bait fishos can keep on the move if they're not getting the results they want or after catching a couple of fish. Some species of fish can soon spook in the shallows, and moving and accumulating a catch is typically how this fishing plays out, rather than necessarily bagging out in the one area.
Getting in the water after your fish is a brilliant way for shore anglers to get in touch with their target species and go above and beyond what a lot of fishos do, and the results you get wading the shallows often speak for themselves!