If you don’t have access to a boat and are looking for someplace to fish from the shore, then fishing from the jetties is an option you should consider. It’s a common question for us shore bound anglers: How can I catch fish from shore? Fishing from the jetties is can be a great place to try. And, when conditions are right, you can catch a lot of fish from the jetties
One of the great things about fishing from the jetties, or piers, is that you get to stay dry.
Face it, when the water is cold or rough it’s not much fun to be wade fishing or, in many cases, even fun to be fishing from a boat.
Fishing from the jetties gives you an opportunity to fish when you might otherwise have to call the trip off.
And, even when the weather is nice and the water warm, fishing from the jetties is great for those who would just rather stay dry and out of the water. Like piers, they can get crowded at times so you will need to bring your patience and your manners as you most likely will be sharing the jetties with other fisherman.
At a Glance:
Jetties are constructed primarily of rocks and or granite and essentially become a long man made reef that attracts fish of all kinds to the structure. Either for protection or to pursue prey that seek shelter in and around the rocks. When fishing from the jetties, you have a wide variety of areas to fish from currents, eddies, pockets, holes and the rocks themselves. And at various depths along the jetty. Along with the bait that is attracted to the jetties, this can make for an awesome fishing destination.
What is Jetty Fishing?
The first thing we need to cover is: What is a Jetty? According to the Britannica, A jetty is any of a variety of engineering structures connected with river, harbor, and coastal works designed to influence the current or tide or to protect a harbor or beach from waves (breakwater). The two principal kinds of jetties are those constructed at river mouths and other coastal entrances and those used for the berthing of ships in harbors and offshore where harbor facilities are not available.
Jetties are man made structures usually made of rocks and or granite blocks that extend out into the water from shore. Sometimes for hundreds of yards. Found mostly around harbor inlets of offshore dock facilities, these rock structures act like a natural reef system attracting forage species and the predators that feed on them.
Jetties are used to protect harbors, inlets and beaches from waves and erosion much like a breakwater at a marina.
The water on the outside of the jetties can often times be much rougher and ominous than the relatively protected waters inside the jetty system.
Fishing from the jetties is just like it sounds. It’s where you haul all of your gear with you and walk out onto a jetty and start fishing. Sometimes the walking can be a bit hazardous. Waves splashing on the rocks grow moss and algae that are very slick, and the uneven surface of the rocks can trip you up if you’re not paying attention.
Now, fishing from the jetties may not be for everyone. Because most of the time you will be carrying all of your gear and supplies to your fishing spot. You will need to be able to walk on the uneven and sometimes slick rocks. And, you are venturing out into the open water where, when it gets rough, a wave could sweep you off your feet and into the water in an instant.
With all that said, I have had some awesome days fishing from the jetties.
It’s not overly complicated, there are fish there year round. And, if you explore the structure, you can find a variety of fishing options.
Too rough on one side, fish the other. No luck close to shore, move further out on the jetty.
How to Fish on the Jetties
Fishing from the jetties can be a great option for the shore bound angler. There’s the structure of the jetty that attracts bait which in turn, attracts predators. The wind, waves and tides produce holes, currents and eddies that also attract and hold fish. And, you can catch a variety of fish. Everything from sheepshead, redfish, trout, sharks, Spanish mackerel and even tarpon from the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico to halibut and rockfish from the cold waters of the pacific northwest.
Keep in mind however, that just because there is a pile of rocks extending out into the water doesn’t mean you will find fish wherever you decide to start fishing. Certain areas and structures along the jetties will attract and hold fish better than others and at different times based on factors such as tides, winds, waves, currents and structure along and around the jetty.
Fishing From the Jetties – Structure
1.) Deeper Water: Fishing from the jetties offers access to much deeper water than you can typically reach fishing from shore. The further you walk out on the jetties the deeper the water will generally become and, on the channel side of the jetties it can be much deeper to allow for ship traffic in and out of the harbor or inlet. Sometimes, these deeper water areas will be where the fish are holding.
2.) Rocks: When fishing from the jetties you are essentially fishing from a long man made reef.
These rock structures provide areas for algae, barnacles, crabs, shellfish and bait fish to grow and seek protection.
This food chain will then attract predators to the buffet. At the jetties, there are always fish in the area.
3.) Currents and Eddies: The wind, waves and tides can create a significant amount of current in and around the jetties. The rocks offer a break in these currents forming eddies that bait use to escape these strong currents. Of course, the predators will take advantage of these currents and eddies to pursue their prey. Checking along the length of the jetties, as well as both sides, you can locate these changes in current.
4.) Holes: The currents and wave actions along the jetties will cause erosion in different areas of the bottom adjacent to the jetty creating deeper holes that will often hold fish. You will just have to do some exploring, or ask some of the regulars, to find these deeper holes. Keep in mind the ocean bottom is always changing dependent on these currents. Where the hole is this week, may be a sandbar next week.
The good news is that even though you are limited to fishing the length of the jetty, you can find a wide range of structure to fish if you are willing to do a little walking and scouting. Quality fish can be found within easy casting distance of the jetties as predators seek bait that is hugging close to the rocks for protection.
Tides and Fishing from the Jetties
Tides can affect your fishing success and decisions when fishing from the jetties. Incoming and outgoing tides can create strong currents that will potentially move bait and the fish that feed on them.
In addition, often time the outgoing tide will pull muddy or murky water from inshore out through the jetties. In that case, you may need to switch and fish the outside of the jetties to find cleaner water and fish.
On the other side of the coin, the incoming tide will often bring cleaner cooler water from offshore into and through the jetties which will often bring fish in closer to shore as well.
Tidal movement, either in or out, will produce currents and eddies which fish will utilize for feeding and resting from the current.
So, which tide is best for fishing from the jetties? You can probably guess my answer, “It Depends.”
Generally speaking, fishing is better when there is some tidal movement, either in or out. The currents can move bait out of the protection of the rocks where predators can grab an easy meal.
|For More Info on Fishing and Tides|
|Read: Surf Fishing and the Tides|
Remember, the fish economy is basically: Don’t expend more energy than you consume and that goes for both bait and predator. Bait will seek protection from having to swim against the current in the rocks or eddies formed by the jetties.
Predators will seek these eddies to also not have to expend so much energy swimming against the current.
And, they will wait for bait that ventured to far from the protection of the rocks. Then get caught in the current to be swept right to them making an easy meal.
The outgoing tide can suck bait out from the bays and harbor and the water will tend to be warmer but often murkier. Incoming tides can bring larger predator species in much closer to shore and the jetties making for some exciting action. The water will also tend to be cleaner and cooler with an incoming tide.
In short, no matter the tide, you can still catch fish from the jetties so just be mobile and observant. Look for eddies, fish feeding activity and or bait. Or other anglers catching fish, just please don’t crowd in on them. Look for similar structure and what bait and fishing technique they are having success with.
Best Times for Fishing the Jetties
The best time for fishing from the jetties is best when there is strong tidal movement at or near dawn or dusk. It’s best to target the tidal movements even when they don’t line up with dawn or dusk. Slack tide is typically very slow. No current to move the bait and it can get down deep in the crevices between the rocks making in very hard for the predators to get at.
As a general rule, the Best Fishing Times will be:
- One hour before and one hour after high tides, and one hour before and one hour after low tides. …
- During the “morning rise” (after sunup for a spell) and the “evening rise” (just before sundown and the hour or so after).
- During the rise and set of the Moon.
- When the barometer is steady or on the rise.
|For More Info on Fishing at Night|
|Read: 11 Tips for Surf Fishing at Night|
The moon phase can affect jetty fishing as well. Moon phases will affect timing and strength of tidal movements and some have theorized that during the full moon fish use the extra light to feed during the night and not as much during the day. I can’t confirm or deny that, but it is something to consider and test for yourself.
That will of course depend on where you are in the world, what time of year, and the species available at the time.
Along the gulf of Mexico coast, you can catch every thing from pin perch, sheepshead, speckled trout, redfish, black drum, mackerel, sharks, rays and sometimes even tarpon.
What Can You Catch Fishing from the Jetties?
Check with your local bait and tackle shops for what’s available in your area.
Or, join the local fishing forums online and get some firsthand information from actual fishermen in your area.
If you have jetties, you will have some fish around them somewhere.
What Do You Need to Fish the Jetties
Fishing from the jetties offers a variety of species and fishing techniques. And, each will require some different gear. For speckled trout, Spanish mackerel or stripers chasing bait along the jetties a good 6 – 7 ft medium to medium heavy spinning or bait casting outfit will do.
If big black drum or redfish is what your after, a heavy action 9-10 ft rod paired with a 6000 – 8000 series spinning reel loaded with 30 lb mono or braided line will be more the order of the day. If its large sharks or tarpon you’re seeking, then you better scale up your tackle again. Penn Senator with 100lb braid on a rod with some serious backbone will give you the best chance of landing some of the big toothy creatures that frequent the end of the jetties.
What bait to fish the jetties
With such a variety of fish available fishing from the jetties, you can catch them on a wide range of baits, both artificial and natural. Lures like spoons, plastic bait fish or shrimp imitations, swimming plugs and yes, even top waters can be good choices.
Natural baits, whether live or dead, will depend on what species you are targeting and are always a good choice. Again, you local bait and tackle shops will be you best bet for what’s biting and what they’re biting on. If you are bottom fishing, keep in mind that you may need a surf spider weight to hold your bait in place against the current.
Otherwise, you end up washed into the rocks. And that’s not fun, not to mention it can get expensive. Hook sizes will change depending on what species you are targeting. Just a quick recommendation: change out the treble hooks on your artificials for single circle hooks. The single hook will be less likely to hang up on the rocks and, with a circle hook, fish hook themselves on the strike.
What do you need to fish from a jetty?
Jetty Fishing Gear Checklist:
- at least two rods – one may break and it’s a long walk back to the car.
- A good pair of slip resistant shoes – Golf shoes can be good
- Tackle Box or tackle backpack – with asst. Hooks, weights, lures, and leaders
- Bait and or Bait bucket
- Filleting knife.
- Long Nose Pliers.
- Lip Grips to hold the fish for a photo and for safely releasing fish
- Long Handled Landing Net – easier to land the fish without getting wet
- Polarized Sunglasses to see into the water.
- Insect repellent.
- Broad Brim Hat or Cap.
- An old towel to hold the fish and wipe your hands.
- A current Fish Measuring device
- A fold up chair
- Small cooler for Drinking water and snacks.
|For Info on Fishing Tackle Backpacks|
|Read: Best Surf Fishing Tackle Bags|
It’s a lot to carry I know, making it all the more important that you do some research and planning before you head out. A good beach cart may help, it the rocks are not too uneven. Otherwise, a good fishing tackle backpack is your best bet.
Some Jetty Fishing Tips
Carry at least two fishing rods with you. If you break one either by slipping and falling, or by a big fish, it is usually a long walk back to your vehicle to get a replacement. Plus, by carrying several rods, you can fish for several species and use different baits and techniques.
Wear Slip resistant shoes. The jetty rocks can get slick as ice with just a little water.
Be extremely careful and get a good pair of shoes that will grip even when wet.
Those rocks are unforgiving and nobody wants to carry you back with a broken bone.
Always pay attention to your surroundings. The weather can change quickly and cause waves to build and wash up on to or over the jetties. One rouge wave and you could find yourself swimming.
Talk to the local bait & tackle shops. It’s there business to know what’s biting and how to catch them. You can get a lot of good information while you purchase some bait and gear. Don’t forget to go online and search for some local fishing forums. There you can interact with actual local fisherman and get some good firsthand information.
Beach Fishing vs Jetty Fishing
Fishing from the Jetties is a great alternative to beach fishing particularly when the surf is rough and or when the water is just to dang cold for wading. You can stay dry and warm on the jetties and still have a good chance at catching some fish. The jetties, like piers, can get crowded, especially when the fish are biting, so be prepared to share the rocks with others.
Beach fishing gives you more options for fishing locations as you are able to travel up and down the beach. You also have a much better chance at avoiding some of the crowds.
And, if you can drive on the beach, it is much easier to get all of your gear to the fishing hole. But, more than likely, you at some point will get wet when beach fishing. You, your gear and your vehicle will need more clean up after a beach fishing trip as well.
The structure provided by the jetties attracts fish year round and by walking the jetties you can find areas of deeper water, currents, eddies and bait concentrations that will increase your chances of finding fish. Jetties can be dangerous when the current is running strong and the waves are crashing against the rocks. So, be careful, and always keep an eye out on mother ocean. A stray wave can sweep you off the rocks and out to sea in no time. Of course, you could also try pier fishing if the jetties become too dangerous.
Jetties – Another Great Place to Fish
If you’re a shore bound angler, you should check out the opportunities for fishing from the jetties. Those long piles of rocks and granite attract and hold fish of all kinds. And, you can fish while staying high and dry which is nice, especially when the water is cold and or rough. Always check the weather first, rough seas can sweep you off the jetty or the spray from the waves can make the rocks extra slick making walking very treacherous.
They can get crowded at times, like fishing from a pier, but that usually means the fishing is, or at least has been, good.
Grab your gear and take a walk out on the rocks. Everyday fishing is a good day, and you might just catch some fish.
Be social, be courteous of the other fisherman and take the time to watch what the successful ones are doing. There is always more we can all learn.
As always, stay safe, enjoy the journey and please try to leave it cleaner than you found it. If you have any comments, questions, ideas or suggestions please leave them in the comment section below and I’ll get back to you asap. You can follow us on Facebook: Rex The Beach Angler, Instagram: thebeachangler7, Twitter: @AnglerBeach, and YouTube: Man Art Creations.
A life long surf fisherman with 50+ years of experience, I am also an avid hunter and outdoorsman. I will be sharing my passion for the outdoors with you so be prepared for hunting, fishing, camping, hiking and more. Along with gear reviews and the latest trends and innovations in the outdoor industry.