Jetties are striped bass magnets. Not only do they provide a haven for crabs, blackfish and other striper snacks, jetties make obstructions for moving baitfish and develop present breaks and rip lines where stripers can stage and feed.
Technically, a jetty is rocky structure that extends from the shoreline adjacent to an inlet, river or harbor mouth to prevent the primary channel from shifting too far. The rocky structures I’ll be talking about in this column, the ones that extend off of open beaches to stem disintegration, are technically called “groins,” but for fishing purposes– and to prevent phrases like “plugging groins” and “groin safety”– we’ll call them jetties.
Beachfront jetties have the tendency to be much shorter than inlet jetties. The existing characteristics are also various. While inlet jetties have currents that run parallel to the jetty, beachfront jetties are subjected to currents that move perpendicular to the structure. Beachfront jetties are also based on more waves and browse than jetties surrounding inlets.
New Jersey surfcasters are no strangers to jetties. In Ocean City, where I got my surfcasting start, there is a jetty at the end of every block for the northern most 2 miles of the island. Think me when I inform you, I’ve fished them all. Most of the jetties held stripers sometimes, a few of the jetties almost always had a fish or 2 prowling there, and a couple jetties never gave up a fish.
I studied many of these jetties at low tide during the day, even snorkeling a few to attempt to identify what made some hotspots and some losers.
In the beginning, I figured, the bigger the jetty, the more structure, the much better the fishing. But this wasn’t constantly the case. One of my preferred jetties was called the “Swelling Jetty” because it was little more than a swelling of rocks, yet it constantly appeared to have a fish or more.
Depth seemed to have a certain impact on which jetties produced best. Some jetties had shallow sand flats surrounding them while others had deep, dugout holes right beside the rocks and much deeper water all around it.
Essential, however, was present circulation around the jetty. Jetties that had stronger currents had deeper water and more fish, while jetties with less existing collected sand and had shallow, lifeless water.
Proximity to an inlet will affect the currents around the jetties, as will jetty spacing. Where the jetties were bunched carefully together in Ocean City, the jetty on the down-current side typically had the current obstructed totally. Unsurprisingly, the single best jetty was the one closest to the inlet, which had the greatest current.
Fishing jetties needs somewhat various surfcasting devices than fishing off the beach. For one, you won’t require a 10- or 11-foot browse rod if you’re planning on tossing lures. In most cases the bass will be tight to the rocks or just off the tip, and a long cast will not be necessary. Plus, when a connected fish gets close and it’s time to maneuver it into the rocks to land, longer browse rods can be cumbersome. For my jetty fishing, I use 8- and 9-foot rods in various actions depending upon what I’m tossing. There are exceptions obviously. When prize stripers are harassing big bunker off the ideas of jetties in early summer, you’ll want all the range you can get. You might also wish to carry along a long-handled net or gaff to land fish on jetties with treacherous footing or that are high off the water. A short-handled lip gaff or lip-gripping tool can likewise be practical in securing your catch and dragging it onto the rocks.
The majority of my jetty clothing are rigged with 30-pound-test braided line. While the jetty itself presents a risk for tearing and cutting line, the waters surrounding jetties are generally obstruction-free. There was one time, nevertheless, when I hooked a big striper off the suggestion of one Ocean City jetty only to have it swindle adequate line to cut me off on the rocks of the next jetty down!
I like a longer, 40- to 48-inch leader of 30- to 50-pound test monofilament or fluorocarbon on the jetties. The longer leader permits me to cover the line around my hand and wrangle the fish to the rocks without needing to get too near to the water or cut my hands with the braided line.
My all-time favorite jetty lures are poppers. When there is some browse, jetties are a quite noisy place, with waves smacking rocks and whitewater and spray flying in every direction, so a cup-faced popper that makes a lot of commotion makes certain to obtain a striper’s attention. Designs like the Stillwater Smack-It, Yo-Zuri Mag Popper, Creek Chub Striper Strike and Atom Striper Swiper were my favorites for casting from jetties. Bucktails, swim shads, 5- to 7-inch soft-plastic stickbaits and 4- to 6-inch minnow-style swimming plugs and 1-ounce metal-lip swimmers are other effective daytime lures.
After dark, I’ll up-size my lures. My nighttime jetty lures consist of 7-inch Bombers and Red Fins, 1-ounce Yo-Zuri Mag Darters, 2-ounce metal-lip swimmers and 7- to 9-inch Slug-Gos and Hogys.
When I show up on a jetty I want to fish, I do my best to overlook the desire to go straight to the idea and start casting. I make my first couple of casts from the sand at the base of the jetty, casting parallel to the rocks. I’ll fish both sides and make a couple lure modifications, starting with a popper and switching to a soft plastic or swimming plug. Ten minutes is all you’ll need to determine whether or not a striper exists. When I fished the jetties with my previous boss, Ed Bronstein of Fin-atic’s Marine Supply in Ocean City, we would alternate who got the first cast when we approached a jetty, since that first cast typically led to a fish or a hit.
From the base, I work my way out along the rocks, stopping every 10 feet to fan cast. When I make my way out to the tip, I spend a good quantity of time there, switching lures and thoroughly working the rip, current breaks and eddies that form there.
Depending upon the size and popularity of the jetty, if I see another person fishing on it, I’ll proceed to the next one– not without slipping in a few casts parallel to the jetty from the sand, though. Many anglers walk right past this productive area to get to the end. On huge or greatly fished jetties, I have no issue signing up with an angler or group of anglers. If everybody understands where and when the other fishermen are casting, there’s no reason they can’t fish together. Sometimes, on the walk back, that jetty will be uninhabited and I’ll have the ability to fish it then.
Waders are not a necessity when jetty fishing– some would even call them unsafe due to their ability to fill with water needs to and angler slip and fall off the rocks. I wear waders when jetty fish- inin the spring and fall, however I’m constantly sure to have a surf belt securely cinched around my waist, and often, some sort of rain coat on. In the summertime, a swimsuit is just great. No matter what I’m using, I ensure to have some type of metal studs on my soles for traction. When using waders, Korkers boots with studded soles or jetty cleats that can be strapped onto other boots all work well. When fishing in the summer, I wear a hard-soled neoprene bootie with Korkers sandals strapped onto them.