On The Rocks

By Capt. Michael Okruhlik

On the rocks is a great place to find summertime fish of all species. The cooler deep currents washing around and through miles of barnacle-encrusted granite provides an abundance of cover for bait and gamefish alike. The close proximity to open water draws both inshore and nearshore predators offering a vast array of opportunity for the jetty angler.

Some jetties offer easy walk-on access, while others are only accessible by boat. Both options require special caution to safety. If walking the rocks is your choice, any amount of green algae can create an instant slip hazard. This is something I’ve witnessed many times, and the result is always abrasions and bruises from the barnacles and sharp edges of the granite boulders. A simple safeguard against slipping is to wear spiked golf shoes, river shoes with studs, or my favorite and most economical, a simple 3/16-inch sheet metal screw. Simply screw several of these into the sole of your shoes, and you will have a much better grip on the rocks. Change these out before every trip, and you’ll enjoy a safe day on the rocks.

If you are fishing the jetties by boat, having a good anchor is paramount. Special attention also needs to be focused on the current and wind to ensure you will not swing into the rocks. Knowing the tide chart is also a must. A switch in tide direction and velocity can pull your anchor, creating an obvious safety concern.

Now to the catching! I would say live bait, specifically shrimp, is the most used bait when fishing the jetties, and for a good reason. All fish species find it hard to turn down a wounded shrimp. They can be fished on the bottom, under a popping cork or free lined. When dredging the bottom, make sure your hardware is on the sand and off the rocks. This is a good way to target flounder, redfish and black drum. I recommend using a #10 treble when fishing under a cork or freelining. The shrimp can be rigged under the horn or in the tail, and some people like to break the tail fin off to release a scent trail. This is a good technique for trout, sheepshead and Spanish mackerel.

There are many ways to fish shrimp under a cork, but the following is my favorite technique when fishing the jetties. Use a popping cork that is heavily weighted at the bottom. Tie your line to the top of the cork and also tie your leader to the top. A 3- to 5-foot leader is ideal. Depending on the strength of the current and the depth of the fish, a split shot can be placed a few feet above your #10 treble, or you can freeline under the cork. A 7-foot rod is a minimum length for walking the rocks.

Give the jetties a try this summer, be safe, and watch your footing while on the rocks.

Capt. Michael Okruhlik is the inventor of Controlled Descent Lures and the owner of www.MyCoastOutdoors.com.

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