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Let There Be Rocks: Tune Into Southern Jetty Fishing

Find a wide range of saltwater gamefish willing to bite near these five fishing destinations.

Let There Be Rocks: Tune Into Southern Jetty Fishing

Light tackle is often the ticket for many species that gravitate to jetties. Jetties across the south offer an abundance of opportunity for a wide range of saltwater gamefish species. (Photo by John N. Felsher)

Built to mark and maintain shipping channels and passes, jetties offer outstanding fish habitat as they provide food and protection for any number of gamefish.

"Most jetties are composed of stone or concrete, which is a great substrate for growing barnacles, algae and vegetation," says Marie Head, a biologist with the Alabama Marine Resources Division. "This provides food for invertebrates, like crabs and shrimp, and fish species alike."


With so much available structure, it's easy to understand why jetties are fish magnets. Practically any jetties can supply good fishing opportunities at various times throughout the year, but a few stand out.

Here are our picks for the South's finest jetty fishing.



GALVESTON BAY, TEXAS

Begun in 1874, granite jetties define the entrance to Galveston Bay between the Bolivar Peninsula and Galveston Island near the town of Galveston. Among the longest jetties in the world, the south jetty extends 6 1/2 miles into the Gulf of Mexico and the north jetty stretches about 5 miles. In addition, anglers can fish a nearby structure that juts nearly 5 miles into Galveston Bay.

SPECIES AND TIMING

  • Black Drum: Year-round
  • Flounder: March to May; October to November
  • Redfish: Year-round; August to October is best
  • Sharks: May to September
  • Sheepshead: Year-round; March to April is best
  • Speckled Trout: March to October
Fishing-Destinations-Southern-Jetties
Galveston jetty during storm. (Shutterstock image)

How To Fish It

As is true for most jetties, the Galveston jetties hold fish all year long and many locals also crab from the rocks. Some of the best fishing is found at the North Jetty Boat Cut, a break that allows water to flow through and gives boaters a shortcut. Redfish and black drum are local favorites. To catch them, fish the downstream side of the cut with live bait on Carolina rigs (for redfish, especially). For black drum, tempt them using cut baitfish or crabs. Live shrimp fished on the bottom will catch species like trout and flounder.

While In The Area

Many people enjoy visiting the Galveston Island beaches and the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge. You can also spend time at Moody Gardens or Schlitterbahn Waterpark. For those who enjoy museums, give the Texas Seaport Museum, Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig & Museum and the Galveston Railroad Museum a visit. For more information, visit galveston.com.

Fishing-Destinations-Southern-Jetties
Some jetties extend well offshore and attract fish year-round, making them prime spots for anglers with and without a boat. (Shutterstock image)

SABINE PASS, TEXAS/LOUISIANA

Forming part of the Louisiana-Texas border, Sabine Pass connects the Gulf of Mexico with Sabine Lake south of Port Arthur, Texas—one of the top trophy trout and flounder fisheries in the region. Two granite structures extend about 3 miles into the gulf.

SPECIES AND TIMING

  • Black Drum: Year-round
  • Flounder: March to May; October to November
  • Redfish: Year-round; August to October is best
  • Sharks: May to September
  • Sheepshead: Year-round; March to April is best
  • Speckled Trout: March to October
Fishing-Destinations-Southern-Jetties
Fishing scene from Lake Sabine, Texas. (Shutterstock image)

How To Fish It

Almost like fishing a shoreline, many anglers drift the rocks, tossing topwaters or jigs tipped with plastics for trout, flounder and redfish. A popping cork dangling a live shrimp or baitfish floating next to the rocky edges makes a great temptation for many species.

For bull reds and monster black drum, free-line live or cut mullet, menhaden, croakers or other baitfish. A whole or cracked crab on a Carolina rig also works well. Put the bait just outside the rocks. You might also catch the occasional shark and other fish on the same baits.

While In The Area

During the Civil War, Union and Confederate soldiers fought for control of Sabine Pass. The Sabine Pass Battleground State Historic Site is a great place to learn about the conflict. Also check out the Museum of the Gulf Coast in Port Arthur, Texas, or drop by the historic Sabine Pass Lighthouse. Numerous wilderness areas dot both sides of the state line. For more information on Texas, go to visitportarthurtx.com; for Louisiana, go to visitlakecharles.org.

Fishing-Destinations-Southern-Jetties
Sheepshead are drawn to jetties for the barnacles and other tasty treats that grow on the rocks. (Photo by John N. Felsher)

PERDIDO PASS, ALABAMA

Perdido Pass separates Alabama Point from Florida Point at the mouth of the Perdido River and connects Perdido Bay with the Gulf of Mexico to the south. Two concrete jetties (the east and west jetties) run about 1,800 feet toward each other. Sand now covers significant parts of both jetties, particularly the east jetty.

SPECIES AND TIMING

  • Black Drum: Year-round
  • Flounder: March to May; October to November
  • Pompano: March to October
  • Redfish: Year-round
  • Sharks: May to September
  • Sheepshead: Year-round; March to April is best
  • Spanish Mackerel: May to October
  • Speckled Trout: March to October




How To Fish It

Many anglers without boats walk out onto the rocks to fish the structures, particularly during the spring sheepshead run. Sheepshead love hard structures where they eat barnacles and other morsels. They spawn from February through April. Live shrimp, small blue crabs or fiddlers on free lines, jigheads or popping corks all excel here.

For redfish, sharks, drum, Spanish mackerel and other large predators, fish a free line sweetened with a live mullet, menhaden or croaker. Sharks traditionally start showing up in mid-April and stay through summer.

The west jetty sits in deeper water and traditionally holds more fish, but pompano prefer the east jetty and its sandy surroundings. Ghost shrimp are favored forage here. When they spawn, their eggs turn bright orange, and many people use red or orange beads or jigheads to imitate ghost shrimp eggs.

While In The Area

Orange Beach and Gulf Shores offer all the recreational, lodging, dining and entertainment amenities common to resort beach communities. Visitors can play golf, hike trails in Gulf State Park, go to a zoo and occasionally compete in mullet tosses. History lovers might visit Fort Morgan, which defended Mobile Bay during the Civil War. For more information, visit gulfshores.com.


SEBASTIAN INLET, FLORIDA

Sebastian Inlet connects the Indian River Lagoon to the Atlantic Ocean about halfway between Melbourne and Vero Beach. The north jetty extends about a thousand feet into the ocean. The south jetty juts out about 575 feet.

SPECIES AND TIMING

  • Cobia: March to April; July to August
  • Flounder: October to February
  • King Mackerel: January to April; July to December
  • Mangrove Snapper: November to April
  • Pompano: November to April
  • Redfish: June to October
  • Snook: June to October
  • Speckled Trout: April to October
Fishing-Destinations-Southern-Jetties
Aerial view of the Sebastian Inlet during sunrise. (Shutterstock image)

How To Fish It

Well known for its trophy redfish and speckled trout, the Indian River Lagoon system runs about 156 miles north and south along the coast. It ranges from a half-mile to 5 miles wide.

Anglers without boats can walk atop the south jetty catwalk or fish nearby beaches. You can also fish piers at Sebastian Inlet State Park.

For snook, free-line live croaker or other baitfish next to the rocks. You can also catch snook on many lures that mimic baitfish. Anglers occasionally catch cobia or king mackerel off the end of the north jetty. When all else fails, it’s tough to beat a live shrimp fished on the bottom or suspended under a popping cork and floated tight to the rocks.

While In The Area

The Sebastian Inlet area offers pristine beaches where a lucky visitor might discover an old Spanish gold coin washed up on the sand. Failing that, check out some actual treasure by touring the McLarty Treasure Museum. It displays many items found in wrecks of ill-fated treasure ships sunk just off the Florida coast. When not catching fish, visit the Sebastian Fishing Museum or the numerous natural wonders found along the Treasure Coast. For more information, visit sebastianchamber.com.

CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA

At the entrance to Charleston Harbor, jetties off Sullivan’s Island to the north and Morris Island to the south extend about 3 miles into the Atlantic Ocean. Dating to 1878 and partially submerged, these granite structures create exceptional artificial reefs for many fish species.

SPECIES AND TIMING

  • Black Drum: Year-round
  • Bluefish: April to September
  • Flounder: May to September
  • King Mackerel: May to September
  • Redfish: Year-round; May to June and September to November are best
  • Sharks: May to September
  • Sheepshead: September to December
  • Spanish Mackerel: May to September
  • Speckled Trout: Year-round; March to June and September to October are best
  • Tarpon: August to October
Fishing-Destinations-Southern-Jetties
Morris Island lighthouse at the entrance to Charleston Harbor. (Shutterstock image)

How To Fish It

Bull redfish come closer to shore during late summer and fall. You can also find tarpon in the 150-pound range, plus several shark species waiting for baitfish in the deeper holes near the rocky formations. Anglers most often catch blacktips and spinners, but occasionally someone hooks a lemon shark exceeding 10 feet in length, a 15-foot hammerhead or even larger tiger sharks.

For tarpon, use live whiting, croaker or menhaden. For trout, fish a live finger mullet on a Carolina rig or dangle a minnow or live shrimp under a popping cork near the rocks. Redfish and smaller sharks, like bonnetheads in the 20-pound range, will hit menhaden and whole crabs. Keep a metal spoon handy and watch for bluefish and Spanish mackerel attacking baitfish on the surface.

On a falling tide, drop a live bait into the Dynamite Hole, a deep spot at the western end of the south jetty or fish nearby rock outcroppings. Use a 3- to 6-ounce sinker, depending upon the current, on a Caroling rig tipped with a live menhaden or other baitfish to tempt multiple species. Also fish The Bend (east of the Dynamite Hole) where the south jetty veers southeastward, and The Ditch, an opening in the north jetty.

While In The Area

Take in a haunted tour or ride a carriage through old Charleston. Visit Fort Sumter in the harbor where the Civil War began and numerous other Revolutionary War and Civil War locations. For more modern military technology, visit Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum and tour the U.S.S. Yorktown. For more information, visit charlestoncvb.com.

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