Jetty fishing means fishing around rocks, so long, heavy fluorocarbon leaders from 10 to 15 feet, which provide leeway when fish wrap the line around the rocks, are standard. Sixty- to 80-pound fluorocarbon is ideal and should always be connected to the braided line with a reverse Albright or Double Uni-knot.
Casting distance is important at the jetties. I generally fish west winds and outgoing tides, and my drift away from the rocks can be rapid. I want each cast landing within 5 feet of the jetty tip, so I need a rod that will get me there. The rod needs to be stiff enough in the butt and midsection to pull a 30-pound bass out of the rocks but sensitive enough in the tip to work a popper or soft-bait. For artificials, I prefer braided line, to give me maximum distance and feel. With live baits and conventional reels, I prefer monofilament, as I tend to handle the line more and mono is easier on the hands.
There are two tactics on the jetties. Live bait, such as adult bunker, herring or eel, will inevitably evoke a strike and usually draw out the larger fish. However, if the fish on the jetties are in the 10- to 15-pound range, they may not be able to handle these large baits. In this case, plugs or soft-baits come into play. During the morning hours, I prefer plugs that make a lot of commotion, large poppers fished slow and erratic. I like hard-plastic poppers that float, such as the Guides Choice M-80 or the Stillwater Smack-It.
These plugs cast far and fish well with a slow start-and-stop retrieve or with a faster popping retrieve. Colors are basic: Both all-white and yellow-and-white are top producers, as the fish seem to like brighter colors. These colors also help you track the lure through the water.
In addition to poppers, both 14- and 10-inch Hogy soft-baits fished with no weight are deadly. The snakelike action mimics both eel and herring. I prefer bone (white) or pink rigged with an 11/0 Owner worm hook or the Hogy Soft-Circle screw-in hook system to allow them to stay close to the surface. When fishing the Hogy around jetty tips, retrieve rapidly for 10 to 15 feet, then stop and twitch it a few times. The hits usually come on the twitch.
The other lures that produce well, especially at dusk, are metal-lip swimming plugs like Cyclone, TB Swimmer and RV plugs. Keep the rod tip up, and crank slowly enough to feel the plug moving from side to side like a wounded baitfish on the surface. With all baits, cast as close to the rocks as possible, even bouncing the lure off the rocks. Eighty percent of the strikes come within 20 feet of the jetty tip.
Rods: For artificials: 8- to 9-foot surf spin rod with good distance-casting power and enough sensitivity to work surface lures: St. Croix Legend Surf or St. Croix Mojo Surf series. For live-bating: 8-foot St. Croix Avid Saltwater or equivalent.
Reels: Spin: Van Staal 150 or equivalent. Conventional: Avet SX Raptor or similar outfit.
Lines: For live-bating: 30-pound Tritanium mono. For artificials: 50-pound Sufix braided line with 60- to 80-pound fluorocarbon leader.
Lures: Guides Choice M-80 or Stillwater Smack-It poppers. 14- and 10-inch Hogy soft-baits on an 11/0 Owner worm hook or the Hogy Soft-Circle screw-in hook system. Cyclone, TB Swimmer or RV metal-lip plugs.
Baits: Bunker, herring or, for trophy fish, eels.
What: Striped bass.
When: May through November.
Where: Jetties on the Jersey Shore.
Capt. Jim FredaShore Catch Guide Service
Capt. Joe GahrmannSykk Physh Sportfishing
Capt. Rich Kosztyu
Capt. Gene Quigley
Capt. Adam Sherer
Shore Catch Guide Service