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Pro Jetty Tactics for
Reds & Trout

by Robert Sloan


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POC Tides

I grew up fishing many jetties scattered along the Gulf Coast, and I've run across some pretty good anglers in my day, but none can top the talent that has been fishing the Port O'Connor, Texas jetties for the past few decades.

I first hooked up with Earl and Mike Barnes. These guys could and still do catch more trout and reds at the POC rocks than you can imagine. Later on, I ran across Robbie Gregory, who has been making a living guiding anglers to the rich fishing found along this set of rocks. Both have some pretty good tactics for fishing the jetties.

The POC jetties are located on the middle Texas coast and they can only be reached by a six mile run in a boat or plane. Therefore they're somewhat isolated. These are long jetties that have deeper water than most. That deep water and high walls of granite make for some pretty interesting fishing.

Catching reds and trout at any set of jetties might seem like a no-brainer to many anglers, but for some it can be downright aggravating. That's especially true when they fish time and again and catch nothing but hardhead cats and other "trash'' fish.

But one thing is for sure, figure the rocks out and sooner or later you're going to be catching more fish.

Understanding the jetties is the first part of figuring out how to catch fish along them. They might look like a line of piled-up rocks. For the most part, they are - on the surface, that is. Below the water's surface is where the real structure is located. That's where you'll find pockets in the rocks and deep holes that create eddies and swirling currents. You can bet that when the tide is moving, critters like shrimp, croakers, mullet and piggy perch are going to hold in those eddies and deep holes. Trout and reds won't be far behind.

Port O'Connor guide Robbie Gregory's idea of fishing the rocks is to tie on a bottom rig and fish with either live shrimp or croakers.

"The thing about fishing the jetties anywhere along the Texas coast is to find the holes and eddies along the rocks,'' explains Gregory. "I usually look for an inverted current.''

And that's exactly what we found one day as he eased his 24 foot Falcon along the channel side of the POC jetties. There was an outgoing tide, but the stretch of rocks Gregory chose to fish created what appeared to be an incoming tide.

"If you look real close you can see the water moving out,'' said Gregory, as the Suzuki outboard kept us in position. "But there's a pile of rocks in about 10 feet of water that swirl the tide in the opposite direction. That's where baitfish will be bunched up.''

In the world of fishing there's nothing better than being able to predict where and when fish will be biting. Actually putting people on those fish is a real kick.

Gregory got five of us set up with bottom rigs, and we cast to the edge of the inverted current. And just like that, three of us were hooked up. Within about an hour, we had a box full of specks and reds.

Gregory's bottom rig is nothing fancy. He uses leader material of about 40-pound-test. He'll tie a loop at the top, middle and bottom, just like a snapper rig. At the bottom he loops on a 2 to 3 ounce lead weight, depending on how strong the current is. In the middle loop is a 4/0 Mustad straight shank hook and the loop in the end of the leader is attached to the fishing line.

"Current is the main thing to look for along the rocks,'' says Gregory. "The stronger the better. I like to fish live baits like shrimp or croakers on bottom. You want just enough weight to hold the bait in place, or maybe let it bump slowly along with the current."

Gregory says that you never know from one day to the next what reds and specks will prefer. That's why he won't fish the rocks without plenty of shrimp and croakers.

Mike Barnes lives and dies with live shrimp.

"Wouldn't go to the jetties without them,'' says Barnes. "Croakers will work, too. Don't get me wrong. Shrimp are just easier to come by, most of the time, and easier to keep alive."

Barnes' tactic at the jetties is to use a bottom finder to locate holes and rocks that will create eddies in the current.

"Most of the time I'll be fishing in water that's about 18 to 20 feet deep, or even deeper,'' says Barnes. "What I look for are rocks that stick out from the base of the jetties. That's where the current will form an eddy. And that's where big schools of specks will feed. They will position in the eddy and dart up as bait is swept by via the current."

Barnes also lives and dies with a slip cork.

"Won't fish the jetties without them,'' says Barnes. "I use slip corks that allow me to fish any depth. I don't get hung up on rocks. And it allows me to drift fish a live bait along the rocks. I can anchor in the general area where trout feed. But they won't always be by the same rocks. Drift fishing a live shrimp that's suspended about 4 feet off bottom is tough on jetty trout and reds."

The rig that Barnes uses the most is simple. Thread a cone shaped slip cork onto the line. Next, cut an 18 inch piece of 20 pound test leader material. What you want to do is tie a 1/2 ounce barrel sinker onto one end of the leader and the other to the fishing line. At the end of the leader tie on a No. 2 treble hook. From there it's just a matter of adjusting the cork to the depth that you want to fish.

"What I'll do is anchor up current of the underwater rocks I plan on fishing," says Barnes. "Once I'm anchored I'll drift back far enough to be able to cast to the target rocks. When using that slip cork rig make sure the line is slipping through the cork and stopping at the right depth. Trout can be very particular. Fish the live shrimp too deep or to shallow and you won't catch fish. The key is to let the shrimp drift past the rocks at the right depth."

The most unique thing about fishing at selected depths is that you can let the rig drift with the current. You can cover a lot of water that way.

Barnes says that the size of shrimp you use is not that important. I've watched him catch 4-pound specks with shrimp that were barely 3 inches long.

Jigs can also be used along the rocks. Both Gregory and Barnes will use plastic shrimp or shad tail jigs while fishing the jetties.

"There are times when a jig can't hardly be beat,'' says Gregory. "I like to vertically jig over the deep holes along the jetties. I'll use a lead head jig that's heavy enough to get down in the current and to the fish."

Best jig colors are red, chartreuse or strawberry.

The one thing that's very important at the jetties is current. The more the better. That current moves baitfish and in turn triggers the appetites of gamefish such as reds and specks. Check for Very Good and Triple X days in the Wells Fishing Forecast.

Gregory says that once you find feeding fish remember that spot and type of current moving through. Was it outgoing or incoming? Once you figure out a few locations you can pretty much bet that they're going to produce in the same situation on next trip out.

Capt. Robbie Gregory can be reached at (512) 983-2862.

Anchoring at the jetties

Capt. Gregory says the most reliable way of catching trout and reds along the jetties is by fishing the strong current rips. In that situation anchoring can be tough. Here are a few tips from Gregory:

*Use plenty of rope. About 150 feet should be enough.

*Between the rope and anchor there should be at least 4 feet of heavy chain. The chain keeps the anchor on bottom for a solid bite.

*Position the boat well up current from where you intend to fish, then drop the anchor.

*Feed out line as you drift with the current. Keep the motor running . Once the anchor bites, feed out line until you are in position to fish. Then cut the engine.

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