Jetties are huge granite piles placed strategically along the edge of shipping lanes in the Gulf to aid large vessels entering a channel or bay system.
For Texas anglers, jetties represent easy to target structures that draw in fish from nearshore waters as well as inland systems. For those seeking redfish, jetties are one of the top spots along the coast to find big fish for the frying pan and to photograph and measure for a taxidermist to produce a replica.
Jetties can be accessed by shore in some instances (Port Aransas) and at other locations are boat only (Sabine Pass) but they can provide action for big redfish year-round.
On outgoing tides, one of the best spots to target is actually the mouths of cuts just north of jetties and shorelines lined with shell.
What you are looking for is reds from the Gulf that came in to feed in the marsh on the tides when the first signs of the tide dropping begin.
Big reds will feed right along the edge of the rocks at the boat cut on the larger jetty systems, which is a difficult spot to fish as the current is strong and boats are constantly moving through.
Anglers should consider using a gold spoon here and line the boat up parallel with the rocks, cutting across the current to hit both sides of the boat cut.
With a heavy spoon anglers can cast a long way and pick up 20 or so yards of the opposite side, then race it across the current. This will usually pick up the fish just as the spoon makes my side of the cut.
When tides are moving in, the Gulf side of the jetties is generally much better to fish, and this requires some different tactics.
The most productive and least pressure spot for redfish big enough to put in the frying pan is at the very southern tip of the jetties. These spots are super current-laden. If you take the time to check them out with your electronics, you will see all kinds of fascinating structures to fish.
The first thing to consider is that the rocks you see on top are only 1/3 of what is on the bottom. At any jetty, there are usually even more rocks at the very end. These last few rocks are a great spot to throw big gold spoons and let them flutter toward the bottom, or troll through with a crankbait. Reds will stage right along these rocks before they begin moving into the bay system.
Another thing you will notice is how there is usually a large hole washed out coming from the tip along the edge of the rocks along the gulf side. These deep holes are great spots to catch super-sized bull redfish in excess of 40 inches. Since redfish have been banned from commercial harvest, the big breeders have really built up a large population and they tend to gather in these deep holes.
There are many ways to catch these monster reds, but a large live bait is best.
Croaker is by far the best because it not only gives the reds something they can smell and see but something they can hear. A croaker anywhere from eight to 12-inches is perfect. It should be fished on the bottom with a steel leader.
The leader does two things, it helps you keep from breaking off if you happen to land a shark instead of a red. Also, it will save you from losing reds if they get into the rocks.
Mullet also works great as does crab. If you cannot get live bait, cut bait will do fine; but you will hook into more gafftops and small sharks that way.
It is important to use a circle hook or one of the offset circle-type hooks. They are designed to set in the corner of a fish’s mouth, which will allow you to release fish you don’t wish to keep, and it increases the hook set to land ratio greatly. When using these hooks you do not have to set the hook. Once the fish makes a heavy run, all you have to do is pick up the rod, gently raise the tip and start reeling.
Angler Marcus Heflin of Christian Surf Fishing Adventures said the bull redfish is the most underrated fish on the Texas coast.
“We can take someone, give them minimal instruction with the right equipment and easily put them on fish bigger than most people in our country ever catch,” Heflin said. “It is not difficult to catch redfish in the 20-30 pound class from our jetty systems as well as our beaches.”
While bull redfish definitely stay around jetties in larger numbers than they do the surf during spring and summer, they are always in the surf to some extent, awaiting the patient angler.
“I have been amazed at the joy catching these big fish bring to anglers. We have people from all walks of life coming out to our events and some have never caught a fish much less a bull red. We have a wonderful resource right here in Texas that is easy to access,” Heflin said.
Heflin will be teaching clinics this spring at Sea Rim State Park. The clinics are free and focus on all aspects of surf fishing including the pursuit of bulls.
If you would like more information call 409-659-9437.