The armaments that prevent many of the nation’s inlets from closing in always provide great fishing opportunities due to the very nature of how jetties are built and where they are located, and anglers in the Carolinas are lucky to have plenty of those structures: Oregon Inlet, Masonboro Inlet, Little River Inlet, Murrells Inlet and Winyah Bay, to name a few.
The large boulders that make up jetties are in places where water is constantly moving, pushing and pulling baitfish and shrimp to and fro and creating perfect spots for gamefish to ambush an easy meal. Fish learn to set up in certain areas when currents begin to flow out, and when the tide begins to flow back in, they reposition — and anglers must follow suit.
Many fishermen move to inlets and jetties as the tide falls to catch fish waiting for the buffet as the water pours out. But, when the tide starts to roll back in, bait being pushed in creates prime opportunities for more feeding. During the peak of hot, summer temperatures, the incoming current pulls in cooler ocean waters and makes jetties prime spots.
The best places to fish around jetties will change depending on the tide and the intensity of the tide. According to guide Jot Owen, fishing can be spectacular on an incoming tide if anglers set up in the right spots.
“The jetties are great incoming-tide places to fish during the summer,” Owens said. “You have to find the current breaks and set up there for the best action.”
Fish aren’t going to sit in the main current flow on either side of the tide, because the current coming through the inlet between jetties can be brutal, and fish can’t stand them very long.
“Fish will burn too many calories sitting in heavy current (but) they will be near these strong-current areas and usually right on the edge,” he said. “You must find the current breaks along the jetty rocks and sand bars where the current is significantly slower and where it makes sense for the fish to set up to ambush bait.”
Most of the time, current seams and areas of broken current are easily located. Fish looking to feed will be resting in light-current areas next to the heavy current, waiting for food to sweep past, and they’re usually lying just off the bottom when the waters are at their warmest.
For best results, anglers should cast upcurrent and allow a bait or lure to sweep along the bottom on the edge of these current seams. It won’t take long for a fish to try and snap up an easy meal coming its way.