The beaches and shores of the northeast are commonly classified as “rocky terrain.” In fact, a large portion of the coasts of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts offer an enormous amount of boulders, rocks, and gravel, creating wonderful habitat for predatory fish and their prey. The angler fishing the nearby beaches and their connected rock stacks cannot ignore another man-made rock structure.
The piers were built for a number of very important reasons. Sensible reasons include reducing beach erosion, controlling storm surges, and designing a causeway leading to a river or salty pond. These are all excellent reasons, but the most significant fact for an angler is that each of them harbors fish at some point.
Striped basses are comfortable in rough and fast moving water. This is mainly because their prey is mistaken for the foam, which makes them easy to kill. Other hunters such as blue fish, weak fish, and false albacore tuna also take advantage of these water conditions. Jetties generate this type of turbulent water by forcing the waves to crash against the rocks too soon, before they reach the beaches (where they lose a bit of their power). It is not uncommon to find many of these predators feeding fiercely on bait fish right up against the docks, where the water is in fact the most violent.
Along with the mentioned species shoreline protection , the black fish and the porgy also take advantage of the piers. The rocky structures are excellent homes for crabs, mussels, periwinkles, and whelks. Scup and tautog live in these areas for the same reasons; they offer protection and food. They can roam the docks and feed on crabs and mussels, and can hide in rocks from predators.
As with nearby beaches, it is often smart to plan to fish off the piers as close to the time of high tide as possible. Generally speaking, you will find that you have deeper water to use at this time and the fish will tend to be more focused. If your selected jetty is part of a land bridge leading to a river or pond, you will often find baitfish escaping predators into the channel during this time.
Blackfish and porgy are generally easy to catch, as they hardly ever stray too far from rocky walls. They can effortlessly survive there on the rocks. You can take advantage of this by making shorter casts and not using unnecessary weights to display your baits.
Applying the right equipment in these situations is very important. You will find out which rod and reel combination suits your type of dock fishing. However, it is vital not to ignore safety when fishing for rocks. Those who fish here recognize that one of the most essential equipment for navigating the rocks is a pair of high-quality cleats. The rocks remain soggy for a good part of the season and have a propensity to develop moss and algae, which can cause a fisherman to fall without warning. Falling into the waves is a definite possibility, as is breaking an ankle, arm or leg. A personal flotation device (PFD) is another noteworthy safety item. With the development of inflatable PFDs, these features no longer “get in the way” or “are too bulky.” You can currently wear a PFD around the waist and you only have to pull a lanyard to wear it.
Clearly, if you haven’t fished off the docks yet, you’ve missed out on some exceptional fishing opportunities. While some days the beaches are the ones that will catch the most fish, and other days the docks will. The main thing is that now you can fish in both places in a single expedition.