Fishing Structure: Docks, Rocks, and Treetops
First, go ahead and tighten your drags, and you might as well throw in a little extra terminal tackle as well. Fishing structure, as many of you already know, is not for the faint of heart. Your going to lose tackle, fish, and possibly a small bit of your sanity. Fish holding structure, serious structure, comes in many forms, as well as many techniques to approach it.
On a recent trip with Tom, one of our Springtime regulars, we decided to fish structure, and structure only. We narrowed our search to include docks, rocks and tree tops. (Tree tops being fallen timber, often referred to as blowdowns or laydowns, or timber). The majority of our presentations were with an adjustable cork, designed by local Captain, Travis Harper. Aptly named Harper’s Super Striker, and sold online at shopartc.com (Altamaha River Trading Company) and many retailers in and around St Simons and the Golden Isles. This adjustable depth cork also has a built-in fish attracting sound, like many of its counterparts, the “popping” cork. The ability to adjust the depth allowed us to vary our offerings from 2-14 ft.
Through most of the day we were negotiating current driven by the large tides we experience here on the Georgia Coast. Starting with fallen trees, we immediately rigged shallow allowing the live shrimp to float close to the bank. If we didn’t get bit on the front side of the timber we would switch to the backside. Repeated cast are required as the current would move our baits too close or too far away from the fish, that were schooled tight to the structure. After working shallow, we adjusted the corks deeper and floated above the tops of the trees that extended furthest into the river and creek channels. On our final pass we switched to weighted and unweighted weed less 4/0 worm hooks supplied by SharpAzz Hooks and Jigs. We pinned Zoom Baits Salty Super Flukes to the worm hooks and pitched to openings in the timber. Our bigger fish came from these tight spots, and even with tightened drags there were a few red fish we could not turn. We lost about 6 hooks, but converted the woody presentations into 11 good fish.
Our next stop was a steep bank covered with broken concrete and granite to prevent erosion from the infamous Georgia tide. I had never fished this structure before, but rode passed it many times. The slope was identical to the typical 45 degree incline you would encounter on most hills. The going was and can be tricky, as current and concrete can wreak havoc on tackle. While fishing shallow in 1-2 feet produced a few small fish, we worked deeper down the slope to 14 feet, where we picked up a few more small reds, trout and black drum. As an angler you typically don’t leave fish to find fish so we changed our technique. Pitching only unweighted hooks with live shrimp, we mad long cast up the slope and let the current wash our baits down the slope. As the current picked up, we added weight. This was the key to bigger and more fish. We lost close to 10 hooks and light jigs but the payoff was worth it, as our bites doubled. In hind sight, crankbaits and suspending jerk baits worked down this incline would have been a great presentation, but unfortunately, they were not in the arsenal today.
Our final run encompassed a section of residential docks that extended out to 20 ft. depths in some spots. The presentation here is definitely more user friendly and allows the angler to cover lots of water quickly. By deploying the adjustable corks up current from the docks, we allowed our live shrimp presentations float under the docks and between the supporting pilings. A simple adjustment of the sliding “bobber stop” allows the angler to drift the bait at any depth. While we had to weed thru many sand perch and sheepshead, we found a good concentration of respectable speckled trout in 9 ft. of water. Oddly enough as we positioned the boat up stream from dock to dock, we found a handful of over-slot redfish in 12-14 ft of water snugged up tight to pilings in the deepest part of the docks. Usually the redfish we catch on docks, we trick with spinnerbaits or shrimp tipped jigs tight to the bank in 1-3 ft. of water. We lost one rig to a fish Tom just could not stop before taking a left and breaking him off.
Upon reflection, the one thing I’ve learned about fishing structure, or for that matter, any spot, is to fish it thoroughly. Explore all sides and all depths. There were docks, trees, and particular spots along the concrete that we did not get bit and we moved on, which brings up an important factor that’s helped us over the years. Make it a point to fish at least 1 new spot every time out, and if you’re not getting bit, move on! While I truly love the pieces of the marsh that are pristine, with no evidence of human involvement, go ahead and tighten the drag, get ready to lose some tackle, and fish some of the rough stuff!
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