What Makes A Good Fishing Spot

striped bass, chesapeake, structure fishing, joe yack,
Joe Yack with a striped bass

I am often asked “What makes a good fishing spot”… My reply is usually something like “Fish where the fish are, because you can’t catch what isn’t there”. I’m not being a jerk I’m telling the truth! Generally speaking, I want to see 3 things in a fishing spot. The first thing is a moving tide or current. The next thing I want to see is some kind of structure or live bottom. The last thing I look for is bait for the predator fish to feed on. If all those things are present the chances are good a predator fish will be in the area. Fish move all the time, sometimes shallow sometimes deep and seldom in the same area twice unless there is a reason. Stripers often follow bait movements in open water but will also relate to structure because it makes a good ambush point. Rockpiles like the inner and outer walls in Lewes are a good example. Current rips are another place where Predator fish like Bluefish and Rockfish congregate. These can be seen at the end of almost every Jetty on a moving tide. In the rivers and canals where there is moving current look for things that break the current at 90 degrees to find the best fish holding structure. Boulders on the bottom, sand bars and “live bottom” areas are good examples. I have taken countless numbers of Stripers that were oriented facing the current with their noses nearly touching a pilling. Yes pilings are structure too! Old black wood pilings produce best. Triggerfish and Sheepshead often will feed on the shellfish growing on the pilings and could be on any side of the structure. You can watch these fish circling, feeding on the wood pilings at the Henelopen Pier, when the water is clean.  Lewes canal is full of productive pilings as well as wharfs, jetties and concrete Bulkheads. Large concrete or masonry bridge pilings almost always hold fish too. Some days they will be in the “Push” or the up current side. Other days you will find them down current and behind the structure. Each structure has a Push and Pull. It pays to fish ahead of and behind each piece of structure before moving on. Stripers in particular have been known to suspend over structure as well as sitting right on it. So fish your rigs throughout the water column to find those suspended ones. There may be 2 or 3 “sweet spots” on every piece of structure. Try to get your lure to pass thru all of them. We call these places the “the Spot within the Spot”…

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Flounder caught near a bay beach .. Joe Yack

Learning to recognize these places and fish them will increase your catch rate.

On the beach when chasing Flounder or Kingfish the “Sweet spot” is often right behind the breaking waves. The Breaking waves scour out a trough sometimes only a foot deeper than the surrounding areas. This trough is like a giant chum grinder, churning up sand fleas, small crabs and baitfish. The Flounder and Kings make an easy living in these sweet spots. If you find one Flounder in the trough there will likely be more. Fish accordingly! “Pinch Points” are another area to look at and fish thoroughly. These are places were the waterway narrows and the current rips thru the area. Find one of these on the beach that reaches out to the outer bar and that ditch will be full of fish! These places most always have moving current, even on days when the tide will not flow heavy Pinch Points will have moving water. This holds true even in the creeks when Perch fishing. Another likely spot that will always have current is a “marsh drain”… these are places where a creek or marsh drains into a larger body of water. Typically the draining current will rush out at great speed confusing baitfish and oxygenating the water. In summer, sometimes it is more about Oxygen than food! Moving water almost always has more dissolved oxygen than slower moving waters.

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tautog, joe yack, maryland, ocean city inlet
Tautog … Joe Yack

These scenarios are example of structure fishing, even though they are all very different. Learn to identify likely fish holding structure to find more fish this summer. Most all of the desired Sportfish in our area will at times relate very close to structures. Different species may use the same areas at different times.

What are favorable conditions for one species may not be so good for another. I have found Stripers to generally be most active during the peak current flow; in contrast my best flounder fishing typically occurs on the slower portions of the tide but still moving. That being said there are places where Stripers will bite best on the hour around slack water and Flounder chew on the strongest part of the tide. Try to learn when your target species use the structure near your local fishing spot and be on the lookout for new structure. Your catch rates will likely improve if you fish structures a little more thoroughly on your next trip!

Joe Yack

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