Basic Bay Fishing

Is there anything special I should do when ocean fishing in bays?

There are several fishing situaltions you will encounter while fishing in bays from the shore. They all require different bait and techniques. In addition, different gear is needed to target specific species. And, you didn’t specify East Coast, Gulf, or West Coast. That will make a significant difference in gear and techniques as well. Generally speaking, for Public Fishing Areas, you will entcounter some, or all of the following situations: Inlets: Inlets are ‘choke-points’ that connect the sea to another type of water, such as a river, bay, bayou, lagoon, or estuary. These are great places to try when the tides are ebbing or flowing, becasue fish become concentrated in these areas while foraging. Lures such as the vernerable Gotcha, and Shad-types are very productive for bluefish, seatrout and stripers. The best live baits for these fish are squid, mullet and shiners. Shrimp and shiners are especially good for flounder. In the spring and fall, live eels are deadly on stripers. You’ll want a Med. saltwater rod and reel set-up in the 7′-9′ range. Public Piers: These are wonderful places to spend a day, or night. Most of the time, you can simply drop your line straight down, sit back and relax. Any saltwater rod and rell setup will work here, but I lean towards the heavier stuff, because you can be as much as 15′-20′ off the water. A long-handled net or gaff is a good thing to have here. Use squid, shiners or mullet for flounder, bluefish and seatrout. At night, lures are the way to go, with Gotchas, Shad-Raps and speck-rigs. You can even harvest crabs here in late summer and fall, using collapsable nets and traps. Bridges: Same as piers, except you may be as much as 30′ about the water, go go heavy on the gear. Beach, Jetties, Surf, or other shore features: You need a long (12′) surf rod to effectively cover these areas. Use mullet and lures for bluefish and stripers. Squid and Shrimp work for most other species. Happy fishing!

Daniel Eggertsen
Dan Eggertsen is a fellow saltwater fishing enthusiast to the point of obsession. :) He's been providing solid advice on saltwater fishing since 2004.

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