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Jetty Fishing: The Ultimate Guide To Jetty Fishing In The Pacific Northwest

Ultimate Guide To Jetty Fishing: Rigs, Tips and Techniques

I love jetty fishing. Maybe it’s because I never know what species of fish I’m going to catch.  Or maybe its because fishing in the ocean, with its own set of smells and sounds, provides and experience that freshwater fishing just can’t replicate.

Most of the jetty fishing that I’ve done over the years has been in Oregon and other parts of the Pacific Northwest.  It’s what I know, and it’s what I’m comfortable with. I’ve fished jetties in Calfornia, Mexico and even in South America.  But for me, there’s nothing like coming home and fishing the jetties I know best.

Regardless of where you call home, or where you’re planning on fishing, jetty fishing can be an absolute blast.  By keeping just a few things in mind, and learning how to read the changing tides, you can have a great day pulling out multiple species of saltwater fish.

Best Rod and Reel For Fishing Off The Rocks

PENN battle II Combo

Penn Battle II Combo
  • Full metal body and sideplates
  • Machined and anodized aluminum spool
  • 5+1 stainless steel bearing system
  • Graphite composite blank
  • Aluminum oxide guides

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The Penn battle II is by far Penn’s most popular saltwater rod and reel combo and is the perfect fishing rod and reel for fishing off the rocks.

The reel reel is built saltwater tough with a full metal body, side plate and rotor and is 100% braid ready.

The paired graphite composite Battle rod features silky smooth aluminum oxide guides and is available in lengths of 6.5 ft to 10 ft.

  • Most popular saltwater combo
  • Full metal body reel
  • 5 sealed stainless steel ball bearings and an instant anti-reverse bearing.
  • line capacity rings marked at 1/3, 2/3, and full capacity
  • Graphite composite rod
  • Aluminum oxide guides
  • Makes a great Jetty Fishing Rod and Reel Combo

What Is Jetty Fishing

Just like it sounds, jetty fishing is when you haul all of your gear with you and walk out onto a jetty and start fishing .

A jetty is usually a man made structure that’s essentially a pile of rocks that extends out into the water.  A jetty could extend out into a calm bay, or it could extend a long way out into open ocean.  They’re usually intended to provide a break or shelter in the water.  Because of that, often times one side of a jetty can have much more treacherous water than the other side.

jetty fishing what is a jetty

A jetty is usually a pile of rocks that extends out into the water.


How To Jetty Fish

The first thing to realize is that jetty fishing may be  for everyone.  Because you’re essentially out in open water, it can be dangerous at times.  I’ve been hit with some pretty hard waves that could’ve been bad had I not been paying attention. That’s why the number one rule in jetty fishing is to pay attention, always.

Just like William Rhoades mentions in his article Jetty fishing 101 – Tillamook Barview Jetty  “It’s a place where I practice ‘Gecko’ fishing, one eye on what I am doing and the other on the Pacific Ocean. Never take your eyes off the water or turn your back on her, as she will grab you at that moment with the intent of keeping you!”

Gecko fishing.  That’s the truth!

The other reason jetty fishing may not be for everyone is because rarely are you able to drive your car to your fishing spot.  As a matter of fact, many jetty fisherman will walk a long way to get to their favorite spot.  Myself included. And that means packing all of your gear with you.

But with that said, some of my best days fishing have been out on the jetty.  It’s uncomplicated fun fishing and it can be an adventure.

Basic Jetty Fishing Rig and Setup

The kind of jetty fishing I like to do is simple.  Sure, there’s a ton of different ways you can fish from the jetty. But nothing has helped me catch more fish than this basic jetty fishing setup.  And even though it’s a simple setup, very large fish have been caught this way with success.

The jetty fishing setup that I use the most is the basic bottom fishing rig setup.

best jetty fishing rig


How To Make A Bottom Fishing Rig Setup For Jetty Fishing

Making one of these jetty fishing setups is very easy.  And that’s one of the reasons I like to use it.

  1. Tie a loop at the end of the line.  This is where you will attach the weight.  To attach the weight, simply put the loop through the hole in the weight and wrap the loop up over the weight.
  2. Tie another loop in the main line about 1.5 feet above the weight.  Here you’ll attach a #4 snelled baitholder hook the same way you attached the weight.
  3. About another 1.5 or so feet above that hook, you’ll make another loop in the main line and attach another #4 snelled baitholder hook.

That’s it.  That’s the basic jetty fishing rig that I use.  Attach your bait. Cast just outside the main pile of rocks and let it sit on the bottom.  Keep the line tight.

With jetty fishing, rarely do you get a warning before the fish strikes.  Typically jetty fish see dinner and they attack it.  So be ready to set that hook.

More On Tying Loops and Attaching Hooks

If you have any questions about how to tie the loops or attach the weight or hooks, this video is an excellent tutorial for doing those two things.


What Kind Of Bait To Use For Jetty Fishing

I almost always jetty fish using natural bait.  Natural bait can be harvested yourself, which can cost you nothing other than time.  And if time doesn’t permit, all you have to do is stop by a bait shop near the jetty and pick some up.  There are many people who make a living out of harvesting bait and selling it to the bait shops.

The Best Natural Jetty Fishing Bait

Sand Shrimp or Ghost Shrimp

I love jetty fishing using sand shrimp as bait. And I’ve have had a lot of success using sand shrimp.  In one day using only this as bait off the jetty in Newport, Oregon, I’ve caught sea perch, sea bass, greenling, cabezon and lingcod.  Oh, and a starfish and a crab too.

best bait for jetty fishing

There’s a lot of pros and cons with using sand shrimp as jetty fishing bait.  The biggest advantage is its one of the most natural foods a fish hanging out near a jetty would see.  On the other hand, one of the biggest struggles I have with sand shrimp is getting them to stay on the hook.

Unlike fishing with mussel or clam meat, which is tough and almost never falls of the hook,  sand shrimp are very delicate. One strike from a fish and you can count on the shrimp being off the hook.


How To Atttach Sand Shrimp To The Hook For Jetty Fishing

There’s a lot of different ways to attach a sand shrimp to the hood for jetty fishing.

But by keeping it simple, what I like to do is tear the shrimp in half at the base of the tail.  Then I’m left with two pieces of bait to use.

I attach the body half to one hook by first passing the point of the hook through the hard shell at the top of the shrimps head.  Come through the bottom and turn the hook and pass the point up into the hard underside of the shrimp.

To attach the tail end of the shrimp, start by passing the hook near the end or fan of the tail. Turn the shrimp and come back through the middle meaty part of the shrimp tail.

How To Catch Your Own Sand Shrimp For Jetty Fishing

Take a look at this video.  It shows the exact same method of catching sand shrimp that I use.  Just remember to catch a lot of these, as you can count on going through them pretty fast.

Other Bait That Works For Jetty Fishing

Mussels and Clams

Like I mentioned, mussel and clam meat can also be used as bait on the jetties.  These too can be found on your own or in a bait shop.

jetty fishing bait mussels

One fishing tip I came across recently was to crush the mussel or clam meat along with the shell, and to keep part of the shell pieces attached.  The theory is that it replicates what the jetty fish would normally see in nature.  Which is a clam or mussel that got crushed on the jetty and fell into the water.

This is a great tip, and I plan to try it.  Just keep in mind that if you buy mussel or clam meat from a bait shop, there will be no shell with it.  It’ll be just the meat.

Where To Find Mussels For Jetty Fishing Bait

The best part is, you’re going to be fishing right where you would want to look for mussels.  And that’s out on the jetty.

There’s been times where I’ve ran out of sand shrimp, and have had to search for mussels out of necessity.  The fish were biting and I wasn’t ready to go home yet.

Check around the rocks below the water line.  Best to wait for low tide.  Mussels will usually attach to the rocks in groups.  So if you find one, your going to find a lot.

Just make sure you check with your local fishing regulations regarding the taking of mussels.  I know some states, like Oregon, require you to purchase a shellfish license to take mussels.  They’re usually inexpensive and excellent insurance against being stuck without bait out at the end of a jetty.

Jetty Fishing Tips

Carry two fishing rods with you. I learned this one the hard way.  On one of my first trips out to the jetty, I slipped and broke the tip of my rod. I MacGyvered that rod into submission though and finished the day strong.  But since then, I’ve always carried two fishing rods with me.  I broke another rod steelhead fishing, and didn’t have a backup, but that’s another story for another time.

Use heavy, bright easy to see fishing line.  The beauty of jetty fishing is that you don’t have to use transparent line or worry about the fish noticing the little stuff.  Unlike fishing for trout or steelhead, jetty fish are aggressive and hungry fish.  Once they see the bait, they either hit it or they don’t.  So use bright fishing line that will help you keep and eye on where your line is.  You want to keep it tight, and out of the rocks.

Talk to the local bait & tackle shops.  If you’re new to jetty fishing, then definitely do this. The guys running these bait shops know their stuff.  They’ve been around a long time and know exactly what’s going on out there day to day and at the least, week to week.

More Information About Jetty Fishing

There is a whole lot more information when it comes to jetty fishing. There are a million and a half different ways to fish off jetties and about as many different lures and baits you could use.

Take a look at this video.  It’s one of my favorites because it gives a very accurate story of what it’s like to jetty fish.  Plus he’s fishing in one of my favorite spots, Newport, Oregon.

Related Posts:

1. Jetty Fishing In Oregon

2. Jetty Fishing For SALMON! (Top 3 Methods)

3. How To Use A Jetty Fishing Bobber

4. The Best Surf Fishing Rod And Reel Combos

5. The Best Saltwater Baitcaster Reels

Written by Don

When I'm not bass fishing or looking for steelhead in my home state of Oregon I can be found working on house projects dreaming of my next fishing adventure.

I started this website to share just some of the things I've learned along my fishing journey, and the many things I'm still learning. Enjoy!

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