Today we have a guest post from one of my web buddies, Nate Herrera.  Nate writes the blog, SoCal Fishin Tips.  Nate lives in San Diego and his primary fishery is working the various jetties in and around San Diego Bay.  It’s a great fishery and Nate has it pretty dialed in.  There are definitely some unique nuances to having success fishing off the jetties, so below you’ll get some good info to get you started, not just in San Diego, but on the many jetties found along our Southern California coast.

DSC_0008 Many anglers, both fresh and saltwater, know that in order to find the fish you must first find the structure. Jetties are one of the largest pieces of structure in the water that we can actually see with our own two eyes. Jetties make a great place for wide variety of fish to feed and congregate. For this reason, jetties have become one of my favorite and most productive places to fish. Over the past couple of years, I’ve spent a lot of time fishing smaller jetties here in Southern California because they are such a productive place to fish. However, one thing I’ve learned over the years is that jetty fishing isn’t easy. It can be quite frustrating at times and you really have to pay attention to what’s going on. I can’t count the number of times where I’ve been hung up or lost quality fish due to rocks and mussels cutting my line. Therefore, it is important to have the right kind of gear and tackle to prevent those frustrating and heartbreaking moments out on the jetty.

Gear and Tackle

Jetty fishing is very similar to surf fishing. You’re in the same area and you’re targeting the same fish. The only difference is that you’re standing on rocks. I like to describe jetty fishing tackle as surf fishing tackle on steroids. Sure, you can use your usual light surf fishing setup, but would I recommend it?  Probably not.  Here are some recommendations that I feel are suitable for jetty fishing in Southern California.

Quality Barred Surf Perch off the rocks

Quality Barred Surf Perch off the rocks

Rods – should be from 7’6” to even 9’ with a medium-heavy to heavy power. Longer rods will help keep your line away from the rocks and over the surf. A rod with more backbone will give you more lifting power and strength to keep those quality models from getting caught in the rocks.

Reels – 2500 to 4000 sized spinning reels

Line – I would recommend 20-50 pound spectra with a 15-25 pound fluorocarbon leader. Heavier line will prevent you from losing fishing to sharp rocks and mussels.

Rigs – I use a Carolina rig with a 2-foot fluorocarbon leader. You can also use a dropper loop or reverse dropper loop rig. Weights should vary from ¾ ounce to 1 ½ ounce depending on current and water conditions.

Baits – Common surf fishing baits work just as well on the jetty. I prefer using live ghost shrimp, sand crabs, mussels and Gulp camo sand worms.  Perch grubs, 3-inch swim baits and the infamous Lucky Craft flash minnow 110 work too.

Bait Placement

When it comes to shore fishing, a lot of people have the misconception of having to cast as far as you can into deeper water to catch fish. This is not true in my opinion. The majority of the fish I’ve caught from shore are anywhere from 5 to 15 yards in front of me, so the same applies to jetty fishing. When fishing the jetty I like to do a medium cast and allow my bait to flow with the current and waves. When doing this it is important to keep your line tight, so you can feel the bite and set the hook immediately. As my rig gets pushed back towards me, I try and leave it just in front of the rocks for as long as I can before reeling in. When reeling in your rig, keep your rod tip high, reel in fast and hop your rig over the rocks.


There is a wide variety of species to be caught on jetties. One of the exciting factors of jetty fishing is that you never know what you’re going to catch. Here are some common species:

  •  Barred Surf Perch
  • Walleye Surf Perch
  • Corbina
  • Spotfin Croaker
  • Yellowfin Croaker
  • Pile Perch
  • Opaleye
  • Sargo
  • Leopard Shark
  • Shovel Nose Shark
  • Halibut

Final Thoughts

As mentioned earlier, it is important to pay attention to your line when fishing the jetty. Things such as high surf, wind and current can have you hung up on rocks, barnacles and mussels in no time. Jetty fishing takes some time to get used to, but in the long run all the heartbreaks and lost tackle will pay off. Hopefully you find this information helpful whether you’re an experienced or novice angler. Now get on that jetty!

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