Good Information Tips for fishing bay bridge

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  1. #1
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    Default Tips for fishing bay bridge

    No real secret about the bite on east side bay bridge. The low oxygen levels are forcing Rock into shallow water - not much O2 below 25 feet in a lot of areas. Add in less Rockfish and once a school is found - many boats home in.

    Fishing the bridge is often called - combat fishing - for various reasons.

    You'll often be fishing around other boats - not everyone plays nice. The fish need to be pulled out of the line cutting structure fast - fish a loose drag and you'll learn that Zing Pow is not a Chinese city. This is also a game of inches as fish often hang tight to pilings. Missed the mark by few feet and tough to get bites.

    I fish bridge various times of the year - so here are some tips if new to it or planning to try.

    Current at the bridge varies from slack to 1 1/2 mile per hour. Very important to watch as current picks up - if anchored and anchor slips - little time to start engine (s). If drifting - current can push boat into pilings. Reverse is almost useless on most boats caught in current.

    On most days - the incoming current will tend to go NNE and the outgoing SSW - this is due to earth rotation ( Coriolis effect ). Now , I said most days. Some days the current will run almost east or west - especially after hard winds / storms. I've never done well when this happens.

    So let's go fishing. We run over to east side and find boats anchored on some pilings. Finding one not taken - we look how other boats are sitting at anchor. We timed our trip just right as outgoing current is just starting. If fishing bait - we want to set up on up current ( north ) side. Current is running a kiss SSW so we anchor to east side. Anchor is set about 75 feet away from bridge and rode let out until boat is about 30 feet off pilings. We want to be sure it has grabbed bottom. Once set - we let rode out until stern is about 15 feet off pilings. On calm day - even closer but you better trust the anchor set.

    Once boat is tight - we see stern is touch too far west. Sometimes turning the engine to act as rudder will steer boat - if not , pull anchor and adjust the drop by 10 feet east. Not uncommon for current and / or wind to shift and have to re anchor.

    Now that boat is in position - take a minute to discuss emergency. Who will start engine (s) , who will pull anchor , who will fend boat off piling ? Everyone needs to know their job - often if anchor slips you only have few seconds before crunch time - literally. I've seen some boats take serious damage.

    Keep eye out for large waves / wakes as these can pull anchor loose. As current picks up - often the boat will inch closer as chain is pulled tighter and off bottom. Pulling in foot or two or rode will off set this.

    Boat is set and current moving just right - not too slow nor screaming. Other boats might anchor close by - as in - Hi , how you doing ? Don't sweat it - your boat is in best position.

    Now is time to adjust the drag on your reels. I like 30 lb braid with 30-36 inch 30 lb leader on med. action rod. Remember - combat fishing. Tighten drag way down - then tighter. You should not be able to pull any line off by hand. Trust me on this one. The pilings are full of barnacles , shells , pieces of rusted steel , etc. Your line WILL BE CUT if Rock runs.

    So , we are all ready and put fresh bait on. Cut soft crab , fresh cut Menhaden , live Perch or Spot - all work well. Now , here is the tough part. Figuring out how much weight to use and how far up current from piling to set bait. Often the Rock will be 5-15 feet down. Cloudy days seem better. The idea is your bait drifts by at right depth - Rock only has few seconds to grab it. It takes time to get it just right. I like big split shots or small 3/8 -1/2 sinkers.

    On light current - little or no weight is needed and bait can be lobbed 2-3 feet from piling. The current often makes eddies that will carry bait down. As current picks up - add weight and set bait 5-10 feet from piling and let it drift back until you guess it is next to piling. If no strike - try different distances and line let out. The idea is for bait to be at right depth as line comes tight. Watch line for any - hops - sure sign of hit. Chumming can work well - helps pull fish to front of piling (s).

    You do not want too much line out - yes you'll hook a Rock but not likely to land it. If no hits after 15-30 minutes , might be time to move if other pilings are open. If not - might be wise to fish as long as current is moving.

    Once you get a hit - drop rod tip and as line comes tight - gently lift so circle hook engages. Now , CRANK LIKE HELL. Pull that fish away from the pilings as fast as you can. Be prepared for Rock to go left or right - follow fish across cockpit if need be. Turn rod away from piling - any thing you can do to keep line / fish off pilings. First 5 seconds is make / break. Hold rod and don't reel - you'll be cussing and tying new rig on. Once out in open water - 90% you have won. Watch the fish as it comes to net - sometimes others will follow. Dropping a lure or bait right away can often get one of the followers.

    I'll share a theory I have about the bridge. I think the Rock move east and west along it - almost like a reef. One piling will be hot - then next one over gets the fish on it. I think they move as current changes.

    Some days the wind / current are against each other - so casting might be best. This seems to be better from down current side. Basic idea is same - figure out how heavy a lure and how far up current to cast it to reach the fish. Be careful letting lure hit bottom. I've scuba dove the pilings and many have a mesh " cage " filled with bricks at the bases. Put here to help prevent wash out - these will empty your tackle box fast.

    Don't fret if other boats catch and you don't - it takes time to learn the bridge. Some days it seems too easy - other days you question why you bothered. Try to observe other boats that are catching - see how the anglers are putting lines in - how much weight - etc.

    Be prepared for company if you hook up - I've had jigs land feet away as we net a fish. Try to respect other boaters - even if they crowd you.

    When moving around - please go at idle speed. No need to push wake on other boats. Watch the meter closely - I've caught some nice 30 inchers well off the pilings after spotting on meter. 2 oz Sting Silver is great lure to go after these fish. Often they will be down current 50-150 feet - just hanging out.
    They say that life's a carousel - spinning fast, you've got to ride it well.

  2. #2
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    Nice read Skip. I think 80% of fishing the bridge is reading current and learning how to anchor your boat to be in position to cast to pillings..... Gary

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    Great information right there!

    I hope people realize what took us two minutes to read took your years to learning. To volunteer that information was a very kind gestor and speaks for who you are as a person.

    Thank you for taking the time…

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    Great missive Skip. Now if everyone is patient, they can all get their shot at fish

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    Skip,

    Thanks for the refresher course. That anchoring thing is a real beeatch, and I found that it is most of the battle.

    Don

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    Thanks for posting! I'm new to fishing the bay and REALLY appreciate the time and effort you took for the write-up!

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    Skip,

    I appreciate your time, sharing of knowledge and post, but hearing all the nightmarish things that have you to be worried about.
    No thanks, I think I will find another spot away from the masses. Hoping to catch and keep 2 fish is not worth the aggravation.
    I can usually find them either in the Ptap or Eastern bay.

    Mike

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    Mike, the Chester River is a sleeper. Not too many fish it. I lived on and fished the Chester for about 30 years. Shallow water rocks in 3 or 4' of water.
    Last edited by andypat; 06-15-2019 at 02:54 AM.

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    God am I thankfull im retired and dont fish weekends🙏

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    Quote Originally Posted by O sea D View Post
    God am I thankfull im retired and dont fish weekends🙏
    I said that 7 years ago when I retired. We're baby boomers and 100,000 thousand people a day are retiring. Weekdays look like weekends in good fishing areas now.
    Fishing can be anything you want it to be

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