I’ve been jetty fishing East Pass of Destin, FL since the mid 70′s. They offer you the closest thing to fishing in the Gulf, but at a much more affordable cost and flexible timing that fits your schedule. The jetties are essentially large rocks piled up by the US Army Corp of Engineers to protect the inlet to Choctawhatchee Bay. Thousands of fish migrate in and out of the pass on their way into/out of the bay with each tide. In addition to that, fish love structure and the jetties provide a mile of habitat close into shore.
As you can see above, there are two sets of jetties (east and west). The West side is longer and tougher to access. You have to park at the base of the bridge and walk down the beach and then scramble the entire length of rocks to where you want to fish. If you want to fish the end, that’s a long 30 minute scramble on the rocks with all your gear. I much prefer to access the East side which I can do easily with a 10 min walk from my Condo at Jetty East. Once I reach the jetty, its a 5 min walk to the end. On a hot day or if the fish aren’t biting, I’m much less vested at that point. Here’s a close up picture of the East side of the jetties.
At first glance the rocks may look intimidating. People do it every day for the first time. Its not hard. Its not for little kids but tweeners and teens do just fine with adult supervision.
- Here’s some tips for navigating the rocks:Knock the sand off your feet when you get on he first rock.
- Unless you regularly practice walking on hot coals, wear some type of shoe (e. Keens) because those rocks are pretty darn hot in July.
- Get on the rocks from the sand and stay up top until you find your fishing spot. Rocks are not slippery unless you get down to the rocks in the water line. They are slick as ice and if you fall, you fall on barnacles which are sharp as daggers. So fish on the rocks just above those that regularly get wet. you can tell by the thick coat of slimy algae on those that get wet often.
What can I catch Jetty Fishing East Pass? Just about anything, but more common species of fish are:
- Mackrel (Spanish and King)
What can I fish with? Well that depends on whether you want live or artificial:
One universal piece of advice is use braided line. The rocks are super sharp and laden with barnacles. The fish teeth are also very sharp. The fishes instinct is to head for the rocks immediately and they will break off your line quickly without braided line. You can also use a steel leader for added insurance, but tie it to braided line. Regular mono-filament line will usually get cut above the leader.
Live – I think sand fleas are the best. You can catch those in the sand at the edge of the surf where it crashes on the beach. Some folks use a special tiny rake that makes it easier to dredge the sand for the fleas. After a water recedes, look for small round white critters that immediately bury themselves in the wet sand out of sight. Look for a V shape in the water as it drains from the sand, that’s your clue. You can also buy them frozen at HalfHitch Tackle. Here’s a picture. Hook them under the softer underbelly and then out the hardshell back. You’ll get a ton of hits. Use a 1oz weight and cast off the end of the jetties and let it drift.
Other live suggestions:
- Baitfish – catch using a cast net or a sabiki rig
- Live shrimp
- Gotcha brand lure – Fish love the action
- Bubble and straw rig – mackerel really love this set up
- Gulp artificial bait with a scent attractant