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Rock Fishing

Since many species of fish inhabit rocky coastal shorelines, rock fishing can prove to be an enjoyable challenge. You can learn how to fish rock jetties and outcroppings using either natural baits or artificial lures.

The key to successfully fishing from rocks is to keep safety top of mind while taking the time to select the right gear and equipment.

Where to Go Rock Fishing

Rocky outcroppings that extend out into the ocean from shorelines often hold an abundance of game fish prey, such as crustaceans and baitfish. This can create prime fishing opportunities for anglers who are willing to try one of the more challenging types of fishing. If you already have some fishing experience and plan to visit a coastal area, you may want to try fishing from rocks on the shoreline.

Fishing Spots

If you're wondering where some of the best places are to try fishing from rocks, look to destinations such as Montauk, New York and Long Beach, California. Montauk is known for having two annual runs of striped bass (in the spring and fall), while the Long Beach area offers some of the top spots for California corbina.

Check out a few other coastal spots that have rocky shorelines and are known for good fishing.

  • Cape Ann, Massachusetts
  • Penobscot Bay, Maine
  • Oneula Beach Park, Hawaii

Safety When Fishing from Rocks

Fishing on or near wet rocks during fluctuating coastal tides means that it is extra important to take safety precautions. While some of these safety tips may also apply to other types of fishing, they are particularly applicable to rocky shoreline fishing spots.

  • Check with a state agency or trusted local resource about safe places to fish from the rocks. Local resources are likely to have the most current information regarding changes in conditions or access points that you should be aware of.
  • Be sure you are wearing the right shoes. Algae, rain, and waves can all create slippery conditions. Wear non-slip shoes that have good traction such as shoes or boots with rubber-coated spikes.
  • Wear a properly fitting life jacket or PFD always.
  • Wear lightweight clothing that won't weigh you down if you get wet.
  • Watch the weather closely. Strong winds can create large waves and make it more of a challenge to hold your footing. Always check the weather conditions before you go. Stay alert to any changes that occur while you are fishing.
  • Monitor the tides. As saltwater tides rise, they can cover rocky shoreline areas that were previously dry and exposed. Check a tide chart for the location you plan to fish carefully and be aware of any fluctuations during your trip.
  • Wear eye protection. Polarized sunglasses will not only help cut through any glare in the water but should also be worn to protect your eyes when unsnagging hooks or lures from the rocks.
  • Take a friend along, particularly if you are fishing in a remote or unpopulated area. Tell a friend or family member who is not going fishing with you where you plan to go and for how long you intend to be gone.

Rock Fishing Equipment

In order to have a successful experience while fishing from rocky spots, you need to have the best rock fishing rod and equipment for the task. Longer rods are preferred for casting distance while preventing you from having to get too close to the water in order to land a fish. While there are other types of equipment you can use, this set up will work well if you are just starting to fish from the rocks.

  • 10-foot medium action spinning rod
  • 20 to 30-pound monofilament fishing line
  • 40 to 50-pound fluorocarbon leader
  • Saltwater spinning reel (6000 series or similar with the capacity to hold approximately 200 yards of 20-pound monofilament line)

Rock Fishing Rigs

Once you have the best rod, reel, and fishing line, the next step is to learn which rigs to use. While every angler may have preferences for different rigs, depending on the types of baits or lures they prefer, these are two of the most common.

  • Fish-Finder Rig: This simple rig consists of a leader with a hook and a barrel swivel tied to the main line behind a sinker slide and sinker (sinker weight will depend on the amount of current). Remember to adjust your hook size to the size of your bait and the fish you intend to target.
  • Three-Way Rig: You can use a simple three-way rig in rocky areas where snags are common. Purchase a three-way swivel that provides separate attachment points for the main line, sinker line, and leader.

In addition to these two rigs, keep in mind that you can also try free-lining live baits such as shrimp or baitfish. Learn more abut fishing gear and tackle, fishing lures and bait in our How to fish section.