Time. Is there ever really enough of it to do what you want to do? It always seems we are rushing from place to place, and scrambling to get everything done. Time constraints can really put a damper on your fishing. A shortage of time impedes your chance of obtaining consistent success. As a fishing guide who has the opportunity to spend a lot more time on the water than the average fisherman, life still manages to get in the way of fishing the best times, tides, moons, winds, etc. So what to do? Clearly, despite constraints, we need to put ourselves in the best position to catch fish whenever we can.
When my time is limited, I try to get to an inlet to fish. Why an inlet? Inlets are your best opportunity to set up to catch fish when you are crunched for time. Inlets always have the most consistent moving water, and a lot of them have hard structure like jetties. Lastly, the combination of moving water and structure should provide a good amount of baitfish
in these areas. Moving water is the first part towards understanding why inlets are so productive. The consistent movement pushes bait fish in and out of the inlet by the tides and currents. The tides and currents are stronger in the inlets as the water becomes compressed while travelling through these narrower areas. This also concentrates the bait making it more accessibly present in these areas. This is especially true of the smaller profile baits.
When traveling through the narrow waterway, the small profile baits become disoriented because, due to the greater intensity of the flow of the tides/currents, they can’t maintain their stability. Since striped bass are opportunistic feeders that want to expend the least amount of energy to obtain their food they can often be found waiting in hiding for that disoriented “meal” to come floating. With little energy exerted by a
chase they have their “fast food”. Off course, you need to be very mindful that in this early part of the season that water temperatures are still very cold. Fish are just barely active, making them even more lethargic and prone to just be waiting for a meal to come their way.
The second piece of the puzzle is the hard structure. The great thing about the structure of an inlet is that the Jetties provide hard, consistent structure. The rocks will be there today, tomorrow, ten years from now. While an inlet’s bottom can change due to extreme storms, like hurricanes and nor’easters, the areas of an inlet are still less susceptible to drastic changes than the outer sandy beaches and bigger bays. Shifting sands and shorelines are constantly changing. These constant changes to our beaches and bays effect where the fish go and where we find fish. The constant searching means more time needed. The smaller waters and the bottom around the jetties is more reliable as a place to find fish when you don’t have a lot of time to do so.
The last piece of the puzzle is the concentration of baitfish in our inlets. The hard structure provides a multitude of hiding places for not only bait fish but predators looking for an easy meal. It acts as an ecological buffet of bait fish species, crustaceans, and plant life, all of which make the hard structure of an inlet their home. Bait fish utilize this structure to avoid being another fish's dinner. They either hide in the rocks or stay close so they can dart into the dark crevices. A bait fish will protect itself by hugging the rock line of an inlet, just as a deer may stay along the wood line for an easy escape. Any time of any season you can always see some sign of life when you travel to an inlet. If there is bait activity, the big fish won’t be too far behind.
Since it is unlikely that you will find time on your side- especially when it comes to fishing- I think you can see why fishing inlets just might be the best way to find it possible to have a catching opportunity when you need a quick bite. Father Time waits for no one, but, if you do find the opportunity to steal a couple of minutes to fish, toss your line into an inlet and you just might get yourself a quick “bite” from a fish looking for the same. Live the Passion! Tight lines!
Certified Fishing Guide with over 30 years of experience surfcasting the legendary waters of Long Island. He is well known for his informative seminars at saltwater shows in the Northeast. Bernie offers trips along the outer beaches and inlets of Long Island, as well as Cape Cod Canal, Cuttyhunk, and other Northeast Striper locations. He is a pro-team member for S&S Bucktails, ODM RODS, and KastKing, as well as a member of the Long Island Beach Buggy Association and the Montauk Surfcasters Association. You can contact Bernie on Facebook through Bernie Bass Surfcasting Services, on Instagram @Bernie_bass and through his website at https://www.berniebass.com/