Get to the Point

Consistently successful inshore anglers rarely miss what is right under their nose.

Capt. John Rivers July 23, 2009

It’s mid-July along the Panhandle and I’m on a scouting expedition hoping to locate a few new spots for the upcoming season. As I head down the ICW, I notice a new zone that I’ve never fished before. The corner appears to feature a robust submerged point with quality tidal flow, and with baitfish dimpling on the surface the underwater structure looks very fishy. With the aide of my polarized sunglasses I can tell the point extends beneath the surface for a few hundred feet before dropping off. With a quick push of the rocker-switch my Power-Pole is deployed and I’m sitting on the shallow edge just inside the deeper drop-off. I start by tossing a Bass Assasin Jerk Shad and bouncing it off the bottom. A subtle twitch of the wrist to give the lure some action and soon I feel a familiar thump that isn’t just my heart pounding. I lower my rod tip and proceed to set the hook. Soon I’m releasing a trophy trout that was foraging near the deeper edge of my new favorite spot.

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When approaching a point, stealth is a must. Heavy footsteps and slamming deck hatches will surely send game fish running for cover.

All educated anglers know that inshore success largely depends on knowing where and when to fish. Before any angler hits the water, whether experienced or not, he or she should always have a game plan in mind with at least one backup in place. This means you need to prepare accordingly by studying tide charts to see when the current and conditions will be optimal for your particular endeavor. Obviously, it’s also important to check the marine forecast to see if the weather is going to cooperate. Finally, it is not a bad idea to visit online fishing forums to see what’s been happening on your local front. If you dig deep enough you may even find a new honey-hole and pick up a tip or two on what bait has been hot. For some, fishing productive inshore areas is as simple as point and click.

Finally, it is not a bad idea to visit online fishing forums to see what’s been happening on your local front. If you dig deep enough you may even find a new honey-hole and pick up a tip or two on what bait has been hot.

One such productive inshore area is a point, which is an extension of submerged shoreline that protrudes into the adjacent shallow water. A tapering extension of land that’s commonly referred to as a point can also be described as a bluff, headland cape or as a promontory. Due to currents and water flow, points are often associated with drop-offs and channel edges. These fish holding features can be found around the entire state and depending on where you ply your craft, there will likely be trout, snook, redfish, black drum, tarpon, flounder, permit and/or bonefish staging on or near these venues. One of the main reasons points are fish magnets is due to the fact that game fish can rest outside of the current while waiting for the tide to bring forage to them.

Another reason points can be extremely productive is because this sort of prime real estate is often submerged and difficult to locate. Many anglers routinely pass by points when they’re en route to areas with more obvious signs of life. This is why if you are serious about increasing your catch ratio, I highly suggest studying a bathymetric chart of your surrounding area to familiarize yourself with the lay of the land.

While some points cover a large area, don’t make the common mistake of overlooking small points with equally effective fish attracting features that are created in mangrove labyrinths. Not all points have to cover an area as large as a football field to hold forage and fish, as some of the most productive honey-holes may be no larger than your shallow water skiff.

Once you’ve located an area with potential, remember that tides play a key role as to what side of the point the fish will be staged on. So, if you’re not catching fish make a wiggle and target the other side. Fish will also stage along secondary points off the main point, so be sure to work the entire area thoroughly. Many anglers are unsuccessful when fishing points because they don’t properly cover the entire water column and many of the fish staged at deeper depths are simply never caught.

Keeping that in mind, I’ve found that fishing the deeper water and working my way into the shallows has been the most successful approach. Fish often stage near points and drop-offs while waiting to move into high tide haunts or when retreating during an outgoing tide. Retrieving a lure from shallow to deeper water often tempts a vicious strike. As an inshore guide my definition of deeper water isn’t 40 to 60-feet, but rather depths of four to 12-feet. By starting on the deeper end of the point, I can slowly creep up on the shallows with my trolling motor until I’ve reached a depth where I can lower my Power-Pole. Once I’m in position I’ll start fan casting the area until I’ve worked the entire edge. After working an area thoroughly I’ll move up another 15 to 20-feet and post up again. I’ll spend 20-minutes to an hour fishing any one specific area depending upon the size of the point and only if I feel confident the area is holding fish. Whatever you do, keep an open mind as sometimes productive points will be as obvious as a mangrove spoil island, but they can also be as subtle as small humps rising from deeper water.

You’re probably thinking to yourself, “If I knew which points were holding fish, I wouldn’t be reading this article.” One tip to remember is that the more diverse habitats that are in close proximity to a point, the more and larger fish you’re likely going to find no matter what the prevailing conditions. If you locate an underwater point with a nearby oyster bar or grass flat, you’ve found inshore gold! Fishing these venues requires quality boat control because to be successful, you must be able to approach the point with some stealth, maneuver around it, and maintain your position, even if it is windy or the current is ripping.

A typical setup for fishing points is a 7 ½-foot medium action rod paired with a Quantum Boca 30 spinning reel. When fishing robust points for redfish, trout or snook, I prefer light tackle. I use 10lb. Berkley FireLine and a 20lb. fluorocarbon leader. If the current isn’t moving too fast, I’ll almost always pitch a 3/0 Gamakatsu Keeper Hook with an 1/8 to ¼-ounce bullet weight rigged with a 5-inch Blurp Jerk Shad in golden bream or electric chicken.

When fishing inshore points and drop-offs polarized sunglasses are a must. Without them, you may not be able to distinguish the watercolor and may totally pass by an area worth investigating. Another necessity is a depth finder. Even kayak anglers are making room for small battery operated depth finders as they make it much easier to locate prime real estate, which may extend well beyond your sight. While locating underwater points can be challenging, the rewards for your efforts will be quality catches throughout the entire year.

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